Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review- It Happened One Midnight by Julie Anne Long

Title:  It Happened One Midnight (Pennyroyal Green Series, #8)

It Happened One Midnight

Genre:  Historical Romance

Author: Julie Anne Long

Publisher: Avon, June, 2013

Source: Purchase

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

More than one beautiful woman’s hopes have been dashed on the rocky shoals of Jonathan Redmond’s heart. With his riveting good looks and Redmond wealth and power, the world is his oyster—until an ultimatum from his father and a chilling gypsy prophecy send him hurtling headlong toward a fate he’ll do anything to avoid: matrimony.

Intoxicating, elusive Thomasina de Ballesteros has the bloods of London at her feet. But none of them knows the real Tommy—the one with a shocking pedigree, a few too many secrets, and a healthy scorn for rakes like Jonathan.

She’s everything Jonathan never wanted. But on one fateful midnight, he’s drawn into Tommy’s world of risk, danger . . . and a desire he’d never dreamed possible. And suddenly he’s re-thinking everything . . . including the possibility that succumbing to prophecy might just mean surrendering to love.

**

This reviewer has received her comeuppance.  I confess to being totally jaded when it comes to other reviewers whining about how they have fallen in utter love and lust with a hunky romance hero. “ Not me” I disdain, “I’m much too sophisticated to get involved with a character in a book.”  Well that was before I read Jonathan Redmond’s story.  Yes, I’m willing to run away with Jonathan Redmond.  He’s cool under pressure, he has a terrific sense of humor, he is intelligent, he’s protective and he has an  innate sense of justice. And to top all of that he is definitely hunky and a consummate lover.  The heroine Thomisina is probably (I confess reluctantly) more suited to him than me. Alas, I will have to take a trip back to the real world sooner than I wanted.

Julie Anne Long has given us another wonderful addition to the Pennyroyal Green Series.  She can develop her characters into people we fall in love with.  They are sublimely sensual and utterly believable.  They are people we can admire. The romance is full of witty heated encounters. We don’t ever want the story to end.  We wonder how Jonathan will manage to make his fortune when all the odds are stacked against him and yet we know that somehow this will come to pass because we believe in him.

This is a standalone read but be sure to check out the other books in the Pennyroyal Green series (in order):

1) The Perils of Pleasure
2) Like No Other Lover
3) Since the Surrender
4) I Kissed an Earl
5) What I Did for a Duke

6) How the Marquess Was Won
7) A Notorious Countess Confesses
8) It Happened One Midnight

9) Between the Devil and Ian Eversea (April 2014)

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Review- The Devil’s Thief by Samantha Kane

Title:  The Devil’s Thief (The Saint’s Devils series, book #1)

the devil's thief

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Samantha Kane

Publisher: Loveswept, Nov 2012

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating:  3

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

The daughter of a reformed jewel thief, Julianna Harte knows a thing or two about stealth. When the foundling home she provides for finds itself in dire financial straits, Julianna is forced to do the unthinkable. In a bit of misguided Robin Hood derring-do, she slips through the window of a wealthy rake to search for a treasure she knows is there: an invaluable pearl. But when the towering and very naked occupant of the moonlit bedroom ambushes her with a bargain—a night in his bed in exchange for the pearl—Julianna doesn’t know if it’s masculine heat or sheer desperation that makes his terms so tempting.

Alasdair Sharpe had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain. Planning to offer his little cat burglar carte blanche instead, he promptly loses himself in the delights of unexpected pleasure. But when he awakes the next morning to find his family heirloom gone, fury quickly replaces sensual languor. Of course, Alasdair is more than willing to use seduction to reclaim his stolen pearl—and find the key to Julianna’s heart.

**

Not mentioned in the description blurb are the other members of The Saint’s Devils.

“The Saint’s Devils are a group of rakes that have been friends since their school days. Their unofficial leader is Sir Hilary St John, a brilliant, hedonistic Sherlock Holmes character who helps his friends solve mysteries surrounding their heroine in each book…” from Samantha Kane.US the author’s website.

The other member besides Alisdair and Hilary is Roger Templeton.    Because Julianna causes them so much trouble by stealing the pearl they band together to help Alisdair recover the pearl.  At times it does seem that Hilary St. John is the only member of the team that has a brain.  Roger is usually drunk and Alisdair is really dim witted.  Julianna is naïve, not so innocent since handing over her virginity to Alisdair, and routinely makes dangerous forays into the underbelly of London.  Wiley, a charismatic minor criminal offers most of the sanity in the story of the pearl’s recovery.

This book is a rather lighthearted read, very sexy, at times laugh out loud funny and at times silly.  I recommend it to those who want a light, easy going read with some steamy sex scenes.

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New Release Review- The Arrangement By Mary Balogh

Title:  The Arrangement (book #2, The Survivors’ Club)

The Arrangement

Genre:  Historical Romance

Author: Mary Balogh

Publisher: Random House, Dell, August 27,2013

Source: Free for review from Amazon vine Program

Rating:  4.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

Desperate to escape his mother’s matchmaking, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, flees to a remote country village. But even there, another marital trap is sprung. So when Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, Vincent is compelled to act. He may have been blinded in battle, but he can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.

At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent’s proposal. But when such a gloriously handsome man persuades her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Her alternative is too dreadful to contemplate. But how can an all-consuming fire burn from such a cold arrangement? As friendship and camaraderie lead to sweet seduction and erotic pleasure, dare they believe a bargain born of desperation might lead them both to a love destined to be?

**

This is a lovely story of two people thrown together on an impulse but discovering that they were truly meant for each other.  Sophia helps Vincent to become more independent and Vincent helps repair Sophia’s damaged self esteem.

Mary Balogh is one of the Grand Dames of romance writing and it shows in this book.  Her characterization is flawless and she can put you in a scene so that you feel you are there.  Here is an example of her descriptive talent:

“They traveled all through the last night of the journey, weary as they were, and arrived at Covington House at first light—or so Martin informed him.  Vincent would have known it himself, though, as soon as the carriage stopped moving and the door was opened.  He could hear a few birds singing with that almost echoing clarity that was peculiar to the predawn period.  And the air had a freshening feel to it that suggested an end to night but not quite a start to day.” (from Chapter #1, THE ARRANGEMENT)

The only thing I felt was missing was greater conflict.  Everything moved just a bit too smoothly.  However this complaint is minor to the enjoyment to be found in the reading of this new entry in the series.

This is the second book in The Survivors’ Club series following THE PROPOSAL.  This is a standalone book but it does contain other members of the club and you may want to read the first book just to have a more perfect picture of the group.

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Recent Release Review- The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

Title:  The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic

The Thinking Woman's guide to real magic

Genre:  Fantasy

Author: Emily Croy Barker

Publisher: Penguin/Viking, Aug 2013

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating:  2.5

Sexy Rating:  5- not explicit, implied

Description from amazon.com:

An imaginative story of a woman caught in an alternate world—where she will need to learn the skills of magic to survive

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

**

This is a long book, 572 pages, about 20 hours on my Kindle.  Those are hours out of my life with only a smattering of enjoyable moments.  This book is slow and tedious.  The protagonist has magic done to her and she is never aware so she acts out of her norm and thus conflict is nonexistent. Because she is bespelled her romance and marriage with Raclin is not romantic. How much more interesting if he was truly romantic and then became an evil thing.  When she finally understands the magic that has been done we have a few interesting moments.  Her interaction with Aruendiel is the highlight and her need to learn magic to get back to her world is understood.  This type of fantasy has been done before and has been done much better.

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Pre-Release Review- A Most Devilish Rogue by Ashlyn MacNamara

Title: A Most Devilish Rogue

A Most Devilish Rogue

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Ashlyn Macnamara

Publisher: Ballantine, August 27, 2013

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.

George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.

**

This book is well written, the characters well developed, the sexy scenes were hot,hot,hot and the story arc well plotted. However….I had a great deal of trouble liking these characters.

George had no sooner found out his mistress was pregnant than he takes up with Isabelle.  He’s all about Isabelle’s son Jack with nary a thought about a son he might have with the mistress. His only thought in that direction is about how much trouble it is causing him.  Isabelle is distraught about her missing son but somehow can put those thoughts aside to have several passionate encounters with George without a further thought to propriety or her son.  It was as if they were tempting others to find out about their liaison.  Yes, we can figure out the bad-guy early on and do wonder why intelligent George cannot.

This was an “okay” read bordering on “disappointing” what redeemed it in my eyes was the obvious writing ability of the author even though I could not wrap my hug around her plot.

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Pre-Release Review- A Rake’s Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell

Title:  A Rake’s Midnight Kiss

A Rake's Midnight Kiss

Genre:  Historical Romance

Author: Anna Campbell

Publisher: Grand Central Pub., Forever, August 27 2013

Source:  Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

IT TAKES A LADY

Brilliant scholar Genevieve Barrett’s secret identity as the author of her father’s articles is her greatest deception-until her father’s handsome new student arrives on their doorstep. Genevieve recognizes him as the masked intruder who earlier tried to steal a priceless gem from their home. Keeping the seductive stranger’s identity hidden is a risk, but she’s got secrets of her own to keep.

TO CATCH A THIEF

Sir Richard Harmsworth fakes a rakish facade to show society that he doesn’t care about his bastard status. Yet haunted by his unknown father’s identity, Richard believes the Harmsworth Jewel will prove he’s the rightful heir. Intent on seducing the stone away from its owner, Richard finds himself face-to-face with a beauty more breathtaking than any jewel. But even as she steals Richard’s heart, Genevieve will be in greater danger than her coveted treasure . . .

**

This is my second Anna Campbell novel and I’m looking forward to many more.  What a treat to read an author that invents characters that are so altogether human.  They have personalities that maintain throughout the story and we grow to feel emotion for their happy times and their crisis times.  The villain is truly evil, Sirius, the dog, is truly the most intelligent and Richard was fortunate to have Cam and Jonas at his back. Genevieve’s father reminded me very much of Mr. Bennet from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, he was a self absorbed scholar, only unlike Mr. Bennet , Mr Barrett was not so concerned with his daughter’s welfare. I zipped through this book and found it hard to put down although there were a slow few pages here and there.  But when the action picked up the pages flew by.

I recommend this book to Historical Romance fans who want to see their aristocrat find love outside of the ballrooms of London, who want a feisty, intelligent heroine and want a canine to get a heroic role in the action.

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Review- The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day

Title:  The Stranger I Married

The Stranger I Married

Genre:  Historical Romance/erotic

Author: Sylvia Day

Publisher: Kensington

Source: Purchase

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5+

Description from back of book: Lady Pelham could not have designed a husband more suited to her needs. The Marquess of Grayson is a dear and enchanting friend and an unrepentant ladies’ man. Their union is solid; their hearts safe from one another. But every marriage has its surprises…

They were together for all the wrong reasons…

They are London’s most scandalous couple. Isabel, Lady Pelham, and Gerard Faulkner, Marquess of Grayson, are well matched in all things–their lusty appetites, constant paramours, wicked wits, provocative reputations, and their absolute refusal ever to ruin their marriage of convenience by falling in love with one another. Isabel knows such a charming rake will never appeal to her guarded heart, nor will she sway his philandering one. It is a most agreeable sham…until a shocking turn of events sends Gerard from her side.

Now, four years later, Gerard has come home to Isabel. But the carefree, boyish rogue who left has been replaced by a brooding, powerful, irresistible man who is determined to seduce his way into her affections. Gone is the devil-may-care companion who shared her friendship and nothing more, and in his place is temptation itself…a husband who desires Isabel body and soul and who will stop at nothing to win her love. No, this is not at all the man she had married. But he is the man who might finally steal her heart…

**

This is Sylvia Dare at her erotic, historical best.  I have not read her bestseller list contemporary romances but I have enjoyed this historical and one other.  I will certainly read more and perhaps the contemporary offerings.

Lady Pelham and Gerard, the Marquess of Grayson, have a marriage of convenience.  They are both  libertines and she is tired of having her lovers wanting to marry her and he is tired of  every debutant wanting to marry him because his heart already belongs to a married woman who is carrying his child.  They agree to have a sham marriage and each go their own way.  But a twist of fate sends Gerard off and away from Isabel for four years.  When he comes home he is smitten with his wife and needs to convince her to make this a marriage for real.

This is a very sexy, read.  Not only are we entertained by Isabel and Gerard but also Isabel’s brother Lord Trenton has his own seduction story.  Sylvia Day writes superbly constructed plots along with sizzling sensuality and wit.

A conversation between Isabel and Gerard (possible spoiler):

“Do you find any oddness in our sudden fascination with one another?” she asked in a tone that begged for reassurance.

“Is it so sudden? I cannot seem to remember a time when I did not think you were perfect for me.” (Gerard)

“I have always thought you were perfection , but never did I think you were perfect for me.”(Isabel)

“Yes you did or you would not have wed me.” He nuzzled his mouth against hers.  “But you did not think I was perfect for loving, which I was.”

“We really need to work on building your selfconfidence.” She whispered.

*******

There is a problem that arises that did seem to be a bit contrived.  There is perhaps even an overabundance of sex but then this is an erotic romance.  At first Isabel and Gerard are not the type of protagonists that are generally well liked but Day does bring us around to champion their love.

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Review-Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole

Title:  Letters From Skye

Letters From Skye

Genre:  Historical Romance (early 20th century)

Author:  Jessica Brockmole

Publisher: Ballantine, July 2013

Source:  Free for review from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5-behind closed doors

Description from Amazon Vine:

March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.

June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

**

This book was written in a letter writing format.  The entire book is written with letters between various characters.  This is the first book I’ve read in this format and I find I like it.

This was an interesting book that compelled me to keep reading so that the mystery would be revealed.  There were a couple of mysteries.  Who was Margaret’s father? What happened to David and Elspeth? What caused the rift in the family? Those were cleared up by the end of the book.  But The characters actions seemed a bit farfetched.  I could not quite grasp all the travel all over the British Isles in the midst of war in 1918, nor the story of sending prisoners clothing, books and blankets.  This may have been allowed but it just didn’t sound rational to me.  Also why all the secrecy about Margaret?  Although this was not a bad read, neither was it a very good read.  It was okay if you like the letter format and suspend some skepticism.

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Recent Release Review-Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

Title:  Love and Other Scandals

Love and Other Scandals

Genre:  Historical Romance

Author: Caroline Linden

Publisher: Avon, August 13, 2013

Source: Free for review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating:  5

Description from amazon.com:

Joan Bennett is a breath away from being a spinster. She’s had four seasons without a suitor. After reading a shockingly sensuous book, Fifty Ways to Sin, Joan decides perhaps it’s time to stop being proper and start being sinful, while she’s still young enough to enjoy it. And what better partner than her brother’s drinking mate, Viscount Burke? He seems the type to know how to give a lady a lascivious adventure.

It seems that the viscount has qualms about trifling with a friend’s sister. That’s the way to end up betrothed. And he doesn’t want that—or does he?

**

I’ve been on a mission lately to try new-to-me authors.  I’m so glad I found Caroline Linden.  She has a number of books published so I can be assured of having lots of reading material to catch up on.

This is a delightful regency romance  with a hero and heroine who initially have issues with each other.  They are forced together by circumstances and gradually fall in love. It is a simple story, done before but not ever so well.  We are treated to terrific characters that feel like real people.  There is wit and humor in the dialog.  Joan is an ugly duckling who blossoms under the tutelage of her rather scandalous aunt. Tristan Burke Has a rakeish reputation but a heart of gold.  He takes his position as an honorable gentleman seriously.

I recommend this book to all romantics who want a lighthearted feel good, hot and sexy read.

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New Release Review- To Make A Match by Liana LeFey

Title:  To Make A Match

To Make A Match

Genre: Historical Romance/Georgian

Author: Liana LeFey

Publisher: Montlake Romance, August 13, 2013,

Source: Free for review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

The spirited Lady Victoria Lennox longs for a husband, but she cannot wed until her prickly older sister, Amelia, becomes a wife—and Amelia seems intent on driving away all potential suitors. To avoid becoming a spinster, Victoria concocts a plan: a carefully arranged scandal will compel Amelia to marry. And to bait the trap, who better than the dashing Lord Julius Cavendish?

Yet Julius has little interest in stubborn Amelia. Victoria, on the other hand, he finds irresistible. Determined to make her his own, Julius adds a new twist to Victoria’s plan: his friend Lord Withington will act as Victoria’s decoy suitor, distracting Amelia from the very real courtship happening under her nose. All might be well, were not Withington immediately smitten with Amelia. He sees how tender and protective she is beneath the frosty facade.

As the perfect plan goes perfectly awry, each sister finds herself publicly betrothed to the wrong man. Can they undo the damage in time to make the perfect match?

**

This delightful romp starts out like an Oscar Wilde farce giving the reader a few giggles and smiles.  However, it soon becomes more of a drama as the secrets and deceptions cause misunderstandings and hurt.

Liana LeFey has concocted an easy read with dramatic undertones.  Victoria is a bit of a flibbertigibbet and Amelia is certainly stiff and stuffy.  The men who would woo them are the heroes we read romances to find.  The characterizations are well done and the plot well developed.  There is romance, sensuality, conflict and hard won resolution.  A good read.

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