Publisher: Pocket Books

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
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
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: Second Chance Season by Liora Blake

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

Guest Review: Second Chance Season by Liora BlakeReviewer: Tracy
Second Chance Season by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #2
Also in this series: First Step Forward, First Step Forward, Second Chance Season
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 20th 2017
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Return to Liora Blake’s Grand Valley series with Second Chance Season, in which an avowed country boy with a family duty meets an ambitious city girl with even bigger goals and who shows him just what he’s been missing.

Garrett Strickland is unapologetically country, fiercely loyal, and perfectly happy with his job at the Hotchkiss Co-op. Garrett is all about living in the present and not dwelling in the past—even if he was once on his way to a lofty agricultural sciences degree that would guarantee the brightest of futures, only to end up back home when his old man died, leaving behind a debt-ridden family farm that was impossible to keep afloat. After that, it was easy to see why dreaming big wasn’t worth the heartache. And until he crosses paths with a city girl who’s hell-bent on kick-starting her own future, he’s sure that good enough is just that.

Cara Cavanaugh is ready for more from life, even if that means changing everything; including dumping her boyfriend of ten years, turning down a lucrative job at a major newspaper, and leaving behind the upscale suburbs of Chicago where she grew up. Now, she just has to pray that temporarily relocating to the middle of nowhere in Colorado will be the first step in building a career as a freelance journalist—all she has to do is prove she’s got what it takes to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, her tony country day school is as close to “country” as she’s ever been. But when a goodhearted guy who looks like he just stumbled out of a country music video offers to help, she ends up falling hard…and discovering that the perfect story is a love story. And it’s theirs.

Second Chance Season, book two in the Grand Valley series, is a charming, feel-good romance, perfect for fans of Jennifer Probst and Kristan Higgins.

Cara has become a freelance journalist and is doing a story on the ag industry in Grand Valley.  She is staying at the home of a friend.  The home used to be owned by Garrett Strickland’s family but he had to sell it after his dad died.  Garrett helps Cara with the little idiosyncrasies of the house when needed and this puts the two of them in close proximity.

Garrett ends up helping Cara with her story as well.  He introduces her to local farmers so that she can have an in.  It’s a huge help to Cara but it makes Garrett happy because he gets to spend more time with Cara.  Soon the two are sleeping together and falling in love.  Cara, however, is not supposed to stay in Hotchkiss and Garrett feels he has nothing to offer Cara as he just works at the co-op.  The pair each have to figure out their lives before they can be together.

This was another great story from Blake.  I loved Hotchkiss the first time around and the second was just as good.  The story was very different from book one and I appreciated that.

Garrett was such a great guy and I loved him to pieces.  He had a huge heart and was raised right.  Though life hadn’t always treated him well he made the best of bad situations.  When he met Cara he had no intention of falling for her but he did lust after her.  I loved that the lust he felt turned into love which made for a great story.

Cara had been floundering.  She’d worked for a big newspaper but she felt stifled.  She went freelance and took the job to do the ag story for a magazine.  She loved it in Hotchkiss.  She felt right in the slower paced lifestyle.  Though she knew she shouldn’t fall for Garrett it happened and she was willing to make the moves she needed to in order to stay with him.  Garrett, however, needed to figure his shit out before they could be together.  I was happy that Cara could help Garrett see where he needed to be.

Overall the story was fun, sweet, sexy and just all-around great.  I definitely recommend this one. 🙂

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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Goodreads

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.”

GIVEAWAY

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Have you read this book? Do you love it as much as we do? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

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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Review: Second Chance Season by Liora Blake

Posted July 10, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Second Chance Season by Liora BlakeReviewer: Rowena
Second Chance Season by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #2
Also in this series: First Step Forward, First Step Forward, Second Chance Season
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 20th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Return to Liora Blake’s Grand Valley series with Second Chance Season, in which an avowed country boy with a family duty meets an ambitious city girl with even bigger goals and who shows him just what he’s been missing.

Garrett Strickland is unapologetically country, fiercely loyal, and perfectly happy with his job at the Hotchkiss Co-op. Garrett is all about living in the present and not dwelling in the past—even if he was once on his way to a lofty agricultural sciences degree that would guarantee the brightest of futures, only to end up back home when his old man died, leaving behind a debt-ridden family farm that was impossible to keep afloat. After that, it was easy to see why dreaming big wasn’t worth the heartache. And until he crosses paths with a city girl who’s hell-bent on kick-starting her own future, he’s sure that good enough is just that.

Cara Cavanaugh is ready for more from life, even if that means changing everything; including dumping her boyfriend of ten years, turning down a lucrative job at a major newspaper, and leaving behind the upscale suburbs of Chicago where she grew up. Now, she just has to pray that temporarily relocating to the middle of nowhere in Colorado will be the first step in building a career as a freelance journalist—all she has to do is prove she’s got what it takes to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, her tony country day school is as close to “country” as she’s ever been. But when a goodhearted guy who looks like he just stumbled out of a country music video offers to help, she ends up falling hard…and discovering that the perfect story is a love story. And it’s theirs.

Second Chance Season, book two in the Grand Valley series, is a charming, feel-good romance, perfect for fans of Jennifer Probst and Kristan Higgins.

Second Chance Season is the second book in Liora Blake’s Grand Valley series and it follows the cutie patootie that works at the Co-Op, Garrett Strickland. In First Step Forward, we learn that Garrett was going to college to earn a degree and learn all he can before he took over his family’s farm. He had plans for his future and he was hoping to learn all he can to make his family business a profitable one but all of his plans went to crap when his father died and he ended up losing the farm because he couldn’t come out of the mountain of debt his father was in to save it.

Garrett’s world was rocked after his father died. He not only lost his father but he also lost his childhood home and his plans he made for his future. He never went back to college, he got a job at the town Co-Op and has been working there ever since. He doesn’t live the most glamorous life but he’s okay with his lot in life. He’s okay with living alone in a trailer. He’s okay with not knowing what the future holds and all of that stays true until he meets Cara Cavanaugh.

Cara Cavanaugh is making some changes in her life. She dumped her boyfriend and moves from Chicago to Hotchkiss, Colorado to write her first freelance writing article on the AG scene in Hotchkiss. She’s not sure how to go about interviewing the locals for her story but when she meets Garrett Strickland, hometown boy, things take a turn for the better. He knows everything and everyone around town and decides to help her any way that he can. He starts by introducing her around and getting her in the door with the local farmers, setting her up to interview people and he takes her out with him to help his neighbors on their farms so that she can see how everything works and he’s a real knight in shining armor even though things have to be weird for him since she’s staying in the only home he’d ever known growing up. The home that he lost after his father died.

Second Chance Season is a slow simmering romance that really worked for me. I adored getting to know Garrett and seeing him come into his own after his world was rocked upside down. I loved seeing him come to grips with the past, making peace with it and then finally making plans for his future. It was a long time coming and I really liked that Cara was able to help Garrett just as much as Garrett was able to help Cara when she got into town. It wasn’t a one-way thing and their attraction that blossomed into that love was a journey that I loved being a part of.

This book was rich with charming characters that I couldn’t get enough of and I’m super excited to continue the series with Braden’s book. Both Garrett and Cara were characters that really came alive with each passing page. They were normal and they were fun to get to know and even when they were both being boneheads, I adored them. Liora Blake did a great job of weaving a compelling romance with characters that readers will connect with and I’m happy with the story she wrote here. It was fun and it was sweet and I’m definitely in for more.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Gone to Dust by Liliana Hart

Posted July 10, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Gone to Dust by Liliana HartReviewer: Tracy
Gone to Dust by Liliana Hart
Series: Gravediggers Series #2
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 20th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

The Gravediggers aren’t exactly what they seem. They’re the most elite of the world’s fighting forces—and all they have in common is that they’ve been betrayed by the countries they’ve died for. Because they are dead. To their country, their military, and their families.

Sometimes the dead do rise....

Miller Darling is one of the most popular romance novelists of her time. Not bad for a woman who doesn’t believe in romance. She’s as logical as they come, and she doesn’t believe in happily-ever-afters. What she does believe in is family, so when her brother disappears, she doesn’t think twice about packing her bag and her laptop and heading out to find him.

Elias Cole lived and breathed the life of a Navy SEAL. Now he’s “dead” and his hero’s honor tarnished. The only thing keeping him sane are the men who are like him—The Gravediggers—and the woman who makes his head spin. He’s never met anyone like Miller Darling. Her smart mouth and quick wit keep him on his toes, and damned if he doesn’t find that appealing.

When Miller receives a package from the brother who abandoned her asking for help, it’s clear she’s in over her head with the mess he’s gotten himself into. She needs a professional, and Elias is just the man for the job. Only her brother is a former SEAL—the man who left his team to die—and Elias is more interested in vengeance than saving his life.

Miller is an author who writes romance novels but doesn’t believe in love.  She was raised by her brother after their parents died in a plane crash.  Their parents had been searching for King Solomon’s treasure and unfortunately her brother took up the search after they died.  Miller was pretty much left on her own a huge amount of time.  Her friend Tess was always there and that was enough for her.

Miller opens the mail one day and finds a finger. She knows it’s her brothers finger by the ring that was on it as it used to belong to their father. She freaks out and heads to Tess and her husband, Deacon.  He examines the finger and the men who make up The Gravediggers get involved to help Miller find her brother who is in South America.

The Gravediggers are an elite group of terrorist fighters from all walks of life and nationalities.  Their boss doesn’t want them to get involved with Miller’s problems but one of them, Elias, agrees to take vacation to help Miller.  Miller and Elias had gone on a date at one point and had gotten hot and heavy until he just suddenly walked away.

Miller was pissed at him and doesn’t want to have to be close to him in any way but agrees to his help.  Miller and Elias face many dangers in South America – kidnapping, the dangers of nature and drug lords. These dangers force Miller and Elias to talk and figure out their issues.  Elias is focused on getting revenge on Eve, the lady who screwed up his life in order to get him into the Gravediggers.  Dating Miller would take that focus away and he walked away before he couldn’t.  Once he was with Miller he realized that his feelings for her were such that he couldn’t walk away even if he wanted to.

The story was a good one and was exciting.  There were a few lag points in the book but not too many.  Elias and Miller were great together and I loved that they played off of each other so very well.  The end of the book was pretty abrupt and I didn’t care for that at all.  I was left with too many questions!  Maybe the author intended for those to be answered in the next book but I found it incredibly frustrating.

Overall it was a good story.  I didn’t read the first book and didn’t feel I needed to in order to understand this one.

Rating: 3.75/4 out of 5  

four-stars


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