Once Upon a True Love's Kiss by Julie Johnstone, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, Victoria Vane
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: January 4th 2016
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USA Today Best-selling author, Julie Johnstone, joins best-selling, award-winning authors, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, and Victoria Vane in this delightful limited edition, containing eight tantalizing kiss-and-tell stories. Meet dashing, wildly charming rogues, spies, pirates, rakes and their extraordinary, intrepid heroines as they whisk you along on sweet to sizzling romantic romps in these wickedly entertaining historical romances.
AFTER FOREVER by JULIE JOHNSTONE
Widowed Lady Julianna Barrows never wants to fall in love again. But when the notorious former boxer Nash Overton hires her to transform him into a gentleman, Julianna quickly becomes the student, learning more about passion than she’s ever known, and more importantly, learning how to love again.
Julianna loved her husband and then he died. She can’t see herself ever falling in love again because she just doesn’t want to be hurt that way again. She meets Nash and his daughter and despite all of her good intentions she finds herself falling for both of them.
The story was cute if a bit fast-paced in the romance department. It was all very sweet however and I liked that it was. Nash and Julianna were perfect for each other and I liked that their kids became fast friends as well.
THE PIRATE’S DUCHESS by KATHERINE BONE –
Duty forces him to take on the pirate code, but honor brings him back.
Prudence, Duchess of Blackmoor, has one desire—to be happy again. After struggling to overcome the horrifying death of her husband, she accepts an earl’s offer of marriage, confident she’s taking a step in the right direction. But demons, refuse to die, and Prudence finds herself caught in an intricate web of deceit that threatens the very foundations of all she holds dear.
Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor, crosses the line when an assassination attempt on him fails. To restore the reputations of friends under attack by the same villain, and ensure his wife’s safety, he stages his own death, becoming The Black Regent, a notorious pirate bent on brandishing justice, never thinking he’d survive. But to his amazement, he has, and now the darkest-kept secrets are not worth losing the duchess his wife has become.
Prudence was missing her husband terribly but once he showed back up because he had faked his own death she was pissed. Now I could understand why he did it as the story moved along but she just kept up the anger. Once she let it all go and they could be back together as a couple it was better. It was a story of revenge and making wrongs right again but I would have preferred it to be more about the romance. I was confused as well because he just showed up and he was the duke. What happened to his heir? The heir isn’t mentioned at all but yet there had to be one, yet? It’s been TWO years since the Prudence’s husband disappeared yet he comes back and he’s still the duke? I have NO idea.
There was also this supposed unspoken conversation that went on between Tobias, the duke, and his friend who Prudence was about to marry when Tobias showed up again. Yes, there are little things that friends know about each other but this was supposedly a whole scheme worked up with only eye contact. IDK I just didn’t feel it was realistic in any way. Unfortunately, this made this my least favorite in the book.
HER SCANDALOUS WISH by COLLETTE CAMERON
A marriage offer obligated by duty . . . an acceptance compelled by desperation.
Philomena Pomfrett is resigned to spinsterhood, but to ease her dying brother’s fretting, she reluctantly agrees to attend a London Season with one purpose—to acquire a husband. Stumbling upon her hiding in a secluded garden arbor during a ball, Bradford, Viscount Kingsley doesn’t recognize his first love, yet something about the mysterious woman enthralls him, and he steals a passionate, moonlit kiss.
Caught in the act by Philomena’s brother, Bradford is issued an ultimatum—a duel or marry Philomena. He offers marriage, but even impoverished and with no other decent prospects, she rejects his half-hearted proposal until her brother collapses. Now, Philomena’s faced with marrying a man who deserted her once already.
When Philomena Pomfrett was younger she was in love with Bradford. At that time her house caught on fire, her parents perished and Phil was scarred across her chest and arms. While she was recuperating she heard nothing from her love and that silenced continued for years. Now her brother is dying and he wants her to get married so that her future will be secured.
At a ball near the end of the season Phil sees Bradford, the new Viscount Kingsley, walk in. She’s angry so takes off into the garden for some time alone. Bradford heads there too and starts to talk to Phil, not realizing who she is. He ends up kissing her and they’re caught by Phil’s brother who insists on dueling or marrying. But things are not always that simple.
The premise of the brother dying was a bit different. It added an extra bit of urgency to the whole deal. Bradford’s explanation for never contacting Phil after the fire was enlightening and I couldn’t hold anything against him. The reunion between Phil and Bradford, unfortunately, was pretty much done off page and I found that a bit frustrating. Overall it ended up to be sweet and I like it.
MILADY AND HER SPY by JILLIAN CHANTEL
A lady, a spy, a traitor… a battle of wills.
Raised in the country after her mother’s death with only the company of three unruly brothers, Lady Augusta Covington is more proficient at fencing, riding and playing cards than being prim and proper. Myles Cuthbert, a spy in His Majesty’s service on a mission to find and expose a traitor, crosses paths with Lady Augusta when she rides to the aid of her brother, believing him to be injured. With the assignment at risk, Cuthbert agrees to accept the assistance of the troublesome lady eager for intrigue. As they move forward, his sense of obligation to her and the danger involved stir his soul.
Lady Augusta, Gus, overhears that her brother – who just got out of the army – is injured and waiting at a local inn. Her two other brothers are having a house party and they decide that they can leave their brother at the inn until the next day. Gus doesn’t feel the same and rides hell for leather to the inn. She finds her brother is absolutely fine and finds out he’s a spy. He’s accompanied by Miles Cuthbert, a fellow spy and they end up telling Gus about their mission, which includes a possible traitor who is attending the house party. Gus gets involved but it may be too dangerous in the end for an inexperienced civilian spy.
The story offered a bit of intrigue and a shy, burgeoning romance. I thought Gus was in over her head with the amateur spying but she was pretty fearless and ended up doing a great job. The relationship between Miles and Gus was fast but I liked it all in the end.
KISSED BY A SCOTTISH ROGUE by SAMANTHA GRACE
His Mother Insists He Needs a Wife.
Fergus McTaggart, Aldmist Fell’s land steward, has no time for wife hunting. Any day his employer’s sisters will be arriving at the Scottish castle for a long overdue reunion. Fergus is determined to make their stay memorable, but all anyone is likely to recall are the loud rows between him and his employer’s cheeky paid companion.
She Insists He Needs a Good Knock to the Head.
Edith Gallagher has been charged with watching over her employer’s youngest sister while the family winters in Scotland, but the stubborn land steward interferes at every turn. Eventually, she and the Scot call a truce for the sisters’ sakes only to discover their passionate battles are masking hidden desires.
This was a very sweet story about a woman who has no confidence in herself and a man who believes her to be utterly beautiful. He’s a land steward and she’s her friend’s sisters companion who used to work in a brothel as a maid. They were at odds at first but soon started to become friends and then so much more. This, I think, was my favorite of the book. Yes, there was some aspects of the story that had to do with secondary characters that I felt like I should have read previous books to know about, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the primary romance.
STOLEN KISSES FROM THE VISCOUNT by ALANNA LUCAS
Desperate times call for drastic measures as Miss Aveline Redgrave enters her third season. Fearful of fortune hunters, she attempts to stay clear of Lord Leybourne, a rogue who is not to be trusted. But his seductive smile and enticing kisses awaken a passion that threatens her common sense. No stranger to scandal, Leybourne is determined to save his family from ruin whatever the cost, even marrying an heiress he doesn’t love. But an unexpected desire and need to protect threatens his plans. Will past heartaches and a devastating wager destroy their future or will true love’s kiss triumph?
Aveline isn’t anxious to get married but if she doesn’t her uncle will find a match for her. She’s not thrilled with that decision but refuses to let him choose for her. She meets Leybourne and starts to like him but soon finds out that he may be one of the fortune hunters she was trying to avoid.
This was a cute story but pretty predictable in the end. I liked Leybourne despite the fact that he had originally pursued Aveline for her money. His family was desperate and he would do anything for them. I like that about him and it redeemed his fortune hunter status in my head.
TEMPTED BY A ROGUE by LAUREN SMITH
Gemma never planned on falling in love with her childhood sweetheart’s best friend, Jasper, when he returns home, but she can’t resist the naval officer’s brooding charm.
Gemma plans to marry James, her childhood sweetheart. With every letter written between them while he’s been off at sea, their love has grown. Now they will be reunited with his return to England. But the man whose words she’d fallen in love with isn’t James…
Jasper, a gentleman rogue of the first order, is trapped. Talked into a scheme by his friend, he pretended to be James for eleven years while writing to Gemma. He’s promised James he’d break it off. But when he returns home, his secret will come out – and he’ll lose the one woman he can’t live without.
When Gemma was just 15 her love, James, went to sea with his friend Jasper. After a bit James decided the life of a rogue and lady’s man was the life for him. He was a complete douche and actually asked Jasper to write a letter to Gemma to break things off. Jerk. Jasper, who had always had feelings for Gemma decides to continue write her and then ends up writing her for the next ten years. Of course he only signed his letters as J. so Gemma believed the letters to be from James. When the two men finally come home she expects James to meet her in the garden but it’s actually Jasper. Gemma has to work out her feelings once she finds out about the deception and decide whether she’s really in love with Jasper or James.
Let’s start with James. What an ass. I was so happy he decided to dump Gemma because he was obviously a complete douche and didn’t deserve a woman as nice as Gemma. I was happy she finally saw him for who he was.
Jasper was completely enthralled with Gemma before he and James left to set sea but he never even gave her a clue about his feelings – they were quite young. Once he started writing her his feelings grew and the last thing he wanted to do was break her heart once they got home 10 years later and let her know that it wasn’t James writing her all that time. Gemma was a smart girl and figured it out pretty quickly. Jasper did deceive her during a garden scene at the beginning of the story that I wasn’t thrilled about but after reading the story I understood why he felt he had to do it.
The story was a good one and I ended up liking Jasper and Gemma together a lot.
THE REDEMPTION OF JULIAN PRICE by VICTORIA VANE
She gave him a chance to bury his past… but the price would be his heart…
Burdened by the past…Orphaned at a young age and left to run wild, at eighteen Julian Price joins the fight against Napoleon in the hope of attaining honor. Devastated when his best friend, Thomas, is killed in battle, Julian returns home burdened with guilt, only to find his wastrel uncle has squandered his inheritance.
Desperate to live her own life… Facing a future of drudgery caring for her aging mother and raising her brother’s children, Henrietta Houghton believes her chance at a real life died with Thomas, the only man who ever wanted her. But Henrietta is still full of dreams. When her wealthy aunt, offers her a gift of ten thousand pounds, Henrietta finally has the chance to choose her own destiny.
Everything has a price…With a fortune at her command, Henrietta offers Julian a marriage of convenience, unaware that she really offers Julian a means of salvation—not just his fortune, but his very soul.
This was a cute friends to lovers story. I liked both Julian and Henrietta and thought they were a good match. I did feel that things fell into Henrietta’s lap hella easy and that wasn’t really realistic but it was a cute story none-the-less.
Rating 4 out of 5