Tag: Anne Stuart

Guest Review: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Posted January 30, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

shadow loverJen’s review of Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart.

Victim. Lover. Both? His dark game is seducing her— just as it had when they were young.

How can he still have that power over her? Eighteen years ago, she saw him die. 

Wealthy, selfish, and greedy, the McDowell family raised Carolyn McDowell—a foster child—like a modern Cinderella. Neglected and ignored, good-hearted Carolyn adored scion Alexander despite it all, though even he tormented her.

When Alex ran away one night, Carolyn followed and witnessed his murder, though she never told anyone. Her beloved Alex died when he was seventeen. There was no doubt.

Eighteen years later, Carolyn returns to the decadent milieu of the McDowell clan to care for her dying foster mother, Sally. As greedy relatives gather to claim their inheritances, a stunning stranger arrives, claiming to be Alexander. To Carolyn’s utter shock, Sally greets her “son” without question, and no one but Carolyn believes he’s a fraud.

As she delves into the mysteries of both the past and present, Carolyn quickly realizes that the resurrected Alex is a dangerous combination of seduction and power. Is this stranger after the McDowell fortune, or is he really, somehow, the Alex of old, come back to claim her? How can he be an imposter and yet know family secrets only the real Alex would remember? Was someone helping him? 

What would you do if the boy you loved returned almost twenty years later, and you fell in love with him all over again—even if you were sure it couldn’t be him?      

I’ll just get this out of the way now–this book is not going to work for everyone! It has some flaws, yet I found myself really enjoying it. It’s very gothic, which is something I love in romances. I get to enjoy the tension of “who is a good guy/gal here” while still knowing that the romance will be happy in the end. Honestly, when I started the book I was worried I had accidentally stumbled into a non-romance gothic. I genuinely wasn’t sure there was going to be a happy ending. Rest assured readers, there will be a happy resolution, even if the path to get there isn’t quite what you expected!

Carolyn has returned to the home of her wealthy foster mother Sally McDowell to care for her while she’s dying of lung cancer. The rest of the wealthy, disgusting family also takes up residence during the vigil. While Sally shows her a certain amount of affection, the rest of the family treats Carolyn as a poor relation, and even at the start of the book Carolyn fully intends to cut them all out of her life once Sally dies. The family is thrown into turmoil, however, when Alexander McDowell, Sally’s long lost son, shows up. The problem is, Carolyn knows it can’t be Alex because she alone saw Alex die over a decade ago. So who exactly is this man claiming to be Alex? Is he a con man trying to get money, or is there something more going on?

Carolyn and Alex have some interesting chemistry. Carolyn had been infatuated with the teenage Alex, even though he was an obnoxious, spoiled juvenile delinquent who acted horrible towards her. When he ran away at age 17 (and when she saw him get killed), she was devastated. Clearly there is a part of her that desperately wants to believe this man is the real Alex, and whoever he is she is still very attracted to him. Alex too is drawn to Carolyn against his better judgment. It created some of the great tension in the book, and it made their sexytimes a little more steamy than I expected. Alex, however, is kind of a dick, at least for much of the book. He’s smug, cocky, and selfish. These qualities definitely soften up later in the book, which made me question just how smug and cocky he really is, and what is all an act. Who is the real “Alex”? Part of what I enjoyed about this book was the complexities and mysteries of the characters! Some characters turn out to be much worse than they at first appeared, and others turn out better. I love this kind of psychological creepiness, rather than the supernatural creepiness gothic novels sometimes have.

But there are some things not to like here, too. As I said, Alex can be kind of off-putting and domineering, and Carolyn can be kind of a wet blanket. The book is a bit dated, which isn’t surprising given that this is a reissue. (The original was published in the late 90’s.) The book age wasn’t totally obvious, though–for the most part, nothing in the story jumps out as being out-of-touch, just not quite modern. There are some things that don’t make tons of sense, though. One of the biggest questions is why Carolyn would bend herself over backwards for this family in the first place. She is basically the daughter of a servant that Sally took in when she was 2 years old. Everyone in the book agrees that Carolyn was never treated like a real member of the family, always like a poor relation to be tolerated. Sally never adopts her and it’s very clear that she’s never really considered “family.” Carolyn had moved out and gotten her own life, but she quits her job, gives up her apartment, and moves back in to care for Sally even though she admits Sally’s love is cool and conditional. While the other relatives seem to be most concerned with Sally’s illness because of how it will affect their inheritance, Carolyn is only getting some sort of small stipend, not a huge chunk of money. The explanation given is that Carolyn never had a real family and therefore feels loyalty to the only one she has, even if it’s a lousy one, but that’s not a great reason in my mind, especially when the family is insanely rich and could afford the best care. There really was no logical reason for Carolyn to be there, but you have to just accept it and move on!

There were other problematic points too, though it’s difficult to go into detail without spoilers. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book, and I don’t want to ruin them for anyone. I can say, though, that I still greatly enjoyed the book. The slightly unbelievable points didn’t overpower the mystery and the great atmosphere. If you enjoy gothic romances and are willing to overlook some mild unbelievability, I think this book would be a hit for you.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

This book is available from Bell Bridge Books. You can purchase it here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Shameless by Anne Stuart

Posted August 15, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments


Judith’s review of Shameless (The House of Rohan #4) by Anne Stuart.

A long string of tragic loves haunts Viscount Benedick Francis Alistair Rohan. Cool and cynical, he’s weary of life’s fickle games and wants a prim and proper wife he can ignore while indulging his sensual appetites.



Lady Melisande Carstairs is nothing less than a tornado storming into Benedick’s measured life. Possessed of boundless energy and the soul of a reformer, Melisande always conquers, whether it’s saving the souls of soiled doves or seducing the man she’s inconveniently fallen for. When she informs Benedick that his brother’s newly revived Heavenly Host has graduated from simple carnal debauchery to sadistic violence, he’s compelled to investigate, undercover. Under those covers, however, is Melisande herself, playing a dangerous game in the name of justice.





And the Heavenly Host has just seen her hand, and more. . .

Thanks to the writings of Charles Dickens, most people are aware that there were crying social needs in 19th century England. Certainly there are few people living in the developed nations of the world that haven’t either read or watched a TV version of Christmas Carol. However, one of the social ills that few writers refer to seriously or with any real concern is that of prostitution. Old London certainly had its bawdy houses and its high-class “call girls” often referred to as the demimondedaines. What most writers choose to ignore was the rampant STD’s that were passed on by women who were “hooking:” as a means of feeding their families. If they didn’t start out diseased, the soon contracted something, thanks in large part to the men of the street, and even the aristocracy, who trolled the dark alleys and tenement sections of London. Like the ills of unemployment, work houses for children, etc, there were few reformerswho sought to do anything productive to address prostitution. That it, until you encounter Lady Melisande Carstairs, a widow who had plenty of money, thanks to her now-deceased husband, and lots and lots of rooms in her mansion, far more than one person could ever use. She was also blessed with a social conscience and little concern for what the London aristocrats thought of her and her projects. Thanks to her, several well-known “houses of ill repute” had been closed down, and one of her closest friends and residents in her home was a former madam.

Now she literally sweeps into the life of the Viscount Rohan, a rake who is looking for a wife who is bland, obedient, fertile, and who will not complain if he virtually disappears back into his life of sensual pursuit once a child or two is fathered. He wants to encounter Lady Carstairs like he wants another hole in his head. But she has an “ace” up her sleeve: his very own brother. But he is not her major concern. Melisande is looking for one of her “girls” who has disappeared, and the attackers of another of her girls who has barely survived a terrible beating. She knows that the underground society called the Heavenly Host is responsible but because it is hidden, knows not who is involved EXCEPT the viscount’s brother. Hearing that, Benedick knows that he is caught in her web and must aide her in her investigation, if for no other reason than liberating his brother from a very destructive lifestyle.

This is the fourth book in the “House of Rohan” series and as with all Anne Stuart novels, it is a multi-layered, multi-strand kind of story, with lots of secondary characters who may at first seem like window dressing but who ultimately turn out to be important to the story, its crisis, and its resolution. Benedick is the offspring of men who have been active in Heavenly Host for generations. In fact, it was one of his ancestors whose initial idea was responsible for the society’s existence back in the 1700’s. But the description of the kinds of ritual violence now being practiced is another reason Benedick is concerned and agrees to be a part of this crazy project with Melisande. That he is wildly attracted to her doesn’t even enter into the situation . . . or at least, that is what he is telling himself.

This novel is really about the clash of two ways of thinking, two sets of personal values, and the open sores that lay on the “skin” of London society, the disregard of those who could do something about them, and the resources and energy that went into the pursuit of sensuality by those who had way too much time and way too much money. It is also about the recognition this woman gained of Benedick’s finer self, a part of himself he chose not to recognize as that would put binders on his way of living. She also challenged his understanding of marriage, his view of women, especially upright women, and their value to society and to him. Her energy and enthusiasm for living as a truly good person who wanted the finer things for all people, not just for the titled rich, made him uncomfortable and poked at his conscience. He tried like crazy to get her out of his life, out of his head, out of his dreams. Yet she always seemed to be there, poking and prodding, never letting him forget that there was an inner self that really wanted something better out of life.

This is one of those books that is a romance paired with a suspense plot–who is involved in Heavenly Host and who is the mysterious Guardian who is pushing the ritual violence, and why? Like all really good writers, Ms Stuart has the expertise to keep these two themes going throughout the book and ultimately bringing them together. Not an easy fete to accomplish and one that many writers attempt and don’t necessarily do well. It is a book that will keep ther reader’s mind engaged almost from the first paragraph. The dialogue is witty and the “girls” who reside with Melisande are a total hoot, especially when they are on a roll explaining the more “interesting” aspects of sex and when they pull out all the stops in dolling Melisande up for her social appearance with Benedick in their quest for information. There is so much to like here, but don’t be fooled. There are places where the emotions are deeply engaged, where the relationship of Benedick with his brother are deeply troubling. There were also occasions when I was really disgusted with some of the aristocratic matrons of London who loved to throw nasty comments toward Melisande and her covey of “soiled doves” as they walked throught the public parks. But I had to admit that their behavior certainly isn’t too different than what is often seen right here in the ole USA as some of our “finer” folk practice their favorite sport: kicking someone when they are already down.

I highly recommend this book, even if you haven’t read the preceeding three novels in the series. Each is a stand alone book and reading this one first will not really ruin the reader for going back and reading the others. It is truly a fine example of historical romance with lots of humor, action, suspense, and, of course, loving.

I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

The Series:


The Wicked House of RohanRuthless (The House of Rohan)Reckless (The House of Rohan)Breathless (The House of Rohan)

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

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


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What I’ve Been Reading This Week

Posted December 7, 2009 by Tracy in Features | 11 Comments

Hey there!

I hope you all had a great week. My was fairly good overall.

My youngest did it again. She kicked butt and took names and got her orange belt in Taekwondo. She really is doing a great job. I, of course, am a horrible mother and forgot the damned camera! She went up first thing too so I didn’t have time to run home and get it. I suck, I know. My hubby took a couple of shots with his blackberry and 1 came out ok but most came out pretty blurry. I’m gonna post a few anyway cuz I’m so proud of her.



Here’s what I read this week:

I started off the week with The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenston. I really enjoyed her Magnus Pack series so I thought I’d venture over to the Pride series. While I was overwhelmed with love they were definitely cute. The Mane Event had 2 stories in the book. The first was Christmas Pride which Dez, an NYC cop and Mace a shapeshifting lion who has had his sights set on Dez since he was 14 years old. There was a murder involved in the story and some other conflict but overall it was more sex than story. The second story, Shaw’s Tail, involved Shaw, a shapeshifting lion and Ronnie Lee, a shapeshifting wolf. Talk about mixed breeds. lol Ronnie Lee is trying to settle her life down from the craziness of her youth and Shaw is a wealthy hotel owner. Besides their breeds they really don’t have a whole lot in common. This was a really cute story – when the h/h spends the day together and the story shows them going from activity to activity it was highly amusing and very enjoyable. 3.75 out of 5


My second read for the week was Lord of the Highlands by Veronica Wolff. This was a book that I will review for The Book Binge – I’ll let you know when the review posts.

Next up was Bastards and Pretty Boys by KZ Snow. A gay man who’s not quite happy in his 5 month relationship buys a summer home on a lake. His neighbor is hottie mchot hot but he’s not gonna stray…until his “boyfriend” tells him that he’s been with other men. He’s positive that’s sealed the door on the relationship and moves forward with his neighbor. But his neighbor has some secrets of his own. He’s an ex-con and he’s got a man pretty much stalking him. This was a great 74 page read. KZ just has a great way of phrasing the simplest words and making them wonderfully emotional. 4.25 out of 5

After that I read To Tempt the Wolf by Terry Spear. This was an impulse buy while down at the UBS (the first time) but it being a shape-shifter book it was high on my list to read. The story covered Tessa who’s brother is convicted of murder – but she knows he’s not the murderer. Then she finds a naked man on the beach who ends up having amnesia. Not knowing who he is doesn’t stop Hunter from making a bargain with Tessa. She will let him stay at her place and he’ll find out who was the real murderer. Who Hunter really is? An Alpha wolf from a pack that has pretty much deserted him. He falls for Tessa, even though she’s not one of his kind and he can’t mate with her. On top of all this there are humans being turned to wolves, bad wolves stalking Tessa, Hunter’s sister is missing and there’s buried treasure! It is a lot in one book but Terry Spear pulls it off in a way that, hell, it could happen. lol Anyway, an enjoyable read. 3.75 out of 5

My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Sleeping with the Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson. My friend gave me this book a couple of years ago and there is has sat on my shelf. And I have to say…after reading it I could have let it sit there a couple of more years and not missed it. The first chapter almost had me putting the book down. Fred, the half mermaid, half human is such an incredible bitch I wanted to slug her…yes, in the first chapter. I did finish reading the book since it was so few pages but I can’t say I enjoyed it too much. I didn’t care abotu Fred, the sea prince, Artur or the water fellow, Thomas. If you don’t care about the characters, do you really care about the story? For me? No. 2 out of 5

The Dickens with Love by Josh Lanyon was released on December 1st and I scooped that puppy up right away. It was 97 pages of wonderful Lanyon goodness. From the first meeting between the two men, to the crazy things that happen (yes, there’s an ocelot involved) I was riveted to my ereader. The story of a lost Dickens novel, a newly uncloseted son of a vicar and a tainted antiquarian is one that I will probably read every year at Christmas time. I think the love and self-awareness that the characters experience was very moving and this is a story I would definitely recommend. 4.5 out of 5

I read a yaoi manga this week. It was ZE1 by Yuki Shimizu and I have to tell ya, that was pretty odd. A guy who’s grandma has died goes to live in this house but he finds out that half of them are dolls and take away pain. It was truly bizarre but the graphics were pretty darned good. The main character’s story was just touched upon in this volume but I’m not sure I want to read any more – IDK, I’ll have to think about it. 2 out of 5

My last read for the week was another book from my shelves that’s been there a long while and that is Black Ice by Anne Stuart. I have to tell ya – I loved this book. From the heroine who seems kind of weak at first but is truly not…to the hero who is working undercover for the good guys but the line between good and evil is so thin he’s not sure where it crosses over anymore. Just a fantastic read. There were a couple of minor discrepancies (editing issues) in the book which were a little annoying but nothing that took away from my overall enjoyment. I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future. In fact I have Fire and Ice on the shelf so I won’t have to go buy anything. 🙂 4.5 out of 5



Happy Reading and have a great week!


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Review: Silver Falls by Anne Stuart

Posted June 15, 2009 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Genres: Romantic Suspense

Casee‘s review of Silver Falls by Anne Stuart.

Rachel is finally getting it right. After years of wandering, she’s married the perfect man and settled into the ideal life. But as her sleepy little town turns into a killing ground, she realizes that this new life might come at too high a price.

Caleb Middleton says he’s returned home to set things right. But as her husband’s dangerous brother circles like a hungry wolf, poking holes in her perfect world, Rachel draws her young daughter in close. The rain and violence keep coming, and Rachel must decide whether to trust her dream life or her instincts…before the town of Silver Falls becomes her grave.

I’m usually a big Anne Stuart fan. She writes some of the darkest heroes that I’ve ever read. Silver Falls has the dark hero, but not as dark as I’ve come to expect. Usually I can take or leave her heroines. I would have rather left Rachel. She was TSTL.

Rachel married David Middleton after her daughter, Sophie’s, best friend was murdered. She decided it was high time for her to settle down and give Sophie a normal life. As a photographer, she has taken Sophie all over the world, hardly what she would call a stable life. When she decides to marry David, she knows that his dullness and predictability is the exact thing that Sophie needs.

Caleb Middleton never has any intention of going back to Silver Falls. When he hears that his brother has married a woman that has a young daughter, he can’t stay away. For too long, Caleb has looked past what he knew was the truth about David. All he can hope for now is that he can outsmart his brother and do what he should have done a long time ago.

When Caleb and Rachel meet, their attraction is instantaneous. Rachel is determined to stay away from the black sheep of the Middleton family, no matter how drawn she is to him.

This is where is started falling apart for me. Rachel couldn’t decide if Caleb was a serial killer or not. One day she would decide he was, the next he wasn’t. In the meantime, she ignores all the signs of things going on with her own husband and what is right under her nose.

Then, when the shit hits the fan, she leaves her daughter with friends. Huh. This is the one person she cares about most in the world. And she lets her out of her sight. That just didn’t work for me. As protective as she was of Sophie, not being with her (to have sex no less) was just wrong.

I did like that David’s POV was included. It made the book more creepy and suspenseful.

3.5 out of 5.

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


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Famous Firsts: Revising Harlequin Classics

Posted June 1, 2009 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 60 Comments

Please join us in welcoming Executive Editor Marsha Zinberg today! We’re very pleased to have her here talking about Harlequin’s Famous Firsts special edition releases.

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By: Executive Editor Marsha Zinberg

As Executive Editor of Feature and Custom Publishing at Harlequin, I work on reissue programs all the time and have done so for many years. So what was so special about putting together our Famous Firsts Collection, timeless romance stories which readers are enjoying in select months of 2009?

First of all, we wanted to do something really special for Harlequin’s sixtieth anniversary celebration. Each series had special in-line books and features planned. What could we do in a reissue format that would appeal to current readers? We decided to go for “timeless” and “classic”, and to revisit some of the first novels written by romance authors who had gone on to establish careers and renown in their chosen field.

For me, this was really a project of the heart because….I happily admit it….I have been at Harlequin long enough to have been on staff when many of these books were originally acquired, and reflecting on the journey of both the books and the authors is quite nostalgic for my sentimental heart!

Finally, and most important, working on this project afforded the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with many of the Famous Firsts authors, whom I have known throughout their careers. It was a chance to catch up, and even more rewarding, to gather their reflections and thoughts on their particular books, on their careers and on the current state of romance publishing.

In a series of blogs on various sitesover the next couple of weeks, it will be my pleasure to share some of these comments and insights with you!

I was quite delighted by the variety of responses I got when I asked the authors what had prompted the ideas for their books. Linda Lael Miller told me that she had always been interested in politics, and wanted to write about how it might affect a heroine’s life to be related to a president of the United States. What she was going for in State Secrets, she explained, was a relationship similar to that between Kate Jackson and Bruce Boxleitner in Scarecrow and Mrs. King, a television series from the 80’s that she loved.

For Joan Johnston, the inspiration for Ties that Bind was a newspaper article on performance art that described two people who’d spent an entire year tied together by an eight-foot rope, and had not spoken to each other at all during that time!

For The Matchmakers, Debbie Macomber recalls that she heard a story through her daughter of a young single teacher whose students were trying to find her a man for her…and ultimately succeeded.

Vicki Lewis Thompson, as an established Harlequin Temptation author, was asked to write one of the first Harlequin Blaze stories. She wanted both hero and heroine to be out of their element, and remembers that she “couldn’t think of a more Blaze-like city” than Las Vegas, which both fascinated and repelled her!

And Anne Stuart, an author of more than 100 stories, instantly responded that the plot of Tangled Liesemerged in her brain from her affection for an obscure 1948 movie entitled Miss Tatlock’s Millions. It depicted the impossible dilemma of someone falling in love with a person pretending to be a sibling…the biggest romantic no-no of all, and she desperately wanted to write that story—as a mystery. Fortunately for her and for us, the Harlequin Intrigue line had just begun , and this book, which was “burning a hole in her brain”, was one of the first bought for that series.

Please be sure to watch from my next blog post at PlotMonkeystomorrow, June 2, where I will share with you how the technological revolution impacted some of your favorite authors!

Don’t forget that you can enjoy 16 free Harlequin novels by downloading them at www.HarlequinCelebrates.com. And the Harlequin Cover Art Show in New York runs May 30 – June 12th at the Open House Gallery, New York City (201 Mulberry Street in Soho).

Have you read any of the Harlequin Firsts?

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To celebrate the release of these we’ve got 4 of the novels and one tote bag to give away!


Every person who leaves a comment on this post telling us what Famous First they’re most looking forward to will be entered to win this beautiful tote bag:

Additionally, we’re going to giveaway one of each of these Famous First titles:

Tears of the Renegade by Linda Howard
Tangled Lies by Anne Stuart
Moontide by Stella Cameron
The Matchmakers by Debbie Macomber

Tell us which one you’re interested in and we’ll throw your name in the hat. You’re welcome to put your name in for all four books, but you may only win one. However, one person may win a book AND the tote!

You must leave a comment before 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 5th in order to be entered in the giveaway.

See a full list of the Famous Firsts here.


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