Tag: Grand Central Publishing

Retro Review: The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Posted June 28, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review: The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth HoytReviewer: Holly
The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Princes #3
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: September 1st 2007
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
five-stars

WHEN THE DEVIL MEETS AN ANGELCountry bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man - a naked unconscious man - and loses her innocence forever.
HE CAN TAKE HER TO HEAVENViscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he's hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities - even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.
OR TO HELLCharmed by Simon's sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has - her love.

*****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.

This review was originally posted on October 9, 2007.

Sybil forced me into reading this book. She swore it was the best thing since If His Kiss is Wicked, and talked me into buying it. There was some drama with Amazon over this book which may prompt me to write them a letter.

I ended up buying it in eBook format. I think it started out kind of slow, but once I got past the first couple of chapters, I fell right into it.

Lucy Craddock-Hayes is out for her morning walk and stumbles upon what she believes is a dead body..a dead naked body. As it turns out, he isn’t dead at all. He’s one Viscount Simon Iddesleigh and he’s been beaten to a pulp and left for dead.

Lucy takes him home and begins nursing him back to health. She’s very surprised to learn his identity and even more surprised to find that she likes him. He’s witty and sarcastic, but she sees depth in him and it intrigues her.

Eventually Simon is well enough to leave, but hesitates until he and Lucy are shot at. To keep Lucy safe, he heads back to London to do what he was doing before he ended up nearly dead in the country…avenge the death of his brother.

But he finds he can’t stay away from Lucy, and after a short period of time he returns to the country to ask for her hand in marriage. She immediately accepts. But once married and settled in London, the danger surrounding Simon begins to escalate and Lucy fears she’ll never be able to save him from his biggest threat…himself.

I’m honestly not sure how to review this book. There are so many things I want to touch on I’m not sure where to start or how to properly express my thoughts.

I think I’ll just make a list and go from there.

Simon

What an amazingly deep character. On the surface he has a devil-may-care attitude, but he showed so much more depth than I expected. He truly was tormented by the death of his brother and committed to his quest for revenge on those responsible. Each death was a stain on his soul.

The thing is, Simon wasn’t your typical Alpha hero. He was actually described as more Beta than anything, though I didn’t think of him as such. For example, he wore red heeled shoes and wigs and ruffles. Honestly, I think EH did a fabulous job representing the times. Too often we see men in nothing but breeches and boots, when that wasn’t in keeping with the style of that era. But despite his heeled shoes and wigs, I felt he was…manly. Although he put up the front of being reckless and one of the lazy ton, his character was deeper than that.

Watching his inner struggles and seeing his obvious care for Lucy was fabulous. I was well and truly emotionally invested in his journey. Although he knows he should let her go, he can’t. After one duel, before they’re married, he comes home wounded and bleeding. Lucy tries to get him into bed and he begs her to stay with him.

“Severe angel.” He finally opened his eyes, frost gray and intense. “Promise me. Promise me on your mother’s memory that you won’t leave me if I give you back your wings.”
She blinked and thought about it, but in the end there was really no other answer. “I promise you.”
He leaned closer until she could see the shards of ice in his eyes. “Say it.”
“I promise on my mother’s memory,” she whispered, “that I won’t leave you.”
“Oh, God.”
She didn’t know whether it was a curse or a prayer, but his mouth came down on hers hard.

….Lucy looked down at herself. Thee was a bloody hand print on the bodice of her dress.

Though Lucy becomes more important to him than anything else, he can’t give up his quest for vengeance. He struggles to do what’s right, although he isn’t sure what that is….Lucy’s idea of right is to stop killing, but he knows he needs to avenge his brother.

Lucy

I loved this heroine. She was rather unconventional for a historical heroine. Her childhood was a good one, so she didn’t suffer many of the issues so many others do. She wasn’t afraid of love or commitment, didn’t fear men and had a rather bright outlook on life that wasn’t at all annoying.

I don’t think there was much growth on Lucy’s part throughout the book, but I wasn’t disappointed by that. To be honest, her character was perfect as it was. Her personal conflict came from caring about Simon too much to watch him destroy himself, and that was her main focus. Could she truly love a man who was so violent? Who killed others in cold blood?

She sees the different sides of him, mainly with the help of Simon’s niece, whom he calls Pocket. She struggles to reconcile the cold-blooded killer with the simple, caring man.

Lucy stilled, imagining Simon comforting this little girl at his brother’s graveside, putting aside his own grief to explain in childish terms that her father wouldn’t suffocate in the ground. What a tender act. And what was she to do with this new side to Simon? It would be so much easier if he was simply a man who killed, someone who was callous and uncaring. But he wasn’t. He was a loving uncle, a man who tended roses all by himself in a glass cathedral. A man who acted like he needed her and made her promise never to leave him.
Never to leave him…

I truly enjoyed this book. It turned out to be much darker than I expected, which was a welcome surprise. As it turns out, there was a conspiracy involved in the murder plot, and Simon won’t rest until he’s tracked down every responsible party and killed them.

What Simon hasn’t realized – or doesn’t care to realize – is the toll this has taken on his soul. When he meets Lucy he’s fascinated by her innocence and light. But he knows he’s beyond redemption and that she’s not for him, so he does his best to resist her. And even after he decides he can’t live without her he hates himself for tainting her with his darkness, and yet he can’t seem to set her free.

Although the main focus of the book is on Simon and Lucy’s relationship, the secondary story of Simon’s quest for revenge is..amazing. Seeing Lucy fight for him, and seeing Simon fight for what he feels is right, is what truly made this story. I didn’t doubt for a moment that Lucy and Simon cared for each other, but I wasn’t at all sure love would be enough.

The ending of the book was just…amazing. I think I even cried a bit. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you’re interested, Sybil and Meljean Brook had a discussion about it here in the comments section.

You can also read Lawson’s review here. She did a better job than me of outlining the story and finer points of the characters, IMO.

Despite a few flaws I found with the story (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m referring to..and if you haven’t, read it to find out) I have to give this:

5 out of 5

five-stars


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Retro Review: Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori Wilde

Posted February 15, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Retro Review: Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori WildeReviewer: Holly
Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori Wilde
Series: Wedding Veil Wishes #2
Also in this series: Addicted to Love
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: December 14th 2008
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Legend claims this antigue Irish wedding veil can grant your heart's deepest desire. But be careful what you wish for...
Wedding videographer Tish Gallagher is at the end of her rope. Her business is about to go bust. She's just spent her last buck on nonreturnable (but oh so fabulous) shoes. And her most sustainable relationship is with a pint of Haagen Dazs. So she makes a wish on the lucky wedding veil to get out of debt...and sees the man she never stopped loving, her ex-husband, secret service agent Shane Tremont. Sure, their chemistry was off-the-charts sizzling hot, but their clashes were legendary, and no amount of longing will change that.
When her dream job of recording the first daughter's wedding appears out of the blue, Tish knows it's her only shot to get out of the red. Just one teensy glitch: Shane is the groom. From the moment they see each other, she knows nothing's changed--the same old black magic is still between them, as irresistible and potent as ever. But he's promised to another and Tish has been burned before. Will she always be...ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY?

******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.

I still have very fond memories of this series. I stopped reading Wilde some time back, but I often think back fondly on these books.

This review was originally published February 02, 2008

This is the second book in Lori Wilde’s Wedding Veil Wishes series. I didn’t read the first book, and don’t feel I missed anything by having skipped it. I think at some point I’ll pick it up, just because I like to read all the books in a series, but I never felt like I missed something while reading this book.

Shane has no idea what he was thinking to propose to the President’s daughter. But she’d caught him in a weak moment, staring at him like he was ten feet tall and bullet proof after he’d put his life on the line for hers. And now she’s concocted some scheme involving his ex-wife – the ex he still cares about more than he should.

Elysee knows Shane needs to make peace with the past if their marriage is going to work, so she hires Tish thinking they’ll be able to heal old wounds if they spend enough time together. But even she couldn’t have predicted just how much history there was between Tish and Shane, and just what they’d need to move past old hurts. And now she’s wondering if she made a grave mistake, because not only has she seen the looks the former couple pass between them, but she’s been getting some looks of her own, from her #1 bodyguard, Cal Ackerman.

I must confess, normally a story where one of the main protagonists is engaged to someone else would immediately turn me off. But in this case, it didn’t bother me a bit. I think the author did a fabulous job of writing an unconventional story that really worked.

This story is a somewhat predictable piece of fluff, but it was engaging and I really enjoyed it. Well, I enjoyed it until close the the end, that is.

You see, Wilde did a fabulous job of keeping the focus on the main trio of characters. Elysee, Tish and Shane were shown in equal light, each with their own demons to battle and insecurities to overcome. I empathized with all three, understanding perfectly their personal issues. Shane, the wounded hero who just needed to be needed. Tish, the independent free spirit who needed someone to lean on. Elysee, the hopeless romantic who wanted nothing more than a knight in shining armor to sweep her away.

But then, more than 3/4 of the way through the book, a new element was introduced…that of a terrorist group who wanted to assassinate a woman who was trying to escape India. The thing is, there was nothing leading up to the sudden twist in the story. For almost the entire book, the focus remained on the three main characters and then BAM, all of a sudden Tish is being attacked and Shane needs to save her and Elysee is involved in an international rescue plot and there’s a murderer out to get them all. But..uh..I must have missed a memo, because that seriously came out of nowhere.

Despite that, however, I liked the book. I loved Tish and Shane together and I’m hopeful that Elysee will get a story of her own someday. Basically, buy this book for the romance, but don’t be surprised if it goes in a strange direction unexpectedly.

Even though I had a major issue with the latter half of the book, I’m still giving this:

4.5 out of 5

Because I really, really liked the rest of it.

The series:

There Goes the Bride
Once Smitten Twice Shy
Addicted to Love
All of Me

You can buy it here in paperback or here or here.

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Posted November 30, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth HoytReviewer: Tracy
Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #11
Also in this series: Wicked Intentions, Wicked Intentions, Lord of Darkness, Darling Beast, Dearest Rogue, Sweetest Scoundrel, Duke of Sin, Once Upon a Moonlit Night
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
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four-stars

IN THE ARMS OF DANGER

Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king's secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley—and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE

Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she's the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation.

ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER

When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be—before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?

Alf is a woman who has always had to take care of herself.  She’s been living on the streets of St. Giles her whole life and it was easier to pass herself off as a boy than it was to be a girl.  She’s an information collector by day and by night she’s the notorious Ghost of St. Giles.  Though she loves what she does but now that she’s 21 years old she’s also started to think about being a woman and having a family.  She knows it will never be possible for her but that doesn’t stop her from longing for it all.

The Duke of Kyle is enthralled with the Ghost of St. Giles.  She helped him when he was attacked and then proceeded to kiss him.  He finds himself highly intrigued.  He hires Alf to get information about why he was attacked not knowing that she’s the Ghost.  When Alf is hurt he has her stay in his house – not knowing he’s a she.  Alf gets close with his sons and when he finds out that Alf is a woman he can’t seem to keep his mind off of her.  When she learns to dress and act like a proper woman for a job Hugh can’t keep his eyes off of her either.  The chemistry between Hugh and Alf is off the charts but neither one knows how they can make a relationship work. Hugh had been greatly hurt by his wife and didn’t trust his own judgement.  Alf living as a street urchin makes her think that she could never be with a duke.

I have to start by saying I’ve loved Alf since she first came on the page.  Even when I thought she was just a small boy my heart went out to her.  I was extremely happy when I saw that she was getting her own book and it was definitely one worth ready.

Hugh was the perfect guy for Alf.  He had been working for the King (his father) and had been living a life of danger before his wife died and he came home to take care of his children.  Part of his attraction to Alf was her love of intrigue but also her fearlessness.  She wasn’t afraid to take care of those in need and he loved that about her.  He was a good man and loved her whether she was in men’s clothing and being a street urchin or in a dress being a woman.  He could accept all parts of her and that is what makes a good romance, imho.

I have to say that I also really loved the addition of Hugh’s children, Peter and Kit.  Kit was pissed off at his father as he hadn’t been around (Hugh’s wife took many lovers and Hugh left the country).  Hugh was trying to make up for that and show his kids the love he had for them.  It was a very touching part of the story and I was happy that Hoyt included them/it.

Overall I really liked the book and can’t wait for the next one.  I read the excerpt for the next book and I can tell you I’m on pins and needles already.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Sting by Sandra Brown

Posted August 26, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sting by Sandra BrownReviewer: Casee
Sting by Sandra Brown
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 16th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
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three-half-stars

When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn't belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.

As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother's ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive.

Miles away from civilization and surrounded by swampland, the two play each other against their common enemies. Jordie's only chance of survival is to outwit Shaw, but it soon becomes clear to Shaw that Jordie isn't entirely trustworthy, either. Was she in on her brother's scam, or is she an innocent pawn in a deadly vendetta? And just how valuable is her life to Shaw, her remorseless and manipulative captor? Burning for answers-and for each other-this unlikely pair ultimately make a desperate move that could be their last.

I haven’t read a Sandra Brown novel in quite sometime. This part of the blurb caught my eye: “But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.”. I knew I had to read it. Usually I cruise right through Brown’s novels, but this one was slow going until about halfway through the book. That’s when it really got good and I could actually sit down and finish it.

Jordie Bennett thought her life was forfeit when she sees Shaw Kinnard bearing down on her in a seedy bar parking lot. Instead, he abducts her and takes her to a place that is impossible to escape. Shaw wants information on her brother, Josh. Josh is in protective custody after turning himself in for helping Billy Panella, a “dangerous criminal”, swindle people out of a total of thirty million dollars. Josh has promised to help the FBI find the thirty million and put Panella away. If they can find him.

Shaw wants more than the two hundred thousand that he was promised to kill Jordie. He wants the full thirty million not to kill her. To get that, he needs her help. To get her help he needs her to tell the truth, which he knows she’s not doing. Jordie is determined not to tell Shaw everything she knows because she needs a bargaining chip if she’s going to come out of this situation alive. Yet as the time slogs by, Jordie is less certain that Shaw is going to keep her alive. Even with their unwanted attraction (so cliché) to each other, Jordie knows that he’s going to kill her.

View Spoiler »

After the slow start, this was a good romantic suspense/thriller. It went at a fast, easy reading pace. I don’t know if I’ll read the next Sandra Brown novel, but I’m glad I read this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt

Posted July 6, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth HoytReviewer: Tracy
Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #10.5
Also in this series: Wicked Intentions, Wicked Intentions, Lord of Darkness, Darling Beast, Dearest Rogue, Sweetest Scoundrel, Duke of Sin, Duke of Pleasure
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: July 5th 2016
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

Hippolyta Royle is running for her life. Pursued by hounds on a cold rainy night, the heiress flags down a passing carriage and throws herself at the mercy of the coach's occupant. Whoever this handsome traveler may be, he is her only hope to escape a terrible fate. But should he agree to escort her to safety, he's in for much more than he bargained for . . .

At first Matthew Mortimer doesn't believe Hippolyta's story, that she's a fabulously wealthy heiress who's been kidnapped. He assumes she's a beggar, an actress, or worse. But once his new travel companion washes the mud from her surprisingly lovely face, and they share a breathtaking kiss, there is no turning back . . .

Hippolyta Royle is the richest heiress in London and had been kidnapped in the previous book.  She was set free and was running for her life when she found a road and stopped a carriage.  Of course after climbing hill and dale to escape she was an absolute mess and extremely filthy.  She had mud all over her, was soaking wet and smelled horrible.  Luckily the man inside the carriage was nice enough to take her to the next village.

Matthew Mortimer, the new Earl of Paxton, was traveling to London from Edinburgh.  He assumes this bedraggled mess of a woman is a beggar maid or even a prostitute but he doesn’t really want to leave her on the side of the road.  He agrees to take her to the next village but that ends up being hours and hours away.  While the two get to know each other they have their disagreements but after spending two days together Matthew knows that this is the woman for him – no matter who she is.

Such a sweet, charming novella.  I love the Maiden Lane series and was so happy that Hippolyta got her HEA.  Matthew was a bit of a pain to start with but he made me laugh.  I loved how he supported Hippolyta no matter what and that showed the power of his love for her.

We had the extra joy of Tommy Teapot in this novella – a mongoose.  He was a little stinker but a cute and loveable addition to the story.

At the end we got a very small taste of the next full novel, Duke of Pleasure, and I can honestly say I just can’t wait to read it!

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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