Publisher: Open Road Media

Guest Review: A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield

Posted October 14, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth MansfieldReviewer: Tracy
A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield
Published by Open Road Media Romance
Publication Date: October 4th 2016
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

During the holiday season, a governess loses her heart to an earl with no intention of marrying again, in this Cinderella story set in Regency England.

After defending her virtue by striking the besotted son of her employer, Miss Evalyn Pennington is discharged from her position under a cloud of scandal. With no place to go and no prospects for the coming year, the impoverished governess accepts an invitation from Jamie Everard, heir to an earldom, to spend the holidays at his family’s estate. But Evalyn has barely settled in at Gyllford Manor when she catches the eye of Philip Everard, the fourth Earl of Gyllford—and Jamie’s father.

After his wife died, Philip vowed to never marry again, despite his sister’s best efforts to reintroduce him to London society. Then, his son brings a guest home for Christmas. Is the lovely, intelligent Evalyn the woman to make his footloose son settle down at last? But why does Jamie treat Evalyn in such a cavalier manner? And what is Philip to do about the reigning beauty of London who has set her cap for him—and is about to set in motion a scheme that will have far-reaching consequences for them all?

A witty and warm tale about morals, mores, marriage, and mistaken intentions, this classic Regency holiday romance introduces a woman who refuses to surrender her ideals, and a man in danger of losing the one thing he swore never again to give: his heart.

Evalyn Pennington is let go from her position of governess after she is accosted by her employer’s son.  (Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me either.) Two of the son’s friends, Jamie and Reggie, are in residence when this happens and feels bad that she got sacked without a reference because of their friends’ stupidity.  They make a plan to take Evalyn to Jamie’s house for Christmas thinking that Jamie’s aunt will get to know her, like her, and then be willing to give her a letter of reference.  He writes to his father and aunt and they agree to let her be their guest thinking that Jamie has finally found someone he’s fond of.

When Jamie gets to Gyllford Manor and talks to his father, Philip, he hems and haws about why Evalyn is there and by the end of the talk Philip is under the impression that after Christmas Jamie and Evalyn will be announcing their engagement. Philip and his sister are thrilled but then Philip gets to know Evalyn and realizes that he’s having feelings for her.  He’s a widower and hasn’t had feelings for anyone since his wife died so it’s strange.  Of course he feels immense guilt because she’s Jamie’s woman.

The story is a mish-mosh of misunderstandings, love growing between various couples and of course a plot to discredit someone.  It was a bit confusing at times but all in good fun and it definitely made me laugh from time to time.

Evalyn was a sensible woman but still had a romantic heart.  She, of course, had no clue that Philip was under the impression that she was going to marry Jamie so when it seems he has feelings for her and then pushes her away, she’s confused.

Then there’s Reggie, Jamie’s friend, who starts to fall for the daughter of another house guest but he thinks that Jamie has his eye on her and refuses to infringe.

Of course the aunt has a love interest as well and it all makes for a very interesting holiday for the family and their guests.  I did find the story to be very light and airy, despite some of the misunderstandings.  It was all in good fun and was well done.

Rating: 3 out of 5

(Originally released in 1990)

three-stars


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Review: Highland Groom by Hannah Howell

Posted September 4, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Highland Groom by Hannah HowellReviewer: Holly
Highland Groom by Hannah Howell
Series: Murray Family #8, McEnroy Family #2
Published by Open Road Media
Publication Date: April 29th 2014
Pages: 276
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three-half-stars

Sir Diarmot MacEnroy, deciding his illegitimate children need a mother and his keep needs a proper lady, now stands before the altar with a gentle bride he hopes is too shy to disrupt his life or break his heart. The nuptials, however, are interrupted by the appearance of a flame-haired beauty carrying two babies, boldly claiming that she is his wife and mother of his twin infant sons. Armed with her seven large brothers, she has come to demand her dues. Having waited one year for the return of the handsome laird who wed her, bedded her, then disappeared, Ilsa Campbell MacEnroy takes matters into her own hands and sets out to reclaim the man she briefly and passionately loved. Stunned by his denial, her heart softens when she learns of the injury that has ravaged his memory. Now she faces the nearly impossible task of conquering his past—and his fierce reluctance to share his heart. Though desire flares hot and wild between them, it will take more to win his trust. It will take the magic touch of a woman in love.

Howell follows pretty much the same formula for all her novels: tiny heroine with big personality falls for giant hero who is mistrustful because of a past girlfriend/mistress/wife who screwed him over. She decides to fight for his love by being herself and he falls for her in spite of his vow to hate all women, but must hilarity/angst is had first. This one deviates in that the heroine has 14 large brothers and the hero has 6 bastard children he sort of-kind of forgot to mention to the heroine.

Ilsa thought she’d found the man of her dreams in the dashing Dairmot. He isn’t intimidated by her many brothers, professes to care for her and is quick to handfast with her when they’re discovered trysting. He says he has matters to take care of at home and will collect her shortly, then never returns. She’s devastated, but does her best to hide it. Until she turns up pregnant. When Dairmot still hasn’t shown up almost a year later, when the terms of the handfast are about to be annulled, her brothers force her to set out to find him. The last thing she expected was to find him kneeling before the alter with another woman.

Knowing she doesn’t have a choice about her future since she has twin sons with the man, she resigns herself to marriage to the man she gave her heart to. The one, it turns out, she knew not at all.

Dairmot was attacked almost a year ago and lost his memory. When a tiny redhead with 7 hulking brothers interrupts his wedding, he’s skeptical about their claims. He wants to deny them outright, but he can’t since they have papers saying he did, indeed, handfast with Ilsa. But their timeline puts them in the right frame to have had him attacked, so he vows to beware them all. Until his memory returns or he learns who his enemies are, he’s determined to keep Ilsa and her babies at arms length.

Dairmot was a complete ass, which isn’t new for Howell either. I didn’t mind so much, though, because I read her books for the heroines. Ilsa was  pretty awesome. She took a lot of crap from Dairmot, but she had her limits.  She had a redheaded temper, which made for some fun reading (especially when she punched him and knocked him on his butt). Her brothers are hilarious and added a lot of comic relief.

“So, ye decided upon a handfasting.”

“Aye. Got the lovers to tidy themselves up and took them off to the alehouse to find our cousin Liam. Set the groom in a barrel and had my brother Gilbert there,” he nodded toward a very sturdily built young man with flame red hair and blue eyes, “to sit on it whilst we discussed the matter with Liam.”

Diarmot slouched in his chair and drank his ale, wondering if it was possible for this tale to be any more humiliating.

The mystery plot isn’t anything too exciting. The kids were adorable, though, as were Ilsa’s brothers and cousins. They added so much color to the story.

While much of the story is predictable, I was still entertained. There are some truly hilarious scenes and Ilsa is awesome.

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Lightning Review: Highland Wedding by Hannah Howell

Posted March 8, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Lightning Review: Highland Wedding by Hannah HowellReviewer: Holly
Highland Wedding by Hannah Howell
Series: Highland Brides #2
Also in this series: His Bonnie Bride
Published by Open Road Media
Publication Date: April 29th 2014
Pages: 296
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

The vivid scar that spans Sir Iain MacLagan’s cheek is a daily reminder of the wife he lost—and of the enemy that still stalks him. Commanded by Scotland’s king to remarry in order to unite two powerful border clans, lain reluctantly weds Islaen MacRoth, a woman whose delicate appearance belies a playful, seductive nature that proves dangerously attractive to a man who has vowed never to jeopardize his heart, or his loved ones, again . . . 

Raised with eleven boisterous brothers, Islaen has little time for foolish romantic notions. Even so, she hoped for more than a forced marriage to a man who shares her bed, but not her life. Step by step, Islaen sets out to wear down Iain's defenses. 

This is the sequel to His Bonnie Bride, one of my most favorite books of all time. Unfortunately, I think perhaps my expectations were too high, because this one fell far short.

Both the hero and heroine were good characters, and they plot had the same elements I’ve always enjoyed in HH novels before, but for some reason, this one just didn’t work for me. It might have been because the story was just a bit too real. I realize there was a lot of fighting in this time period (especially in the Highlands) but it seemed to me there was more violence in this story than there normally is. And while that doesn’t usually bother me (honestly? I like a bit of violence in my novels) this one was just over the top with it. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it?

Regardless, though well written, it’s not a favorite or one I’ll be picking up again any time soon.

3.0 out of 5

The Series:
His Bonnie Bride
Highland Wedding

three-stars


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