Genre: Historical

Joint Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Posted April 24, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Joint Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #3
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake
Published by Avon Romance
Publication Date: February 21 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 288
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four-half-stars

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy-and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven...

Holly: It’s been ages since I read a historical romance, but Sybil told me I needed to read Devil in Spring, because it featured Sebastian and Evie’s oldest son (they’re our favorite Kleypas couple). So I read it. Then I told Rowena she had to read it, too, because it was so good. We both ended up reading all three books, and we agree Devil in Spring is the best of the series so far.

Lady Pandora and her twin sister, Cassandra, were basically left alone to run free on their country estate. Their parents really wanted nothing to do with them, and didn’t bother to hire the proper governesses or tutors for them. As a result they’re both a little wild and not at all ready to enter society, despite the fact that they’re 19. After three years of proper tutelage from her step-sister’s very upright foster mother

When Pandora gets caught in a compromising position with Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, she’s devastated. She has no intention of ever marrying. She doesn’t want to give up her independence for a man, especially one with a title and all the duties that accompany it. But she also wants to do what’s best for her family, so she agrees to spend a week with him and his family at their country estate to get to know one another.

For his part, Gabriel knows he has to marry someday, but he has no desire to marry a wild little savage like Pandora. He needs a proper wife who will be an asset to him as the future Duke. Still, honor demands he do the right thing…and the longer he spends with her, the more he wants her, in spite of the way her mind works.

Girl, I loved this book. I loved how unconventional Pandora was, and how Gabriel came to love her quirks in spite of himself.

Rowena: I really enjoyed this one too. I’m glad that St. Vincent’s kid ended up with Pandora because she’s a special one. I knew that I was going to love her the most in this series and that didn’t change after reading her book. If anything, I loved her even more.

Devil in Spring was my favorite book in this series, so far. I loved seeing familiar characters, enjoyed getting to know the new ones and it was even good to see St. Vincent, Sebastian, that is.

I loved that there wasn’t anything about Pandora that Gabriel didn’t love. The way that he wanted to be sure that she knew how special she was to him, no matter how bad her hearing was, how bad her vertigo was, or how independent she wanted to be, none of that mattered to him. She was perfect the way that she was to him and I melted into a puddle of lust for him every time he showed her how much he loved her.

Holly: She is. I meant to add that three years later she wasn’t much more civilized.

I totally cracked up in the beginning when she was trying to convince him he didn’t want to marry her.

“You do not want to marry me, my lord. I would be the worst wife imaginable. I’m forgetful and stubborn, and I can never sit still for more than five minutes. I’m always doing things I shouldn’t. I eavesdrop on other people, I shout and run in public, and I’m a clumsy dancer. And I’ve lowered my character with a great deal of unwholesome reading material.” Pausing to draw breath, she noticed that Lord St. Vincent didn’t appear properly impressed by her list of faults. “Also, my legs are skinny. Like a stork’s.”

Pandora was definitely the best part of this book. I love how unconventional she was. She didn’t think in straight lines and always seemed to be going in 8 different directions. Gabriel was great with her. I like how he was all about keeping her right from the beginning, even though he knew he should want a more proper wife.

Rowena: Okay, yeah they were 19 in the other books.

Yes!! She had me laughing so much throughout the entire series but more so in this book. Gosh, she’s one of those characters that I will remember for a long time. She’s got a distinct personality that I just love to pieces. I will probably incorporate some of her made up words into my vocabulary because some of her words were fantastic! I’ll definitely be using, “This is horriculous!” from time to time. I just know it.

More than her personality, I really loved her drive to be successful in her board game business. You don’t see historical heroines that serious about their own business endeavors very often so it was a refreshing change for me.

There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. If I had to pick a gripe, it would probably be all of that nonsense with Mrs. Black. Was that her name? Nola Black? I’m glad that Pandora was able to rise above such pettiness and I even understood why Gabriel was so blinded by keeping them apart but I didn’t really think it was necessary because there was so many other things going on to keep the story going but whatever, it was still a damn good romance.

What about you?

Holly: I loved her board game business, too. It was wonderful to read about a heroine who was more concerned with her independence than catching a gentleman’s eye.

I didn’t like the nonsense with Mrs. Black, either. It seemed rather ridiculous to include it when there was already the business with the Irish Anarchists Pandora came into contact with. Not to mention, the whole thing felt very unfinished. There was no mention of her after Gabriel admitted to having a mistress, until all of a sudden she shows up at the theater while Pandora is there? It really seemed to come out of nowhere. And what happened afterward? Aside from Gabriel being pissed and worried about Pandora’s reaction, there was no closure. He didn’t mention speaking to her again, or even refusing to give her the satisfaction of speaking to her again. The whole thing was silly.

What did you think about the Irish Anarchist bit? That, too, felt very unfinished to me. I’m sure she’s leading into what will happen in the next book (possibly Dr. Gibson and Ransom?), but I wish there had been something more.

Rowena: I was thinking that Gibson and Ransom would get like a secondary romance in someone else’s book since the series is about the Ravenels. I figured Cassandra and West were left and then we’d be done with this lot.

The Black thing felt unfinished because after Pandora gets stabbed, she fell by the wayside. I guess she served her purpose of distracting Gabriel so the stabber can get close to Pandora. I also thought it was dumb that Dragon’s whole purpose for being there was to be Pandora’s bodyguard but he was so far away from her when the Irish lady knifed her ass. Seriously, dude? Falling down on the job.

The Irish thing didn’t feel unfinished, but more anti-climatic. All of that and then they take him down, easy peasy. Meh. I was much more interested in seeing Gabriel and Pandora together and seeing them figure their shit out together. All of the other stuff was extra stuff that didn’t really do anything for me.

All in all, it was a solid romance and I enjoyed getting to know Gabriel and Pandora. I loved seeing Gabriel’s family and Pandora’s again because they were such a fun bunch. I loved Pandora’s made up words. I loved watching Gabriel fall under Pandora’s spell even when she was trying to push him away. Lisa Kleypas shines with her characters and the dialogue in this one and I give it 4.25 out of 5. You?

Holly: Right, but Ransom is a Ravenal, so if he gets his own book, it would apply to the series. (It was implied he was a bastard child or something).

The Irish thing wasn’t cleared up at all. They discovered it was dude from the Home Office, but he killed himself before he could be questioned, so it was just left open ended.

The romance was really great. I loved Gabriel and Pandora together, I loved both families, and I loved the way Gabriel loved her. I’m giving it a 4.25 also.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Marrying the Wrong Earl by Callie Hutton

Posted April 21, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Marrying the Wrong Earl by Callie HuttonReviewer: Tracy
Marrying the Wrong Earl by Callie Hutton
Series: Lords and Ladies in Love #2
Published by Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
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three-stars

Lady Arabella Danvers is happy with her life just the way it is. She is free to be herself and take care of broken and abandoned animals. Her mother is desperate for her to marry, and has decided to take things into her own hands. There is just one little problem with her plan.

Nash, the Earl of Clarendon has determined it is time to take a wife. He has selected a woman to whom he intends to propose. However, the annoying Lady Arabella has stumbled into his life at the wrong time, and in the wrong place. But he of all people should know if Lady Arabella is involved, plans will go awry.

Arabella is the daughter of an Earl.  After her father died the new Earl had stated that Arabella and her mother could stay put but her mother is determined to be nowhere near the new Earl when he returns from his travels.  Arabella’s mother decides that the best way to do this is to marry Arabella off but the men that she’s putting in front of her daughter are all old and Arabella has no desire to marry any of them.  Arabella wants to be left alone to care for the sick animals that she rescues.  Unfortunately her mother has other plans and ends up planning for Arabella to be caught in a room with one of her mother’s husband choices.  That doesn’t exactly work out for the mom as she hadn’t realized that there was already someone in the room when she sent Arabella in there.

Because of the possible scandal Nash, the Earl of Clarendon, insists on marrying Arabella and to save her reputation.  He doesn’t particularly like Arabella but he thinks her beautiful and wants her in his bed.  He hates that she rescue’s animals and wants her to be a “regular” wife who does needlepoint and watercolors and hosts dinner parties and well, he wants her to be boring.  Arabella is having none of it.  She continues to rescue animals after she’s married but Nash insists she stops.  Arabella tries to be everything that Nash wants her to be, but she is who she is and that causes friction in the marriage.

The plot of this book and the writing were good, I must say, but the story itself drove me batshit crazy.  Arabella was a kind soul who just wanted to live her life, be a kind person, and help her animals.  When she’s forced to marry Nash she’s not happy about it but decides to do her best.  That said, she’s not giving up her animals.  I admired Arabella for her kindness and her willingness to help those animals in need.  She tried to best to be what Nash needed but he wanted her to act like someone she wasn’t and it was too much.

Nash wants the perfect society wife.  He was about to offer for an 18-year-old deb but that was put to pasture when he’s caught with Arabella in the same room at a party.  Total coincidence. He decides to make the best of it but she frustrates the hell out of him with doing surgery on animals and not acting as a proper wife should. How do I put this kindly…Nash was an ass.  And I don’t mean he was an ass for half of the book and then redeemed himself.  No, he was an ass for 95% of the book and I disliked him intensely.  He was constantly berating Arabella and telling her what to do.  When there were callers at the house he would pull her aside and tell her how to act as if she’d never received anyone before marrying him.  She tried to get out of marrying him but he insisted and then was frustrated that she didn’t act like he wanted.  He wanted a piece of clay he could mold and he certainly didn’t get that.  Yes, I’m happy he figured shit out before the end of the book but it was a close one and frankly a little too late.

Frankly I couldn’t understand how Arabella even fell in love with the man.  He only treated her well when they were about to go to bed together or were in bed.  I think she was more in lust than anything but that’s just my opinion of course.  I personally think the writing saved this book for me because otherwise it would have gotten a lower rating. As it is I can only recommend this book if you like men who act like complete jerks otherwise you may throw your ereader across the room and I can’t have ereader destruction on my conscience.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars

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Guest Review: The Gentleman’s Promise by Frances Fowlkes

Posted April 20, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Gentleman’s Promise by Frances FowlkesReviewer: Tracy
The Gentleman's Promise by Frances Fowlkes
Series: The Daughters of Amhurst #3
Also in this series: The Earl's New Bride, To Win a Viscount
Published by Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
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three-stars

A social pariah due to her scandalous activities, Lady Sarah Beauchamp yearns for redemption to obtain a husband. The assistance of Society darling Mr. Jonathon Annesley gives her hope of success. However, the more effort he puts into helping her, the more she realizes the only esteem she wishes to earn is that of the handsome Jonathon. However, her reputation would potentially ruin his political aspirations.

Offering a gentleman's promise to help his sister's friend regain the favor of the ton should be easy for son of a viscount, Jonathon Annesley. After all, he's well liked and considered a rising star in Parliament. Until he learns Sarah's ultimate goal is a husband. No man is good enough and could ever appreciate her for all she is. But she is not for him—his focus rests solely on gaining reforms for society's weakest members. Yet, a promise made cannot be broken…

Two years ago Sarah tried to help her sister out with a man by trying to get the competition out of the way.  She concocted some herbs and voila, it worked.  Unfortunately her other sister took such a liking to Sarah’s tea that she drank too much and almost killed herself.  Since that time Sarah has been in social exile.  No one wants anything to do with her as they believe that she poisoned people with nefarious intentions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Her two sisters are married now and she feels like they’ve almost pushed her out of their lives as she can’t relate when they talk about marriage and children.

She does have her best friend, Olivia, and her family who she is staying with.   When they get an invitation to a hunt Olivia’s older brother Jonathon invites Sarah along and states that since he’s well regarded he can get people to change their minds about her.  He really had no idea how bad things were.  Nothing he says or does gets people to judge Sarah fairly.  Of course spending so much time with Sarah makes him realize he’s in love with her but his political aspirations make it so that he can’t marry her as his judgement would then be called into question and all the reform he’s been campaigning for would be an impossibility.

This was a sweet story that I enjoyed reading.  The concept of people looking down on women who are well read and smart makes my blood boil even though I know that it was historically common.  In the case of Sarah she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and talk about things that interested her, especially if it could help someone else.  This didn’t do her any favors as she just couldn’t play the role of a no-brain debutante.  Jonathon did his best to play up Sarah and her beauty but people just couldn’t get past the “poisoning.”  Even when she helped a Marquess with a cold/flu people believed that she had poisoned him so that she could save him to make herself look better.  Ugh!  So frustrating.

I liked Jonathon and Sarah together.  It was a slow, sweet build-up to the romance and it was well written.  I liked their characters and Olivia’s as well.  We got to see Lord Satterfield again, who played a role in the first two books.  He was an ass in this book, imho, contradicting himself left and right.   Overall I thought the book was well done.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars

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Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig

Posted April 14, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna CraigReviewer: Tracy
To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig
Series: Runaway Desires #3
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation, Lyrical Press
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
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three-half-stars

After her much older husband dies-leaving her his fortune-Charlotte Blakemore finds herself at the mercy of her stepson, who vows to contest the will and destroy her life. With nowhere to turn and no one to help her, she embarks on an elaborate ruse-only to find herself stranded on the way to London. . .

More than twenty years in the West Indies have hardened Edward Cary, but not enough to abandon a helpless woman at a roadside inn-especially one as disarmingly beautiful as Charlotte. He takes her with him to the Gloucestershire estate he is determined to restore, though he is suspicious of every word that falls from her distractingly lush lips.

As far as Charlotte knows, Edward is nothing more than a steward, and there's no reason to reveal his noble birth until he can right his father's wrongs. Acting as husband and wife will keep people in the village from asking questions that neither Charlotte nor Edward are willing to answer. But the game they're each determined to play has rules that beg to broken, when the passion between them threatens to uncover the truth-for better or worse. . .

Charlotte has spent her life feeling unloved.  She was taken as a baby to her uncle’s house because her mother died and her father took off to parts unknown.  Since she was illegitimate they treated her as the hired help instead of family.  When things started heating up in France (her mother was French, her father an English Earl) she left and stayed with her father’s family in England.  They treated her horribly as well.  When an elderly Duke who was friends with her aunt offers for her she accepts and thinks that maybe she’ll now get the love that she’s been missing.  Unfortunately he doesn’t touch her physically and then dies 6 weeks later.

The will is read and Charlotte receives a huge portion of the Duke’s estate but his son, the new Duke, plans on proving that his father was crazy and getting the will overturned. Charlotte and her maid take off for London to stay in the house that was left to her but Charlotte believes she’s being followed by one of the Duke’s men so she trades places with her maid and stays behind at an inn.  Unfortunately she grabbed the wrong valise and the money she had stashed away is now with her maid.  Fortunately for her a kind man offers to take her with him to his family estate.

Edward Cary is the son of an Earl but his father is a monster.  He beats Edwards mother regularly and Edward would do anything to save her.  When he hears that she’s waiting to leave until Edward is in school he decides at the ripe old age of 9 to runaway so she can get away sooner.  He heads off and takes a job on a ship.  He returns to confront his father 22 years later but runs into Charlotte on his way back.

When Edward and Charlotte reach his family seat he finds it empty and in horrible condition.  He hears his mother died not long after he left home and his father went to London and never returned.  Edward introduces Charlotte as his wife to the “caretaker” of the property which puts them into an awkward position.  It also causes problems when a man claiming to be the new Earl (Edwards father apparently passed) shows up and recognizes Charlotte for the Duchess she is.  Both Charlotte and Edward need to come to terms with who they are and confront those who would keep them from claiming their titles.

To Seduce a Stranger was a good story.  I liked both Edward and Charlotte and while they each had their own issues, they were truly good people.  Charlotte had confidence in herself in some aspects of her life but she’s been told she wasn’t worthy of love and she believed it.  Coming to terms with the fact that she could receive that love from Edward took her a while but she finally saw it for what it was.

Edward had had a horrible life to a point but then a good one after that.  He’d seen horrors both at home and while on the ship but he’d survived and made a good life for himself in the West Indies.  I had to give the guy props, he’d not only done well but tried to help with the slave issue as well.  Just a good guy.  I liked that while Edward helped Charlotte he didn’t completely trust her right off the bat because A) she was someone who needed help and b) she was a woman. Charlotte knew that Edward was keeping secrets as well but she trusted him too quickly imho.  Edward was a smart man and I liked his character.

The book was a good one but was a bit crowded with characters.  There were so many supporting characters that it was hard to keep up.  There were also people who were mentioned or showed up, I assume from previous books in the series, that I was unfamiliar with.  I think the author assumed the reader had read those books so plopped their names in.  Despite that this was a decent standalone novel.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Review: Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Posted April 11, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Rowena
Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #1
Also in this series: Devil in Spring
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: October 27th, 2015
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 419
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

A twist of fate...

Devon Ravenel, London's most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities... and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl's three innocent sisters are still occupying the house... along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon's own.

A clash of wills...

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she's ever known?

Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas is the first book in the Ravenels series. It’s a book that I’ve been meaning to read but never got around to until now. What a great historical romance this book turned out to be. I shouldn’t have doubted Kleypas’ ability to entertain me but it’s been so long since I’ve read one of her historicals and I forgot how great she is at writing entertaining characters who make me laugh, happy sigh and love to death.

Devon Ravenel has just inherited an earldom from a cousin he despised. So he’s stuck with a title he doesn’t want, estates that are falling down around their ears and with each passing day, he’s getting responsibilities that he hates. He also inherited his cousin’s widow and three younger sisters. He has no idea what to do about any of it and he doesn’t want to figure it out.

Kathleen’s husband is dead and the new earl that took over his title is moving in and making changes. She needs him to fix things around the estate but he plans on selling the place and she has to figure out her next move…with her three young sisters in laws in tow.

Devon was a solid hero that came full circle. He was a complete douche in the beginning but the more invested he became in Ravenel House and the title that he inherited from his bastard cousin. I thought he was a good brother, and then a good cousin to Ladies Pandora, Cassandra and Helen. He was also really good to his bastard cousin’s wife, Kathleen. Kathleen nagged him into caring and he started caring about more than his family, his responsibilities and everything around him. He started caring the most about Kathleen and he wanted her with a fierceness that surprised him. I really enjoyed seeing him come into his own. He was older and he was overwhelmed but he didn’t shy away from his new life and I loved him for that.

Kathleen started off with such promise. I did love how much she adored and wanted to protect her late husband’s sisters. They were important to her and she cared about them so she took on the responsibility of making sure that they were taken care of in their brother’s absence. I also really liked her form of nagging the present earl into doing his duties.

The romance between Devon and Kathleen steamed up the book. I enjoyed getting to know them both. The slow progress of their relationship over the course of the book was interesting and it was fun. It was classic Kleypas historical romance and I enjoyed the heck out of it. The characters weren’t perfect but they didn’t need to be. I loved how flawed they were, how much color they brought to the story. I enjoyed getting to know Devon and Kathleen, West and the sisters. They were all such great characters and I couldn’t start the next book fast enough. This was an enjoyable book and a fabulous start to a series. I recommend.

4 out of 5

four-stars

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