Tag: Historical Romance

Review: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

Posted February 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly
Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #5
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake, Devil in Spring, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger, Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3), Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5)
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of a beautiful, young widow who finds passion with the one man she shouldn't...

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he's a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband's life a misery, and she'll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself...as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire...not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn't bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She's the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil's daughter knows...

Devil’s Daughter is the 5th book in Lisa KleypasRavenels series. I’ve been anxiously awaiting West’s story since we met him in the first book. His transformation from disreputable rake to responsible land manager has been a favorite throughout the series for me. I’m happy to report he was just as amazing here as I expected him to be. I loved everything about the way he was with Phoebe, Lady Clare and her two sons. My heart melted every time he interacted with the boys. He was playful and managed to teach them without being stern. His candor and openness about his past made my heart hurt at times. I did struggle with his doubts and the way he continued to punish himself for his past sins. I wanted to see him let that go sooner than he did.

Phoebe was an amazing heroine. She was strong, yet vulnerable. Brave, yet scared. I loved the contradictions and how well they played into the person she’d become since her husband died. I also loved how she was as a mother.

Together West and Phoebe had great chemistry. Their banter and wit had me in stitches, and I loved how well they understood one anther. West accepted Phoebe for who she was now, yet still pushed her out of her comfort zone. I loved what a progressive he was, and how he challenged her to think outside her narrow box. I also loved how accepting she was of him and his past. My heart melted when West told her to send for him if needed. They were so lovely together.

I loved seeing previous characters and having them play a part in the story, mostly because Klyepas is a master at keeping them in the background. Their presence didn’t detract from Phoebe and West in the slightest, and in fact having them there enriched the story.

Honestly, this may have been a 5 star read for me if not for West’s constant self-flagellation and the abrupt ending. Seriously, it ended way too quickly. At 92% I was low key anxious about where the story was at. The novel really needed an extra chapter or an epilogue.

Devil’s Daughter is another emotionally charged, engrossing tale of redemption and love. Another must read from Kleypas.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Ravenels

four-half-stars


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Review: If He’s Dangerous by Hannah Howell

Posted February 7, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: If He’s Dangerous by Hannah HowellReviewer: Holly
If He's Dangerous (Wherlocke, #4) by Hannah Howell
Series: Wherlocke #4
Also in this series: If He's Sinful
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 345
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two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

"New York Times" bestseller Hannah Howell's extraordinary Wherlocke family returns with the story of a passion that will heed no resistance, no matter how deadly...

When Lorelei Sundun first finds Sir Argus Wherlocke in her garden, she's never heard of the mysterious Wherlocke clan-or their otherworldly abilities. That changes the moment she watches Argus-the most tantalizing man she's ever seen-disappear before her very eyes. What she's witnessed should be impossible. But so should falling in love with a man she's only just met...

Pursued by a madman intent on harnessing the Wherlockes' talents as weapons, Argus meant to seek help from his family, not to involve a duke's lovely daughter in the struggle. But now, the enchanting Lorelei is his only hope for salvation-and the greatest temptation he's ever faced...

If He’s Dangerous is the 4th book in Hannah Howell’s Wherelocke series, featuring a titled family who has special “gifts” (or curses, depending on your view point). Though I’ve read all the previous books, I don’t believe it’s necessary to read the series in order.

Lorelei Sundown is the daughter of a duke. She’s never heard of the infamous Wherelocke family, until the day Argus Wherelocke appears naked in her garden..then disappears before her eyes. Argus is on the run from a madman who wants to capture him to harness his abilities. He believes his family is cursed and therefore won’t consider marriage, but he can’t deny his attraction to the lovely Lorelei. As they go on the run to discover why his enemy wants him, Argus fights his attraction in vain. As the daughter of a nobleman she should be off limits, but he can’t seem to keep his hands off her. Lorelei knows Argus is the one for her, but convincing him is another thing entirely.

I am a long time fan of Hannah Howell. She was the first romance author I discovered on my own when I became an avid fan of the genre. I had been reading Julie Garwood historicals and wanted something new. I was in Walmart and saw His Bonnie Bride on the shelf. That was the beginning of the end for me. I glommed everything of hers I could find. Around the 50th-or-so Murray book, I burned out. But I still kept buying. And buying. And buying. When the mood would strike and I’d pick up a new release, I was always left disappointed. These books aren’t from the Howell I fell in love with all those years ago. If He’s Dangerous is yet another disappointment. I’m afraid each new book is just a repeat of the one prior to it.

Argus was frustrating in that he kept insisting marriage in his family was cursed and therefore he could never marry Lorelei. If that were the case, why did he continue to bed her? Not only that, but he had bastard children he neglected to mention. She found out when they showed up at her place looking for him. Not the actions of an honorable guy. I liked Lorelei and the boys, but Argus kind of ruined the book for me.

2.5 out of 5

Wherlocke


two-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake

Posted December 23, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 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 Reunited Lover stories. I’ve read several books by Olivia Drake in the past and look forward to this one very much.

Sunday Spotlight: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia DrakeThe Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses, #1) by Olivia Drake
Series: Unlikely Duchesses #1
Also in this series: The Duke I Once Knew
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 31, 2018
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 336
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Series Rating: three-stars


First love is always the sweetest.

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her aging parents and the children of her siblings. Now, eager to make her own life, she takes a position as governess on the neighboring estate. It shouldn’t matter that her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the infamous rake who once broke her youthful heart. Surely he’s forgotten her, for he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years. At least, that is, until he arrives unexpectedly.

Max is incensed to meet his sister’s new governess. But why does Abby appear just as displeased to see him when it was she who’d rejected him all those years ago? Why is he so drawn to the independent spinster she has become? And why is there a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes that suggests they might have a second chance at love?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

The sounds of cooing and kissing mortified her. Good heavens, would they never stop? Anyone might walk into the library! They ought to have the decency to take their amorous activities upstairs to a bedchamber.

But, of course, Rothwell did not possess a shred of decency. It made her cringe to recall that she herself had once fallen prey to his allure.

She risked another look over the edge of the table. Her eyes goggled.

The duke was delving beneath the hem of his paramour’s gown, sliding his hand up her ankle and out of sight. The ladybird squirmed and squealed in a frisky attempt at evasion. He leaned down and silenced her playful protests with a masterful kiss.

Abby sank back down again. Her pulse pounded and a blush heated her inside and out. She oughtn’t be so scandalized. Rothwell had a reputation as a notorious rake. Over the years, she had heard many a tale whispered among the neighbors of his disgraceful doings.

Yet it was one thing to listen to idle gossip and quite another to actually witness him in the throes of depravity.

And here she was, trapped. What was she to do?

If she made her presence known, the duke would find out that Miss Abigail Linton was the new governess. She could not be absolutely certain that he had forgotten her. And if he did remember, he surely would dismiss her on the spot, for he wanted nothing to do with her.

Her spirits fell into a fit of the dismals. That would mark the end of her little adventure out into the world. Oh, she could apply for a position elsewhere, but who would hire her if she’d been summarily discharged from her previous post? She would be forced to return to her brother’s house and resume her predictable life as the maiden aunt, growing withered and gray, shuttled between relatives, with no real say in her future.

The very thought was suffocating.

Nevertheless, she could not continue to crouch here while the two lovers were smooching and whispering. What if their intimate activities escalated? What if they did the deed right here, right now?

The horrid prospect spurred Abby to action. She must try to sneak out of the library unobserved. It was her only hope.

Dropping to her hands and knees, she crept along the carpet, weaving a path between the tables. Her long skirts hampered her progress, forcing her to inch along at a snail’s pace. Rothwell’s black boots were visible through a forest of chair legs. At least he was too distracted to notice her, judging by the amorous sounds emanating from across the room. To be safe, she made a wide berth around the couple. Feverish plans raced through her head. If only she could reach the door and slip out, then all might be well. Perhaps she could convince Lady Gwendolyn not to mention the new governess to her brother. And what of Lady Hester? Was there a chance that she could be persuaded to bide her tongue, too? Should Abby confess the truth and enlist her help? Was it possible to stay out of sight until he departed the Court?

Sweet heaven, how long did he intend to stay?

In the midst of her meditations, she couldn’t help overhearing the syrupy drivel of their tête-à-tête.

“Your Grace, you are too bold! Such a naughty boy you are!”

“I left boyhood behind long ago. Shall I demonstrate?”

“Mm, no. You mustn’t . . . ah, yes. Yes!”

Abby grimaced under a tide of acute embarrassment. As she crawled closer to the door, she glared in the direction of the lovers. She could just see Rothwell’s legs pressed against a froth of cream skirts. Blast him and his debauchery! He was the worst of rogues, the king of scoundrels. A more wicked man had never been born—! Too caught up in remonstrations to watch where she was going, Abby bumped her hip hard against a mahogany pedestal. A little squeak escaped before she could clap her hand to her mouth. At the same instant, a faint clanking noise drew her attention upward.

The globe atop the pedestal wobbled precariously. As she watched in horror, the sphere toppled from its perch and clunked onto the floor, where it rolled straight past the chairs and tables to land at Rothwell’s heels.

“What the devil—!”

Frozen in concealment, Abby watched wide-eyed through the maze of table legs as his boots shifted around. A large male hand flashed down to stop the spinning of the globe. Any faint hope that he might assume it had fallen of its own accord vanished in a millisecond.

Rothwell strode forward, his footfalls sharp and decisive. He came straight to her. To her great consternation, she found herself gazing at the polished black leather of his boots only a few inches away.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “What are you doing in here?”

Abby raised her chin only slightly, keeping her face averted. It was best that he didn’t gaze fully at her — or hear the normal pitch of her voice lest it trigger his memory. “I’m just a servant,” she whispered, “tending to my duties.”

“Speak up! Why did you not make your presence known at once?”

His dictatorial tone shredded her better judgment. “I was trying to leave discreetly,” she flared. “It didn’t strike me as wise to interrupt your tryst.” She paused, then added in a more servile tone, “I do beg your pardon, Your Grace.” She felt his gaze boring down like a physical force that threatened to smother her. She wanted badly to look up, to glare into his face and tell him in no uncertain terms exactly what she thought of him.

But that would be highly imprudent.

With lightning swiftness, he clamped his hands around her upper arms and hauled Abby to her feet. She found herself staring up into a pair of wintry gray eyes set in a face of unabashed masculinity. Although a dissipated life had hardened his expression and etched faint lines on either side of his mouth, he was more disturbingly handsome than ever. He also seemed taller and tougher, his chest broader and his shoulders wider.

She hated that he still had the power to make the breath catch in her throat. Worse, she hated that he had the authority to dismiss her with a snap of his arrogant fingers. As she racked her beleaguered brain for a way to convince him not to do so, something flickered in those icy eyes.

“Abby?”

Unlikely Duchesses

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: December 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 Olivia Drake

Shortly after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism, Olivia Drake sold her first novel two weeks after sending it to a publisher. She now lives in Texas in a cozy cottage with a feisty cat, a loving husband, and two wonderful daughters who still come back whenever they want a home-cooked meal.

Many of you already know Olivia as Barbara Dawson Smith, author of 24 historical romance novels. She is a New York Times bestseller and winner of numerous honors, including the Golden Heart Award and the coveted Rita Award for excellence in the historical romance genre.


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Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson

Posted October 18, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine AndersonReviewer: Holly
Summer Breeze (Keegan-Paxton #3) by Catherine Anderson
Series: Keegan-Paxton #3
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: January 3, 2006
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance, Westerns
Pages: 421
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

The year is 1889, and Rachel Hollister hasn't set foot outside her house in five years. Ever since a savage attack left her family dead, she's cordoned herself off from the outside world, afraid to let anyone into her home—or into her heart. But now trouble has appeared on her doorstep—and suddenly she has no choice but to let a handsome rancher invade her well-guarded existence ...

Confirmed bachelor Joseph Paxton grudgingly offers to take up temporary residence at the Hollister ranch—even though it's obvious Rachel doesn't want his protection. But once he catches a glimpse of his beautiful young ward and her remarkable spirit, he'll do anything to break through the dark spell that's walled off her heart. It may take a miracle, but he's determined to make her see the refuge he's offering in his embrace—and the splendor that exists beyond her front door. Otherwise he'll just have to build a safe haven big enough for the both of them ...

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

While looking through old posts I came across this one for Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson. I remember the warm, sweet feeling I was left with after I finished this book. I’m not sure it would work as well for me if I read it now, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

This review was originally published August 7, 2006

What an amazing love story.

We all fear something. Whether we have a true phobia – such as my fear of ‘S’ words (don’t ask) – or just something that makes us break out in goosebumps, we all know what it’s like to be afraid of something.

Rachel Hollister’s fear is that of being in an open space. Her family was brutally murdered right in front of her while they were out for a picnic. As a result, she hasn’t stepped outside her home in five years.

Her faithful friend, the elderly Darby, has done everything in his power to make her a sanctuary inside her home. He barricaded all the windows and doors and converted her kitchen into as comfortable a place as possible for her.

Though Rachel knows her fears are irrational, they’re there all the same, and she can’t overcome them. She refuses to leave her small kitchen for any reason, and can’t even open a door or window to allow sunlight in. For five long years she lived in absolute silence, with no natural light.

To keep herself occupied, she read books and crocheted. She spoke with Darby through the door of her home and that was the only company she had.

Until Darby is shot in the back and manages to ride to the neighboring Paxton ranch in search of help. Joseph Paxton finds him and promises to look after Rachel. Darby is convinced his being shot has something to do with the murder of Rachel’s family and fears for her safety.

As Joseph breaks into Rachel’s home, he expects to find a crazy young woman, and instead encounters a lovely creature he’s immediately taken with. He comes to realize that Rachel isn’t crazy at all, only frightened.

Watching this story unfold has been a wonderful experience for me. Seeing Joseph do everything in his power to make Rachel’s world one filled with sunlight and birdsong really touched me.

Since Rachel’s fear is based on open spaces, Joseph hits upon the idea of installing metal doors with bars on them so she can enjoy the sunlight and still feel enclosed. Then one of the town’s populace hits upon the idea of building her a stone-walled courtyard with an iron-work ceiling so it’s completely enclosed, therefore allowing Rachel to be outside. They called it:

“Sunshine for Rachel.”

Watching Rachel emerge from her self-imposed prison and into the sunshine for the first time in five years made my heart swell and my eyes sting with tears. Joseph’s reaction to Rachel in the sunshine touched me more deeply than any other tender moment in a romance novel. I could feel their emotions as she turned her face to the sun for the first time in so many years.

She was halfway across the courtyard before it struck her that she was outside. Oh, God, outside. She staggered to a stop, frozen in her tracks. Her heart pounded violently. But nothing else happened. She could still breathe. She just felt a little dizzy and disoriented. “Joseph?”
“You’re fine, sweetheart. You’ve got walls all around you. Look at them. Name me anything that can go through that rock.”
She let her head fall back to put her face up to the sun. The gentle warmth on her skin was beyond wonderful. She held her arms wide and turned again, filling her lungs with fresh, cool morning air.

Joseph asks Rachel to marry him and the following scene is so touching. Rachel refuses him, saying she can’t have a family living the way she does.

“What would I do? Push them out the wood safe to see them off to school?” She gestured with her free hand the encompass the kitchen. “A family can’t live in one room.”
“I’ll make it work,” he whispered. “I swear to you, darlin’. I can make it work. No hallways to frighten you, just a big room like this with water closets all around, only they’ll be bedrooms, with you in the big room, living as you do now, never needing to go outside unless it’s to sit in your courtyard or work in your flower beds.”

The murder of her family was left unsolved all those years ago, and Joseph and his lawman brother David set out to find the missing pieces of the puzzle, hoping to keep Rachel safe and finally give her closure.

The story was sweet and amazing and one of the most touching I’ve read in a long time. It’s not very often that you read a murder-mystery that’s sweet and compelling as well.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book. Something Joseph said to Rachel that touched my heart.

When I first met you, I thought I was opening up the world for you, but I was so wrong. You were the one who opened up all of my windows so I could see the beauty beyond the glass.

5 out of 5

Keegan-Paxton

five-stars


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Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan ByrneReviewer: Holly
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels, #6) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels #6
Also in this series: The Highlander
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 333
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book I’ve read in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series. A friend was talking about it and it piqued my interest, so I downloaded it from NetGalley. We saw quite a few of the couples from previous books, but I don’t feel like I missed much by starting here. It read fine as a stand-alone.

Lorelie was crippled as a child and therefore rarely leaves the family estate. When she finds and rescues a young man who’s been beaten nearly to death, she finds sudden purpose for her life. Caring for him becomes everything to her. They fall in love, but he disappears without a trace. For 20 years she longs for him, until one day he returns. But the devilish pirate who returns to avenge her isn’t the same boy she once knew and loved…or is he?

I really loved the first half. The angst and emotion from both main characters really pulled me in, as did the suspense of who, exactly, the boy with the dragon tattoo was. Unfortunately the story lost me somewhere around the halfway point. I think I’d have liked to see less focus on the emotional aspects of the book and more on the action. I know, I know, that’s not something us romance readers generally want. But the purple prose of the love-scenes along with the heavy focus on the “L” word really pulled me out of the story. Plus, the amount of time spent on how each character was feeling made the story feel heavy and bogged down.

I really loved parts of it – most notably the hero’s devotion to his lady – but I’d have liked to see more focus on the outside conflict, and more action.

3 out of 5

Victorian Rebels

three-stars


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