Tag: Historical Romance

Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Posted September 12, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia QuinnReviewer: Holly
Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) by Julia Quinn
Series: Smythe-Smith Quartet #1
Also in this series: The Sum of All Kisses, A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2)
Published by Piatkus
Publication Date: June 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 374
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Goodreads
four-stars

Honoria Smythe-Smith is:

A) a really bad violinist B) still miffed at being nicknamed “Bug” as a child C) not in love with her older brother’s best friend D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:

A) the Earl of Chatteris B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles C) not in love with his best friend’s younger sister D) all of the above

Together they:

A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake B) survive a deadly fever and the world’s worst musical performance C) fall quite desperately in love

It’s Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is . . .

D) all of the above

Just Like Heaven, the Smythe-Smith Quartet, book 1 by Julia Quinn,, is such a fun, witty novel.

This series isn’t as quirky as the Bridgerton series, but there was still a lot of humor. The antics of the main characters, as well as the secondary, made for a quick, fun read.

Daniel, Marcus’s best friend is living in exile out of the country, and he charges Marcus with watching over his younger sister. Marcus takes the duty seriously. All is well until Honoria decides she’s going to do what she needs to do to marry by the end of the Season. She has someone in mind and she isn’t going to let anything get in the way of her snaring him…not even her brother’s annoying best friend. As Marcus chases her around, foiling her plans and being a general pain, they find themselves developing a mutual attraction.

Honoria has a sunny disposition and doesn’t let life get her down. I loved her outlook on life and how determined she is to take her future into her own hands. Marcus isn’t used to having anyone in his life to care for – or who cares about him. Honoria surprised him. Their romance was super sweet. I adored it.

As expected Quinn delivers a fun, fresh romp. This is Quinn at her best.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses by Lorraine Heath

Posted September 7, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Rowena
Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James #4.5) by Lorraine Heath
Series: Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James #4.5
Also in this series: An Affair with a Notorious Heiress
Published by Avon Impulse
Publication Date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 112
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four-half-stars

Lord Andrew Mabry, the second son of the Duke of Greystone, has no desire to marry. As the spare, he has no obligation to provide an heir and he rather enjoys spending his days and nights in play with the demimonde. But more and more of late, he finds himself wanting to play naughty games with the American heiress, Gina Hammersley.

After her scandalous older sister marries a marquess, Gina Hammersley suddenly finds herself the darling of London with beaux a plenty calling on her, sending flowers, and filling her dance cards. Unfortunately, the one she desires most is the one who has no wish to be caught in the marriage trap: Lord Andrew Mabry.

But when they are discovered in a compromising situation, this unlikely pair must decide whether to face scandal or discover if the passion they’ve always felt is strong enough to lead them into love.

I was a bit bummed when I found out that Gina and Mabry’s book was a novella and not a full novel. I liked both of these guys in the previous books that they were in and was all for them getting their happily ever after in a full-length story but I went into this story confident that I would love their story whatever way I got it and I wasn’t wrong.

Lorraine Heath writes such great historical romances and it’s no wonder I won’t ever pass up anything she releases.

So Gina and Andrew know each other through their siblings. Gina’s sister married Andrew’s brother. Gina is thrilled for her sister and wants to find what Tillie has for herself. She wants love and the whole nine yards but the guy that she’s interested in has no plans to ever marry so she’s not about to get caught up with Andrew Mabry, no matter how hot he is. Andrew never planned on getting married because he didn’t have to. He’s the spare and now that his brother is married and will probably knock his wife up soon, he really doesn’t have to get married so why should he? He’s free to live the life that he’s always led. A happy and carefree one with no strings attached. He’s annoyed that he can’t seem to stop thinking about Gina Hammersley and wanting her. She was not part of his plans but a future with her is starting to look better and better the more time he spends with her. Too bad he doesn’t have the title she wants in a husband.

These two and their adventures had me laughing and sighing and just enjoying the heck out of reading their story. Lorraine Heath does a great job of stringing the reader along, making them a part of the story and not just a bystander.

Andrew was a great hero who really came to care for Gina and I really enjoyed getting to know him. I loved seeing him try to do right by Gina while at the same time helping her have adventures without getting caught. Gina was a great match for Andrew and I thought that their romance was super sweet without the lengthy drama of a full-length novel. Their chemistry was strong and the writing and pacing was well done and I just enjoyed it all.

I definitely recommend this one.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Posted September 1, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 8 Comments

Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa DareReviewer: Rowena
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1)
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
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four-half-stars


When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:

- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:- They will have dinner together every evening.- With conversation.- And unlimited teasing.- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

The Duchess Deal is the first book in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series and I adored this book. It’s got Dare’s classic humor and seriously, her writing style never fails to wrap me up in feels.

This book follows the Duke of Ashbury as he marries Emma Gladstone, a young woman down on her luck but determined to brave things out. Ash thinks it’s fate that brought them together since he had literally just written down that he needed a wife and a woman comes into his office dressed as a bride. How can they not be together, right? Sure, the dress is hideous but with his scarred face from the war, beggars can’t be choosers.

From beginning to end, I was locked up in feels. This is probably one of the more swooniest Tessa Dare books that I’ve ever read and I just thought the writing style, the pacing, and just everything was spot on. Aside from the feels, this book was funny. Both the hero and the heroine have such great dialogue together. I loved seeing them bicker back and forth until feelings emerged between them and I really enjoyed their story as a whole.

Ash was such a surly hero and I thought that I would not like him because he was such a bulldozer. He went out of his way to be mean and sarcastic and even though there were times when I wanted to kick him, I still loved the hell out of him. There’s a balance to his character that really worked for me and Dare could have easily crossed the line with his character but doesn’t. For me, he was the right amount of mean and swoon-worthy that I was able to see past his shortcomings.

Emma was a fantastic heroine that I completely connected with. Her fierce determination to make it in a world that isn’t easy for women to succeed in was admirable. I loved seeing her figure things out, make the best of her situation, fight for what she thought was right and I really loved seeing her go toe to toe with Ash. She stood her ground when it was needed but she wasn’t hard.

I thought the romance between Ash and Emma was a lot steamier than what I’m used from Tessa Dare. I loved it. I loved seeing them grow to love each other and I really enjoyed seeing them work toward their happy ending. It wasn’t easy but man was it worth it.

This is another winner for me. Tessa Dare really know what she’s doing with writing these historical romances. She writes all around fantastic romances with characters that are strong and memorable. I’m eager for the next book in this series. I totally recommend this book.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Retro Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted August 16, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Retro Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina JeffriesReviewer: Holly
The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Hellions of Halstead Hall #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 19th, 2010
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 392
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four-stars

Hellions of Halstead Hall

They're the scandalous Sharpes, five hell-raising siblings tainted by a shocking family legacy. Now each faces a daunting ultimatum: marry by year's end—or kiss their inheritance good-bye.

In the two decades since a tragic "accident" took the lives of his parents, Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville, has survived the scandal surrounding that fateful night by living as an unrepentant rakehell. And with his grandmother vowing to disinherit him if he doesn't settle down and wed, he plans to fulfill the bargain in true Sharpe style—by bringing home a fake fiancée from a brothel! But his scheme is derailed when he rescues an American beauty in a dire predicament instead.

Maria Butterfield came to London to track down her groom-to-be, who's gone missing, but her engagement won't stop Oliver from getting what he wants: her, in his bed. His rebellious masquerade may call his grandmother's bluff, but it's soon made all too real—by a love that tempts him to be a hellion no more.

As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Rowena: I love reading old reviews by Holly. She never fails to get her point across a lot more eloquently than I do. I remember putting this book on my TBR a long ass time ago and are you surprised that I never got around to reading it? Ha!

This review was originally posted on February 16, 2010.

Sabrina Jeffries can be hit or miss for me, but I really adored this book.

Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville, is being forced to marry. Though he’s titled, he’s broke and has 4 siblings to care for. Each of them acts scandalously, earning them the nickname the Hellions of Halstead. Their grandmother, determined to have great-grandchildren before her death, has issued an ultimatum: Either they all marry, or they’re all disinherited.

Oliver has no intention of marrying. He figures he can call his grandmother’s bluff by finding the most unsuitable bride ever. She comes in the form of one Maria Butterfield, an American heiress who has come to England to find her missing fiance. Not only is she American, but she’s from common origins and basically alone in the world.

Maria is only in England to find her missing fiance. Now that her father has passed away she needs her fiance to settle the terms of her father’s will. Unfortunately all of her money is tied up in her father’s shipping business, so she’s basically operating on a shoe-string budget. When her cousin is caught out and she’s forced to accept Stoneville’s wild scheme in order to protect them both, it seems like a nightmare; until he agrees to help her find her fiance while she puts on the charade for his grandmother. It seems easy enough…

..but neither are prepared for the attraction and genuine liking they share for one another. Not that anything can come of it, what with Maria having a fiance and Stoneville determined to never marry and become like his parents.

This was such a fun story. I was determined to dislike both Maria and Stoneville in the beginning; her because she’s such a stick-in-the-mud and him because he was so much the rake. They both grew on me, however, and it wasn’t long before I was wrapped up in both of them.

Maria wasn’t really as uptight as she seemed. Once she loosened up and relaxed I really felt like I connected with her. She didn’t let Oliver get away with anything, which I thought was great. I did think she forgave him a bit too easily on occasion, but I was able to move past it.

I really liked Oliver and the way he was with is family. Though he was determined to ruin his own life, when it came to his siblings he really stepped up and did the right thing. The way he was so confused over his feelings for Maria was hilarious.

His guilt over the death of his parents and his subsequent actions didn’t make a lot of sense to me. His mother caught him in a compromising position and lashed out, saying some nasty things to him. Later that evening his parents are discovered in a hunting lodge dead – it looks like she shot him and then herself. Oliver is convinced he’s the reason his mother finally lost it and killed his father. But from then on he went out of his way to act just like his father…which made no sense. If he hated everything his father was and how upset his mother always became, why did he act the same way?

Similarly, the way his grandmother acted about the incident with her daughter frustrated me to no end. Toward the end she talks about it a bit, but for most of the book I was just annoyed with her over it.

Despite that one issue, I really enjoyed all the secondary characters. Especially Oliver’s siblings and Maria’s cousin. They really added just the right amount of silliness to the story. I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more about them as the series continues.

This was a sweet love story with charming characters. I recommend it if you’re in the mood for a can’t-put-down historical romp.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Pirate’s Secret Baby by Darlene Marshall

Posted June 6, 2014 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

psbdmAmes’ review of The Pirate’s Secret Baby by Darlene Marshall.

The captain of the Prodigal Son has a deserved reputation as the deadliest (and best dressed) pirate in the Caribbean, but Robert St. Armand’s totally at sea when it comes to “Marauding Mattie”, the daughter he never knew he had. How in the world can he deal with the littlest pirate, one who prefers knife-throwing to arithmetic lessons, and who’d rather be keelhauled than eat her beets? He needs help!

Lydia Burke is living a safe life, separated from England by an entire ocean. It’s exactly what she needs and she’s not going to risk her boring, but secure, position as a governess to consort with pirates, especially one who’s too pretty for his own good or her peace of mind.

No self-respecting governess would be willing to come aboard the notorious Prodigal Son, but Robert didn’t fight his way to the top by letting small obstacles like scruples stop him. If he can’t hire Lydia Burke, he’ll steal her and take her to England with them, certain he can charm her into his bed along the way as an added bonus on the voyage.

It will be a true voyage of discovery for the pirate and the governess, as one learns to navigate the rocky shoals of parenthood while the other tries to keep deadly secrets hidden, and both will find that while it’s a child who initially brings them together, the growing passion between them offers the greatest temptation.

I always look forward to reading about pirates when Darlene Marshall is the author. I always have to link back to my review of her book Sea Change because that book is so awesome and I re-read it still. So go read that book too. LOL

Robert St. Armand’s life is about to change. He has just found out that he has a nine year old daughter. Her mother has died and her governess has hunted him down. Lydia, the governess, loves Mattie but she will not return to England, which is where Robert is headed. Robert tries to get Lydia to stay on as Mattie’s governess but she’s taken a job elsewhere. But Robert is a pirate and he’s not about to let Lydia get away. But even kidnapping her off her ship won’t get Lydia on his side.

Lydia hated having to say goodbye to sweet little Maddie but she absolutely could not return to England. And when the pirate kidnaps her, she refuses to tell him why. But they do end up striking up a bargain and Lydia and Mattie take to the pirate ship like fish to water. LOL And Robert, who’s used to women throwing themselves at him, is beyond tempted by Lydia when she turns him down flat every time.

I liked this tale of the buttoned up governess going head to head with a pirate. He’s used to getting his way but he’s also charming. Like he doesn’t steal from people, he talks them into giving him their cargo. Haha Of course Lydia can see right through that. She’s not cynical really, but she is on her guard and as an independent woman she knows how to take care of herself.

Robert is the third son of a peer and he’s returning to England because he’s inherited a title and an estate. His childhood home was not a happy one and he doesn’t look forward to returning. But he does vow to make it a happy place for Maddie. I like how Robert took to fatherhood. He has some interesting ideas on how to raise a young woman on a ship but Maddie loves it. Lydia too adapts her lessons to life at sea and some of the crew members start learning right beside Maddie. I like the way Darlene Marshall writes about the camaraderie on ships.

There are two parts to this book. There’s life on board, where Lydia and Robert get to know each other and then there’s the second part when they arrive in England. By this point Robert realizes he wants Lydia forever and ever and he won’t let her leave him and Maddie and he sets about wooing her. And slaying dragons from her past that are making her afraid to stay in England. *sigh*

All in all, I thought the Pirate’s Secret Baby was a great read. I would totally stow away on any ship Darlene writes about. LOL 4 out of 5

This book is available from Amber Quill Press. You can buy it here in e-format.


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