Tag: Historical Romance

Guest Review: When the Earl Met His Match by Stacy Reid

Posted October 26, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: When the Earl Met His Match by Stacy ReidReviewer: Tracy
When the Earl Met His Match by Stacy Reid
Series: Wedded by Scandal #4
Also in this series: Accidentally Compromising the Duke
Publisher: Entangled Scandalous
Publication Date: September 14, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 249
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When Hugh Winthrop, the future Earl of Albury, decides to advertise for a wife in the London paper, he never expected an anonymous response from a woman who matches him wit for wit. Their back-and-forth letters on the true nature of love, something they disagree on wholeheartedly, leave him shocked—and intrigued. But then the woman he’s been corresponding with shows up on his doorstep, enticingly beautiful and offering a marriage of convenience in exchange for his protection…

Lady Phoebe Maitland expected to marry for love and nothing else, until the man she gave her trust betrayed her. The more intrigued she becomes by the mysterious and devastatingly handsome Hugh, however, the more she realizes he’s holding back from opening his heart due to long-held secrets she struggles to understand. As passion flares wickedly between them, their marriage bed is quick to heat up. But when Phoebe’s past threatens to destroy the fragile bond they’ve formed, even a budding belief in love might not be enough to save them.

Lady Phoebe, a duke’s daughter, is in love with a man who doesn’t live up to her lofty father’s expectations.  He’s a commoner, and that just won’t do.  When Phoebe is betrayed by her love, she’s devastated, but makes a plan to resolve her issues.

Hugh is an Earl and has written an advertisement for a wife.  He describes what he’s looking for and he is quite succinct in the ad that this marriage will have nothing to do with love.  Phoebe is outraged and write’s this anonymous man to tell him her feelings about his ad.  They start a correspondence that while still vaguely about the ad, becomes a bit of a friendship and they both look forward to the letters.

After her love’s betrayal (and other reasons) Phoebe heads to Hugh’s and offers a marriage of convenience.  He’s shocked that this woman has shown up to be his wife, as he hadn’t made a decision about who he would pick of the women who had answered the ad.  Hugh is honest with himself that he’s not totally mad/sad that Phoebe is there as he has enjoyed her letters immensely.  They also each have issues that are not necessarily accepted in society and Hugh decides to go through with it. Phoebe is shocked when she realizes that Hugh is mute, but quickly decides it doesn’t matter.

Despite getting married, Hugh is determined to nip love in the bud before it can begin.  His mother took off with her lover when Hugh was young and he doesn’t want his heart on the line if Phoebe decides to leave as well. Can Phoebe get him to see that love is something they should strive for rather than avoid?

I enjoyed this book. One of the reasons was Hugh and his wonderful attitude towards life.  He accepted Phoebe for who she was, and all her issues.  He didn’t let the fact that he was mute stop him from living and I loved that.  He was so good to Phoebe for the most part and I really enjoyed them together.  I also really liked Phoebe and her determination to live her life the way she wanted to, and not the way her parents and brother thought she should live it.

Phoebe was the other reason this book was good.  She made some mistakes in her life but for the most part she had such a good heart.  I loved her vibrancy!  At one point in the book she takes a poor woman and her children into the carriage and takes them home because it’s raining.  How many women of the nobility would do that?? Not only that but she gives her jewelry she can sell to buy food. Hugh then goes a step further and tells her that money and help finding a job will be available to her the next day.  Good people!

That said, I have a bit of an issue with one aspect of Reid’s heroes (and this happened in all of the Reid books I’ve read).  It seems that the heroes, at some point, are angry at the heroines or trying to push them away because they’re trying to deny that they love the women. When this happens, they are purposely cruel to the heroines and say some of the rudest, meanest things to them!  I hate that!  Surely their feelings can be expressed without being cruel. Anyway, that’s a pet peeve I have with Reid’s heroes. They can be amazing, but they can also be complete bastards.

Anyway, despite my love of Hugh and Phoebe the story dragged in a few places, which was disappointing.  Still a good book, but it brought my rating down a bit.  I still recommend this book, as I definitely think it one that needs to be read.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy

Posted October 12, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Her Night with the Duke by Diana QuincyReviewer: Tracy
Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy
Series: Clandestine Affairs #1
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars


Desire knows no reason...

When Lady Delilah Chambers finds herself stranded at a country inn on a rain-swept evening, she’s forced to fend off a group of ruffians with the help of a handsome gentleman. Irresistibly drawn to each other, Leela and the stranger spend one reckless night in each others’ arms—and then go their separate ways. But the very next day Leela receives the shock of her life when she meets the duke who is set on wedding her beloved stepdaughter.

When it finds two destined hearts...

One night isn’t enough with a woman as fierce, fiery, and brilliant as Leela. Elliot Townsend, Duke of Huntington, cannot believe his good fortune when their chance encounter leads to an unforgettable evening of passion. Yet Hunt’s luck runs out when he is introduced to his prospective mother-in-law. Dowagers aren’t supposed to look like this... 
Leela and Hunt are determined to keep each other at arm’s length, which should be easy enough for two intelligent adults with reputations to uphold. The problem is all logic is lost when it comes to a passion that refuses to be ignored.

Warning: This review contains small spoilers.

During a rainstorm both Leela and Elliot Townsend get stranded at a roadside inn. To save Leela from the unruly pub population, he offers to share his private parlor with her.  One thing leads to another and they end up spending a passionate night in the private parlor.  When Leela wakes up Elliot is gone but she can’t forget their wonderful night together.

Imagine Leela’s shock when she arrives at her former home (she a widowed Countess) and finds Elliot Townsend aka the Duke of Huntington there.  He’s there because he’s “almost” engaged to Leela’s 18 year old step-daughter.  Leela is completely taken with Hunt, but would do nothing to hurt her step-daughter, Tori, for any reason, so she makes every excuse to stay away from the duke.  When he infers that they should continue their affair, Leela declines and Hunt ends up asking Tori to marry him.

While Hunt is getting used to the idea of marrying Tori, she’s falling in love, but not with Hunt.  When their engagement ends, Leela is concerned for Hunt’s well-being and seeks him out.  He’s an ass to her, but they end up together. From there their relationship is off and on like a faucet, but eventually they get their HEA.

This book.  It was recommended as the next big thing, and supposedly very good.  Yeah, not my cuppa at all. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Leela.  She was brave, strong, independent, loyal, and she definitely knew her own mind.  Hunt, on the other hand, was an ass.  I’m sure I can come up with much stronger adjectives, but I’ll leave it at that.  He ruined the book for me.

Leela is the daughter of a Marquess and was born and raised in England.  Her mother was Levantine, which makes Leela half Levantine.  Of course, people see her as a heathen even though she’s as English as anyone else.  She is a Countess by marriage, but people sometimes still treat her like a servant before they find out she’s a Lady.  She loves traveling and has even written a travelogue and had it published, with wonderful results. She was really a great character and quite steadfast in her beliefs and desire to continue traveling, continue writing and live life on her terms.

Hunt was a man who was determined to be as unlike his dissolute older brother as possible.  When his brother died he decided that he would avoid scandal at all costs and marry a quiet, biddable woman to be his wife.  After spending the night with Leela he decided that he wanted her no matter what.  He was disappointed when she said no and almost to spite her he got engaged to her step-daughter.  When the engagement ended, he was a complete jerk to Leela time and again.  He made me so mad at times!  I don’t think I’ve disliked a hero this much in years.

While I didn’t mind Quincy’s writing, and as I’ve said, I really enjoyed Leela, the overall book was not to my liking.  It was a bit all over the place and irritated me more often than not.  I think I’m in the minority in my feelings for this book so you probably should make up your own mind about it.  That said I was intrigued by Hunt’s friend Griff whose parents were murdered while he slept in the same house and everyone believes that he killed them.  I’m pretty sure his book is next in this series and I will definitely pick that one up when it’s released.

Rating: 2.75/3 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Lady Flees her Lord by Michele Ann Young

Posted October 8, 2020 by Ames in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: The Lady Flees her Lord by Michele Ann YoungReviewer: Ames
The Lady Flees Her Lord by Michele Ann Young
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 401
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four-stars


She's desperate for peace and safety...
Lucinda, Lady Denbigh, is running from a husband who physically and emotionally abuses her because she is unfashionably plump and has failed to produce an heir. Posing as a widow, she seeks refuge in the quiet countryside...

He's returned from the wars, wounded and tormented...
Lord Hugo Wanstead, with a wound that won't heal, and his mother's and Spanish wife's deaths on his conscience, finds his estate impoverished, his sleep torn by nightmares, and brandy his only solace. When he meets Lucinda, he finds her beautiful - body and soul - and thinks she just might give him something to live for ...

Together they can begin to heal, but not until she is free from her violent past...

This review was originally published on October 16, 2008

This is my very first Michele Ann Young book and it won’t be my last. (I have No Regrets in my TBR Pile). Michele writes a very satisfying book.

Lucinda Denbigh is an abused wife. She’s not a skinny English rose by any means, a fact which her husband holds against her. He only married her for her money, and he scorns the way she looks and the fact that she’s barren. As he puts it, she can’t even get being a woman right. Lucinda has had about as much as she can take, so when her husband’s good friend, the Duke of Vale, lets her know that he wants access to her luscious body, Lucinda bolts in the dead of the night.

She lands in Kent with a street urchin she picked up along the way. She adopts the young girl as her own and sets up her new life as a widow. Meanwhile, Lord Hugo Wanstead has returned from the war (the Napoleonic wars) injured and bitter (of course). He’s a great big hulk of a man and when he spots the curvy woman on his land, he’s immediately attracted to her. But he refrains from getting her to know her and locks himself away in his rotting estate (his father was a wastrel and left a mountain of debt).

But these two lock horns when Lucinda faces the bear in his cave – over the care of some of his tenants. Hugo is still fascinated by this woman, she by him (it’s hard for her to believe it, considering her history with men) and pretty soon Lucinda is drawing Hugo out of his shell and these two begin to fall in love.

Of course, Hugo doesn’t know that Lucinda isn’t a widow and Lucinda doesn’t know that Hugo has demon seed.

I’m being facetious with that comment there. 😛 Hugo is just a very large man and he’s worried about having another woman die giving birth to his baby (that’s what happened to his first wife). But not to fear dear readers, that fear doesn’t take up too much page time and this being romance, things have a way of working out in the end.

It’s getting to the end that’s the interesting part. I really liked Lucinda. She wasn’t a victim. She took her life into her own hands and made a successful go at it. She was smart, she used her brains to get her out of trouble and when an opportunity presented itself, even though she afraid, she didn’t want to make a decision she’d regret for the rest of her life. I gotta respect that!

And Hugo. I really liked him too. Lucinda does draw him out of his shell and gets him interacting with the people around him. And he so dearly wants Lucinda. Of course he doesn’t realize at first that he loves her, but oh my was he a sweet bear of a man. LOL What can I say? I have a weakness for big guys. 😛

As I said, The Lady Flees her Lord is a satisfying read. 4 out 5 (B)

four-stars


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Guest Review: Beauty Tempts the Beast by Lorraine Heath

Posted September 28, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Beauty Tempts the Beast by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Tracy
Beauty Tempts the Beast by Lorraine Heath
Series: Sins for All Seasons #6
Also in this series: Beyond Scandal and Desire, Beyond Scandal and Desire, When a Duke Loves a Woman, When a Duke Loves a Woman (Sins for All Seasons, #2), The Scoundrel in Her Bed (Sins for All Seasons, #3), The Duchess in His Bed, The Earl Takes a Fancy
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She wants lessons in seduction

Althea Stanwick was a perfect lady destined to marry a wealthy lord, until betrayal left her family penniless. Though she’s lost friends, fortune, and respectability, Althea has gained a scandalous plan. If she can learn to seduce, she can obtain power over men and return to Society on her terms. She even has the perfect teacher in mind, a man whose sense of honor and dark good looks belie his nickname: Beast.

But desire like this can’t be taught

Benedict Trewlove may not know his parentage but he knows where he belongs—on the dark side of London, offering protection wherever it’s needed. Yet no woman has ever made such an outrageous request as this mysterious beauty. Althea is out of place amongst vice and sin, even if she offers a wicked temptation he can’t resist. But as the truth of his origin emerges at last, it will take a fierce, wild love to overcome their pasts.

Althea Stanwick is a Duke’s daughter working at a tavern in Whitechapel.  Strange?  Yes.  Unfortunately her father was tried and hung for plotting to assassinate the queen and then the title, lands and money were stripped from the family.  Althea and her two brothers were ostracized and ended up moving to Whitechapel, which is the only place they could afford.  After taking care of the house (hovel) for a while, Althea decided that she needed to contribute.  Her brother Griff was working the docks, but they needed more money to survive.

Althea ends up working at Gillie Trewlove’s tavern and is only there for a short time when she meets Gillie’s brother, Beast.  Beast (Benedict) is completely taken with Althea personally, but he also sees in her someone who was educated and trained in the finer arts.  He proposes that she become a tutor for the prostitutes that live in his building so that they may find other professions.  Althea agrees to his terms, after driving a hard bargain with her pay, but also requires that Beast teach her seduction so that she may become the most sought-after Courtesan in London.  Beast agrees, but he’s not sure he can complete his end of the bargain without losing his heart.

I’ve liked all of the books in this series, but we never really got to know Beast all that well.  He was pretty absent in the other books, and when we did hear about him there was very little info.  I loved getting to know this man and the huge heart he had in him. I won’t ruin the surprise of how he got where he is now, but he was just as determined as his siblings to make something of himself.  He wasn’t a brothel owner, nor did he run it, he just allowed the brothel to be in a building he owned so he could watch over the girls.  He never took a penny from them and made sure they were always taken care of.  In taking care of them, he helped them to learn other professions so that they could stop being prostitutes and make better lives for themselves.  I seriously loved that.  He deserved a good woman and one that appreciated him. Althea was that woman.

Althea was strong.  She had been through hell and never imagined that she’d be living and working in the dregs of London. (Althea’s brothers were in the story somewhat as they are trying to clear the family name but that was all hush-hush.)  All of her “friends” had turned their backs on her because they didn’t want to be near the daughter of a traitor.  She wasn’t the traitor, but she was treated as though she was.  It’s in the blood, right? eyeroll Though I couldn’t agree with her decision to become a courtesan, I did admire the fact that she had set a goal for herself and was working her way to accomplishing that.  She liked Beast from minute one, but never thought to fall in love with him.  Their slow burn romance was wonderful, and I so enjoyed watching these two characters fall in love.

Overall a great book and a wonderful end to the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Sins for All Seasons

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne

Posted September 27, 2020 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. 🙂

I haven’t read a lot of historical romance in the past few years, but Kerrigan Byrne is one of the few I’ve tried to keep up with. I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but it’s close to the top of my TBR pile.

Sunday Spotlight: All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan ByrneAll Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Devil You Know #2
Also in this series: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
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Series Rating: four-stars

They are a dangerous duke, a fierce lord, and an infamous earl—dark, bold, brave men who know exactly what they want. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees...

He is first and foremost—at everything. A man who's made his own way in the world through ruthless cunning and sheer force of will. A strong and imposing Scot who can turn on the charm but does not suffer fools. His title: Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. His name: Cassius Gerard Ramsay. His mission: To investigate the goings-on at London's most notorious gaming hell, owned and operated by one of the most intriguing and desirable women he's ever met.

IN THIS GAME OF LOVE, THE RULES DO NOT APPLY

Cecelia Teague was an orphan facing a rather dire future—until a secret benefactor from her mother's scandalous past swept into her life. Sent to prestigious boarding school and later to university, Cecelia believed high society was at her fingertips...Then, from out of nowhere, she became the inheritor of a gambling establishment.

Now Cecelia must live two lives: one as a proper lady who finds herself undeniably drawn to Lord Ramsay and the other as a savvy gaming hell owner trying to save her business from the very same man. He has no idea she is both women...and Cecelia would like to keep it that way. But what happens when consuming passion and escalating danger threaten to reveal the truth?

Excerpt

From All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Chapter 3

An unsettling awareness paralyzed Cecelia as she stared into the eyes of her enemy.

Awareness of the child hiding at her feet. Of the book containing possibly lethal secrets clutched in her innocent hands. Of the expectation and caution in Genny’s demeanor.
Of everyone’s gaze glued to her, waiting to see what she’d do next. What she’d say to the brutishly large and powerful man leaning over her desk.

His nostrils flared and a vein pulsed at his temple be- fore disappearing into his thick, luminous hair.

She could almost feel the heat of his breath, like that of a dragon. A dragon, she noted, who’d dined on something sweet for his last meal and washed it down with coffee rather than tea.
Strange that they should both prefer coffee in the morning. What else did they have in common, she and her adversary? Must they be adversaries at all? If she revealed herself, explained her situation, might he soften?

No. No, his expression was diamond-hard and uncompromising, as was his reputation. He was the Vicar of Vice, the sworn enemy of her aunt. And just because his brother was a good man didn’t mean he was.

As she well understood, so many men used piety to disguise their cruelty.

In that case, she decided, if this man insisted upon being her adversary, she’d have to kill him.

With kindness.

Drawing on every bit of her finishing school education, she did her level best to smother her panic with politeness. She pressed her hands flat on the desk and forced herself to remain still.
“You may call me Hortense Thistledown.” She plucked her mother’s name out of pure desperation, hating that it would become a blasphemy on this man’s tongue.

What would her name sound like in that graveled brogue of his? Cecelia.

As soon as the unwanted thought filtered into her mind, she shook her head to be rid of it.

“Might I invite you to sit down, my lord, whilst I peruse your documents?” She gestured to one of three dainty chairs facing her desk, belatedly concerned for their structural integrity against his impressive bulk. “Genny, would you please fetch His Worship and associates some tea and refreshments?”

Genny looked as though she’d asked her to consume the contents of a chamber pot.

A few of the constables brightened at the mention of food and tea, immediately deflating when Ramsay put up a staying hand. “Doona be absurd. This isna a social call, madam.” His eyes flickered around the room, his expression suggesting he would rather be surrounded by a Whitechapel cesspool than her aunt’s tasteful décor. “I’m inclined to touch as little in this place as possible. Who kens what depravities have occurred on which surfaces?”

“Oh come now, what sort of wickedness could possibly be conducted upon such dainty furniture?” She gestured to the Louis XIV settee and chairs, genuinely stunned when a few of the constables muffled a chuckle or two.

Heat spread to Sir Ramsay’s eyes as he glanced at the furniture in question and then back to her. Her question had angered him. She read something else in the heat, as well. A banked emotion beneath the anger, something leashed. Chained.

Dangerous.

“It is not in yer best interest to mock me, woman.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, sir,” she answered, bemused. “But I vow the only blasphemies this room is subject to are taxes and paperwork.” She summoned what she hoped was a charming smile, though her mind whirred with unknowns—she couldn’t have said for certain the surfaces hadn’t been sullied.

“And whilst this visit of yours might not be social,” she added, “we can still be civilized, can we not?”

His eyes narrowed. “Search everything.”

The constables made quick work of the room. They pulled books from shelves, turning them upside down to leaf through pages; took drawers from sideboards, looking beneath them; and upturned the furniture.

Ramsay stood with his arms locked behind him, completely still in the midst of the chaos, his eyes never leaving her. “Civilized,” he scoffed. “Nothing about ye belongs in a civilized society.”

“Upon that, we must disagree.” It was perhaps the most argumentative statement she’d ever made in her life, but the circumstances of the day had frayed her nerves to the snapping point. “As most of civilized society seems to spend their leisure time here.”

His glare was so full of enmity, Cecelia couldn’t bring herself to look at him any longer. How strange, that a man possessed of such a savage countenance could accuse her of being uncouth.
To cover her cowardice, she reached for the warrant, swallowed a lump of trepidation, and began to read.

“Hortense Thistledown,” he said, echoing her pseudonym, thus calling her attention before she’d gotten through the first line. “Ye are related to Henrietta, then? I was unaware she had family. Hid you away in France, did she?”

Smythe had been their family name. Thistledown must have been another of Henrietta’s facades, much like the wigs and masks and makeup.

Cecelia wasn’t ready to answer the question, and so she didn’t. She searched through the legal documents until reaching the appropriate charge.

According to the warrant, the police were searching her property for evidence in connection with the disappearance of a young girl named Katerina Milovic. A Russian immigrant who’d been taken from the streets of Lambeth just yesterday. She was the sixth in a string of missing maidens. All aged about thirteen.

“How did ye come to be in charge after Henrietta’s death?” Ramsay demanded. “I’ve not seen ye on the premises before. I always assumed Miss Leveaux would take up the mantle of the Scarlet Lady once Henrietta—”

Cecelia held up one finger as she scanned the rest of the warrant, her eyes snagging on the distressing pertinent information.

From All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Devil You Know

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 2020

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 Kerrigan Byrne

Kerrigan Byrne headshot

Kerrigan has done many things to pay the bills, from law enforcement to belly dance instructor. Now she’s finally able to have the career she’d decided upon at thirteen when she announced to her very skeptical family that she was going to “grow up to be a romance novelist.” Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in almost every story.

She lives in a little Victorian coast town on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State with her wonderful husband. When she’s not writing you can find her sailing, beach combing, kayaking, visiting wineries, breweries, and restaurants with friends, and hiking…okay…wandering aimlessly clenching bear spray in the mountains.


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