Genre: Historical Romance

Retro Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted August 16, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Retro Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina JeffriesReviewer: Holly
The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Hellions of Halstead Hall #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 19th, 2010
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 392
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four-stars

Hellions of Halstead Hall

They're the scandalous Sharpes, five hell-raising siblings tainted by a shocking family legacy. Now each faces a daunting ultimatum: marry by year's end—or kiss their inheritance good-bye.

In the two decades since a tragic "accident" took the lives of his parents, Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville, has survived the scandal surrounding that fateful night by living as an unrepentant rakehell. And with his grandmother vowing to disinherit him if he doesn't settle down and wed, he plans to fulfill the bargain in true Sharpe style—by bringing home a fake fiancée from a brothel! But his scheme is derailed when he rescues an American beauty in a dire predicament instead.

Maria Butterfield came to London to track down her groom-to-be, who's gone missing, but her engagement won't stop Oliver from getting what he wants: her, in his bed. His rebellious masquerade may call his grandmother's bluff, but it's soon made all too real—by a love that tempts him to be a hellion no more.

As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Rowena: I love reading old reviews by Holly. She never fails to get her point across a lot more eloquently than I do. I remember putting this book on my TBR a long ass time ago and are you surprised that I never got around to reading it? Ha!

This review was originally posted on February 16, 2010.

Sabrina Jeffries can be hit or miss for me, but I really adored this book.

Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville, is being forced to marry. Though he’s titled, he’s broke and has 4 siblings to care for. Each of them acts scandalously, earning them the nickname the Hellions of Halstead. Their grandmother, determined to have great-grandchildren before her death, has issued an ultimatum: Either they all marry, or they’re all disinherited.

Oliver has no intention of marrying. He figures he can call his grandmother’s bluff by finding the most unsuitable bride ever. She comes in the form of one Maria Butterfield, an American heiress who has come to England to find her missing fiance. Not only is she American, but she’s from common origins and basically alone in the world.

Maria is only in England to find her missing fiance. Now that her father has passed away she needs her fiance to settle the terms of her father’s will. Unfortunately all of her money is tied up in her father’s shipping business, so she’s basically operating on a shoe-string budget. When her cousin is caught out and she’s forced to accept Stoneville’s wild scheme in order to protect them both, it seems like a nightmare; until he agrees to help her find her fiance while she puts on the charade for his grandmother. It seems easy enough…

..but neither are prepared for the attraction and genuine liking they share for one another. Not that anything can come of it, what with Maria having a fiance and Stoneville determined to never marry and become like his parents.

This was such a fun story. I was determined to dislike both Maria and Stoneville in the beginning; her because she’s such a stick-in-the-mud and him because he was so much the rake. They both grew on me, however, and it wasn’t long before I was wrapped up in both of them.

Maria wasn’t really as uptight as she seemed. Once she loosened up and relaxed I really felt like I connected with her. She didn’t let Oliver get away with anything, which I thought was great. I did think she forgave him a bit too easily on occasion, but I was able to move past it.

I really liked Oliver and the way he was with is family. Though he was determined to ruin his own life, when it came to his siblings he really stepped up and did the right thing. The way he was so confused over his feelings for Maria was hilarious.

His guilt over the death of his parents and his subsequent actions didn’t make a lot of sense to me. His mother caught him in a compromising position and lashed out, saying some nasty things to him. Later that evening his parents are discovered in a hunting lodge dead – it looks like she shot him and then herself. Oliver is convinced he’s the reason his mother finally lost it and killed his father. But from then on he went out of his way to act just like his father…which made no sense. If he hated everything his father was and how upset his mother always became, why did he act the same way?

Similarly, the way his grandmother acted about the incident with her daughter frustrated me to no end. Toward the end she talks about it a bit, but for most of the book I was just annoyed with her over it.

Despite that one issue, I really enjoyed all the secondary characters. Especially Oliver’s siblings and Maria’s cousin. They really added just the right amount of silliness to the story. I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more about them as the series continues.

This was a sweet love story with charming characters. I recommend it if you’re in the mood for a can’t-put-down historical romp.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Posted August 11, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Tracy
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #3
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake, Devil in Spring
Published by Avon
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 370
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four-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...

Business minded Pandora has no desire to get married.  She wants to be an independent woman and she’s doing that with the help of her brother-in-law, Rhys Winterbourne.  She makes board games and plans to build factories and employ lots of women.  If she got married she’d have to give up all control and money earned and she’s not about to do that. She hangs out at balls during her first season making up excuses to avoid dancing with men.  Unfortunately she gets caught in what is considered a compromising position with Lord St. Vincent and can’t seem to get out of it.

Gabriel isn’t thrilled with the thought of getting married and of course Pandora keeps telling him no.  The more he gets to know her, however, the more he thinks that being married to her would be amazing and he soon falls in love with her.  Pandora puts up a fight until the end but her heart is soon just as engaged as Gabriel’s.

This was a sweet romantic story.  Pandora is brusque and pushy but I truly admired her drive and ambition.  I know that wasn’t something that was admired back then but that made me like her even more.

Gabriel was a great character.  He is the son of Evie and Sebastian (from Devil in Winter) and has a good head on his shoulders.  He soon sees that Pandora isn’t like any other women and that’s a good thing, in his mind. He even goes so far as to get a dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to have the word “obey” stricken from their marriage ceremony.  🙂

There was a bit of a mystery plot (I guess you’d call it mystery – maybe terrorist?) that was a bit odd.  It had to do with a printer that Pandora went to see about one of her board games.  I kind of felt that it was put in there just to put the heroine in peril and have us meet the detective, Ethan Ransom, (that may or may be attached to the Ravenels in some way) and that did nothing for me.  It ended up being a bit out there but wrapped up nicely.

Overall I really liked the book a lot.  I liked the characters and the romance and that was the main focus.  I’m anxious to see what the next book in the series brings.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Saving Grace by Julie Garwood

Posted July 23, 2017 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 2 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. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Saving Grace is one of the first Garwood books I read. I was sucked in from the first page. Johanna’s struggle to find strength in herself, and freedom in a marriage to a wild highlander captivated me.

Sunday Spotlight: Saving Grace by Julie GarwoodSaving Grace by Julie Garwood
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: March 1, 1994
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 407
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When Lady Johanna learned that she was a widow, she vowed she would never marry again. Only sixteen, already she possessed a strength of will that impressed all who looked past her golden-haired beauty. Yet when King John demanded that she remarry and selected a bridegroom for her—it seemed she must acquiesce, until her beloved foster brother suggested she wed his friend, the handsome Scottish warrior Gabriel MacBain.

At first Johanna was shy, but as Gabriel tenderly revealed the splendid pleasures they would share, she came to suspect that she was falling in love with her gruff new husband. And it was soon apparent to the entire Highlands clan that their brusque, gallant laird had surrendered his heart completely. But now a desperate royal intrigue threatened to tear her from his side—and to destroy the man whose love meant more to her than she had ever dreamed!

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There’s a lot to love in this book. Humor, depth, romance, action and adventure. Saving Grace has it all.

Favorite Quotes

Johanna was in an abusive marriage before her brother convinced her to marry Gabriel McBain. As a widow, the king would have been able to force her to marry whom he wanted and her brother was trying to save her from another terrible marriage. Gabriel was large and gruff, and Johanna started out very frightened of him. Even so, she had a deep well of inner-strength, and right from the beginning, she challenged him.

“I will try to love you, M’lord, and I’ll certainly honor you because you’ll be my husband, but I don’t believe I’ll obey you much. I’ve found that total submissiveness doesn’t agree with me.”

[…]

“Will you try to obey?” He sounded exasperated. She was so astonished by his attitude she smiled. She wasn’t such a weakling, after all, she thought to herself. She had just stood up to the laird and forced him to negotiate. She wasn’t certain she’d won much, but she definitely hadn’t lost anything. “Yes, I will try,” she promised. “Upon occasion,” she hastily added.

Gabriel’s reaction to her isn’t what she expects. From the beginning, he worries for her health and well-being, though she doesn’t realize it at first.

She was trying to be submissive, Gabriel decided. He thought it was probably killing her.

Johanna constantly tries to impart wisdom to her husband’s followers, but they never understand what she means. Every single time it happened, I laughed out loud.

“I was just thinking about your laird,” she answered. “He’s a complicated man.”

“Aye, he is,” Keith agreed.

“I would like to understand how his mind works.”

“Why?”

She lifted her shoulders in a shrug. “Direct questions don’t work,” she remarked. “Still, there’s more than one way into a castle.”

Keith misunderstood. “Aye, there are two entrances, three if you count the pathway through the cellar.”

“I wasn’t referring to this holding,” she explained. “I meant that there is always more than one way to get what you want. Do you see?”

“But there are still just two entrances to the keep, M’lady,” Keith stubbornly insisted.

She let out a sigh. “Never mind, Keith.”

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About the Author


WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

It’s no surprise that Julie Garwood became a writer. Growing up in a large family of Irish heritage, she took to storytelling naturally. “The Irish relish getting all the details of every situation,” she explains. “Add in the fact that I was the sixth of seven children. Early in life I learned that self-expression had to be forceful, imaginative, and quick.”

Creating stories was always a passion for Julie, but she didn’t focus on making it a career until the youngest of her three children entered school. After the publications of two young adult books, she turned her interests to historical fiction. Her first novel, GENTLE WARRIOR, was published in 1985, and there has been a steady parade of bestsellers ever since. Today more than 40-million copies of her books are in print, and they are translated into dozens of languages around the world. One of her most popular novels, FOR THE ROSES, was adapted for a HALLMARK HALL OF FAME production on CBS.

Whether the setting is medieval Scotland, Regency England, frontier Montana, or modern-day Louisiana, her themes are consistent: family, loyalty, and honor. Readers claim that it’s the humor as well as the poignancy of her novels that keep them coming back for more. Julie described her goals this way: “I want my readers to laugh and cry and fall in love. Basically, I want them to escape into another world for a little while and afterward to feel as though they’ve been on a great adventure.”

Julie lives in Leawood, Kansas, and is currently working on her next novel.


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Guest Review: Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain

Posted July 7, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Scandalous Ever After by Theresa RomainReviewer: Tracy
Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain
Series: Romance of the Turf #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
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four-stars

"Romain pens an unconventional, highly appealing love story, topped off with intrigue. This fast-paced read is sure to satisfy." ―RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars for A Gentleman's Game

Does love really heal all wounds?After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband's debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband's roguish friend―whom she hasn't seen since the day of his lordship's mysterious death.

Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he's always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart―and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.

Romance of the Turf Series:A Gentleman's Game (Book 1)Scandalous Ever After (Book 2)

Two years ago Evan and his best friend, Conall, got into an argument and Even then left the country of Ireland, never to return.  He found out later that his friend had fallen from a horse and died that very day.  He’d blamed himself for his friends death.  He also has massive guilt because from the day Conall had brought his English wife home, Evan had been in love with her.

Evan is lecturing in London when the object of his affections, Kate, strolls in.  He immediately changes his travel plans and heads to her family seat in Newmarket with her – with plans to travel with her to Ireland afterward.  He finally believes it’s time to make his move on Kate, but she’s not ready to accept that her life can change from what it’s been these past two years.  She also has worries that going to bed with Evan will ruin their friendship.

When they eventually make it back to Ireland Kate is even more determined to keep Evan at bay but he doesn’t allow that.  He needs to make her see that they can be good together.  He also finds something that might prove that his friend, Kate’s husband didn’t die in an accident but was murdered.

This was a sweet fiends to lovers story.  I really liked both Kate and Evan and their witty banter made me laugh throughout the book.  No matter what was happening Evan was always there with his light-heartedness and I loved it.

The romance between the two kind of grew organically and at times I wished as a reader that I could have understood Kate a bit better when it came to Evan.  It was like she was falling in love with him but we weren’t exactly told that.  I don’t know how to explain it.  Anyway, this is the reason for the 4 stars rather than higher.

Overall I found the book to be quite enjoyable and I truly appreciated Ms. Romain’s sense of humor.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Posted July 6, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLeanReviewer: Rowena
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #3
Published by Avon
Publication Date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
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five-stars

The one woman he will never forget…Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day The Day of the Duchess.

I was not prepared to love this book as much as I did because I was not a fan of Malcolm’s in any of the other books in this series. After the first book, I pretty much wrote him off as being a total scumbag but holy cow you guys, Sarah MacLean’s redeem game is strong because not only did I love the book but I hella loved Malcolm, too. Warts and all. By the end, I was a blubbering mess and my daughter laughed and laughed and laughed at how much crying I was doing over a fictional couple. More than my love of Malcolm though was my love and admiration for Sera.

Holy cow, Sera was one boss ass bitch.

She wasn’t going to let no punk ass run her life anymore. She walked up into that room with all of those Dukes and Marquesses and Earls and was like, “Y’all gon’ give me this divorce cause I ain’t playing the fool no more!” She was over being chattel to her husband and she was going after a future that was hers and hers alone, with the help of her best friend Caleb.

Malcolm, the Duke of Haven, on the other hand, has been searching high and low for his wife but she was nowhere to be found. Her sisters sent him on a merry chase all over the place but he wasn’t going to give up and when she showed up at the House of Lords, he was equal parts relieved and furious. Relieved that she was okay and furious because she was demanding a divorce. He knew that things had gotten out of hand and more than anything, he wanted to fix things. He had a long road ahead of him but he wasn’t going to let his wife go without a fight.

So he proposes that she give him the summer to help him choose his replacement and once that’s done, she’ll be free to go and he’ll grant her the divorce.

This book had me deep in my feels for a lot of the story. The scene that began The Rogue Not Taken is a scene that I have never forgotten. It’s still vivid in my head. I had Malcolm painted with the bad guy brush and I wasn’t sure I even wanted his side of the story but I’m so glad that we got it.

Getting to know both Sera and Malcolm before the scandal and then after the scandal was everything that I hoped to get once I found out they were getting a book. I wanted to know what happened that was so bad that it broke their marriage. I wanted to know why Malcolm behaved the way that he did and what Sera held herself at fault for. I got all of that and more.

Sera was such a strong heroine and one that I loved the hell out of. She wasn’t the same hurt woman from before. She was back and she was strong and she knew her own mind and had plans for her future. A future that did not include a husband. Sure, she still loved her husband but she also hated him and she just wanted to be free. She never wanted to be that scared and rejected woman again and the only way that she could secure a future for herself that was hers and hers alone was to get a divorce. She’s desperate to be free so she agrees to Malcolm’s request to give him the summer.

There was a lot of growth in both Sera and Malcolm’s characters but in this book, we see Malcolm’s growth. When we see Sera again, she’s already stronger but we actually see Malcolm realize where his marriage went wrong and how to fix it. When we first see him again, he just wants his wife back. He wants to forget the past and start anew but nothing is ever that simple and when he finally realizes that and the steps he takes to fix what he broke…holy cow, it broke my heart.

I cried so much reading this book but I also laughed and smiled and fell in love. Sarah MacLean really knocked it out of the park, IMO. This book had everything romance lovers want in a romance and so much more. A second chance story that will break your heart and then piece it back together with each passing chapter. Did I love it? Yes. Should you read it? Hell yes. This book was just flat out good. My favorite of the bunch!

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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