Genre: Historical

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
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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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Guest Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Corwall

Posted April 5, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia CorwallReviewer: Tracy
The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall
Series: A Highland Fairy Tale #3
Also in this series: Beauty and the Highland Beast, When a Laird Finds a Lass
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Romance, Historical, Magic, Scottish, Fairy Tales & Folklore
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four-stars

Laire MacLeod’s father has married a mysterious widow who is a vain beauty that deals with potions and spells. Laire does not drink them with the rest of her family and is the only one who could see through her stepmother’s games. When Laire flees to find help from her Uncle the Lady’s huntsman follows her with orders to kill. Laire must survive in a dangerous new city and find the antidote to a poisonous potion before it is too late.

Iain Lindsay is cursed. He is bound for seven years to be the hunter of a Lady who uses him to bring back birds to use in her potions. When Laire MacLeod escapes the Lady’s nets, Iain tracks her to Edinburgh, where she’s found shelter with an unusual band of thieves, but he cannot bring himself to harm her. Instead, he finds himself falling in love with the MacLeod beauty.

But a Highlander’s oath is his bond, and the price for helping her is death, both his own, and of those he loves.

Laire MacLeod is frightened for her family.  She is one of 11 daughters – her father has been married 8 times.  Laire has loved all of the different women in her father’s life until he married Bibiana.  Laire knows that there is something strange going on with her.  Her sisters aren’t acting normal.  Her father is so entranced by Bibiana that he can literally not take his eyes off of her.  Laire decides that she needs to get away and seek help for her family before Bibiana does something horrible to them but Bibiana sends her huntsman after Laire.

Ian Lindsay, once a Laird in his own right, is bound to work for Bibiana for seven years.  That time is almost up and he wants desperately to get away from the witch, for that’s what she is, a witch.  When he is sent out to find Laire and bring back her heart he doesn’t want to do it.  He was attracted to Laire and doesn’t want to hurt her but he also knows there is no naysaying Bibiana.

Ian follows Laire to Edinburgh and plans to kill her but when he gets there he starts to see the potential of a real life and not one that involves Bibiana.  Laire is determined to find something that will stop Bibiana from hurting her family and she won’t let anyone stop her, no matter what it takes.

The Lady and the Highlander was a great book.  It was magic and fantasy blended so nicely with a Scottish highland romance.  The story was a take off of Snow White but I thought the way that Cornwall wrote the story was very original.  The “dwarves” weren’t dwarves at all and were actually child thieves.  I’m not sure what it was about the story that drew me in so quickly but I thought it was a charming story.  Yes, it was nutty as we didn’t really understand what Bibiana was doing to the people until later but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book.

Cornwall definitely has a gift for rewriting fairy tales.  I’ve enjoyed her interpretations of Beauty and the Beast as well as The Little Mermaid as well as this book.  I hope she continues writing the Highland Fairy Tale series because she’s writes them really well.

Rating: 4 out of 5  

four-stars

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Guest Review: My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

Posted April 4, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: My One True Highlander by Suzanne EnochReviewer: Tracy
My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch
Series: No Ordinary Hero #2
Also in this series: Hero in the Highlands
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Historical, Scottish
Pages: 320
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four-stars

Rugged highlander Graeme has one thing on his mind—take a stand against the horrible Englishman Lattimer and he will be rewarded with enough money to be set for life. But when his reckless younger brothers take it one step too far and kidnaps a young woman on her way to see Lattimer, Graeme has to intervene. He cannot send the lady back without his kin getting in trouble. And when a damsel this beautiful is dropped into your lap, it’s hard to let her go...

Marjorie should be terrified she’s been captured by highland scoundrels, but it’s hard to live in terror when your captor is a devilishly handsome and sinfully tempting as Graeme is. She cannot stay by his side forever—no matter how her heart may pound at the thought—but Graeme seems to have other plans. This wicked highlander is out to seduce her and doesn’t plan to stop until she’s in his arms...forever...

Graeme, Viscount Maxton, is an impoverished Chieftan in the Maxwell clan.  He doesn’t see eye to eye with the Maxwell Laird but he stays out of his way and it works.  That is until the Laird comes to visit and basically tells Graeme that if he kills the Duke of Lattimer the Maxwell Laird would give him money and forgive the tithes that he’s late on.  Graeme is disgusted with the Laird but just shrugs it off.  He wants nothing to do with Dunncraigh and his issues with Lattimer.

Marjorie is headed to the highlands for her brother’s wedding.  He doesn’t know she’s coming but she decided to attend because A) She loves her brother and wants to meet his betrothed and B) London is frustrating the hell out of her.  She thought that now that she was a Duke’s sister (and not a ladies companion) and had money that she’d have it all but no one in London even acknowledges her being much less accepts her.  In fact people were nicer to her when she was a companion!  Once in the Highlands she stops with her companion and ends up getting kidnapped.

Graeme’s brothers, Brendan – 16, Dùghlas – 14 and Connell – 8, kidnapped Marjorie when they overheard her companion talking about how she’s the Duke of Lattimer’s sister.  Brendan gets the idea that they can ship her off as a bargaining tool to Dunncraigh and all will then be right with their world. Graeme, however, doesn’t see it that way, but he’s not sure what to do with the lass now that she’s there.  He eventually decides he needs to marry her but Marjorie aka Ree fights that.  Once she gets herself free she decides not to escape.  She doesn’t want anything bad to happen to the boys and she actually has kind of started to like Graeme.  Once she falls in love with him, however, she has to decide if she loves him more than she loves the dream she’s always had of being the belle of the ball in London.

This was a cute book.  Yes, it’s a story with a bit of Stockholm syndrome going on but I thought the way that Enoch wrote it all made it seem ok.  Also, let’s face it, this is a romance and fiction so…it is what it is. 😊

I loved the characters in this book.  Graeme was an honorable guy and despite the crazy thing his brothers did he was trying to make the best of it.  His parents had died and he had taken over the title, the lands, the cotters and the raising of his brothers when he was 20 years old and Connell was just 2 days old.  He’s had a lot of responsibility and has always done the right thing.  He was confused about his feelings for Marjorie at first but he soon embraced them and I loved that he did.  His brothers were cute – especially Connell.  He about made the whole book for me because he was so precocious. He also had a very large heart when it came to animals who needed a home. Loved. Him. Brendan was a typical surly teen and Dùghlas was just following along with his older brother.  They both ended up having a good side to them and I loved how they stood up for Marjorie in the end.

Overall it was a sweet romance and one I really enjoyed reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki

Posted March 27, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: The Highland Duke by Amy JareckiReviewer: Tracy
The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands #1
Published by Forever
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Scottish
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

She'll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she's intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he's the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she's by his side day and night. But the longer he's with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

Akira is a healer in the small town of Dunkeld.  After the battle of Hoord Moor she heads to battlefield to see if she can help any of the wounded.  She finds a man who has been shot in the thigh and tries to help him.  When they hear people coming he quickly sends her to find a horse and they head out.  You see, the man is a Duke and if he is found to be fighting on the side of the Jacobites he will be imprisoned or killed and have his lands taken from him.  Geordie and Akira take off and hide from the dragoons that are never far behind.  Geordie dropped his flask with his family’s crest on it so the dragoons know who to look for.

Akira and Geordie avoid the red coats and make it to Geordie’s lands but not before they fall in love with each other.  Akira, who’s very proper gives in to Geordie’s advances when he says he’ll take care of her thinking that he’s going to marry her. When he offers to make her his mistress instead she’s heart-broken. She had no idea he was a duke until they got to his castle but that played no part in her feelings for him. He is divorced and he knows that Queen Anne and the bishop will never approve the marriage.  He loves her but he doesn’t know what else to do.

The dragoons haven’t given up and they are determined to get Geordie to admit he’s a traitor.  They’ll even use Akira to get to him and it may actually work.

I really liked the premise of this book and there was a whole lot about it that I liked.  I really loved Akira and her strength.  She’d been the sole caretaker of her mother and 3 sisters for the past 10 years and she was happy to do it.  She was an amazing woman and I truly admired her.  She also stood up to Geordie when she needed to and that was awesome as well.

The first part of the book, while they’re on the run from the dragoons before they hit the duke’s lands, was pretty slow, imho.  It was decent but I had to stop myself from skimming ahead on more than one occasion.  I know this was meant to be a time when Geordie and Akira get to know each other but there was so much internal thought I found it quite sluggish.  I thought that once the pair hit Gordon land things would pick up a bit but it was only a little.

Things really came to a head when Akira headed home and the dragoon who had been after Geordie made his move.  I really liked the last ¾ of the book but unfortunately it didn’t make up for the other parts.  This got higher marks because I really loved that Jarecki wasn’t afraid to match up a Romany woman with a Duke and made it work.  Of course I wasn’t quite convinced at the end of the book that those who were after Geordie were going to give up, but maybe that’s just me.

Geordie grew on me.  At the first part of the book I didn’t care for him at all but he showed his true worth throughout the story and I really liked him by the end.  He was a good man who had lost his way but had finally found the right path.

Overall I liked the story I just had issues with tempo.  Hopefully the next book in the series will be more evenly paced.

Rating 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Retro Review: Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

Posted March 22, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 19 Comments

Retro Review: Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia QuinnReviewer: Rowena
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn
Series: Two Dukes of Wyndham #2
Published by Avon
Publication Date: September 30th 2008
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 370
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four-half-stars

THERE WENT THE BRIDE ...
Amelia Willoughby has been engaged to the Duke of Wyndham for as long as she can remember. Literally. A mere six months old when the contracts were signed, she has spent the rest of her life waiting. And waiting. And waiting ... for Thomas Cavendish, the oh-so-lofty duke, to finally get around to marrying her. But as she watches him from afar, she has a sneaking suspicion that he never thinks about her at all ...
It's true. He doesn't. Thomas rather likes having a fiancee --- all the better to keep the husband-hunters at bay --- and he does intend to marry her ... eventually. But just when he begins to realize that his bride might be something more than convenient, Thomas's world is rocked by the arrival of his long-lost cousin, who may or may not be the true Duke of Wyndham. And if Thomas is not the duke, then he's not engaged to Amelia. Which is the cruelest joke of all, because this arrogant and illustrious duke has made the mistake of falling in love ... with his own fiancee!

*****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.

This review was originally posted on September 26, 2008.

This is the second book in the Two Dukes of Wyndham series. The first story follows the long lost son of John Cavendish, Jack Audley. John died before he could become the Duke, leaving his younger brother the Duke. Years later, John’s son, Jack tries to rob the Dowager Duchess of Wyndham who recognizes him as her grandson. John was the Dowager Duchess’ favorite son so she did everything she could to make sure that Jack became the true duke of Wyndham. The first book follows Jack and the Dowager Duchess’ ladiesmaid Grace while this book follows the other Duke, the acting Duke of Wyndham, Thomas Cavendish.

Thomas was made the Duke when he was very young and so being the Duke of Wyndham was all he knew, it was all that he was. So then this new guys comes in and might be the true Duke of Wyndham which means that everything he knows and everything he is will be stripped from him and in this book, we find out how he deals with it. The first book shows us Jack’s point of view. We see the story unfold and we’re in one duke’s head. This story tells us the same exact story, only in the other’s duke’s head.

When I was reading the first book, I often wondered what Thomas was thinking, why he did certain things he did. Reading the first book with all of these questions about Thomas made for some frustration moments but all of my questions were answered in this book and even though it was the exact same story, I really enjoyed it.

I wasn’t a big fan of Thomas in the first book. I liked him well enough but for me, it was all about Jack. The same could be said for Amelia. I wasn’t a big fan of hers, for me it was all about Grace but I can say with all certainty that I’m a fan of both of theirs now.

I really enjoyed both of their characters. In the first book, we don’t get to see much of what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling so it was really easy for me to overlook them but in this book, I got to know them, I grew to like them and I’m so glad to have the whole story in front of me. My nosy self is very happy right now. =)

I really enjoyed Thomas’ character. He was such a stand up guy, a very honorable man and I found myself growing to like him more and more. To have everything he was and everything he lived for stripped away from him by a long lost family member that he never knew existed had to have hit him like a freight train but he handled himself in such a way that blew my mind. He could have gone along with Jack but because of the kind of man he was, he didn’t. He almost lost the woman that he had come to love by giving up the title but he did what was needed to be done and then he made sure that Jack would honor his word, so that Amelia didn’t have to worry about her future.

So sweet.

The only thing I didn’t quite understand was why he waited so long to marry Amelia but whatever, he fell in love with her and that’s all that matters to me.

Amelia’s character kinda got on my nerves in the first book but I couldn’t fault her for being the way she was, she was engaged to be married and her fiance’ knew nothing about her. He didn’t care to get to know her and he completely ignored her. He kept saying that he would marry her but year after year after year she stayed unmarried. Having gotten to know her a lot more in this book, it made me like her so much more than I thought I would. I loved the way that she was with her sisters and I loved the way that she was with Grace and then how she stood by Thomas, I really liked that. She was a great heroine and the perfect match for Thomas.

This book was like getting the other pieces of the puzzle and putting them in place. Everything made sense and everything was made whole. It was a great story with great characters and I liked how even though I hecka loved Jack and Grace and loved seeing them again, I loved how JQ didn’t make them so great in this book that they took away from Thomas and Amelia. It was the perfect mixture of everything I loved about both couples and I really enjoyed it.

I still hated the grandmother, she was still a horrid grandmother and that didn’t change in this book, I didn’t care for Amelia’s father but they didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. What mattered was that Thomas was a great hero and Amelia turned out to be a fantastic heroines. I loved the scene at the end when Grace and Amelia, pissed as all hell start swapping curses, that was too funny. I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great sequel.

Fans of JQ should definitely read this, it’s a good one.

four-half-stars

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