Tag: 4.5 Reviews

Guest Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Posted August 21, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa DareReviewer: Tracy
The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Published by Avon
Publication Date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And unlimited teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

The Duke of Ashbury is contemplating his upcoming marriage and how he’ell go about finding a bride when Emma Gladstone, seamstress, walks into his study in a wedding gown.  She’s fearless when she asks him for payment for the dress.  His former fiancé had ordered the dress but when she broke her engagement to the Duke she refused to pay for it.  While Ashbury is proposing marriage, Emma is trying her hardest to just get the money so that she can get out of there, which she finally does.

The Duke, however, doesn’t give up on Emma and soon their actually married.  There are a couple of reasons that Emma wants to marry the Duke and one of those is to help her friend who is single but finds herself in the family way.  She figures once she get pregnant and the Duke sends her off to the country house she’ll take her friend with her and then the girl can give the child up for adoption.  Simple.  Yeah, not so simple.  Emma doesn’t get pregnant right away and then if seems as if the Duke won’t send her to the country after all.  On top of that Emma finds herself falling in love with the growly man and doesn’t want to be sent away.  But how can she stay with the man she loves and still help her friend?  Emma will find a way.

This was a great story, I must say.  I love Dare’s writing and I love the sense of humor that she instills in her characters.  In this book Ashbury has a very dry wit and he never hesitates to bring it forth.  I loved the banter between Ash and Emma and wanted more and more.

Emma’s plan to help her friend seemed a little feeble to start off with but her intentions were good.  She’d been kicked out by her father just by being caught with a man – she was afraid of what her friend would go through if she told about the baby.  I could understand why she did it but it still seemed a bit pie in the sky but she had a good heart.

Ash had been hurt and burned in the war and had hidden himself away.  He was jilted by his fiancé who couldn’t bear to look at him and that’s where he ended up coming up with the “rules” that he gives Emma.  Once he’s with her his thoughts fly away and he wants to keep her closer – he falls in love.  The pair of them have some oh-so-steamy sex and wow – Dare was in top form when she wrote those scenes.  Wow.

Overall the book had all the things I like – humor, witty banter, serious situations and great sex.  What more could I ask for?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Retro Review: True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson.

Posted July 26, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 20 Comments

Retro Review: True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson.Reviewer: Rowena
True Love and Other Disasters (Chinooks Hockey Team #4) by Rachel Gibson
Series: Chinooks Hockey Team #4
Also in this series: See Jane Score
Published by Avon
Publication Date: April 28th 2009
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 345
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four-half-stars

Disaster Number One: MEN

Hard knocks and hunger taught Faith Duffy not to believe in love. Still, when she married her very wealthy—and very old—husband, she became the perfect wife. And then he went to that big bank in the sky, leaving Faith with lonely nights, a pile of money, and a total mess of a pro hockey team. Heck, Faith doesn't even watch hockey!

Disaster Number Two: PASSION

But most of America and half of Canada is watching Ty Savage. His lethal sex appeal and deadly right hook make him the favorite of fans. For most of Ty's life, he's dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup. The last thing he needs is a bimbo messing up his plans.

Disaster Number Three: LOVE

Faith loathes Ty on sight, but she can't stop thinking about him all day ... and night. Then a moment of temptation ends with Faith in Ty's bed, and she begins to see there's more to him than sex appeal. Ty discovers there's far more to Faith than beauty and billions. But a relationship with Faith is impossible, and falling in love—that would be a disaster.

*****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.

Holly: Oh man, did we all love Rachel Gibson back in the day. I have several of her more recent releases in my TBR pile, but for some reason I haven’t read them. I think I’m afraid the magic of these earlier works will be missing.

This review was originally published April 29, 2009

One of the main reasons I read Rachel Gibson is she writes engaging stories with characters that fall right off the pages and keeps me entertained from the first page all the way to the last page. I don’t have to plow my way through that first part of the book that can sometimes bore the ever living snot out of me. Her books take off right from the beginning and keeps me plugged in.

This book was no exception. I was on board with this story right from the first chapter. In the first chapter, we meet the hero and the heroine at the heroine’s husband’s funeral or wake. Right off the bat, this book reminded me of Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s It Had To Be You and I was eagerly waiting to see how Rachel Gibson would tell her version of that storyline.

For me, she knocked it out of the park.

There is no doubt that Rachel Gibson is a gifted writer. She writes these quirky little romances that makes you smile and entertains the socks right off of you and she did just that in this book. This story is about Faith Duffy inheriting her late husband’s hockey team, the Seattle Chinooks. You’ll remember The Chinooks from See Jane Score, as that was the team that Luc Martineau and his sexy “I want to lick his tatoo” self played for. In this book, Lucky is retired and there’s a new hunky captain on the prowl.

His name is Ty Savage.

Man, I could feast for days off of that man. I really like hockey men and I really love Rachel Gibson’s hockey men. I didn’t think I could love an RG hockey man as much as I loved Luc Martineau but I do now.

I love Ty, just wanted to tell you that..in case you missed it. =P It’s funny how I don’t watch hockey in real life but after reading this book, it’s made me curious enough to check a hockey game out.

Faith was a great heroine. She was one of those heroines that is easy to relate to even if you don’t have anything in common with her. Faith was such a likeable character that I found it very easy to sympathize with her. She was so likeable that I wasn’t mad one bit at her after two weeks passes after her husband death and she starts wanting to sleep with another man. I had very big issues with this in Robyn Carr’s book, Second Chance Pass but because Faith’s relationship with her husband was so different from Vanessa’s relationship with Matt, it didn’t bother me one bit when Faith started sleeping with Ty.

I thought they were perfect together and I loved watching these two fall in love with each other. I loved seeing Ty’s insecurities and I loved watching him bulldoze his way into Faith’s heart. It was a delight to read about and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to enjoy another RG hockey book, for me, this is definitely a keeper.

4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Spellbinder by Thea Harrison

Posted July 26, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 7 Comments

Guest Review: Spellbinder by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Jen
Spellbinder by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow Series
Published by Thea Harrison
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 428
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four-half-stars

From author Thea Harrison comes the latest story in the New York Times bestselling Moonshadow trilogy….

Kidnapped while on tour, musician Sidonie Martel is transported to the mystical land of Avalon. A human without magical ability, she is completely vulnerable to the deadly forces surrounding her.

When she defies her captors and refuses to share her music, an act of violent cruelty leaves her broken, her ability to play silenced, maybe forever. Her only hope is a whisper in the dark, gentle hands that offer healing, and a man who refuses to show her his face yet who offers advice she dare not ignore.

One of the most feared and powerful sorcerers in history, Morgan le Fae serves a Queen he despises, Isabeau of the Light Court. Once a famous bard and an advisor to kings, Morgan has been enslaved to Isabeau for hundreds of years, acting as enforcer and the commander of her deadly Hounds.

Sidonie’s music touches Morgan in places he had abandoned centuries ago, and her fiery spirit resurrects feelings he had believed long dead. For Sidonie, trapped in captivity, passion offers a comfort she cannot resist.

But Isabeau holds Morgan bound in magical chains that only Death can break. And in the court of a cruel, jealous Queen, the only thing that burns hotter than love is revenge…

*Spoiler alert: I can’t talk about this book without giving a little spoiler for some of Harrison’s earlier books, but the cover copy of this book gives the spoiler too so…just fair warning.

Morgan Le Fae is the hero of this book, which might stun those of you who read the other books where he’s a villain. This isn’t so much a story where Morgan redeems himself but a story where we finally get the full picture of Morgan’s situation. Turns out he’s magically enslaved to Isabeau, the Queen of the Light Fae, and he’s been forced to follow her orders to the letter for centuries. He’s been searching for an out the entire time, and when he finally gets a reprieve due to a poorly worded order from Isabeau, he’s hopeful he can find something to end his enslavement. However, he ends up putting it all on the line when a human musician he’s developed an attachment to gets kidnapped and turned over to Isabeau. Sidonie Martel is a genius musician, but when she’s brutalized by Isabeau, Morgan can’t look the other way. As he starts helping her, the two get closer, and both end up making decisions about how much they’re willing to risk for the other.

OMG Morgan. He is a total badass and an incomparable magician, and, finally, we get to see that he’s also an amazing person. He is entirely isolated from everyone by Isabeau’s machinations. Because of her orders and the fact that no one knows he’s enslaved, he’s seen as ruthless and scary, so naturally nobody wants anything to do with him, even at the Light Court. He’s spent centuries performing atrocities without being able to stop or even explain himself. Can you imagine what that would do to a person? He was so lonely and traumatized it made my heart hurt. The tenderness and genuine caring he shows Sidonie, though, reveals his true character, and it’s so clear why Sidonie falls in love.

While Morgan is really the heart of the story for me, Sidonie is also fantastic. She knows almost nothing about the Light Court or the Elder Races, so when she’s captured she’s in way over her head. She’s a quick learner, though, and with Morgan’s help she survives. In part because she has no prior knowledge, she’s the only one who isn’t afraid of Morgan and really listens to him, and it allows her to figure out what is happening and communicate with him in a way no one else has. I love it when both characters do everything in their power to protect the other one, and this book had that in spades. While Sidonie can’t do much for most of the book, she makes the tough call for Morgan in the end. I just ate it up.

Another thing I loved about the book was that Morgan isn’t the only complex character. A lovable character from the first book in the series is back, though he doesn’t always make such lovable choices here. Isabeau is a bit more complicated than just “cartoon evil queen” as well. I’m not saying I liked her, but it was interesting to understand how she too was kind of trapped by her enslavement of Morgan. Even the war between the Light and Dark Courts that makes up the central conflict of the series was cast in a new light. Innocent people like Morgan have gotten caught up in the war, and this book showed that most of the Light Fae are just regular citizens trying to live life as best they can. It makes for a rich and interesting world to read about. 

This book is pretty dark and angsty, which makes sense given the horror of Morgan’s situation and the cruelty of Isabeau. However, it did make it kind of heavy reading sometimes. I longed for some more lightness to counteract all the pain. Frankly, I was also pretty frustrated that the lovable character I mentioned earlier didn’t do more to help Morgan once he understood what was happening. Couldn’t he get some reinforcements or do more to help plan? I guess if this book has one lesson, it’s that trauma is messy, complicated, and long lasting, and people don’t always make the best choices in those circumstances.

I am totally torn about future books. On the one hand, I would love to see Morgan again, but on the other hand, I hope both the Dark and Light Fae just leave him the hell alone because he’s suffered enough for their war! I really, really loved reading this book. It was smart and moving and made me look at book 1 in the series in a whole new light.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Posted July 11, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Atria Books
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 400
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four-half-stars

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

While this story is definitely not in my usual wheelhouse, someone whose opinion I admire raved about this book, and the premise reminded me of another book I really enjoyed, The Thirteenth Tale, where a famous elderly woman selects a seeming nobody to write the story of her life. I decided to take a chance on it, and I am so very glad I did. 

At the beginning of the book, journalist Monique Grant is getting divorced, is going nowhere in her career, and is not terribly happy with anything in her life. When reclusive, aging movie star Evelyn Hugo asks for Monique, and only Monique, to write a piece about her, she’s shocked but excited. Evelyn promises complete and total honesty, and as her tale unfolds, Monique learns that Evelyn, and indeed all human beings, are more complex and messy than they at first appear.

One of the first questions Monique asks Evelyn is “Who was the love of your life?” While Evelyn doesn’t answer immediately, the question sets the stage for their conversation, and you get a sense that answering that question is one of Evelyn’s primary reasons (but not the only one!) for telling her story in the first place. This isn’t a romance, though there is a love story (several, really). More importantly, the underlying theme of Evelyn’s story is love, which is why I think this book may appeal to readers of this site–who you love, why you love them, how you can love different people differently, what you will do for love, and when love sometimes isn’t enough. We see how Evelyn came from a background with little love and eventually fashioned a life for herself and created a family of people who loved her immensely. It was touching to read about.

Evelyn is a fascinating and richly drawn character. She had a desperately poor and unhappy childhood, but she’s determined to be a star, and she makes it happen through a combination of looks, natural (if unpolished) talent, and no small amount of pure determination. Some parts of her story are downright painful to read about, as she does what she has to do to get ahead, but the most poignant parts of the book are when she does things to protect the people she loves. (The chapter where she talks about her marriage to her third husband is particularly heartbreaking.) Even when she’s protecting others, though, she’s also protecting herself. Evelyn is clear with Monique that she isn’t the “good guy” in her story, that she can be self serving, vain, and cruel. The trick of Taylor Jenkins Reid, though, is that for the most part, you’re on Evelyn’s side through most of the book. You see the reasons for her choices, and it’s hard not to admire her determination and her fierce loyalty for those she loved. Then, she reveals a big secret near the end, and suddenly you’re left questioning, and some of the consequences of Evelyn’s choices become a bit less abstract that they were before. It’s nuanced and complex and fascinating to read.

While Evelyn’s stories vividly bring other characters to life, Monique is not as finely drawn. Her story isn’t fleshed out as fully as I would have liked. Her dissolving marriage was never quite explored and seemed more like a vehicle for showing how much Evelyn inspired Monique than an integral part of Monique’s own story. Monique’s mom is similarly shallowly portrayed and just added a hint of the “flavor” of Monique’s life without much substance. The ending was also rushed. Evelyn finally reveals her biggest secret, and I didn’t feel like there was enough time or interaction afterwards for Monique to process it all.

I found this book both captivating and beautifully written. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was a great book for stepping out of my usual genre.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-half-stars


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Review: If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell

Posted May 19, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora BellReviewer: Rowena
If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell
Series: The Disgraceful Dukes #2
Also in this series: How the Duke Was Won, Blame It on the Duke, How the Duke was won
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 30th, 2016
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars

After three failed seasons and a disastrous jilting, Lady Dorothea Beaumont has had more than enough of her family’s scheming. She won’t domesticate a duke, entangle an earl, or vie for a viscount. She will quietly exit to her aunt’s Irish estate for a life of blissful freedom. Until an arrogant, sinfully handsome duke singles her out for a waltz, making Thea the most popular belle of the season.

The duke ruined her plans and he’ll just have to fix them.

Garrett, Duke of Osborne, is far too heartless for debutantes or marriage—he uses dalliances and public spectacle to distract from his real purpose: finding the man who destroyed his family. When his search leads to Ireland, the last thing he needs is the determined, achingly innocent Thea, who arrives in the dead of night demanding he escort her to her aunt. His foolish agreement may prove his undoing. The road to the Emerald Isle is fraught with unforeseen dangers, but the greatest peril of all might just be discovering that he has a heart . . . and he’s losing it to Thea.

I was mighty curious about this book because it featured the drunken friend of the hero from the first book and the woman that the heroine of the first book pretended to be. I didn’t know what to expect since Dorothea had such a small part in How the Duke was Won and while I knew that I was going to love Dalton, I wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to love him.

I loved him a lot.

So this book follows James’ friend, the Duke of Osborne as he finds his happily ever after with the real Lady Dorothea Beaumont. You see, Garrett (the guy we know as Dalton from How the Duke was Won) knows all about who Lady Dorothea is. He knows that with her mother’s help, she tried to trick his friend into marrying her and he’s not a fan of hers at all. Lady Dorothea has plans that don’t include snatching up a titled gentleman for husband. She wants to retire to her Aunt’s estate in Ireland and all she has to do is get through one more season without a marriage proposal. Everything was going swimmingly until he danced with her. After that waltz, Dorothea was whisked out of the shadows and into the spotlight. She’s got gentlemen callers and while her mother is thrilled at her instant rise to popularity, Dorothea is pissed. All of her plans to retire to Ireland are in jeopardy and it’s all Osborne’s fault. Dorothea’s mind is made up and Osborne is going to be the one to fix the pickle she’s found herself in. He is going to escort her to her Aunt’s estate pronto.

Osborne thought he was doing the woman a favor. She wasn’t going to get anywhere sitting in the shadows of every ballroom. She wasn’t going to find a husband and if he got a little thrill out of embarrassing her, he figures that’s what she gets for misleading his best friend. Nobody is more surprised than Osborne is when Dorothea shows up at his house and demands that he escorts her to Ireland. He doesn’t have time for a shrew dodging his every step and since he was already on his way to Ireland, Garrett finds himself taking Dorothea with him. He’s got plans and things to do and Dorothea is not included in any of that but over the course of the trip, plans change and Dorothea becomes a lot more important to him than he imagined.

What a fun book this turned out to be. I already loved Dalton before but I really enjoyed Dorothea’s character. The chemistry between Garrett and Dorothea was off the charts and their romance hit all of my love buttons so of course I was a happy camper.

Lenora Bell cemented a spot for herself on my auto buy author list with this book and I’m so glad that I finally took a chance on this new to me author. Her romances are charming, fun and her characters are colorful and full of life. This was a great story with fantastic dialogue and characters that wormed their way right into my heart and stayed. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a charming historical romance full of love and laughter.

Grade: 4.5 out uof 5

four-half-stars


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