Category Archives: Book review

Recent Release Review- The Girl With The Sweetest Secret by Betina Krahn

The Girl With The Sweetest Secret

Title: The Girl with the Sweetest Secret
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Betina Krahn
Publisher: Zebra, Nov. 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher via Amazon Vine
Pages: 320
Rating: 4
Sexy Rating: 5
Violence Rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
When Frances Bumgarten encounters a handsome stranger in her kitchen in the middle of the night, her first impulse is to wallop the scoundrel on the head with a bread paddle. And when Frankie discovers he is “The Fox,” a disarmingly arrogant purveyor of gossip among England’s aristocracy, she’s tempted to take a second swing . . .

Never mind that Reynard Boulton, nephew of the Viscount Tannehill, is returning her inebriated uncle safely home. This chiseled intruder has sparked an infuriating physical sensation unlike anything the feisty Nevada silver heiress has experienced. In fact, the noblemen of London are so dull, Frankie’s sworn off marriage entirely. She will, however, help her younger sister win her own love match—even if it means secretly enlisting Reynard’s enquiring mind . . .

But secrets, as Reynard knows too well, can be costly. For Frankie is yet unaware that a villainous duke is scheming to claim her—and ruin him. Soon they’re racing to uncover the truth—and fueling a passion that won’t stay hidden . . .

**
A really good read! This one had me hooked and I got absolutely nothing else done until I finished reading. The characters are well drawn with Reynard deliciously hunky, Frankie sufficiently empowered and the Duke of Ottenberg evil and smarmy. Frankie’s sister Claire was a bit too silly and thus she brought my rating down from a 5 to a 4. Also Claire’s romantic outcome was a bit too coincidental. Frankie and Claire’s mother was over the top as a determined mother out to marry her daughters off to nobility.  But inspite of some minor complaints I found this book delightful.

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Some Thoughts and Some Suggestions: Audiobooks

I have been listening to Audiobooks lately. They are not new to me but during the last few weeks I’ve become quite addicted to them. I tend to like the male narrators much better than the females. That said, Julia Whelan is just astonishing, she is the author and narrator (performer) of the book My Oxford Year. It is truly a terrific book and performance. I have had discussions with audio-listener friends who really love the good female narrators like Rosalyn Landor and Kate Reading but for me they just can’t perform the male voices to my liking.

Now when it comes to the male narrators (performers), Alex Wyndham is the one who gets A+ for his narration of the Lucinda Brandt and Stella Riley books. I also give high marks to Tim Campbell narrating Christi Caldwell books and Nicholas Boulton narrating Laura Kinsale’s Flowers From the Storm. They all do justice to the female voices and can do different voices for all the book’s characters, it is like listening to a play or movie without the visual, of course.

Becoming a member of Audible online is not cheap. It costs $14.95/month and for that you get one free? book and some shorter “Audible Originals”. I have been picking up books at reduced rates by watching for deals bundled with a Kindle book purchase. If you keep your eyes out you can score an audiobook for as little as $1.99, but more often $7.49. That is much less expensive than the $20-$25 cost of many audiobooks.

I recently took advantage of an Audible offer that gives me a 3 month membership for $6.95/month with the option to cancel any time. I’m taking advantage by getting some of my pricey-ist books during this member period.

Here are some of the Historical Romance (and one Contemporary) audiobooks that rate 5-stars with me:

 

 

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Filed under Audio books, Book review, Books Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Deet's Life, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Kindle

Advance Review- Not The Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not The Duke's Darling

Title: Not The Duke’s Darling (Greycourt Series Book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery

Author: Elizabeth Hoyt

Publisher: Forever, Dec. 18, 2018 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 496

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

**
This book gave me head-scratching moments. I just found myself confused about Freya, Wise Women and the Duke’s blackmailer. Like many readers I don’t like “info dumps”, especially in first books of a new series and I’m sure Ms. Hoyt knows that and avoids it, but we are left in the dark for long periods and I would have welcomed some more information about the mystery of Aurelia’s death and also other issues. Coincidences abound, Freya jumps into the Duke’s carriage while out-running bad guys in London and then they are both at the same house party along with another person from their past.

Even though Ms. Hoyt writes well I can’t give this book more than 3-stars. I will read the next in the series because this is a terrific author and I think future books will be better.

 

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Release Day Review- Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River

Title: Once Upon a River
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gothic/Fantasy
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria,Simon and Schuster Digital, Dec. 4, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 480
Rating: 5
Sexy Rating: 5
Violence Rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
**
Infused with the lyrical prose of Diane Setterfield, this mysterious, magical book kept me turning page after page, after page, after page (yes, 480 pages to be exact). I did think the book could have been shorter without losing any of the pacing or characterization, but that is my only complaint. It is a true rendering of the late Victorian era along the Thames River. Much research went into this book which gives the reader the feeling of living alongside the river and the many characters. The river is the main character which runs through the lives of each secondary character; kind and determined Robert Armstrong, the hopeful Vaughans, psychologically and physically damaged Lily White, the well adjusted Inn keepers Joe and Margot and son Jonathan and Rita the nurse who stands in as the village doctor, plus a villain steeped in evil. All play intricate rolls in the mystery that is the lost and found four year old girl.
I have looked forward to reading another book by this author since I read her wonderful novel THE THIRTEENTH TALE; ONCE UPON A RIVER did not disappoint. It is moody, frightening, uplifting, engrossing, perfectly nuanced and superbly constructed. I highly recommend this book.

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Recent Release Review- Heyer Society: Essays on The Literary Genius of Georgette Heyer

Heyer Society

Title: Heyer Society: Essays on the Literary Genius of Georgette Heyer
Genre: Literary Criticism
Author: Rachel Hyland,editor
Publisher: Overlord Publishing, Nov. 27, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 176
Rating: 4
Sexy Rating: not applicable
Violence Rating: not applicable
Description from Amazon.com:
Featuring contributions from renowned Heyer biographer Jennifer Kloester, heading up a talented team of Heyer devotees, this far-ranging and thought-provoking collection considers topics as diverse as intimacy, privilege, historical accuracy and contemporary analysis, along with looks at Heyer’s influences, and the many writers – and readers – she continues to influence worldwide.
By turns learned, personal, insightful and irreverent, the dozens of essays herein exult in the unparalleled genius of this true nonpareil.

Including:

1. Georgette Heyer’s Literary Genius, by Jennifer Kloester
2. A Most Excellent Influence – Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, by Susannah Fullarton
3. From Arabella to Venetia – Growing Up with Heyer’s Heroines by Rachel Hyland
4. The Heyer Problem – Privilege in Regency Romance, by Cat Sebastian
5. Marks of Distinction – Heyer’s Mark I and Mark II Heroes by Janga
6. Beauvallet: My First Romance Novel Boyfriend, by Donna Cummings
7. Heyer’s Kissing Cousins, by Ruth Williamson
8. What I Owe to Georgette Heyer, by Cheryl Bolen
9. ‘Bath Tangle’ in the Social Media Age, by Anne-Marie Turenne
10. Fathers in Heyer, by Janet Webb
11. The Grand Sophy: Matchmaker or Master Manipulator? by Jennifer Proffitt
12. Reluctantly Watching ‘The Reluctant Widow’ – Heyer on Film, by Rachel Hyland
13. Splash, Dash and Finesse! – Heyer’s Magical Pen and Indomitable Spirit on Display in ‘The Masqueraders,’ by Kathleen Baldwin
14. Hearing Heyer – How Audiobooks Breed a New Appreciation by Karen Zachary
15. Learning! with Georgette Heyer, by Clara Shipman
16. The Mystery of ‘Penhallow,’ by Madeline Paschen
17. Behind Closed Doors – Sex in Georgette Heyer, by Anna Bradley
18. Reading ‘The Great Roxhythe’ – The Lost Heyer Historical, by Rachel Hyland
19. Beaux, Belles and Black Sheep – Georgette Heyer in Bath, by Kirsten Elliott
20. Coming Back to Heyer – How I Came to Appreciate the Slow Burn, by Megan Osmond
21. The Lost Contemporaries: ‘Helen,’ ‘Pastel,’ ‘Instead of the Thorn’ and ‘Barren Corn,’ by Maura Tan
22. Gambling in Heyer, by Rachel Hyland
23. The Apple and the Tree – Georgette Heyer and the Black Dagger Brotherhood, by Kate Nagy
24. Was Georgette Heyer a Snob, and Does it Matter? by Tabetha Waite
25. Heyer’s Heirs – What to Read After Georgette, by Amanda Jones

Plus our contributors weigh in on their favorite Heyer novels, heroes and heroines, along with their firsts and their worsts.

A must for any Heyer fan!
**
Confession time, I have not read a Georgette Heyer book. I accepted this book for review hoping it would encourage me to delve into this renowned author’s work. The answer to that is yes… and no. Yes, because the enthusiasm of these authors is positively catching. No, because I really need to reread these opinion essays AFTER I read Heyer’s novels. If you have read Heyer’s books then I am certain these essays will mean a lot to you and if you are like me, you will be excited about reading Heyer’s romances. Each essay is thoughtful, some literary and some are love letters to the lady and the genre. Many delve into characters and compare them, such as mentions of cousins across the books or siblings relationships to one another. None of the essays are overly long. This book is certainly a must-read for Heyer fans.

 

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Release Day Review- The Good, The Bad and The Duke by Janna MacGregor

The Good the Bad and the Duke

Title: The Good, The Bad and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses book #4)

Genre: Historical Romance/Holiday

Author: Janna MacGregor

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, November 27, 2018

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 368

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Christmasy Feeling: 4

Description from Amazon.com:

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?
Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?

**
Daphne takes a stroll in the park and sits on a bench to write in her journal. A street urchin comes up to her begs a coin and steals both her reticule (purse) and her journal. Daphne gives chase and hesitates when she sees him entering a gaming hell. She enters through a side door and inside the Duke, Paul Barstowe, recognizes her as his old friend and whisks her away from prying eyes. They team up to recover her reticule and journal which starts some grand adventures and deliciously romantic encounters.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It was fun, not always true to the time period but so well done we will give it a bye. Daphne and Paul were made for each other. I was delighted that they didn’t take forever getting to the reality of their love. The story takes place over the Christmas holiday and there is even an impromptu carol singing in the dark London streets. This is a standalone but a good part of the story rests on what happened in the first books of this series (THE BAD LUCK BRIDE and THE LUCK OF THE BRIDE). For full enjoyment you may want to read those first although this one can be enjoyed by itself with no problem.

 

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From Deet- Happy Thanksgiving

happy-thanksgiving-2015-5

My turkey is roasting along with the stuffing. There will be potatoes, rutabagas, green beans, Waldorf Salad, cranberry sauce, gravy and my homemade rolls. For dessert: Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream. The only missing component is YOU my dear followers. But you are always welcome and please know that I am thankful for your support.

 Hugs from, Deet

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Holiday Anthology- How the Dukes Stole Christmas by T. Dare, S. MacLean, S. Jordan & J. Shupe

How the Dukes Stole Christmas

Title: How the Dukes Stole Christmas
Genre: Historical Romance /Holiday/Anthology
Author: Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Schupe
Publisher: Amazon Digital, Oct. 15, 2018
Source: Purchase for Kindle
Pages: 392
Rating: 4.5
Sexy Rating: 5
Violence Rating: 5
Christmasy feeling: 4
Descriptions from Amazon.com:
Christmas magic is in the air… From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up some unforgettable romance…with a little help from some enchanted shortbread.

“Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless—and unexpectedly handsome—Thorndale himself. Now the duke’s holding her future in his hands…and he’s not letting go.
Deet’s review: Delightful! This is Regency romance how we like it: desperate heroine, clueless Duke, magic shortbread, witty repartee and even a romp in the snow. Tessa Dare at her best. 5-stars, very sexy Christmasy feeling: 4

“The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm—the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can’t resist the woman he never stopped loving…or the future they’d once been promised. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay…but if ever there were a time for miracles, it’s Christmas…

Deet’s review: This is the most emotional of the four novellas. We ache for Eben’s heartache and we try to figure out if Jack is in it for revenge or something else. Maclean is the mistress of perfect prose and the long awaited HEA. 5-stars, very sexy, Christmasy feeling: 5

“Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister’s family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss … until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

Deet’s review: The romance felt a bit rushed. There is no denying that this novella was based on the movie HOME ALONE. There is a breath holding action scene. This one needed a bit more emotional feeling. 3.5-stars, very sexy, Christmasy Feeling: 2

“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker’s weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column’s author, can’t even boil water. When the paper’s owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing—especially when Duke’s attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?

Deet’s review: This novella is based on the movie CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. This novella is so well done I wish it had been a full length novel. I wanted more romance between Duke and Rose although this was very sexy, but the romance was rushed.
4.5- stars, very sexy, Christmasy feeling: 5

Deet’s Over All Opinion: You can’t go wrong with this anthology. Every story is a page turner. I finished it in two nights and wanted more. Highly recommended!!

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Release Day Review- A Holiday By Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight A Victorian Christmas Novella

Title: A Holiday By Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella
Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian/Holiday
Author: Mimi Matthews
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press, Nov. 13, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 147
Rating: 5+
Sexy Rating: 3
Violence Rating: 0
Christmasy Feeling: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.
**
I don’t usually jump up and down getting all excited about a book but there is a time for everything,  so you can picture me jumping up and down. This novella is delightful!, wonderful!, and perfect for a spirited lift in the Holiday season.
Sophie is not going to marry a man she doesn’t like and for the 2 months Ned Sharpe has been courting her, he has been uncommunicative and cold. So it is best to end it with Ned because he seems not to even like her. Ned does like her but he is from “trade” and Sophie is an aristocrat. He is out of his element. He bought a book that tells him “the rules” of courtship and he’s trying not to make a mistake, until he messes up everything. But Sophie’s parents need her to marry for money and play on her sense of duty to try and rectify the breach with Ned.
So often I complain about how characters are not well developed in novellas but Mimi Matthews has shown here that it can be done and done well. Not only the main characters but also the side characters. The Romance is slow developing and the essence of Victorian mores is ever present. This gives the book a true feeling of the era. There is a Christmasy feeling with the festivities at the house party. There are touches of the times in discussion of Prince Albert’s death and modern innovations. All in all a 5+ star book, I highly recommend this book for your relaxing holiday pleasure.

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Recent Release Review- A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry

A Christmas Revelation

Title: A Christmas Revelation: A Novel
Genre: Historical Mystery/ Victorian
Author: Anne Perry
Publisher: Ballentine, November 6, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 177
Rating: 4
Sexy Rating: 0
Violence Rating: 5
Christmasy feeling: 4
Description from Amazon.com:
Formerly a river urchin living on the banks of the Thames, nine-year-old Worm has never experienced a family Christmas. But thanks to a job at Hester Monk’s clinic in Portpool Lane, he’s found a makeshift family in kindly volunteer Miss Claudine Burroughs and curmudgeonly old bookkeeper Squeaky Robinson.

When Worm witnesses the abduction of a beautiful woman by a pair of ruffians just days before Christmas, he frantically turns to Squeaky for help. A one-time brothel owner, Squeaky knows the perils of interfering in nasty business, but he can’t bear to disappoint Worm—or leave the boy to attempt a rescue on his own. What neither of the would-be saviors expects, however, is that the damsel in distress already has her dilemma well in hand . . . and is taking steps to bring her captors to justice for crimes far worse than kidnapping. But the rogues, as cunning as they are deadly, are not to be underestimated. The aid of cynical old Squeaky and hopeful young Worm just might make the difference between a merry triumph over evil and a terrible yuletide tragedy.
**
This is a short novel, more a novella. The mystery is a bit thin but the story is heartwarming and at times heart-pounding. Ms. Perry brings to life the Victorian seedy side of London and those decent people as well as ruffians who reside there. I was won over by sweet, nine-year-old Worm and not quite sweet, 60-year-old Squeaky as they do there best to save the beautiful lady (Eloise). Christmas comes into the story as the two also are bringing Christmas décor and festivities to the clinic where they live.

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