Tag: Historical Romance

Review: Duke Most Wanted by Celeste Bradley

Posted August 24, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Duke Most Wanted by Celeste BradleyReviewer: Holly
Duke Most Wanted (Heiress Brides, #3) by Celeste Bradley
Series: The Heiress Brides #3
Also in this series: Desperately Seeking A Duke, The Duke Next Door (Heiress Brides, #2), Duke Most Wanted (Heiress Brides, #3)
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 29, 2008
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 342
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four-stars

Sophie Blake’s grandfather willed his fortune to the first of his granddaughters to marry a duke.  Since her cousin, Deirdre, will seal the deal any day now, the quiet, bookish Sophie can sit back and enjoy her time with the only man she truly adores: Graham. No matter that the part charmer, part scoundrel has absolutely no designs on her! Sophie is content to engage Graham in lively conversation, beat him at cards. . .and probe at the darkness hiding behind his rakish smile.

Then Graham unexpectedly gains a title, an estate in near ruins and a mountain of debt.  If there is any chance of survival he must find a rich wife—quickly. As his hunt for a bride begins, Sophie realizes that she isn’t even in the running. Suddenly no longer content to be a wallflower, Sophie gets a stunning make-over and becomes the belle of the ball. Lots of heads are turning…including Graham’s. But this beauty has secrets of her own. Will she be his salvation or seal his fate?

I was browsing my library for an audiobook to listen to on my commute and came across Duke Most Wanted. If I’ve read Bradley before, I don’t remember it. It’s the third in the series, but I don’t feel like I missed anything by skipping the first two. I really enjoyed this book. It was a lot of fun. It even had a plot twist at the end I didn’t see coming, something that rarely happens with me.

Sophie Blake’s grandfather secretly willed his entire fortune to the first of his granddaughter’s to marry a duke. Unlike her cousins, Phoebe and Deirdre, Sophie isn’t interested in finding a Duke, or really any husband at all. First, she’s too plain to ever catch the notice of one. Second, she’s hiding a pretty big secret. Third, she doesn’t want to be married. She’s just enjoying her first taste of freedom. And if she happens to have a slight..infatuation…with the youngest son of a Duke? Well, no one has to know. It’s not like he’d be interested in her, anyway. When one of the most sought after designers in London decides to take her under his wing and transform her, she decides maybe it’s time to do something for herself. It would be too much to hope Graham would notice her, but maybe she could find herself a husband after all.

Graham is doing his best to live up to his responsibility as the youngest son….he drinks, he carouses, he….enjoys spending time with a wallflower. He doesn’t let that one get out, but when his father and three older brothers are killed and he suddenly inherits the title, along with a mountain of debt, Sophie is the only one he wants to tell. Too bad he has to find a rich bride instead of indulging his sudden feelings toward Sophie.

This was such an unexpected gem. I was in the mood for something light and fun, and this hit the spot. I really enjoyed the banter and chemistry between Graham and Sophie. I also liked how blunt and unconventional she was, even through all her shyness with men (except Graham, who put her at ease when they first met by telling her he’d never marry her. While it may sound harsh, it actually relieved her mind so much she was able to relax with him and be herself). I also really enjoyed Graham’s growth over the course of the novel. He’s content to be a philanderer and a rake, until he realizes all the responsibility for their tenants now rests on his shoulders. That isn’t to say he immediately transformed into a paragon of society, but I felt his struggle to do the right thing was very real. Because I felt they had a pretty solid friendship before his father dies, I felt their separation was kind of contrived. It wasn’t really necessary for Sophie to become “someone else” in order to catch is attention (she didn’t do it for that reason, nor did he “notice” her simply because she wore different gowns, but even so, it felt like there was no point in it).

Toward the end there’s a revelation I saw coming, but the way it was related pulled me out of the story. It just seemed to land on the page out of nowhere. I thought I had the entire thing figured out, but there ended up being a major plot twist I didn’t see coming.

View Spoiler »

While parts of the story were problematic for me (namely Sophie’s transformation, the secondary plot featuring the bumbling idiot who manages the trust, the lack of comeuppance for Tessa the evil chaperone, etc), I can’t deny the story was engaging and fun. I really enjoyed Sophie and Graham.

4 out of 5

The Heiress Brides

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean

Posted May 10, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLeanReviewer: Rowena
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love By Numbers #3
Also in this series: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1), Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1), Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3)
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 367
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four-stars

There is no telling where a scandal might lead...

She lives for passion.

Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society’s rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London’s most practiced gossips... and precisely the kind of woman the Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.

He swears by reputation.

Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening—risking everything he holds dear—he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety.

She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on April 12, 2011.

Sarah MacLean is fast becoming one of my go to authors for wonderful historical romances. She writes the kind of romances that never fail to make me laugh, tear up and sigh all throughout the story. This story is no different. I was first introduced to MacLean’s work back when she released her first romance, Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake. I read and adored that book and was anxious for the next installment in this series, Ten Ways to be Adored when Landing a Lord. I enjoyed Nick’s story and was even more anxious for Juliana’s story and finally, we have it.

This book wasn’t as funny as the first two but it still a wonderful romance novel. The chemistry between Simon and Juliana is undeniable and I totally fell right in with all of it. The fighting, the making up, the confusion- all of it made for one helluva ride.

This book starts up not too long after the last book left off. Gabriel and Callie are happily married as are Nicholas and Isabel. Nicholas and Isabel still have their girls over at Minerva House and Georgeanne is still over there, pregnant and still trucking along. Simon, brother to Georgeanne is back in London, pretending that his world is not going to come crawling down because his sister went and got herself pregnant and is hiding away at his friend’s house in the country. He’s also trying to stay far away from that damn scandal a minute maker, Juliana Fiori who he secretly has the hots for.

Juliana is living with Gabriel and Callie, suffering through more of the same dull balls and gossip that is nearly always about her. She knows that she’ll never fit in with these dull English folks and she’s at the point where she doesn’t care if she does either. She hates the English, well with the exception of her English family members and she most definitely hates the uptight, Duke of disdain, the Duke of Leighton.

These two rub each other the wrong way and it was only a matter of time before they’d be rubbing each other in a totally different way. Simon spends much of this book, saving Juliana from yet another almost-scandal and he also spends a good chunk of the book fighting his feelings for her. Juliana bets Leighton that she could bring him to his knees in two weeks because she thinks that nobody can live their lives without passion and Simon is like, do your worst. Reputation matters most in the end and he’s going to be standing firmly on his feet at the end of the two weeks.

Now throughout the book, there were plenty of times that I wanted to strangle both Simon and Juliana. Simon mostly because everything with Penelope and then with his sister, it all just made me want to give him a swift kick in the nuts but not once in all the times that I was annoyed with him, did I hate him. MacLean did a good job of making me anxious for him to get it right without making me lose interest in him as a hero. I should have hated him right along with Juliana but like Juliana, I couldn’t.

I liked Simon. When things finally come together for him and Juliana, my heart did a little happy dance inside my chest. I was so happy for the both of them and that’s why I love reading books by Sarah MacLean. She makes me come to love her characters a little more with each book.

I loved Juliana from the jump. From the time we meet her in the previous books and Callie is trying to teach her how to become a lady with manners, I loved her. She always got everything wrong and yet, she was so charming that I couldn’t help but love her. Want to be her friend, want what’s best for her. I hated when those stupid cows at the balls were mean to her and I loved the friendships that blossomed between her and Marianna and then later, Georgeanne. Her character really came into her own in this book and I enjoyed watching her grow into the woman she was in this book.

I can’t help but want books for both Benedick and Georgeann…hell, it would be totally awesome if they were to meet and then fall in love with each other. They were both wonderful characters in this book and my greedy ass wants more!

All in all, this book was another wonderfully written story about two people who take the long road to their happy ending. They fought, they laughed and they got to know each other and then in the end, they fell in love with each other. You can’t ask for more and I definitely recommend this book to historical lovers and to fans of Sarah MacLean, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Love By Numbers

four-stars


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Guest Review: It Happened in the Highlands by May McGoldrick

Posted April 27, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: It Happened in the Highlands by May McGoldrickReviewer: Tracy
It Happened in the Highlands by May McGoldrick
Series: The Pennington Family #2
Also in this series: Romancing the Scot
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: March 27th 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 300
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three-half-stars

Lady Josephine Pennington was jilted by her fiancé once rumors spread about her questionable origins. Her adoptive parents have always provided her with the love and protection she’s needed to feel secure, and over the last sixteen years she’s molded herself to meet the expectations of others. When she receives a package containing sketches where the subject is eerily familiar, Jo believes she might have found a clue to the identity of her birth mother.

When Captain Wynne Melfort ended his engagement to Jo Pennington sixteen years ago, he never imagined he would see her again. But after he uncovers information that could reveal the truth about Jo’s parentage, Wynne feels bound by duty to right an old wrong and inform her of his find. He didn’t expect for feelings long thought dead to resurface, for in his mind a love departed was gone forever.

As they strive to unravel the mystery of her birth, Jo must learn how to trust the man who’d once rejected her, and Wynne must reconcile his head with his heart. But as secrets of the past begin to surface, evil forces will stop at nothing to keep Jo from uncovering the truth and reclaiming her legacy. Together, Jo and Wynne must fight the deadly menace lurking deep in the Highland mists.

Josephine was raised by the Pennington’s, a prominent family in Scotland, but her mother was unknown.  Just a woman who Lady Pennington had helped give birth on the side of the road named Jo. Raised as one of the Pennington children, Josephine never felt any different until she went to London for a season.  There she met the love of her life, Captain Wynne Melfort, but everyone else whispered and publicly ridiculed her.  She figured she could endure it because of Wynne, but when he breaks their engagement, Jo is devastated.

Now it’s sixteen years later and Josephine is quite happy with her life. She takes take of her family and loves her nieces and nephews.  When she gets a note from a mental institution she’s intrigued enough to stop by on her way to her brother’s house.

Wynne didn’t want to break off his engagement to Josephine but he was shipping out and he felt since he couldn’t be there to protect her from the ton it was better for everyone.  He never stopped loving Jo, however.  He is now back in Scotland helping to run a mental institution with her best friend and he has taken custody of his 10 year old son who had previously been living in Jamaica.  When one of the non-verbal patients sketches out picture after picture of a woman that looks like Josephine he’s not sure what to make of it.

When she arrives neither are ready for their feelings to bubble back to the surface but they are ready to find out if the non-verbal man has a connection to Josephine and if so, what it is.

McGoldrick has once again written a lovely romance that had me completely invested.  In book one I was curious about Josephine and what exactly her story was so I was quite happy when I found out that I wasn’t going to have to wait to find out.

Josephine was a wonderful person inside and out.  She was just a gem and while she had her faults, there weren’t many.  I was intrigued by the hunt for her true history and to find out where she came from, although I knew no matter what the Pennington’s wouldn’t let her feel like she wasn’t always part of the family.  That family was perfect for Jo to grow up in and I loved them to death.

Wynne was a little harder for me to get to like.  He had been on the high seas and though he had a son in Jamaica he left the child’s grandmother to raise him until she feared for his life because of the country’s upset.  I hated that he had left his son, Cuffe, for so long and this was also a point of contention with Cuffe and Wynne.  Cuffe wanted to be back taking care of his grandmother and resented his father for taking him away.  It was a great part of the book, Cuffe and Wynne coming together.  I was happy that McGoldrick decided to add this element to the story.

I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more romance between Wynne and Josephine. Since neither had ever stopped loving the other, once they confessed their continued feelings…they were kind of together. I liked that they got their HEA but A) I wanted a little bit more romance and B) I wanted Wynne to have to work for it a little harder. Lol

In the end it was a good story and I really enjoyed reading it.

Rating: 3.5/4 out of 5

The Pennington Family Series

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: To Tame a Wolf by Joann Black

Posted February 19, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: To Tame a Wolf by Joann BlackReviewer: Tracy
To Tame a Wolf by Joann Black
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: September 27th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Historical Romance
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four-stars

Summoned from her contemplative life in the abbey, Alexandra Ashford finds herself at the mercy of her malicious guardian, a cousin she fears and despises. He plans to force her to marry his crony and so forfeit her estate. Her only chance of escape is to trust the wounded man imprisoned by her cousin.

Taken captive and chained to his torturer's floor, clan laird Ian McGregor is left for dead after a brutal beating. He has little hope of escape. But when his enemy's betrothed offers him freedom and asks for his help, he realizes revenge could be sweet indeed.

Facing seemingly unbeatable odds to escape and reach the McGregor stronghold, their greatest challenge is fighting their growing attraction. How will Alexandra react when she realizes she’s the prisoner of the McGregor laird who considers her the “betrothed” of his enemy?

Alexandra wants nothing to do with her guardian and hopes to spend the rest of her life at the Abbey.  Unfortunately he calls for her and tells her that he plans to marry her off to a man who’s just as vile as her guardian.  She hatches a plan to get out of dodge.  She sets the man free who’s chained up in the main hall and asks him to take her to the McGregor clan, hoping that their laird will allow her sanctuary.  She has no idea that the man she frees is the laird and he become quite smitten with Alexandra.

This was a great little historical.  It was a quick read and just kind of hit in all of the right places for me.  Alexandra setting Ian free, their flight to freedom and everything that entailed and of course their attraction to each other.  The author did a fine job of giving us simmering tension between Ian and Alexandra, I loved it.

If you want a simple yet entertaining historical romance to read then this is the book for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I do have to say that the cover of the book is absolutely ridiculous.  Why in heaven’s name are they staring at his pec?  I just don’t get it!  You can see my thoughts on it here (and Holly’s too!).

four-stars


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Review: Touch Me by Lucy Monroe

Posted December 22, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Touch Me by Lucy MonroeReviewer: Holly
Touch Me (Langley Family Trilogy, #1) by Lucy Monroe
Series: Langley Family Trilogy #1

Publication Date: September 6th 2005
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 317
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four-stars

Outspoken, opinionated Thea Selwyn is no ordinary lady. Raised in the exotic West Indies, she has none of the starchy propriety Pierson Drake is accustomed to—rather, there is a lush sensuality about this impulsive beauty that tempts him unmercifully. Her delectable curves and wide, innocent eyes are enticing enough, but her breathless response to his touch is a lure he can't resist.

On a voyage that takes them from a tropical paradise to the glittering ballrooms of London, Thea and Drake are pulled into a firestorm of illicit passion. Thea knows that once they reach England, the secrets she's been keeping will kill whatever Drake feels for her. But Drake's own history has taught him the value of acceptance and the desolation of loss. Thea is the one woman Drake has ever trusted with his heart, and he ha no intention of losing her—not to the ghosts of the past or the threats of the present. But can he convince Thea to forget the hard lessons she's learned and take a chance on love?

Together, Thea Selwyn and Pierson Drake embark on an extraordinary voyage from a tropical paradise to the glittering ballrooms of London. But will Thea’s dark secrets destroy their illicit passion?

In 1797 England, angry aristocrat Geoffrey Selwyn believes his wife was unfaithful to him, though she swears she was not. When Anna gives birth to a boy, Geoffrey immediatly takes the baby away with him, determined to keep her away from her son. Heartbroken, Anna gives birth a few minutes later to a twin a girl she names Althea.

Anna makes several attempts to see her small son and keep her daughters presence a secret from her heartless husband, but, after almost being caught with her daughter, flees to the exotic West Indies to raise her daughter alone. And pine for her missing son.

Twenty-three years later, Thea is a partner in Merewether Shipping with her Uncle Ashby, a sweet man who helped Anna when she first arrived on the Island. Though her mother died ten years before, Thea is still haunted by her mother’s continued heartbreak over her missing son and the promises she made to Anna on her deathbed.

Pierson Drake arrives on the Island in desperate need of a blacksmith to fix his steam engine, so that he can sail back to England in a timely manner and ensure his investors make a return on the money they invested on his behalf. He ignores Thea at first, refusing to deal with a “mere” woman regarding matters of business. He finally realizes it is she, not her Uncle, that can help him and she agrees, under the condition that he takes her to London with him, so she can investigate some discrepancies in the books from their London office. He is blackmailed into agreeing.

On the voyage, tempers ingnite, wills clash and a fierce attraction develops between the two. Though Pierson wants to marry Thea, she refuses, afraid of loving a man and ending up in the same position as her mother.

I generally dislike a stubborn heroine, because so many times she tends to be stupid as well as mule-headed. I’m happy to report, however, that Thea Selwyn didn’t fall fall into this category. She was perhaps a bit too obsessed with staying unwed, but Monroe did an awesome job of explaining her reasons.

Pierson Drake is hot, tortured and a total Alpha-Male…my favorite combination. He has his own issues – illigetimate birth – but he doesn’t let that stop him from making Thea his.

As with all of Lucy Monroe’s books, I was touched, angered and in love by the time I finished reading it.

4 out of 5

Langley Family Series

four-stars


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