Guest Review: When the Earl Met His Match by Stacy Reid

Posted October 26, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: When the Earl Met His Match by Stacy ReidReviewer: Tracy
When the Earl Met His Match by Stacy Reid
Series: Wedded by Scandal #4
Also in this series: Accidentally Compromising the Duke
Publisher: Entangled Scandalous
Publication Date: September 14, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 249
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When Hugh Winthrop, the future Earl of Albury, decides to advertise for a wife in the London paper, he never expected an anonymous response from a woman who matches him wit for wit. Their back-and-forth letters on the true nature of love, something they disagree on wholeheartedly, leave him shocked—and intrigued. But then the woman he’s been corresponding with shows up on his doorstep, enticingly beautiful and offering a marriage of convenience in exchange for his protection…

Lady Phoebe Maitland expected to marry for love and nothing else, until the man she gave her trust betrayed her. The more intrigued she becomes by the mysterious and devastatingly handsome Hugh, however, the more she realizes he’s holding back from opening his heart due to long-held secrets she struggles to understand. As passion flares wickedly between them, their marriage bed is quick to heat up. But when Phoebe’s past threatens to destroy the fragile bond they’ve formed, even a budding belief in love might not be enough to save them.

Lady Phoebe, a duke’s daughter, is in love with a man who doesn’t live up to her lofty father’s expectations.  He’s a commoner, and that just won’t do.  When Phoebe is betrayed by her love, she’s devastated, but makes a plan to resolve her issues.

Hugh is an Earl and has written an advertisement for a wife.  He describes what he’s looking for and he is quite succinct in the ad that this marriage will have nothing to do with love.  Phoebe is outraged and write’s this anonymous man to tell him her feelings about his ad.  They start a correspondence that while still vaguely about the ad, becomes a bit of a friendship and they both look forward to the letters.

After her love’s betrayal (and other reasons) Phoebe heads to Hugh’s and offers a marriage of convenience.  He’s shocked that this woman has shown up to be his wife, as he hadn’t made a decision about who he would pick of the women who had answered the ad.  Hugh is honest with himself that he’s not totally mad/sad that Phoebe is there as he has enjoyed her letters immensely.  They also each have issues that are not necessarily accepted in society and Hugh decides to go through with it. Phoebe is shocked when she realizes that Hugh is mute, but quickly decides it doesn’t matter.

Despite getting married, Hugh is determined to nip love in the bud before it can begin.  His mother took off with her lover when Hugh was young and he doesn’t want his heart on the line if Phoebe decides to leave as well. Can Phoebe get him to see that love is something they should strive for rather than avoid?

I enjoyed this book. One of the reasons was Hugh and his wonderful attitude towards life.  He accepted Phoebe for who she was, and all her issues.  He didn’t let the fact that he was mute stop him from living and I loved that.  He was so good to Phoebe for the most part and I really enjoyed them together.  I also really liked Phoebe and her determination to live her life the way she wanted to, and not the way her parents and brother thought she should live it.

Phoebe was the other reason this book was good.  She made some mistakes in her life but for the most part she had such a good heart.  I loved her vibrancy!  At one point in the book she takes a poor woman and her children into the carriage and takes them home because it’s raining.  How many women of the nobility would do that?? Not only that but she gives her jewelry she can sell to buy food. Hugh then goes a step further and tells her that money and help finding a job will be available to her the next day.  Good people!

That said, I have a bit of an issue with one aspect of Reid’s heroes (and this happened in all of the Reid books I’ve read).  It seems that the heroes, at some point, are angry at the heroines or trying to push them away because they’re trying to deny that they love the women. When this happens, they are purposely cruel to the heroines and say some of the rudest, meanest things to them!  I hate that!  Surely their feelings can be expressed without being cruel. Anyway, that’s a pet peeve I have with Reid’s heroes. They can be amazing, but they can also be complete bastards.

Anyway, despite my love of Hugh and Phoebe the story dragged in a few places, which was disappointing.  Still a good book, but it brought my rating down a bit.  I still recommend this book, as I definitely think it one that needs to be read.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn

Posted October 25, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

An ex-soldier, has lost his way, and Emery, a woman running to find a new life, and five little rich girls just wanting to get home before Christmas.

When I started THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, I knew it would be a historical set in 1867, starting in a small inland port when Trapper Hawkins takes a job to haul freight. The pay is good, maybe enough to give him a start, but the cargo is five girls.

I’ve driven the roads from Jefferson, Texas to Dallas many times. But this time, in my mind, I was making the journey in a wagon with outlaws determined to kidnap my cargo, the little girls.

The story came alive in my mind and I laughed then cried, then fell in love with my characters. I learned to survive in the untamed land and fight off outlaws.

I drove as the story played out in my head. In three hours I’d covered a month by wagon while fighting storms and hunting for my supper every night.

By the time I stopped in Dallas and pulled into a hotel, my head was packed. It took me two months to write it all down and I think “Father Goose,” the story of one broken soldier and a runaway woman risking their lives to save five little girls may very well be my favorite short story ever.

Celebrate the holiday by making the journey across Texas with me this Christmas.

Jodi Thomas

Sunday Spotlight: The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett DunnThe Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, Scarlett Dunn
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Genres: Westerns
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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In these Texas-set stories of romance and adventure, the Civil War is over, Christmas is coming—and it’s time for three rugged fighters to become lovers...

FATHER GOOSE by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas

Dispirited by war, when Trapper Morgan accepts a job hauling five little rich girls to Dallas, all he cares about is the money. He doesn’t expect they’ll awaken his spirit—or that their intriguing nursemaid, Carolina, will awaken his heart. And when danger strikes as Christmas Eve nears, he definitely doesn’t expect Carolina and the girls to risk their lives—for him . . .

THE MISTLETOE PROMISE by Sharla Lovelace

A catastrophic storm, an ailing herd, and a failing cattle ranch have left Texas rancher Josie Bancroft in danger of losing everything her father worked for. Still, she’d rather die than merge with her neighbor rancher Benjamin Mason, the man who broke her heart years ago, on Christmas Eve. As old sparks fly and secrets are revealed, however, Ben is determined to help Josie—and prove that this time around can be different. That the misunderstandings of Christmas past need not define their future...

CHRISTMAS ROAD by Scarlett Dunn

Yellow Fever has hit Clint Mitchum’s Texas hometown and taken his father and siblings, leaving Clint ever more cynical. Racing homeward to be by his mother’s side, Clint finds only a note from her, asking that he help her caregiver, a young woman named Amelia. Assuming his mother has passed, in his grief Clint ventures out to search for Amelia—and finds the best of gifts—just in time for Christmas...

Excerpt

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, & Scarlett Dunn

Excerpt from “Father Goose” by Jodi Thomas

Trapper spent the morning preparing for his new job as if it was an assignment during the war. He studied maps, learned a bit about his employer, the girls’ father, Colonel Gunter Chapman. He’d been an officer in the Mexican–American War back in the 1840s.He was ruthless and came home with injuries. But that hadn’t stopped him from moving farther west from the protection of even the forts and starting a huge ranch.

Trapper had seen that kind of man many times in the war. A king on his land.

Trapper bought clothes for winter, a new hat and a warm coat from his winnings last night. He’d worn most of his clothes too long for them to be presentable. Now, when he got to Dallas, he’d be dressed more like a cowboy, a Westerner. And, if the raiders killed him along the way, he’d have a fine funeral outfit.

Walking toward the dock, he planned. He’d meet the little ladies, tell them the rules for the trip, and get underway. He decided he only needed three rules. One: Be ready to travel at sunup. Two: Stop at midday for thirty minutes to rest, take care of private needs, and drink water. Three: At sundown make camp. He’d cook a meal of whatever he shot along the way or use the supplies.

When Trapper had checked the wagon, he noticed the teamster hadn’t packed but two blankets, so he bought the girls each one. After all, they were little girls, and they’d need comfort.

He also added apples and canned peaches to his load.

Trapper was feeling hopeful about the journey. He’d bought two extra rifles and several boxes of bullets. He’d get these girls home safe and collect his five hundred dollars. Then he’d drive away in his new wagon with Midnight tied to the back.

A man who has a wagon, a horse, and enough money in his pocket to buy land was rich indeed. For the first time since the war he allowed himself to dream. He thought about something besides surviving one more day.

As he waited, he saw a small widow lady sitting on a bench near the dock. Trapper remembered the teamster had told him to hire a woman to travel with him, but surely he could handle five little girls.

There were so many women in black right after the war, it seemed like every woman dressed the same. Strange, he thought; the men wore blue and gray, but all the widows wore black. Mourning had no side, no color.

The paddleboat pulled up to yells and waves from the waiting crowd. As cargo began to roll off the side, passengers walked off the front in a thin line. It wasn’t long before he saw a tall woman in a light blue cape marching with five little girls behind her. She had to be the nurse traveling with his cargo. They all wore a uniform of sunny blue and white. They reminded him of a mother goose and her goslings. He guessed he was about to become the father goose.

Trapper had no doubt these were his charges. The first girl was tall, only a head shorter than the nurse. Her blond hair was tied back, as if she was trying to look older. The next two were shorter, with auburn hair. The younger and thinner of the pair wore an old wool cap and seemed to be crying. The fourth girl was probably about five and was round as a goose egg. The last one, and the smallest, seemed to be having trouble staying in line. She weaved back and forth as she kept jumping up and down as if she could see everything if she was two inches higher.

Trapper straightened and removed his wide-brimmed hat. There were several families meeting travelers, but he was the only man standing alone in front of a small covered wagon. Eventually, the nurse would find him.

The tall woman weaved her way around groups of people and the girls followed in a row. Well, all but the last one followed. The littlest one seemed to be having trouble keeping up.

Finally, the lady noticed him and headed his way. She stopped three feet from him and the girls lined up behind her. Except number five, who bumped into four and almost knocked two and three out of line.

“Are you the driver for Colonel Chapman’s girls?” The woman’s voice was cold and held no hint of a Southern accent.

“I am.” Trapper bowed slightly, not sure what to say or do. He decided to keep the poker game quiet. “I’m Trapper Hawkins, ma’am.”

“I understood there would be a nurse traveling with you to take care of the girls’ needs.”

He thought of saying he could handle them, but for the first time he wasn’t sure. Number five had lost her shoe and was starting to cry. The tall one, number one in the line, was glaring at him and the chubby one, number four, was laying her head on one shoulder, then the other, as if trying to see if he might look better from another angle.

“Mr. Hawkins, I’m sure you got the instructions. I assure you I will not be releasing my charges to you until you fulfill your part of the bargain. A woman to tend to their needs is essential.”

He thought of giving up. Letting the oh-so-proper lady take them back. They’d be safer on the boat, if the rumors were true. “If I don’t have a lady with me, you planning to turn around?”

“No. I’m going to file charges on you for breach of contract. Then I’ll notify the girls’ father and wait here until proper escort can be arranged. Colonel Chapman will not be happy if his exact orders are not followed.”

Trapper didn’t even know if there was a crime called breach of contract in Texas. They had too many murders, robbers, and cattle thieves to mess with a breach of anything.

The woman pushed out her chest and made her stand. “If the colonel doesn’t have his daughters home by Christmas, there will be hell to pay.”

Trapper had no idea what she was talking about. He was starting to look forward to the outlaws on the trail.

“I’m loaded and ready, ma’am. I’ll get them to Dallas.”

She opened her mouth to fill him in on all the facts when number five started limp-walking on one shoe and fell over her bag. Her foot went through the handle, so now she limped with one leg and dragged the bag with the other.

He just watched her. This last kid had the coordination of a day-old calf.

To no one’s surprise, the tiny girl started crying.

The chubby one, number four in line, started to help the littlest one up, but the nurse cleared her throat so loudly several people turned in her direction.

Number four looked like she might cry too, but she let go of number five.

The nurse said to him in her lecture voice, “We don’t baby our girls. Not even the littlest one. Understood? These girls are Texas princesses. Born in this wild state. They’ll grow up to be strong women, not crybabies.”

Trapper thought of pushing the nurse off the dock and seeing how strong she was, but he figured she’d file charges for that too.

Before anyone could move, a lady in black knelt down and lifted number five off the dock, freed her foot from the bag, and cradled the crying girl in her arms. “Come sit on the back of the wagon, child, and I’ll put your shoe back on. It’s far too cold a day to go without it.”

The nurse glared at the woman for a moment, then seemed to relax. “I see the traveling companion for the girls has finally arrived. She’ll be too soft on the girls and we’ll have our work cut out for us when they come back to school in February. However, it is good to see you picked a proper lady.”

As the widow tied the little girl’s shoe, the nurse stepped away to direct the luggage to be loaded into the wagon.

Trapper leaned toward the widow. “Lady, if you have the time, would you act like you’re traveling with me? Just till we get out of sight of that woman. I got to get these girls to Dallas and I’m not sure that nurse will let me do my job without a proper lady traveling with us.”

“I was going to Dallas also.” The widow’s voice was low, almost a whisper. “The stage doesn’t seem to be running this week. If you’ll let me ride along with you, I’ll play the part all the way.”

Trapper was shocked. “You would?”

She nodded. “I’d be safer with you and five girls than traveling alone. If you prove to be a not-so-honorable man, I have a weapon and will shoot you.”

He smiled. Her voice had a bit of the South in it and she could shoot. She had to be a born Texan. They understood each other. If he broke his word, she’d shoot him, no breach of contract needed.

“I’m Mrs. Adams.”

Trapper removed his hat. “I’m Trapper Hawkins. You’re doing me a great favor, ma’am.”

The nurse came back as men finished loading the wagon. “I’d like to introduce my little ladies before I leave them with you.”

She started with the oldest. “Catherine Claire, thirteen. Anna Jane, eleven. Elizabeth Rose, ten. Helen Wren five.” The nurse pointed to the smallest, still in the widow’s arms. “Sophia May is four. Colonel Chapman had three wives. All died in childbirth and none gave him a son. Poor man.”

Trapper studied them as the nurse gave instructions to Mrs. Adams and marched back to the boat. The tallest daughter, with her blond hair, would probably be from the first wife. Two and Three from a redheaded wife. And Four and Five from the third wife. He’d guess that wife had brown hair and big brown eyes.

Trapper turned to his charges. “Look, little ladies, I doubt I’ll straighten those names out in three weeks, so how about I call you in order by number?” He pointed to the tall blonde, first in line. “One.” Then the two auburn-haired girls. “Two and Three.” He smiled at the next and couldn’t help but laugh as she giggled, waiting for her number. “Four,” he said, touching her nose. The tiny one waited for her new name. “You’re Five. It’s a game we’ll play.” He glanced at the widow. “A secret game. Like code names.”

When he noticed the widow asked no questions, he added, “Only we have to call her Mrs. Adams. She deserves our respect. She lost her man in the war.”

All the girls nodded except Five. She was spinning around again like an unbalanced top.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Bane’s Choice by Alyssa Day

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!


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What Are You Reading? (542)

Posted October 23, 2020 by Casee in Features | 4 Comments

Casee: I haven’t felt much like reading this last week. We were in California with family and I had zero time to read. I’m currently reading two books. Man Hands by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby. It’s pretty cute so far, but I’m not very far into it. I’m also reading Reckless Road by Christine Feehan. It’s okay. Reading this book has confirmed to me that I’ve grown out of CF books and something about that makes me sad.

I started listening to Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews, but it was taking too long so I stopped and decided I would read it instead. I’ve also listened to the Real Duet by Meghan March. They are such easy listens.

Holly: I haven’t been reading much of anything. I finished She Tempts the Duke by Lorraine Heath on audio and started Lord of Temptation. I’m reading Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik. I’m about halfway through. I like the writing and I’m enjoying the story overall, but it isn’t holding my attention. I suspect that has more to do with my state of mind than the book. Otherwise I reread a few Kristen Ashley novels, and that’s it. Let’s hope next week is better.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Review: Sebring by Kristen Ashley

Posted October 23, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sebring by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Sebring by Kristen Ashley
Series: Unfinished Hero #5
Also in this series: Knight, Creed, Raid, Deacon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 11, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First & Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 446
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Nick Sebring has issues. Born feeling like an outsider in his own family, growing up under the shadow of a brother who could do anything, Nick isn’t that great of a guy. But when this culminates with Nick lashing out to hurt his brother through the woman he loves, Nick turns inward and makes some decisions about the man he intends to be.

And as he does this, he falls in love and truly learns the man that he’s grown to be.

When his love is murdered right before Nick’s eyes, Nick knows he has to avenge her. He knows how he’s going to avenge her. And he has no qualms using Olivia Shade to exact that vengeance.

Olivia Shade has grown up on the outside of her family too. Her problem is that they don’t want her outside. They want her all the way in, right under their thumbs. She pays the price for seeking escape and learns her lesson—she’ll never see a dawn where she wakes up free.
Then she meets Nick Sebring, and even as she fights it, the hope that died years ago starts to blossom. She can find love. She can have a man of her own. She can be happy. She can be free.

Olivia hopes while Nick schemes.

However, as Nick peels back the layers of all that is Olivia Shade, he finds something surprising. He understands its fragility. He falls in love with its beauty. He seeks to protect it.

But he forgets to protect his Livvie from one thing: Nick Sebring.

You know how you feel when you read a freaking amazing book? Sebring is that for me, which makes it really difficult to review. I really want everyone to read this book, but you have to read the entire series to understand Nick’s journey. I didn’t have extremely high hopes for this book because Nick Sebring wasn’t exactly a lovable character in the previous books. He was a total ass. I should have had faith in Kristen Ashley. By the time I was done with this book, I absolutely adored Nick and Olivia. It’s one of those books that I thought about for days after finishing it.

Nick always felt like he grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Knight. After Nick intentionally hurts Knight’s woman, Nick starts to realize what he has become and he doesn’t like who he has become. Because Nick is so hated by his family, it was easy for the FBI to recruit him to be their confidential informant. The FBI, with Nick’s help, is trying to take down the Shade Empire. When everything comes to a head, the woman Nick loves is shot in the head right in front of him. Nick vows revenge on the Shade family and will do anything to get it. Even pretending to be interested in Olivia Shade.

Olivia knows her family is bad, but she truly didn’t understand how evil they were until Nick came into her life. There are few things that Olivia has that are her own, but Nick becomes hers. It’s well known that Nick worked with the FBI, so when Olivia’s family finds out she’s involved with Nick the shit hits the fan. Olivia knows it can’t last with Nick, but she’s going to have something that’s her very own, separate from her crazy family.

Olivia always thought Nick was too good to be true. It turns out she was right. Nick is there to spy on the Shade family and he’s pretending to love Olivia to do it. While it did start that way, Nick fell in love with Olivia. She’s the complete opposite of her father and her sister. She doesn’t want to be in the drug business yet she can’t escape them. Olivia thought that Nick was her chance to get out, but she soon learns what he is really doing in her life.

Nick will not give up on Olivia. He never thought he could love anyone else, let alone a Shade. While getting to know her, Nick realizes how different from her family that she really is. He swears to get her out of that life and away from her family. Then she finds out the truth about him and Nick has a fight on his hands trying to convince Olivia that his feelings for her were true. I just couldn’t get enough of this book and these two characters. They are both so broken.

“Because I’m the man who’s gonna eat taco extravaganza, whatever the fuck that is, just because you made it. I’m also the man who’s gonna put the effort into making you come for me after, more than once, even though it’s highly likely taco extravaganza is gonna sit in my gut like an anvil. And I’m also the man who knows every day I wake up you mean more to me than you did the day before. And I’m the man who knew meant a fuckuva lot to me yesterday, so you meaning more today means everything. And I’m the man who’s got two priority missions. To get you free of a life you hate and to get you to a place you smile, frequently and easily.”

How can you not fall in love with Nick Sebring? If you read this book and you don’t love it, well, that worries me.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Unfinished Hero

five-stars


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