Monthly Archives: September 2019

Retro Review-A Christmas Return by Anne Perry

A Christmas Return

Title: A Christmas Return

Genre: Historical Holiday Mystery Novella

Author: Anne Perry

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Ballentine Books, Nov. 7, 2017

Pages: 179

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Christmasy Feeling: 2

Description from Amazon:

As Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother Mariah Ellison finds herself investigating a long-unsolved slaying, it becomes clear that grappling with intrigue and foul play runs in the family. A festive Christmas package left on Mariah’s doorstep contains an ominous present, sparking memories of a twenty-year-old murder that shattered her friendship with the victim’s widow. Though the gift is a bitter reminder of that tragic time, in the spirit of the season Mariah travels to Surrey in hopes of reconciling with her estranged friend and solving the crime that drove them apart.

On arrival, Mariah joins forces with the murdered man’s grandson, a sleuth in his own right who’s discovered promising evidence as well as a suspect. But Surrey’s picturesque hills conceal dark doings and shocking revelations that could make the holiday anything but calm and bright.

Decked with intrigue and trimmed with Yuletide spirit, A Christmas Return is a holiday treat wrapped in the glorious storytelling talents of the reigning master of Victorian mystery.

**
I must admit that I accepted this book for review when it was first published in 2017 but that year I became very ill and this book slipped through the cracks. Ms. Perry writes a Christmas mystery every year, often with side characters from previous books but they are standalone mysteries.

This is an okay mystery but as a Christmas offering, well…not so much. We pretty much know who the murderer is from the beginning and proving it isn’t much of a task for Mariah and Peter. Why this murder wasn’t solved 20 years before is a mystery to me the reader. Christmas is just a token notion with mentions of a few garlands hung and a Christmas Eve party.

 

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Release Day Review- Scandalous by Minerva Spencer

Scandalous

Title: Scandalous ( Outcasts, book #3)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Minerva Spencer

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Zebra, Sept. 24, 2019

Pages: 384

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:

Have you no decency?”

Straight-laced missionary Sarah Fisher has never met a man like Captain Martin Bouchard. He is the most beautiful person—male or female—she’s ever seen. Overwhelmingly masculine, elegantly attired despite months at sea, he is in complete command of everyone and everything around him: everyone, that is, except Sarah. But that’s about to change because Sarah has bought Bouchard’s mercy with the only thing she has to sell: her body.

“None at all . . .”

In spite of her outrageous offer, Martin has no doubt Sarah is a virgin, and a most delectable one at that. But instead of bedding her, he finds himself staring down the muzzle of his own pistol. Clearly, the longer she stays on his ship, the greater the chances that she’ll end up its damned captain! Most infuriating of all, she looks past his perfect exterior to the wounded man inside. Can Martin outrun his scandalous past in time to have a future with the first woman to find and capture his heart?

**
This is the third book in Minerva Spencer’s OUTCASTS series but it is a standalone novel if you haven’t read the first two books. But, go ahead, read the first two wonderful books in this series also. This book, and the series, is full of action, adventure, romance on the high seas and the London ballrooms.

Martin Bouchard is a privateer whose mission is to stop any ship that is transporting slaves from Africa. Martin was once a slave until he was rescued by another privateer and set to work on a ship. Now Martin has amassed a fortune working for the British. He is captain of his own ship. He is fastidious in his dress which is amusing to his crew but he is not to be trifled with for he is a dangerous man. A man with a secret.
Sarah Fisher, the orphaned daughter of missionaries in Africa, has been captured along with members of her village and thrown into the hold of a slave traders ship. She is summoned to help the ship’s ailing Captain Graff with her healing abilities when the ship is captured by Martin’s ship. Graff takes her to the meeting with Martin and they both become prisoners until Martin can turn Graff over to the authorities.

As much as I’ve enjoyed this entire series, this book was not my favorite. Perhaps because of the slave trading angle, Martin’s horror filled past and his constant bullying of Sarah. I could not find what the attraction was for Sarah. It was hardly romantic but then Martin spent a great deal of his time denying his attraction. It was also hard to believe that Sarah, after being raised in an African village, could so easily fit into the London Season with only a few dance lessons.

The writing is top notch and characterization spot on. Having been introduced to Martin in an earlier book, it was good to read his story. Yes, I can recommend this book, only not as highly as the others in the series.

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Recent Release review- The Spitfire by Christi Caldwell

Spitfire

Title: The Spitfire (Wicked Wallflowers, book #5)

Genre: Historical Romance/ Regency

Author: Christi Caldwell

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Montlake , Sept. 17, 2019

Pages: 327

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:

Her dream is to open a music hall. Only one thing stands in her way—the man she loves. The final Wicked Wallflowers novel from USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell.
Leaving behind her life as a courtesan and madam, Clara Winters is moving far from the sinful life to which she was accustomed in the gaming hell the Devil’s Den. Her more reputable and fulfilling endeavor is a music hall for the masses. One night, when she sees a man injured on the streets of East London, she rushes to his aid and brings him home. It’s then that she discovers he’s Henry March, Earl of Waterson, and a member of Parliament. No good can come from playing nursemaid to a nobleman.
When Henry rouses to meet his savior in blonde curls, he is dazzled. This smart and loving spitfire challenges his every notion of the lower classes—and every moment together is a thrill. But after Henry returns to his well-ordered existence, he strikes a political compromise that has unintended consequences. Will his vision for London mean dashing the dreams of his lovely guardian angel?

**
Another winner from Christi Caldwell, a standalone but it is enhanced by the beginning novels in the series.
I love how Ms. Caldwell brings secondary characters to life in their own novel. Clara is an obscure character who gradually makes her presence known in succeeding novels. And now we get her own HEA.

Clara and her dear friend, Regina Killoran, have joined together to open a music hall in a very dicey neighborhood. Henry’s life is saved by Clara in the streets of London and they are thrown together again when Henry’s parliamentary work threatens Clara’s music hall. There is plenty of action and suspense as well as a slow burn romance.

I love to read these books as well as listen to Tim Campbell narrate them on audio. I highly recommend this novel as well as the entire Wicked Wallflowers Series.

 

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Advance Holiday Review- Seduction On A Snowy Night by Hunter, Jeffries and Putney

Seduction on a snowy night

Title: Seduction On A Snowy Night

Genre: Historical Romance Holiday Anthology

Authors: Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries and Mary Jo Putney

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Kensington Books Sept. 24, 2019

Pages: 320

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Christmasy Feeling: 5

Violence Rating:4

Descriptions from Amazon:
A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter
Caroline Dunham has a bone to pick with notorious rake Baron Thornhill—and a creative plan to insure his undivided attention. Yet once in close quarters, she finds herself beholden to their smoldering connection . .

Deet’s review: He was on his way to his brother’s estate for Christmas and to secure a wealthy wife . Caroline kidnapped him and took him to her crumbling estate because …well, let’s just say she had a reason. But that reason did not include her falling for the handsome baron.

This novella is Madeline Hunter at her best; terrific development of characters and a unique plot. I loved this story. My Rating:5 Christmasy feeling: 4.5
A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries
Whisked away from a wintry ball by the officer she knew only through letters, Cassandra Isles struggles with her feelings for the commanding Colonel Lord Heywood. For he, secretly a fortune-hunter, must marry for money to save his estate—and Cass, secretly an heiress, will accept nothing less than
love . . .

Deet’s review: Melodramatic, but delightfully so. Deliciously sexy. Splendidly entertaining. Everything I expect from Sabrina Jeffries. My Rating:5 Christmasy Feeling: 5

ONE WICKED WINTER NIGHT by Mary Jo Putney
Dressed as a veiled princess, Lady Diana Lawrence is shocked to discover that the mysterious corsair who tempts her away from the costume ball is the duke she once loved and lost. Now snowed in with Castleton at a remote lodge, will she surrender to the passion still burning hotly between them?

Deet’s Review: Mary Jo Putney’s story is an offering of a second chance love story. The hero and heroine were torn apart by his wicked father. She left for the continent and India and has returned seven years later. They accidentally meet again at a ball, Diana, and her cousin Rory, are a bit scandalous in their dancing but it does attract Anthony’s attention. They are at a masquerade, he a pirate and she an Indian dancer. They find their attraction to each other to be still strong. But can the Duke convince Diana that they have a future?

Here is one of those book boyfriends to swoon over; tortured past, heartbroken over Diana’s refusal to marry him seven years ago, determined to sway her to love him again. Sigh…..
So romantic!!
Deet’s Rating: 5 Christmasy Feeling: 5
I’m so used to having at least one “bad” novella in an anthology that it blew me away with this anthology having three five star stories! There are three abductions in this book; two are human and one is feline. You really can’t go wrong with this anthology.

santa-quiet

Here is that elf again! The minute I type Christmas or Holiday they pop into the blog post.

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Release Day Review- the Landowner’s Secret by Sonya Heaney

The Landowner's Secret

Title: The Landowner’s Secret

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Sonya Heaney

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Escape Publishing, Sept. 12, 2019

Pages: N/A, Kindle 589 KB

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:

New South Wales, 1885
When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.
It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.
What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

**
I’ve been following Sonya Heaney’s blog for a couple of years and when she said her first book was going to be published I was looking forward to reading it. But Wow! I did not expect a first book to be this good!

The story is kicked off with a life and death run through the Australian Bush and then it is a stubborn Alice vs a rather level headed Robert. Back in 1885 Australia there were the usual Victorian ideas of propriety and Alice under the roof of a bachelor was a big no-no. Robert’s business partner decided to bring pressure to Robert to marry Alice or send her home. Sending her home is not an option. This is a marriage of convenience story with a slow building romance. There is enough action that I stayed up to the wee hours to finish and then didn’t want the book to end. The characters are so well drawn and personalities are so well written that they come to life on the page.

I highly recommend this book!

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Release Day Review- Magic Under The Mistletoe- Lucy Coleman

Magic Under the Mistletoe

Title: Magic Under The Mistletoe

Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance

Author: Lucy Coleman

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Aria, Sept. 5, 2019

Pages: 334

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Christmasy Feeling: 5

Description from Amazon:
Christmas and romance are in the air…
It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.
So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?
Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!
**

I really enjoyed the slow build of this romance. Leesa has some tragic past issues and Cary has some present day issues. Both are self focused so they don’t even see that they are falling for each other. This is my first Lucy Coleman book and I like the way she develops her characters. Cary as a CEO was a bit of a stretch since he seemed to not be involved in his business except to badger Leesa about her video. I didn’t like that there was a plethora of “heart-to-heart” talks in the middle of the book. I thought it slowed things down and really one or two heart-to-heart’s would have sufficed. I liked Leesa’s character, she was determined to overcome her tragedies. The side characters were well drawn and added to my liking the story. But be prepared because all seem to have secrets. This book is set during the Christmas/New Year holidays and it is full of holiday cheer.

Whoa! That’s William Levy pretending to be an elf, sneaking onto my blog. Are those elves going to invade every Christmas book review?

santa-william-levy

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Recent Release Review- Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Sapphire Flames

Title: Sapphire Flames (A Hidden Legacy Novel, #4)

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Author: Ilona Andrews

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Avon, August 27, 2019

Pages: 400

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 4

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:
In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.
But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.
To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.
**
You’re gonna love Catalina and Alessandro is definitely your new book-boyfriend. Catalina is new to being Head of House Baylor. Her sister, Nevada, was Head of House but she married and went to her husband’s family. Catalina is unsure of herself but gives us a forceful performance of her magic powers in defense of her family and friend, Runa. Alessandro insinuates himself into Catalina’s investigation of a murder. He saved her life and insists on being part of the team. Catalina is reluctant to have him but can’t seem to resist his magnetism.

I enjoyed this action packed novel with sexual tension that burns up the pages. It is a page turner that kept me up all night. The magical world of the Hidden Legacy series is both terror and horror filled with monsters and evil. But our heroes are truly smart and resourceful. This is a fun read. The side characters are well drawn. The ending was a bit frustrating so only a 4-star rating.

P.S.- The cover actually relates to a scene in the book.

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