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Novella Review- A Breach of Promise by Victoria Vane

A Breach of Promise

Title: A Breach of Promise (The Rules of Engagement, book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance Novella/ Georgian

Author: Victoria Vane

Publisher: Vane Publishing LLC, 2nd edition, June 2016

Source: purchase for Kindle

Pages: 137

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:         

When charm and persuasion fail… Only seduction remains…

On the night of her betrothal, Lydia Trent receives just a taste of what awaits her in marriage with her fiancé…and then he leaves her wanting. Now, after waiting six years for her exceedingly reluctant bridegroom to honor his troth, Lydia is resolved to break it off. When Marcus, Lord Russell, receives Lydia’s letter demanding a release from their marriage contract, he is at first stunned, but certain that he’ll have her eating out of his hand with his usual wit and charm. Although confident that he’ll repair the damage, he has no clue how determined the headstrong Lydia is to thwart his every effort to win her back. Yet, Marcus discovers, in spite of her conviction to end the engagement, Lydia is more responsive to his touch than he ever imagined. He just needs to get her alone to unleash the promised passion he sees within his virgin fiancée. Armed with this knowledge, he will use any tool in his arsenal to exploit her weakness. In short, he’ll just have to ruin her!

***

I am a fan of Victoria Vane.  Her Historical Romances are my favorites and this short novella is no exception.  In signature steamy prose the author has given us a look at a sweet heroine who has reached her limit of understanding and a rather self-absorbed hero who his getting his comeuppance. That the author can bring to life these well-constructed characters in such a short book is to her credit. She also introduces us to Mariah and Nick, the protagonists in the next book in the series, A PLEDGE OF PASSION. I recommend this book to all romance readers.

 

 

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Release Day Review- The Thing About Love by Julie James

The Thing About Love

Title: The Thing About Love

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Julie James

Publisher: Berkley, April 18, 2017

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 380

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

The New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer blows the covers of two FBI agents who can’t hide who they are from each other…   FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army Ranger clashed during their training at Quantico and gladly went their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to be assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.   For both of them, being paired with an old rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work together—a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a lot more complicated…

***

Everything you wanted to know about FBI Special Agents and Black Ops training.  Oh you wanted more romance, well you might have to wait a long while in this read but eventually the hero, John , and the heroine, Jessica, do get around to lusting after each other.  Of course their first meet, 6 years prior, was competitive smack-down, bullying sessions at their initial FBI Academy training. Not exactly conducive to romance although our hero insists that’s the way he rolls in attempts at generating romantic interest.  Yes, I do have issues with this book.  And, now don’t be surprised, I liked it even in spite of those issues.

I do like a book where I learn about a subject heretofore not in my wheel house, the FBI training. I liked the info about undercover work.  Since I am a newbie to this subject I can only assume the author has her facts straight. That these two people who hated each other fell in love was a stretch but at least we finally get some romance in this romance book.  I thought there were several missed opportunities for some action and crisis since we only get that at the very end of the book and then it is nothing much.

Do I recommend it? With reservations. If you are a fan of this author, yes. If you want to learn about the FBI, sure. If you want action and romance, not so much but it is steamy and sexy

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Recent Release Review- I Dared The Duke by Anna Bennett

I Dared the Duke

Title: I Dared The Duke: A Wayward Wallflowers Novel

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Anna Bennett

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperback, April, 2017

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 365

Rating:4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon.com:

DARE TO FALL IN LOVE

Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.

Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?

I Dared the Duke continues Anna Bennett’s Regency-era romance series, The Wayward Wallflowers.

***

If you like your heroines feisty and your heroes handsome, if a bit difficult, then this is your book. Beth adores her employer who just happens to be Alex’s grandmother.  Alex thinks someone is trying to kill him and he worries for the safety of his grandmother and Beth.  He doesn’t want to tell them why he wants them out of his London house and into the country so Beth digs in her heels and will only go if Alex grants his grandmother’s wishes. There is a mystery to be solved and secrets to be discovered.

I enjoyed this fun and light novel.  At times Beth’s attitude was a bit present-day instead of Regency so if you are a stickler for authenticity then you may be disappointed. I found it to be charming. The romance is slow developing so it feels very natural.

(I love that book cover!!)

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Rereading The Bridgertons- To Sir Phillip With Love by Julia Quinn

To Sir Phillip With Love

Title: To Sir Phillip with Love (the Bridgertons, book #5)

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

Author: Julia Quinn

Publisher: Avon, 2003 (reprint with 2nd Epilogue 2017, cover as above)

Source: Purchase, on Keeper Shelf

Pages: 372

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 3

Description from Amazon.com:

Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her . . . and more.

Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking . . . and wondering . . . and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except . . . he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled . . . and when he kissed her . . . the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn’t help but wonder . . . could this imperfect man be perfect for her?

**

This offering in the series is not one of my favorites although it is still a very good read.  I think I was put off by Phillip’s rudeness toward Eloise, and also I had trouble understanding Eloise’s desperation in finding a husband.  Yes, she had turned down 6 offers of marriage but to run off willy-nilly to find a husband just didn’t jive with me. She comes from a very popular and wealthy family so she should have had another chance or two at marriage while at home. She didn’t seem to have too much in common with Phillip, and his children were more than a handful for a woman with no previous experience raising children.  We did get to see The Bridgerton brothers once more and they totally outshined Sir Phillip.

(My book did not have the second epilogue that is in the current edition of this book.)

The Bridgerton Series:

  1. The Duke and I (Daphne)
  2. The Viscount Who Loved Me (Anthony)
  3. An Offer From a Gentleman (Benedict)
  4. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Colin)
  5. To Sir Phillip, With Love (Eloise)
  6. When He Was Wicked (Francesca)
  7. It’s In His Kiss (Hyacinth)

8.On The Way To The Wedding (Gregory)

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Review- Someone To Love by Mary Balogh

Someone To Love

Title: Someone To Love (Westcotts Book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

Author: Mary Balogh

Publisher: Berkley, Nov. 2016

Source: Purchase

Pages: 398

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon.com:

Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had…   Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…   Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

***

Leave it to Mary Balogh to make the Regency era come alive with what feels like true characterization of people of the times.  The orphanage is not a horrid place ala Dickens, it is where our heroine grew up in poverty but surrounded by caring people.  The aristocracy is portrayed with an all-encompassing entitlement and blood lines be damned if you are found to be illegitimate. Our hero, or perhaps he is an anti-hero, is short, slender, “angelic” looking and yet he exudes an aura of danger and power.  The Westcott family is outraged by the turn of events and yet our heroine, Anna (Anastasia), maintains her dignity throughout.

The romance is subtle and more like friendship at first.  There is not any strong attraction only mild interest on both sides.  I was wondering why Anna wasn’t more attracted to Alexander the new Earl instead of The Duke.  There is a rather huge character dump in the beginning of this book and keeping everyone straight was difficult even with the family tree in the front of the book.  This is not one of my favorite books of Ms. Balogh but I did like it, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series, SOMEONE TO HOLD, especially since I now think I have all the characters straight.

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Review- My Fair Duchess by Julie Johnstone

my-fair-duchess

Title: My Fair Duchess (Once Upon A Rogue, book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Julie Johnstone

Publisher: Night Shift, 2014

Source: Purchase (free on Kindle) Audio available, Tim Campbell narrator

Pages: 265

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:         

After years of playing the rogue to hide a dark family secret, the Duke of Aversley feels tainted beyond redemption and cynical beyond repair. Never does he imagine hope will come in the form of a quirky, quick-witted lady determined to win the heart of another aristocrat. Thanks to a painfully awkward past, Lady Amelia De Vere long ago relinquished the notion she was a flower that had yet to blossom. But when her family faces financial ruin and the man she has always loved is on the verge of marrying another, she’ll try anything to transform herself to capture her childhood love and save her family―including agreeing to participate in a bet between her brother and the notorious, dangerously handsome Duke of Aversley. Bound by the bet, Amelia and Aversley discover unexpected understanding and passion beyond their wildest dreams, if only they can let go of their pride, put trust in each other and chance losing their hearts.

***

A really good read packed with drama and some violence.  I’m warning up front that there is an attempted rape scene.  The romance is slow to develop and feels very natural that Amelia and Colin should fall in love.  The bet seems a bit convoluted and I had to read about it several times to fully grasp what it was about but this could have just been me.  That Amelia’s brother Robert was so prideful was really disappointing and once again in a HR novel I’m wishing that these characters would just be upfront and honest with each other, especially Amelia’s mother.  Now the Duke of Scarsdale was certainly an interesting character and I see that he gets the girl in book #2 of this series. Although I did want to shake a few characters out of their misguided actions, I truly enjoyed this book.

( I also listened to the Audio Book of this title and Tim Campbell does an excellent job of giving each character their own voice.  He is such a terrific narrator that it upsets me when he is disparaged by other reviewers because he occasionally gets a word mispronounced in the British accent. (He is an American actor and as far as this American is concerned he rates an A+ and his accent is perfectly okay for me.)

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Advance Review- Madly by Ruthie Knox

madly

Title: Madly (The New York Trilogy Series, book #2)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Ruthie Knox

Publisher: Loveswept, March 14, 2017 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: ?

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways. Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

**

This book had me laughing at Allie’s “Meet Cute” with Winston.  She is in a bar spying on her mother and she might be recognized so she ropes in a stranger, Winston, for a fake kiss as her mother passes on her way to the Ladies’ room.  From there Winston becomes her aide de camp in her spying mission when he discovers he may have a key to her quest.

This story starts off with lots of promise.  It is rather a convoluted plot that sometimes left me scratching my head wondering “Why” or “What” it was always interesting and very well written.  There are some sexy, steamy downright kinky bits. Allie’s sister May and her boyfriend Ben play important roles.  Their story was in the first book of this series, TRULY. Also Nev, Winston’s brother, and Cath show up which is a definite treat since they were the H/h of Knox’s ABOUT LAST NIGHT a 5-star joy of a book. Winston had a role in that book also which is not billed as part of this current trilogy but worth a read.  Back to this book; it slows down a bit in the middle and really has some over the top drama.  Can this many characters all have this much angst? Yes, yes they can, and it is a bit exhausting.

You don’t need to read any of the aforementioned books, in and out of this series, to enjoy this book. But I do encourage you to delve into a Ruthie Knox book.  She writes fun, intelligent, sensuous contemporary romance that can be topped by no other.

The New York Trilogy Series:

  1. Truly (May and Ben)
  2. Madly (Allie and Winston)

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Advance Review- Last Night With A Duke by Amelia Grey

lastnightwiththeduke-2

Title: Last Night With A Duke: The Rakes of St. James (book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Amelia Grey

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, March 7, 2017 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 304

Rating:4

Sexy Rating: 5- not explicit

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:         

Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all?

The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling around London that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind–until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.

Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride.

Last Night with the Duke, the first novel in the brand-new Regency Rakes of St. James series by New York Times bestselling author Amelia Grey.

**

Esmeralda and Griffin are attracted to each other the minute he is caught eavesdropping on her scolding her employee at the Employment agency she manages. Immediately he decides that no one else will do to help chaperone his twin sisters during their debut season.  Esmeralda hesitates until he offers a huge salary and says she can bring along her sister, Josephine, and their dog, Napoleon. Of course the attraction escalates but there are secrets that Esmeralda hides and a misunderstanding that may tear them apart.

I was captivated by the handsome Duke and by his fellow rakish friends, both dukes, Rath and Hawk. (Their stories to come in future books in the series) The chemistry between Esmeralda and Griffin was hot, no matter how much they tried to douse the flames it always flared up. Napoleon, the dog, was a comical side character.  Griffin’s twin sisters Sara and Vera were typical rival siblings, so much fun to watch them try to outdo each other in their romantic debut season.  Although a bit predictable it was a very entertaining read and a delightful first book in a series.

 

 

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Advance Review- Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London

sinful-scottish-laird

Title: Sinful Scottish Laird: A Historical Romance Novel (The Highland Grooms, book #2)

Genre: Historical Romance/Highlands

Author: Julia London

Publisher: HQN, Feb. 28, 2017 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 384

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

Widowed and forced to remarry in three years’ time or forfeit her son’s inheritance, Daisy Bristol, Lady Chatwick, has plenty of suitors vying for her hand…and her fortune. But a letter from a long-lost love sends Daisy and her young son to her Scottish Highland estate to buy time for his return. Along the way she encounters the powerful Cailean Mackenzie, laird of Arrandale and a notorious smuggler, and she is utterly—though unwillingly—bewitched.

Cailean has no use for any Sassenach in his glen. But Daisy’s brazen, flirtatious nature and alluring beauty intrigue him. When her first love appears unexpectedly at her estate, Cailean knows that a passionate woman like Daisy cannot marry this man. And to prevent the union, Cailean must put his own life at risk to win her heart.

**

In the first book of this series, Wild Wicked Scot, we are introduced to Arren and Margot.  In this the second book of the series some years have passed and this is the story of their oldest son, Cailean and his falling in love with Sassenach, Daisy. Cailean has fought against his attraction to the flirty Daisy because he knows she must marry an Englishman to protect her son’s inheritance. There are reasons he feels he could never reside in England and he determines to encourage her to marry someone else.  Daisy knows that she must marry by year’s end.  She thinks that Robert her love of her teen years will suit, but she can’t reconcile her attraction to Cailean.

Once again I have enjoyed the well-developed characters in this series.  The story is page-turning interesting. I liked both Daisy, who knew what she wanted but also knew her duty to her son, and Cailean who knew he had to let her go.  The problems were tied up a bit too conveniently but the addition of a character from book one was welcome at the end. I hope Knox gets his own book.

This is a standalone novel with cameos by characters from the first book in the series.  You can pick up this one without having read the first and you will not be lost although I encourage you to enjoy the first book.

The Higland Grooms Series by Julia London:

  1. Wild Wicked Scot (Arren and Margot)
  2. Sinful Scottish Laird (Cailean and Daisy)
  3. Hard-Hearted Highlander (Robbie and ?)April 2017

 

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Advance Review- Royal Affair by Parker Swift

royal-affair

Title: Royal Affair (Royal Scandal, book #1)

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Erotic

Author: Parker Swift

Publisher: Forever Yours, Feb. 14, 2017 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 352

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5+

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

One seriously sexy son-of-a-duke . . .

Behind the posh British accent, Dylan Hale possesses a down-and-dirty sexiness. Off-the-charts gorgeous, a ruthless architect . . . and did I mention he’s a future duke? Every time we touch, it’s wildfire. All need and lust and heat. But Dylan has rules: just sex, no one can know, and in the bedroom he gets complete control. All I have to do is follow the rules, because falling in love with Dylan Hale is all it would take to screw everything up . . . royally. Dylan and Lydia’s story continues!

Royal Scandal Series Book 2: Royal Disaster Book 3: Royal Treatment

***

Lydia is a sweet college grad about to start her dream job when she meets Dylan.  At first she doesn’t know he’s 1) a Marquess, 2) a paparazzi magnet and 3) a world renowned architect.  All Lydia knows is that she is in instant lust with this super-hot man. Dylan is all about seducing Lydia but only on his terms; which means no public appearances and he calls the shots.

This is very Fifty Shades meets Sweet filthy boy.  The sex is hot and kinky.  The attraction and sexual tension is off the charts.  The main characters are very believable but the side characters are a bit sketchy.  We have an Alpha man and a naïve younger woman.  There is some BDSM and spanking. I enjoyed this book but couldn’t help comparing it to those other books I mentioned. There is little that is original.

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