Tag Archives: 5 stars

Advance Review- The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe

The Devil of Downtown

Title: The Devil of Downtown (Uptown Girls, book #3)

Genre: Historical Romance /Victorian /American

Author: Joanna Shupe

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Avon, June 30, 2020

Pages: 384

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 4

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:

Manhattan kingpin.
Brilliant mastermind.
Gentleman gangster.

He’s built a wall around his heart…

Orphaned and abandoned on the Bowery’s mean streets, Jack Mulligan survived on strength, cunning, and ambition. Now he rules his territory better than any politician or copper ever could. He didn’t get here by being soft. But in uptown do-gooder Justine Greene―the very definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove―Jack may have met his match.

She wears hers on her sleeve…

Justine is devoted to tracking down deadbeat husbands and fighting for fair working conditions. When her mission brings her face-to-face with Jack, she’s shocked to find the man behind the criminal empire is considerably more charming and honorable than many “gentlemen” she knows.

Forming an unlikely alliance, they discover an unexpected desire. And when Justine’s past catches up with them, Jack may be her only hope of survival. Is she ready to make a deal with the devil…?

**
It is hard to figure out who saves who more often, Justine or Jack. Justine is headstrong and fearless but Jack knows the dangers she faces even if she disregards them. Justine is drawn to Jack even if she knows there can be no future with him. As a reader I also know this so I keep turning pages to find out how there can be a HEA.

This is the first book in this series that I have read, and although there are frequent references to characters and situations in previous books, this is still a standalone novel.

I liked the fearlessness of Justine which did not mean she was careless about safety she was just overly confident in her own abilities. My only complaint about the story, Jack for all his King-Pin persona never quite made me feel he was all that powerful. This was a very good read and a welcome addition to my library. I can’t wait to read the previous two books in the series.

Love that book cover!!

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Advance Review- Sex And Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Sex and Vanity

Title: Sex And Vanity

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Kevin Kwan

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Doubleday, June 30, 2020

Pages: 336

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 4

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon:

On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases. The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

**
Supremely funny as Kevin Kwan skewers snobbish Blue bloods, the Neuvo Riche and billionaires everywhere. Lucie, George and their immediate families seem like the only characters who are not caricatures of the super wealthy, upper crust. How Lucie could have put up with the obnoxious Cecil for as long as she did is not really as surprising as one would think. Lucie has many issues with her duel WASP and Chinese background.

If you are looking for a snippy, sarcastic laugh out loud romp through the Upper Crust then this is it. I can highly recommend this book to all romance fans.

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Advance Review- The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen Society

Title: The Jane Austen Society: A Novel

Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction/Romance

Author: Natalie Jenner

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: St Martin’s Press, May 26, 2020

Pages: 320

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

**

This is totally a work of fiction the only actual part of the story that is real is the town of Chawton and the house reputed to be where Jane Austen lived and wrote for part of her life. However, this book just sucks you in and the characters become totally real. There are some surprises and twists which is always fun. I felt like I was transported to post-war Britain and I could actually picture the village, the streets, the rolling hills of the countryside. The characters are all well realized. The plot well written. There is nothing short of superb about this book. I loved it.

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Recent Release- A Bad Day For Sunshine by Darynda Jones

A Bad Day for Sunshine

Title: A Bad Day For Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, book #1)

Genre: Mystery

Author: Darynda Jones

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, April 7, 2020

Pages: 396

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 3

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:

Sheriff Sunshine Vicram finds her cup o’ joe more than half full when the small village of Del Sol, New Mexico, becomes the center of national attention for a kidnapper on the loose.
Del Sol, New Mexico is known for three things: its fry-an-egg-on-the-cement summers, strong cups of coffee—and, now, a nationwide manhunt? Del Sol native Sunshine Vicram has returned to town as the elected sheriff—thanks to her adorably meddlesome parents who nominated her—and she expects her biggest crime wave to involve an elderly flasher named Doug. But a teenage girl is missing, a kidnapper is on the loose, and all of this is reminding Sunshine why she left Del Sol in the first place. Add to that the trouble at her daughter’s new school, plus and a kidnapped prized rooster named Puff Daddy, and, well, the forecast looks anything but sunny.
But even clouds have their silver linings. This one’s got Levi, Sunshine’s sexy, almost-old-flame, and a fiery-hot US Marshal. With temperatures rising everywhere she turns, Del Sol’s normally cool-minded sheriff is finding herself knee-deep in drama and danger. Can Sunshine face the call of duty—and find the kidnapper who’s terrorizing her beloved hometown—without falling head over high heels in love…or worse?

**
First, this book is lots of fun. There is witty banter galore, suspense and danger abounds and your heart will go out to Sunshine and her teenage daughter Auri. The male characters are all swoon worthy especially Deputy Quincy, bad boy Levi and that hunky US Marshall. Female Deputy Zee is the kind of gorgeous kickass sharpshooter we all want covering our backs.

Second, this is a terrific start to a new series. We are slowly introduced to Sunshine’s background and that of side characters without a dreaded info dump. And because it is a series there are still a few unanswered questions at the end. But most questions are tied up nicely.

And last, I cannot wait for the next book. Try this one, you’re gonna love it.

 

 

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Relese Day Review- To Have And To Hoax by Martha Waters

To Have and to Hoax

Title: To Have and To Hoax

Genre: Regency Historical Romance

Author: Martha Waters

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Atria, April, 2020

Pages: 352

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating:

Description from Amazon:

Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.

Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.

Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them?

**
This was a lively romp through the ridiculous games engaged in by this couple. As ridiculous and childish as the game was, the reader longs for these two basically charming, sane, husband and wife to find their HEA. But they keep digging themselves in a deeper and deeper hole.

I truly enjoyed every melodrama that turned up on almost every page. This plot was well written and I would have given it more than 5-stars if not for wanting to shake the heroine out of her machinations. At about 60% I was tired of the games. The characters were well drawn. Violet and James were easy to like and to understand their ongoing feud. The side characters were ripe for future books of their own. I can highly recommend this first book by Martha Waters and I hope for more fun HR’s in the future..

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Recent Release- Wild, Wild Rake by Janna MacGregor

Wild Wild Rake

Title: Wild, Wild Rake (The Cavensham Heiresses, book #6)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Janna MacGregor

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, Feb. 2020

Pages: 361

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon:

Her first marriage was an epic fail.
Lady Avalon Warwyk never did love her husband. Arrogant, selfish, and cruel, it’s a blessing when she’s widowed and left to raise her son all by herself. Finally, Avalon can live freely and do the work she loves: helping fallen women become businesswomen. She’s lived these past ten years with no desire to remarry—that is, until Mr. Devan Farris comes to town.
Can he convince her to take another chance at happily ever after?
Devan Farris—charming vicar, reputed rake, and the brother of Avalon’s son’s guardian—is reluctantly sent to town to keep tabs on Avalon and her son. Devan wishes he didn’t have to meddle in her affairs; he’s not one to trod on a woman’s independent nature and keen sense of convictions. But she’ll have nothing to do with a vicar with a wild reputation—even though he’s never given his heart and body to another. If only he could find a way to show Avalon who he really is on the inside—a good, true soul looking for its other half. But how can prove that he wants to love and care for her. . .until death do they part?
**
This is definitely a 5-star read. There is history of abuse for Avalon which makes us feel deeply for her struggle and success. Devan has a wicked reputation for a Vicar but he is kindhearted and not at all as rakish as he is believed. Thane, Avalon’s son, is very astute and tries to force Avalon and Devan together. I could not put this book down, although life got in my way and I found myself rushing to get back to reading it. I highly recommend this book and the series.

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Recent Release Review- The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews

The Winter Companion

Title: The Winter Companion (Parish Orphans of Devon Series, book#4)

Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian

Author: Mimi Matthews

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press, Feb. 11, 2020

Pages: 318

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 3

Violence Rating: 3

Description from Amazon:

She Needed to be Seen…

As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to remain invisible. But when her new employer is invited to a month-long holiday at a remote coastal abbey, Clara discovers that she may not be as invisible as she’d hoped. At least, not as far as one gentleman is concerned.

He Wanted to be Heard…

Neville Cross has always been more comfortable with animals than people. An accident in his youth has left him with a brain injury that affects his speech. Forming the words to speak to his childhood friends is difficult enough. Finding the right things to say to a lovely young lady’s companion seems downright impossible. But Miss Hartwright is no ordinary companion. In fact, there may not be anything ordinary about her at all.

During a bleak Devon winter, two sensitive souls forge an unexpected friendship. But when Clara needs him most, will Neville find the courage to face his fears? Or is saying goodbye to her the most heroic thing he can do?

**
Oh, my! What a delicious, beautiful ending to a wonderful series. Mimi Matthews is a favorite author and I intend to read everything she ever writes. I imagine even her grocery list is lyrical. The mid Victorian era is brought to life with all its sanctions, mores and prejudices. The slow to develop love is told in believable and lovely prose. The dreary, cold Devon weather seeps into your bones as you read. You just know Clara is falling for Neville because she is constantly drenched in mud and rain and still goes out of her way to get to the stables where she can have time with Neville.
This is a 5 star book and it comes at the end of a 5+ star series. If you have not read this series then I urge you to start with THE MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENT, book #1 in the series, although each book can standalone.

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Advance Review- Forever And A Duke by Grace Burrowes

Forever And a duke

Title: Forever And A Duke (Rogues To Riches, book #3)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Grace Burrowes

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Forever, Nov. 26, 2019

Pages: 464

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon:

duke meets his match in the last place he’d ever expect in this charming Regency romance.
Wrexham, Duke of Elsmore, is overrun by family obligations. With three sisters to escort about Town, a legion of cousins to look after, and aunties who insist he dance with every eligible young woman, he barely has time to manage his dukedom. When he finally carves out a moment to evaluate his family’s finances, he learns that he — and his sisters — are on the verge of social catastrophe.

Eleanora Hatfield has an uncanny knack for numbers, but she knows from experience that dealing with the peerage can only lead to problems. Though she wants nothing to do with any titled gentleman, she reluctantly agrees to help when Rex seeks aid from her employer. What starts out as an unwanted assignment soon leads to forbidden kisses and impossible longings. But with scandal haunting Ellie’s past and looming in Rex’s future, how can true love lead to anything but heartbreak?
Includes the bonus story “The Lady in Red” by Kelly Bowen!

**
Grace Burrowes always delivers the goods! This was a well written, superbly constructed romance. The chemistry between Rex and Ellie was pure magic. Rex is a charming duke and Ellie is a wizard with numbers and forensic detecting Regency style. Ellie does her best to fight her attraction to Rex but she can’t seem to help herself. She knows in her heart that there is no future in their relationship, for she comes from a scandalous background and he is an aristocrat.

I liked this book, so much that I read it in two days. But I must confess to not reading the included Kelly Bowen novella. I just did not have the time but I hope to get back to it. I can recommend highly this book on the merits of the full length Grace Burrowes part. Wonderful story!

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Review- Take It Off The Menu by Christina Hovland

Take It Off The Menu

Title: Take It Off The Menu: A Sizzling, Accidentally Married Rom Con!
(Mile High Matched, book#3)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Christina Hovland

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Amazon Digital, August, 2019

Pages: 296

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon:

Saying “I Do” has never been such a mess.

Marlee Medford just got dumped. Yes, things have become ho-hum in her longtime relationship, but she was two days away from walking down the aisle with the man she thought was her forever when he called it off. Convincing herself that they’d be able to reignite their spark once the wedding craziness settled? That was easy. Suddenly finding herself without a fiancé? Not so much. Marlee needs to regain control of her life, and a weekend away with her friends is a solid first step.

One of Denver’s best up-and-coming chefs, perpetual bachelor Eli Howard, isn’t into serious relationships—especially the kind that ends in marriage. As if to prove his point that they aren’t worth the trouble, the wedding he was supposed to be catering just fell apart. Feeling oddly protective of the jilted bride—his little sister’s best friend—his weekend plans now involve a trip to Sin City with her group of friends. But it looks like he had a bit too much fun in Vegas when he wakes up married…wedding night included.

Marlee’s attempts at getting her life back together are failing miserably. Her ex-fiancé is taking the house, her chihuahua is intent on a love affair with Eli’s sneakers, and she’s now accidentally hitched to the guy who can’t even say the word marriage. With their quickie annulment denied, Eli and Marlee just have to hang tight until the divorce goes through. It’s just a little divorce amongst friends, what’s the worst that could happen?

Take It Off the Menu is book three of the Mile High Matched series, but stands alone and can be read in any order.

**
This is book three of the Mile High Matched Series. I haven’t read the first two but They are going on my TBR pile. Christina Hovland is a welcome find in the ever expanding Contemporary Romance genre. This was a rollicking ride from page one and when I got to the part with Babushka, it was even better. Yes, there is a stretch where Marlee is TSTL but she over comes and grows up. Eli is a commitment phobe but with good reasons. He also grows up. You won’t be able to put this book down. Fun Read!!

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Recent Release Review- Betrothed By Christmas by Jess Michaels and Elizabeth Essex

Betrothed by Christmas

Title: Betrothed By Christmas

Genre: Historical Romance/Holiday/Anthology

Author: Elizabeth Essex and Jess Michaels

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: The Passionate Pen, Oct. 15, 2019

Pages: 355

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating:4

Description from Amazon:

A madcap plan to avoid marriages they do not desire, leads two women to romance and passion they don’t expect in a duet of novellas by bestselling authors Jess Michaels and Elizabeth Essex.

A Lady’s Gift for Seduction by Jess Michaels
Lady Evangeline is a Diamond of the First Water, but she fears her father will match her to his own advantage, not hers. She decides marrying a biddable groom is the only way to salvage her future and chooses her old friend, astronomer Henry Killam. But she soon realizes Henry isn’t quite as manageable as she first believed and her feelings for him are stronger than she ever imagined.

A Lady’s Gift for Scandal by Elizabeth Essex
Miss Tamsin Lesley desires above all else to be a bluestocking and lead an intellectual life. The only thing standing in her way is her father’s heir, who wants her along with her father’s estate. To foil him, Tamsin enlists the services of masculine wallflower Simon Cathcart to ruin her. But the road to ruination leads to far more pleasurable places than Tamsin could ever imagine, and her charming wallflower proves to have secrets of his own.

**
A breath of fresh winter air, two delightful novellas that are truly worth reading and totally enjoyable. They are stories that are related to each other, with heroines who are friends. Tamsin wants Evangeline to help her find a man to ruin her so she won’t have to get married. But she only wants to be “a little ruined” . Simon is the man Evangeline picks out for her and that’s when the delight of Jess Michael’s novella starts. While Evangeline is picking out Tamsin’s object of ruination she is steering her away from Henry Killam because Evangeline has her own feelings for him. Elizabeth Essex brings these characters to life in her novella. I can highly recommend this book. Two 5 star gems.

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Filed under Anthology, Book review, Books Historical Romance, Holiday, Novella