Tag Archives: 3-stars

Review- The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien

the-merchants-pearl

Title: The Merchant’s Pearl (The Merchant’s Pearl Saga, book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian

Author: Amie O’Brien

Publisher: Book Baby, July 2016

Source: Free for review from the author

Pages: 466

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5 not explicit

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:         

The opinionated, only daughter of a missionary, is enslaved and gifted to an Ottoman prince who has an inner vow to win her affection. Sarai was led to believe that the whole world could exchange their beliefs for hers. But when her parents are murdered, she quickly learns that the world never stops for just one person. The world takes, forgets, and swiftly moves on. By 1875, she isn’t even Sarai anymore. She had spent her teenage years repackaged as Leila, a palace concubine-in-waiting for the overly indulgent, Ottoman Sultan, Abdul’Aziz. Leila does her best to stay out of the eye of ‘Aziz as well as his son, Prince Emre. But when young and thoughtful Emre claims Leila for his own harem, she is forced out of her shell and thrown into a ring of competitive women. Here, she cannot hide from the attention her young master wishes to lavish upon her. Nor can she can avoid the ruthless retaliations of his prior favorite, Aster. But it’s the unexpected gift of sexual sanctuary and an inside look into his family’s struggles that really collides with Leila’s upbringing. Soon, despite her better judgment, she finds her heart becoming increasingly tied to him. But can she submit her faith and independent spirit to such a future—a future where to be loved means settling for the fact that she can only ever be his favorite? Will she be able to take turns sharing him among the four beautiful girls he had received before her, one being a jealous rival and another a closest friend? And what will happen to their love if Emre’s father can’t hold together his fragile kingdom, an empire that has grave threats encroaching from every side…including within?

**

I have mixed feelings about this book. The writing, while good, left me wondering too often about setting.  I really wanted to know more about the physical attributes of the palace.  We are forced, along with Leila, to confine ourselves to her room or Prince Emre’s rooms.  We are only briefly any other place in the entire 466 pages.  Written in the first person (I confess up-front that this is not my favorite style), the book is told almost entirely in dialog. An info dump at the end should have been given earlier so that the reader could understand what was going on politically. When at the ball we are told she is wearing a blue gown, but what is the style, is it like a Victorian English Ball? Is she wearing some harem garb? Told that the prince and his brothers are wearing black jackets, but what style?  The heroine was often truculent with her “master” even though he was a paragon of patience would a prince in these surroundings have tolerated her disrespect?

The language was often too modern for the Victorian and Turkish setting.

In acknowledgements the author thanks her several editors.  If these were professional editors then they could have done a better job of pointing the author in the right direction.

I conclude that there is some real talent with this author which is not fully realized in this book.

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Advance Review- Surrender To The Marquess by Louise Allen

surrender-to-the-marquess

Title: Surrender To The Marquess (The Harriads, book#3)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Louise Allen

Publisher: Harlequin Historical, March 1, 2017 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 288

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:         

A battle of wills! 

When Lady Sara Herriard’s husband dies in a duel, she turns her back on the vagaries of the ton. From now on, she will live as she pleases. She won’t change for anyone—certainly not for the infuriating Lucian Avery, Marquess of Cannock!

Lucian must help his sister recover from a disastrous elopement and reluctantly enlists Lady Sara’s help. She couldn’t be further from the conventional, obedient wife he’s expected to marry, but soon all he craves is for her to surrender—and join him in his bed!

**

I don’t expect to love every book I read. This one was well written but I really didn’t like the heroine, Sara. And I just couldn’t wrap my head around her pushy interference in Lucian’s family life. I mean yes it was nice of her to want to help but she was like an overpowering tornedo. My way or the highway.  I couldn’t get past that to enjoy the story or other characters. Let’s just chalk this one up to “not my cuppa tea”.

(But if ever I was to buy a book because of the cover, this one would be it.  The H/h in the book match the cover and the balcony also features in the book.  I want to see more of this reference between both cover and story in other novels.)

 

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Release Day Review- Schooling The Viscount by Maggie Robinson

schooling-the-viscount

Title: Schooling The Viscount (Cotswold Confidential, book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian

Author: Maggie Robinson

Publisher: Lyrical Press, Kensington, Jan. 31, 2017 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 254

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon.com:         

Welcome to Puddling‑on‑the‑Wold, where the sons and daughters of Victorian nobility come for a little rest, recuperation, and “rehab,” in this brand-new series of rebellious romance from Maggie Robinson.

After a harrowing tour of duty abroad, Captain Lord Henry Challoner fought to keep his memories at bay with two of his preferred vices: liquor and ladies. But the gin did more harm than good–as did Henry’s romantic entanglements, since he was supposed to be finding a suitable bride. Next stop: The tiny village in Gloucestershire, where Henry can finally sober up without distraction or temptation. Or so he thinks…

A simple country schoolteacher, Rachel Everett was never meant to cross paths with a gentleman such as Henry. What could such a worldly man ever see in her? As it turns out, everything. Beautiful, fiercely intelligent Rachel is Henry’s dream woman–and wife. Such a match would be scandalous for his family of course, and Rachel has no business meddling with a resident at the famed, rather draconian, Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation. All the better, for two lost souls with nothing to lose–and oh so very much to gain.

***

Let me confess that Victorian Chic-Lit is not my fave.  That said this book really has a unique take on the Victorian era, actually I think we can call it rather a fantasy of Victorian England. Rachel is probably one of the most normal characters in this book.  She is a school teacher and is instructed by the towns leaders to not interact with the “Guests” as the patients are called who come to the village. She accidentally meets Henry, Henry is smitten with the town’s lovely school teacher and from that time on, no matter how many times he is hit on the head(and he is hit quite often), he is all about winning over Rachel.

This is a book for those who love the slapstick, light fluff romance books.  I’ve often claimed not to like silly humor. I’m more in favor of the witty type, but if you do love this kind of book then this one is perfect. You may have to shelve your disbelief but you also will have a good laugh.

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Recent Release Review- Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

breath-of-fire

Title: Breath of fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles, book /32)

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Author: Amanda Bouchet

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, Jan. 3, 2017

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 448

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

SHE’S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD… BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a warrior queen to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world—for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin risk sacrificing everything they’ve fought for. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or die trying.

The Kingmaker Chronicles: A Promise of Fire (Book 1) Breath of Fire (Book 2) Heart on Fire (Book 3, coming Fall 2017)

****

I could not wrap my mind around the disjointed way this book was written.  It starts off with Griffin trashing his bedroom with Cat there and stalking off.  Then she leaves to heal her broken heart in another room.  He comes back and says she got it all wrong.  I don’t think so. From there we go on one action packed adventure scene to the next full of violence and thrills. But it felt like just scenes linked together.  Certainly scenes that were interesting but really didn’t feel like a cohesive story. I kept setting this book aside because it just wasn’t holding my interest.  It took me forever to finish.

This book got a rating of 3 from me because if you are really into the Greek myths and like Game of Thrones then this book is “okay”.  But for me personally it rated a 2 “disappointing”.

 

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Recent Release Review- Ready, Set, Rogue by Manda Collins

ready-set-rogue

Title: Ready, Set, Rogue (A Studies In Scandal Novel, book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

Author: Manda Collins

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, Jan. 3, 2017

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 320

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:         

When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s one of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library, she packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady Celeste’s nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is determined to interrupt her studies one way or another…

Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockings—no matter how lovely they are to look at—is a travesty, and Quill simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes to solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s help. Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This rogue believes he’s finally met his match—but can Quill convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no fiction?

***

I’m no stranger to Manda Collins’ books.  I’ve read and enjoyed many (at least 5) over the past few years.  I’ve always found them to have unique plots and this offering is no exception.  Ivy receives a letter when she arrives at the Beauchamp estate from her deceased benefactor, Celeste Beauchamp, telling her that if she is reading the letter then she, Celeste, has died and probably under mysterious circumstances.  She tells Ivy to work with her nephew, Quill, to solve her murder. Of course this alliance leads to time spent in each other’s company and a romance blossoms, rather quickly.

I have to confess that this book is not a favorite of mine.  I thought much of the story predictable, and some incidents a bit of a cliché. The characterization of all characters was well realized and individual personalities of the other ladies inheriting along with Ivy were well drawn.  We can, hopefully, look forward to their stories as the series continues. The mystery is interesting and held my attention even if I didn’t feel a romantic bond formed between Ivy and Quill. I recommend this book with some reservations.

 

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Advance Review- A Change Of Heart by Sonali Dev

Title: A Change of Heart

A change of Heart 2

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Sonali Dev

Publisher: Kensington, Sept. 27, 2016, pre-order available

Source: Free for review from the Amazon vine Program

Pages: 352

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Dr. Nikhil ‘Nic’ Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

**

After loving Ms. Dev’s first two romances I was truly disappointed in this book. Yes, she can write a good story and this one has a huge mystery going on but I never liked Jess and thought Nik was taken in by her. If I can’t get behind a main character then the book is not one of my favorites. I expected more romance. In the past I have enjoyed learning about the culture of India in this author’s books and that continues in this offering, so that it garnered 3-stars instead of two from me.

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Release Day Review- A Taste of Seduction by Bronwen Evans

 

Title: A Taste of Seduction (The Disgraced Lords, book #5)

A taste of seduction

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Bronwen Evans

Publisher: Loveswept, Aug 16, 2016 for Kindle

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 249

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 3

Description from Amazon.com:

Lady Evangeline Stuart chose to wed a tyrant with a title, or so society believes. That was five years ago—five long years she could have spent with her first and only love: Lord Hadley Fullerton, the second son of the Duke of Claymore. Now Evangeline is a widow, and her soul cries out for Hadley. But when they see each other at last, everything has changed. The passion in his eyes has been corrupted by betrayal. Somehow Evangeline must regain Hadley’s trust—without revealing the secret that would spoil the seduction.

Hadley is determined not to be distracted by Evangeline. He and the other Libertine Scholars are in pursuit of an enemy who has been striking at them from the shadows, and Evangeline’s mere presence could be dangerous. But with one smile, one touch, one taste of Evangeline’s lips, Hadley’s resolve is overpowered by much more pleasant memories. As the two enter into a discreet affair, Hadley vows to give her his body, never his heart. That she will have to earn.

**

I have read a few of the books in this series about The Libertine Scholars. Their fathers were all rogues who debauched and reveled to a total disregard of proper comportment. Someone who was set upon by their fathers is looking to destroy the sons by murder or by ruination since the fathers are all dead now. For 5 books there has been the mystery of who is the person out for revenge. In this book we discover the culprit. The running mystery has been a very interesting side to the very steamy romances of the Libertine Scholars.

In this book Hadley Fullerton is a second son who has really taken over the reins of his brother, the Duke’s responsibilities of running the estate. But then Hadley has always protected and cared for his brother. Hadley was in love with Evangeline but just as they were to elope she married a Viscount. Hadley was broken hearted and seethed with anger at her betrayal.

Evangeline was forced into her marriage with the Viscount and lived in a brutal marriage for 5 years until his death. Following his demise she and her son come to London seeking out Hadley. But Hadley is angry and not forgiving.

As much as I have liked the other two books that I have read in this series, this book was just not as interesting for me. There was plenty of action, intrigue and sexy scenes but perhaps that was just what didn’t ring true. Having Evangeline go off and decide to “shack-up” with Hadley when he , up-front, says he may marry someone else just seemed too much to believe. Or perhaps, it just made me not like Evangeline for agreeing to this scenario.

I did like that we finally get to know who the person is behind the revenge attacks.

The Distinguished Lords Series:

  1. A Kiss of Lies
  2. A Promise of More (Deet’s rating 3.5 stars)
  3. A Touch of Passion
  4. A Whisper of Desire ( Deet’s rating 4 stars)
  5. A Taste of Seduction (Deet’s rating 3 stars)
  6. A Night of Forever ( pre-order available)

 

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Recent Release Review- Seduced by Jess Michaels

Title: Seduced (The Wicked Woodleys, Book #5)

Seduced

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Jess Michaels

Publisher: The Passionate Pen, May 17, 2016

Pages: 233

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:         

Criminal Jack Blackwood has plenty of problems, from his complicated relationship with his brother to the plethora of men coming to dethrone him as king of the underground. What he doesn’t need is a rich, bored gentleman showing up to try to join his gang. Worse, he doesn’t need that gentleman’s sister, Lady Letitia Seagate, chasing after him demanding he keep her brother safe. If only the lady weren’t so damned intriguing. Widowed Letty is desperate to protect her younger brother, even if it means matching wits with the notorious, charismatic Captain Jack. Only the man has far more to him than she ever expected, and his tempting kisses and smoldering promises leave her wanting more than she has ever dared before. Can Jack uncover the truth behind Letty’s darkest lies? And will they both survive the storm about to strike at the very heart of their passion? Length: Full-length novel Sensuality level: Hot and steamy This book can be read as a stand-alone novel, but is part of a series (The Wicked Woodleys).

**

Jack is handsome, a criminal king in London.  Letty is widowed who has secrets to keep and a brother to keep out of the grip of Jack.  But the attraction between them is too much to deny.

This is a quick read, containing some very sizzling passages.  It doesn’t take a deep concentration to figure out where this tale is going.  Letty was well drawn and we understand her concern for her brother but her stupid actions are really unforgivable.  Jack is proclaimed the head of a criminal empire but I wanted more of his corruption and activities. He seemed a bit too main-stream for such a wicked fellow.

This is a standalone novel with side characters from previous books in the series.

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Review- The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Title: The Painted Girls

The Painted Girls

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Author: Cathy Marie Buchanan

Publisher: Riverhead Books, Jan. 2013

Pages: 369

Source: Public Library

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5-not explicit

Description from Amazon.com:

A heartrending, gripping novel about two sisters in Belle Époque Paris and the young woman forever immortalized as muse for Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.

1878 Paris. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir. Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. There she meets a wealthy male patron of the ballet, but might the assistance he offers come with strings attached? Meanwhile Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde.  Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.” In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation, if not survival, lies with the other.

**

This book is based on the true story of the fourteen year old ballet dancer, Marie Van Goethem, who modeled for Edgar Degas’s famous statue Little Dancer.

Little_dancer

It is also the story of her family; an alcoholic mother, older sister Antoinette who became a prostitute and younger sister Charlotte who became a rather famous ballerina. Left to fend for themselves upon the death of their husband and father the family did what they had to do to house, feed and clothe themselves. For penniless Parisian women in the 1870’s there were menial jobs (the mother became a laundress) or prostitution (The mother and Antoinette) or go on the stage as a ballerina or actress (the route that Marie and Charlotte took).

I enjoyed this book for the realistic look at poor women in the late 1800’s.  Not so much different in Paris as in the USA or England.  It is a well-researched book and the look into the ballet was also very interesting.  There were men of wealth who came to observe the young ballerinas and would offer some their “protection” which was not always protective.  Marie was fortunate in that Edgar Degas paid her to only model.  But later she met another man who wanted more from her.

This is a very slow starting book and if I had not been reading it for my book club discussion I might have given up.  However at about the 150 page point this became a very engaging story. I realize that not all readers are willing to wait that long into a book but this one did pay off in the end.

BTW- My book club agrees with my review here.

 

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Recent Release Review- Hell On Heels by Victoria Vane

Title:  Hell On Heels

Hell on Heels

Genre: Contemporary Romance Serial (book #1)

Author: Victoria Vane

Publisher: Lyrical shine, Jan 19, 2016, e-book

Pages: 147

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:         

Place Your Bet The Hotel Rodeo in Las Vegas has seen better days, but managing partner Ty Morgan has come up with a way to return it to its former glory. His plan looks promising until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly Ty is working for the boss’s daughter. And Miss Monica Brandt, hot as she may be, doesn’t share his vision… Roll The Dice She left a fabulous career and a frustrated fiancé in New York to move to Vegas and save her father’s investment. But now Monica is locking horns with a sexy cowboy-turned-businessman. What does Ty think he can do that she can’t? All Monica knows is that she doesn’t dare trust him—or is it herself she doesn’t trust?… And Win The battle lines are drawn. The stakes are high. And the attraction can’t be denied—especially the more closely Ty and Monica have to work together. Some odds are just meant to be played, and with chemistry this electric, it may be time to grab life by the horns…

**

I do love Victoria Vane’s romance books, both contemporary and historical.  She can delve into a time period or setting and bring it to life as she has brought the hotel real estate world to life in this book.  She sets a scene and we are immediately transported to Las Vegas.  Her characters, in this case Ty and Monica are well developed and their backgrounds fleshed out so that we are always aware of their motivation.  This is not my favorite of Ms. Vane’s books.  Monica was angry or grumpy and Ty also.  They had angry sex most of the time.  This also ends on a cliffhanger.  There was no HEA in this book.

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