Tag: Harlequin

Guest Review: The Highlander and the Governess by Michelle Willingham

Posted September 10, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Highlander and the Governess by Michelle WillinghamReviewer: Tracy
The Highlander and the Governess by Michelle Willingham
Series: Untamed Highlanders #1
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 288
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A ruined lady turned governess

Can she tame the Highlander?

Part of Untamed Highlanders. When Frances Goodson is summoned to Scotland to give etiquette lessons, she’s not expecting to tutor a handsome laird! The scandal of her past means going home is not an option, so she must help wild, scarred Lachlan MacKinloch win a wealthy London heiress. She’s determined to fulfill her task and not get distracted by the passion she sees in the powerful laird’s eyes…

Frances Goodson arrives in Scotland and is impressed by the grandeur of the castle where she’s been hired to be a governess.  She’s been told nothing about her charges, but she can’t wait to get started.

When she finally is admitted to the home, she finds out that the Laird’s mother had hired a governess behind her son’s back because she thought he needed help with his manners and etiquette.  He’s to hopefully get engaged to a London lady soon, and the mother wants nothing to get in the way of that happening.

The Laird, Lachlan McKinloch, wants nothing to do with the governess or her etiquette lessons.  He orders her out of the house at once.  She talks him into letting her stay one day but then he insists she must leave.  One day turns to two and then soon she’s there for a month.

Frances is running from a scandal and poverty.  She was from a good family but they turned their backs on her when scandal hit.  Frances will do anything to stay away from London, even stay in Scotland and work for no wages.

Frances is able to get the Laird to work on etiquette like the proper fork to use, dancing, and the biggie: the need to always have a chaperone. Of course they don’t always, and next thing you know the two are falling in love.  Unfortunately the London hopeful has 20,000 pounds as a dowry so Lachlan can’t marry Frances as he needs the money the marriage will bring to save his people, who are starving.  His father wasn’t good with money before he died and made the arrangements with his best friend for their kids to marry.

I really liked this book up until the point where Frances and Lachlan return to London, then it just turned into a disaster.  I knew that Lachlan didn’t want to marry the other girl, but he knew that he was going to, no matter what.  That didn’t stop him from sleeping with Frances right after he asked the other woman to marry him! My God, Lachlan, have some honor!  Frances wasn’t much better but letting him when her brain was saying “no, this isn’t right.” Smart brain.  It all works out in the end but not before some serious issues that I really didn’t think made up for Lachlan’s behavior.

Overall it was a decent story, but not one I loved. You’ll probably have to read it for yourself and see what you think about Lachlan’s actions as well as some of the secondary characters.  If you do, please let me know your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain by Lucy Monroe

Posted June 13, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain by Lucy MonroeReviewer: Holly
The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain by Lucy Monroe
Series: Royal Brides #5
Also in this series: Hired: The Sheikh's Secretary Mistress
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Publication Date: July 1, 2006
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 184
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Series Rating: three-stars

Principe Claudio Scorsolini's future wife must make a suitable figurehead for his people and provide him with an heir. Claudio's convenient union with Therese is hailed a success: his subjects have fallen in love with her and she's performed her duties in the bedroom -- to Claudio's immense satisfaction.However, Therese has secretly fallen in love with her husband. How can their marriage survive when she knows she can never give Claudio a child?

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on June 3, 2008.

The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain is the final book in Lucy Monroe‘s Royal Brides Trilogy from Harlequin Presents.

I’m very happy to report that Lucy Monroe didn’t disappoint at all with this novel.
Throughout the other books, we caught glimpses of Therese and Claudio and we knew something was amiss with Therese, and I for one, had a hard time waiting to find out what it was. Much as it pains me to admit it, however, it was worth the wait.

Princess Therese Scorsolini knows her husband, Prince Claudio – heir to the throne -, married her for convenience and the heirs she could produce for him. She hadn’t harbored any delusions about her husband’s feelings towards her, and that was why, when she found out she had a disease that was causing her to become infertile, she knew she’d have no choice but to offer him a divorce.

Prince Claudio knows nothing of his wife’s health problems, but he has noticed her change in behavior and has made his own assumptions based on them. Terribly wrong assumptions. When Therese explains that they must divorce, he doesn’t give her a chance to explain why, simply reacts, assuming he already knows the reason, that she’s found someone else. He’s pissed about it, of course, and says some things to her that later come back to haunt him, but he swears his anger is justified.

Of course, eventually he learns the real reason she’s asking for a divorce and besides having a lot of making up to do, he also has his work cut out for him convincing Therese that a divorce isn’t the way to go.

This was a sweet and – for me, at least – a very emotional read. LM is amazing at taking real life issues and bringing them to life in a very positive way. All women face different issues, whether they be physical or emotional and I think LM does a fabulous job of addressing them, without making me feel preached to.

I loved Therese, and I felt that her reasons for insisting on the divorce insecurities were totally valid. She stood her ground, too, when Claudio finally came to his senses and didn’t cow to him. I love that.

Claudio was an awesome hero, too. I love how amazing Lucy is at making me hate a hero and then fall in love with him. He said and did some things when Therese first asked for a divorce that made me so angry I wanted to beat him, but once he realized his mistakes he did everything he could to make up for his earlier stupid actions and make the heroine realize how much he truly cared for her.

I loved the entire premise of the story. The characters were wonderful, the storyline amazing and I didn’t even mind the shortness of the story. LM did an amazing job of wrapping this trilogy up. The only thing I disliked about this book was that it ended. LOL I can’t wait to see what LM has in store for us next!

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

Royal Brides


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Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso

Posted November 20, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico RossoReviewer: Jen
Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
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two-half-stars

When intimidation turns to deadly force,

It’s time for Frontier Justice.

If ruthless developers want Mariana Balducci’s land, they’ll have to kill her for it. And they nearly succeed—until Ty Morrison foils her attacker. The sexy San Francisco cop is part of a secret organization called Frontier Justice. Mariana is tough, but she realizes she can’t win this fight alone. And when bullets fly, Ty realizes battling bad guys is easier than fighting their sizzling attraction.

Look for 6 new titles from Harlequin Intrigue every month!

Harlequin Intrigue: Edge-of-your-seat mysteries, fearless romance…resourceful women and tough-as-nails men fight for survival.

Mariana Balducci is being pressured to sell her family’s California apple orchard to developers. When the developers start switching from hard-sell business tactics to all-out threats and violence, Mariana doesn’t know if she can hold out…until Ty Morrison swoops in to lend support. Ty doesn’t offer much information about himself or why he’s there to help, but Mariana needs him if she’s going to get the developers off her back and preserve her family’s heritage. Ty has an alternate agenda, however, and when Mariana finds out she may never forgive him.

There were many things I liked about this book, and many things I didn’t. I did actually like the romance between Mariana and Ty. It moves too fast like so many romantic suspenses, but they do seem to have a great connection. I believed that they’d be a good couple going forward. I like that there was a lot of action in the book–there is a lot happening and it kept me interested. I also liked Mariana and Ty. Both were kind of broody but were smart and driven. Plus, the people in this world are diverse in a casual and realistic way, not entirely white as other Harlequin books would have you believe.

Unfortunately, the book also suffers from some of the same criticisms I often have with Rosso’s books. He focuses much more on description and inner thoughts than on dialogue, and his description is sometimes overwrought and kind of silly. Take this passage where Ty is describing eating an apple from Mariana’s orchard:

Savoring it this way strengthened the connection he’d been feeling with her all night. Her work, part of herself, was in his mouth, intimate and close. An apple had never made his blood rush like this.

A little dramatic, especially when he just met hours ago her, no? It’s not bad exactly, but it does get a little old as the story goes on. The plot also has way too much that doesn’t make sense. It’s never properly explained why these seemingly legit land developers would suddenly become willing to kill someone, beyond “money.” Mariana also just lets Ty into her life immediately, with very little mistrust or hesitation. Girl, you have no idea who he is or why he is there, and you barely ask any questions! It’s dangerous and, more importantly, draws out Ty’s lie of omission for absolutely no reason. 

Worse, the larger story arc that I assume will be continued in future books makes no sense. There is almost no explanation given for Ty’s secret mission. He wants to rebuild an organization his ancestors helped found, called Frontier Justice, that…got justice? On the frontier? I really had no idea what that meant beyond that they “helped.” And now Ty, who is AN ACTUAL POLICE OFFICER I might add, wants to create a vigilante justice organization. In this book, they do some pretty illegal stuff to help Mariana, too. He doesn’t seem to plan to quit his day job so how exactly would that work? I don’t know if there was just not enough attention given to world-building/explanation or if the whole premise is poorly designed, but either way, I rolled my eyes a bunch.

It probably sounds like I hated this book, but I definitely didn’t and I really struggled with wanting to give this a 3 instead of 2.5. I was disappointed in parts of the plot, for sure, but I think (?) this will be the start of a new series. I hold out some hope that future books will work better on that front. Still, this book has a different vibe and tone than your average Harlequin Intrigue, and I appreciate that. I appreciate Rosso’s voice, even if I don’t always love his stories, which is why I am glad to see him bringing something fresh to Harlequin.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Posted September 30, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 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

I love Gothic novels. Especially in the fall and winter. There’s just something so lovely about sipping tea on a dark, stormy night and reading a creepy tale. I’m absolutely in love with this cover and I can’t wait to see what’s happening behind the doors of Willow Hall.

Sunday Spotlight: The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester FoxThe Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Gothic, Horror
Pages: 368
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Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

"Hester Fox's THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL offers a fascinating location, a great plot with history and twists, and characters that live and breathe. I love the novel, and will be looking forward to all new works by this talented author!" --Heather Graham, New York Times bestselling author

"Beautifully written, skillfully plotted, and filled with quiet terror, readers will devour this absorbing, Gothic tale of romance and suspense. Perfect for fans of Simone St James and Kate Morton." -- Anna Lee Huber, the national bestselling author of the historical Lady Darby Mysteries

"Beautifully written, with an intriguing plot full of suspense and mystery, The Witch of Willow Hall will cast a spell over every reader." -- Lisa Hall, author of Tell Me No Lies and Between You and Me

"I was entranced by this intriguing and spellbinding novel with its messages of love and loyalty and being true to who you really are. I hope Hester Fox goes on to write many more such novels--I for one will be buying them." -- Kathleen McGurl, author of The Girl from Ballymor

"With its sense of creeping menace and chilling undertones, this compelling story had me gripped from the first page. The vividly drawn characters cast their spell so convincingly, I couldn't stop reading until I discovered what happened to them. A wonderful debut novel.”--Linda Finlay, author of The Flower Seller

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

“It’s too hot for coffee,” Emeline announces suddenly, even though she’s not allowed to have a sip of the beverage. “It’s too hot for dresses and shoes and hair and fingernails. It’s too hot for stockings and feathers and fur.”

Mr. Barrett and Father break off their conversation, and silence falls over the parlor. Mother shoots our guests an apologetic look and then a pleading one at Emeline. “I’m so sorry. It’s past her bedtime and she’s getting tired.”

But Emeline isn’t done. She’s goes over to Mr. Barrett and looks up at him. “It’s too hot,” she repeats. “And I’m not tired at all. There’s a pond behind the house, did you know? I want to go to the pond and see the mermaids.”

I should take her upstairs to bed, but I don’t move. Mr. Barrett is looking down at her with a queer expression, a crease between his brows. She takes his hand in hers. His aren’t tapered and elegant like Cyrus’s; Mr. Barrett’s hands are capable, strong, and Emeline’s hand completely disappears in his. “Please, let’s go to the pond where it’s cool and we can swim with the mermaids. I want to go play with the little boy at the pond.”

“What little boy? What on earth are you talking about, Emmy?” But Emeline ignores Mother’s question and her lip begins to tremble when it becomes clear that she isn’t going to get her way.

By this time even Catherine and Mr. Pierce have paused in their giggles and whispers and both are staring. Crimson spreads over Catherine’s face. “Really, Emeline. Leave poor Mr. Barrett alone.”

Mother gets up slowly, and I can tell she doesn’t have the energy for this. “It’s dark out, Emmy. And Mr. Pierce and Mr. Barrett have business to discuss with your father.” She reaches out to take her hand, but Emeline dives out of her grasp.

I’m mortified. I understand Emeline, but Mr. Barrett will never return to our house if she behaves like this. I try to catch her attention, but she misses the cautioning look.

“I don’t want to go to bed!” I’ve never seen Emeline in such a pout before. She must be tired beyond reason, and the heat certainly isn’t helping. Hands clenched at her sides, she looks as if she’s on the verge of bursting into tears. But instead she just stomps her little foot.

But just as her foot comes down on the carpet, both doors slam shut with a great bang.

Mother jumps, Catherine lets out a little cry and Father’s eyebrows look as if they are about to fly off his face. The room goes silent, the only movement the residual wobbling of a vase on the table.

We all look at each other. Even Emeline looks surprised, because if we didn’t know better, it was almost as if she caused the doors to fly shut with her foot.
Father is the first to speak. He clears his throat and glances around. “Must be the wind,” he mumbles. “You think you have a house built new and it wouldn’t be full of drafts and loose doors, but I suppose there’s no such thing as peace of mind in New England construction.”

Mother is quick to agree with him, and Mr. Pierce gives a dubious nod. But we all know that there was no breeze, that it’s been so still that a feather would have hardly quivered, let alone two doors slamming. No one wants to say so though at the risk of frightening Emeline.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: September 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Hester Fox

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

Hester Fox has a background in the museum field as a collections maintenance technician. This job has taken her from historic houses to fine art museums, where she has cleaned and cared for collections that range from paintings by old masters to ancient artifacts to early American furniture. She is a keen painter and has a Master’s in historical archaeology, as well as a background in medieval studies and art history. Hester lives outside of Boston with her husband and their two cats. The Witch Of Willow Hall is her first novel.


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Throwback Thursday Review: Good Girls Don’t by Victoria Dahl

Posted August 30, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Good Girls Don’t by Victoria DahlReviewer: Holly
Good Girls Don't (Donovan Brothers Brewery, #1) by Victoria Dahl
Series: Donovan Brothers Brewery, #1

Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

Too much of a good thing

With her long ponytail and sparkling green eyes, Tessa Donovan looks more like the girl next door than a businesswoman; or a heart-breaker. Which may explain why Detective Luke Asher barely notices her when he arrives to investigate a break in at her family's brewery. He's got his own problems; starting with the fact that his partner, Simone, is pregnant and everyone thinks he's the father.

Tessa has her hands full, too. Her brother's playboy ways may be threatening the business, and the tension could tear her tight knit family apart. In fact, the only thing that could unite the Donovan boys is seeing a man come after their baby sister. Especially a man like Luke Asher. But Tessa sees past the rumors to the man beneath. He's not who people think he is and neither is she.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on August 30, 2011.

I didn’t think I was going to like this book. The first half was really hard for me to take. The lying and scheming of the heroine, plus the strange plot, really annoyed me. I was just about to give up when I got really intrigued. Plus, my husband helped calm me down (strange, I know), and pointed out that I was taking it a bit too seriously.

Tessa wants to hold her family together. When her brother Jamie sleeps with the daughter of a client they’re trying to land, she begs him not to tell their oldest brother Eric until she can figure out what to do. She’s worried that Eric will be furious with Jamie and not allow him to make any decisions in the business. In the meantime, their brewery is broken into and Detective Luke Asher is investigating.

Luke and Tessa are instantly attracted to each other. She makes the first move and they realize they have chemistry. They also have a lot in common and really enjoy each others company. Unfortunately, Tessa’s brothers don’t like that she’s dating and the stress of keeping so much from them is making her a little (a lot) crazy.

My issues begin and end with Tessa. Her lying and scheming was immature and silly. She didn’t act like a 27 year old woman. She acted like a 12 year old girl. This lying and scheming didn’t stop at her brothers. She also schemes and plays in other areas of her life. Luke accuses her of being a control freak and I would agree with that. I’d also say she needed to pull up her big girl panties and realize life doesn’t revolve around her.

In the end, I felt this was an extremely well done tale of Tessa growing up. I would almost call it a coming-of-age novel, except she’s 27. It worked, despite Tessa’s age. The family dynamics were interesting and the romance was well done, though I did struggle with how old these two were. The romance read more like that of a younger couple.

In any case, despite my hesitancy and the frustrations I had early on, I’m glad I read this. It was an emotional tale that pulled me in.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

Donovan Brothers Brewery

three-half-stars


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