Tag: Historical

Sunday Spotlight: Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath

Posted March 28, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 4 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’ve been dying for this book since I finished Beauty Tempts the Beast, where we were introduced to Althea and her brothers. Their father, the duke, was hanged for treason and their circumstances drastically changed as a result. I can’t wait to read more about them here.

Sunday Spotlight: Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine HeathScoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath
Series: Once Upon a Dukedom #1
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 368
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Lorraine Heath begins an exciting new series with a breathtaking romance about a young woman who must marry a titled gentleman to obtain her inheritance and the usuitable man she begins to fall madly in love with...
She is desperate to wed a duke...
Lady Kathryn Lambert must marry a titled gentleman to claim her inheritance and has finally gained the attention of a duke. Yet she is unable to forget the scandalous second son who aided in her achievement—or his betrayal.
He wants what he can never possess...

Lord Griffith Stanwick is tormented by the bitter truth that as a “spare,” he will never be able to give Kathryn what she yearns to possess. But when his father is found guilty of treason, Griff detours into the dark and dangerous corners of London, haunted by memories of the woman lost to him forever.

Love not to be denied...

As the duke’s courtship intensifies, Kathryn discovers Griff has become a man to be reckoned with. When old passions flare and new desires ignite, she must decide if sacrificing her legacy is worth a lifetime shared with the scoundrel of her heart.

Excerpt

“Griff? What the devil are you doing sprawled out over the ground back there?”

Squinting—was the morning sun always this bright?—he peered up at Althea. “To be honest, I’m not quite sure, but it does appear I got turned about returning home last night.” For some inexplicable reason he’d not used the front door. Perhaps he’d been unable, with clumsy fingers, to grasp the key nestled in his waistcoat pocket. Although, patting said pocket now, he found it empty. Had he misplaced the bit of brass?

“You were well in your cups again, weren’t you?”

“I do seem to recall some celebrating going on.” For a while the games had favored him . . . until they hadn’t. What was a man supposed to do when fortune slipped away except seek solace in drink?

“Well, stir yourself and come out of there,” she ordered briskly, as though she wasn’t three years his junior but was instead his elder.

With a great deal of effort, he shoved himself to his feet, pressed his back to the brick, and crept out through the narrow space between wall and foliage, trying to avoid getting snagged by the sharp-edged leaves of the hedges. When he reached his sister, she scrunched up her entire face. “You smell like a distillery.”

“How do you know how a distillery smells?” Looking past her to the two ladies sitting at the white linen-covered round table, he forced his most charming grin to form, a smile he didn’t feel like granting, not only because of the increased ache in his head but because of what he’d overheard.

“Ladies, how are you this fine morning?”

“I daresay better than you,” Lady Kathryn retorted, using the tone she seemed to reserve only for him.

“Here,” Althea said, reaching quickly for the teapot. “Have a spot of tea. You look as though you could use it.”

Tea was nowhere on the list of things he could use. A hot bath — he did indeed smell like a distillery, along with a cheroot factory — a shave, and the blackest coffee would serve him better. If the other ladies hadn’t been staring at him with twin expressions of disgust, he might have made his excuses and headed straight to his most urgent need: a soft bed. But knowing he’d take some perverse delight in irritating them by delaying his escape and joining them, he dragged back a chair, dropped into it, and took the offered cup and saucer. “You are indeed kind, dear sister.”

It was so like her, looking out for others. He really didn’t deserve to have a sister so generous of spirit. Peering through the steam rising from the brew, he took a long, slow swallow. She’d laced it with an abundance of sugar, and his body reacted with gratitude, the ache behind his eyes dissipating a fraction so the day seemed at least survivable.

Lady Kathryn looked on disapprovingly, a tightness to her mouth, and he wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d announced, “You’re better than this.”

Only he wasn’t. Precisely because of what she had voiced earlier. No one wanted the spare. Not the ladies of the ton. Not his father. Not his mother. Even the heir, two years older than he was, had little time for him. But scotch, cards, and actresses seldom turned him away.

“Perhaps your brother’s presence here is fortuitous,” Lady Jocelyn said. “You no doubt overheard what we were discussing.”

“I apologize, ladies, as it was not my intention to eavesdrop, but you did manage to garner my undivided attention with your dulcet tones.”

While Lady Kathryn fairly glowered, signaling she’d caught the sarcasm in his tone, Lady Jocelyn smiled as though he’d handed her one of the Crown Jewels. She’d never struck him as being particularly cognizant of subtleties. “Then perhaps you would be good enough to share with us how we might impress upon the duke that we are worth considering for courtship.”

“How would he know what a duke wants?” Lady Kathryn asked.

He allowed a corner of his mouth to ease up provocatively, sensually. “A duke wants what any man wants. A woman who is a saint in society and a wild wanton in the bedchamber.”

Her hazel eyes narrowed until they resembled the finely honed blade of a dagger. She riled so easily, and for some inexplicable reason, he’d always taken great delight in pricking her temper. “That is hardly helpful,” she snapped.

“But ’tis true.”

“We are genteel ladies of good breeding, and as such, we’ve hardly been bedded so can offer no insight into our capabilities beneath the sheets, as it were.” He imagined her beneath the sheets, with him stirring her until she fully comprehended her capacity for pleasure. As his body began to respond to the images, he shoved them back. Whatever was wrong with him to even contemplate an intimacy with her? “Besides, it is for our husband to tell us what he wants regarding that particular aspect of our marriage.”

“Why?” he asked, truly befuddled. “Why should he be the only one to have a say? Surely, Freckles, you’ve given some thought to what you might enjoy.”

“I have not,” she countered testily.

“ ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks.’ ”

“Don’t be absurd. Ladies do not sully their minds by thinking carnal thoughts.”

“If you’ve never thought them, how do you know they’d sully your mind?”

“You’re being preposterously difficult.”

“No, I’m actually curious as to what you envision happens between a man and a woman that would be so lurid as to tarnish an otherwise pristine brain if pondered or mulled over.”

She looked as though she’d like to toss her tea on him. “You know well enough.”

Her voice had gone lower, more gravelly, causing his belly to tighten. “Caresses along bare skin, the nip of a collarbone, a squeeze here, a rub there? Kisses along curves, hollows, and dips? How is any of that sordid?”

Her lips had slowly parted, and her cheeks had deepened from an enticing rose into a lovely crimson. He wondered if, like him, she was now imagining his bare hand, fingers splayed, on her bare thigh, slipping up toward that heavenly apex where paradise waited, previously untouched and unexplored. Christ. What the devil was wrong with him? She was the very last woman he had any interest in bedding. It didn’t matter that her coppery hair turned the shade of fire when lit by the sun, and that he had, on occasion and much to his chagrin, wondered if it would be as hot to the touch, if it would spark pleasure. It didn’t matter that her fragrance was more spicy than sweet, and he’d always enjoyed foods with a great deal of seasoning. It didn’t matter that her lips were more pink than red, and on the rare occasion he painted, he preferred the subtle allure of pastels.

“Griff, I’m not quite certain this is an appropriate topic of discussion considering the company,” Althea remarked hesitantly.

“But that is my point.” He did hope they’d attribute the croak of his voice to his having recently been pulled from slumber and not the fact that his mouth had suddenly gone as arid as a desert. “It shouldn’t be taboo. Men are allowed to think about it, discuss it, experience it—without benefit of marriage. Why shouldn’t women?”

A series of gasps met that pronouncement. He shook his head. “Even if a woman is not to experience it without marriage” — although he didn’t agree with that belief — “she should at least be able to think about it and discuss it without shame, without fearing she has mired her mind.” He gave his attention back to Lady Kathryn. “You never think about it?”

“I do not.”

“Then, how can you know what you want, what you might enjoy?”

“As I stated earlier, it is for my husband to show me.”

“You have never struck me as a woman without an opinion on any matter.” He leaned forward. “I would wager a month’s allowance that you have thought about it, and quite thoroughly.”

That her nostrils flared and her breaths seemed to slow only served to tighten his belly more. What images did she conjure in that mind of hers?

“Griff, I do believe you have just called our guest a liar,” Althea said, her upset evident in her tone.

Because she was. Not that he was going to call her on it again, but damned if he didn’t want to uncover her fantasies. “My apologies. It seems I am not yet fit for company as my indulgences from last night are still having their way with me.” He shoved back his chair and stood. Then he turned his attention to Lady Jocelyn, who had first posed the question, because studying Lady Kathryn was beginning to make him feel light-headed as blood wanted to rush where it shouldn’t. “Write to the duke of your comely features, mastery of etiquette, interests, and accomplishments.”

“Thank you, my lord.”

He offered her a small smile. “And may the best lady win.”

With that, he left them and strode into the residence, knowing the hot bath he’d craved earlier would have to wait. Lady Kathryn might not allow thoughts to sully her mind, but now his was filled with a sordid display of her body writhing against his that required he plunge into a bitingly cold tub of water first.

From Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath, published by Avon Books. Copyright © 2021 by Jan Nowasky. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers.

Once Upon a Dukedom

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: March 2021

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 Lorraine Heath

Lorraine Heath has always had a soft spot for emotional love stories. No doubt because growing up, watching movies with her mom, she was taught that the best movies "won't half make you cry."

She is the daughter of a British beauty (her mom won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor® during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero--Joker on the original Batman TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her "dual" nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan, and she enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.

When she received her BA degree in psychology from the University of Texas, she had no idea she had gained a foundation that would help her to create believable characters—characters that are often described as “real people.” Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today, Waldenbooks, and most recently, the New York Times.


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Throwback Thursday Review: Guarding a Notorious Lady by Olivia Parker

Posted March 25, 2021 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Guarding a Notorious Lady by Olivia ParkerReviewer: Tracy
Guarding a Notorious Lady by Olivia Parker
Series: Devine and Friends #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: May 31, 2011
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: No
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Exquisite trouble...

A woman of pristine breeding, Lady Rosalind Devine is also an unrepentant meddler and snoop—which is why her brother refuses to leave her to her own devices while on his wedding trip. But Rosalind will not make things easy for any unseen, unwanted "nursemaid"—and vows to use her considerable wiles to expose her mystery guardian.
Nicholas Kincaid, the Marquess of Winterbourne, agreed to secretly guard his friend's spoiled, stubborn sister, though her infuriating penchant for mischief is causing him to question his decision. Though bound by the rules of society—and friendship—Rosalind's spirit and sensuality have sparked a fierce desire in Nicholas to play a very different role in her life, one that entails passion, ecstasy...and unavoidable scandal.

This review was originally posted on May 27, 2011.

Rosalind’s brother, Gabriel, is going on his wedding trip for three months. Gabriel knows that his sister is very sought after and that the minute he leaves town the men that have been after her beauty and money will come calling. All those men that Gabriel has been successful in keeping away will now pounce since he’s gone. So he decides to get someone to watch over Rosalind while he’s gone.

Rosalind is determined to find out who her guardian is so that she can either charm him into laying off his guard – or paying him off. But when she finds out that her guardian is Nicholas Kincaid, the man she’s been in love with for years, she realizes that her hopes of shaking the man are completely dashed.

For Nicholas the whole guarding of Rosalind is complete torture. He has to watch a woman that he’s been in love with for years – even though he won’t admit to himself that’s he’s in love with her – and it’s making him a crazy man. He tries to keep his distance but Rosalind draws him like a bee to honey. Even though he knows that at times he’s unnecessarily mean he can’t seem to be completely cruel when all he wants is to be near her.

Do you ever read that just hits all your buttons and you end up finishing it with a great big smile on your face? This was that type of book for me. I really liked book one in this series and book two was good too, although not as good as the first for me…but this one just worked for me in almost every way.

I loved Nicholas – he was gorgeous and strong but he could be gentle and humble as well and it made his character on the page just come alive that much more for me. Rosalind was so much more fun in this book than she seemed in other books because we got to know her better and we didn’t just see the face that she was showing to the world. She was only 24 but had been out for so many seasons. Sure she’d gotten marriage offers but she had been in love with Nicholas for years and wasn’t willing to marry anyone, including Nicholas unless she knew that the man truly loved her. Parker showed us Rosalind’s vulnerability and I really liked that about this book. The banter back and forth between the h/h was just fantastic and made me laugh on occasion.

Just a great love story that I will definitely be reading again in the future.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Devine & Friends

four-half-stars


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Review: Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

Posted March 24, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta ChaseReviewer: Holly
Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase
Series: Difficult Dukes #2
Also in this series: A Duke in Shining Armor, A Duke in Shining Armor, Ten Things I Hate About the Duke
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

USA Today bestselling author Loretta Chase continues her Difficult Dukes series with this delightful spin on Shakespeare's classic, The Taming of the Shrew.

Cassandra Pomfret holds strong opinions she isn’t shy about voicing. But her extremely plain speaking has caused an uproar, and her exasperated father, hoping a husband will rein her in, has ruled that her beloved sister can’t marry until Cassandra does.

Now, thanks to a certain wild-living nobleman, the last shreds of Cassandra’s reputation are about to disintegrate, taking her sister’s future and her family’s good name along with them.

The Duke of Ashmont’s looks make women swoon. His character flaws are beyond counting. He’s lost a perfectly good bride through his own carelessness. He nearly killed one of his two best friends. Still, troublemaker that he is, he knows that damaging a lady’s good name isn’t sporting.

The only way to right the wrong is to marry her…and hope she doesn’t smother him in his sleep on their wedding night.

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke is the second book in Lorreta Chase’s Difficult Dukes series. I haven’t read the first book in this series, but I quite enjoyed this one. I don’t think I missed much by skipping book one, though I will probably go back and read it at some point.

Cassandra Pomfret is opinionated and not afraid to challenge the views of others – which has made her something of a pariah in society. She’s perfectly fine with that, but her exasperated father has pulled out the big guns; If Cassandra doesn’t wed, her younger sister can’t either. She isn’t sure what she’s going to do about her father’s decree, but she knows she won’t be able to get around it if the Duke of Ashmont completely ruins her reputation – which he’s about to do.

Ashmont is drunk and in despair over almost killing his best friend in a duel – which is the only reason he accidentally compromises Cassandra Pomfret. Probably. Now there’s only one thing to do – get her to agree to marry him. But Cassandra isn’t like the women who usually fall all over themselves around him. She’s…refreshing. And stubborn. He’ll have to do something drastic if he wants her to agree – like become respectable?

Cassandra was a great character, and I like how she brought about such change in Ashmont. Chase writes strong women so well. I really loved how Cassandra spoke her mind and wasn’t afraid to live outside society. I also loved how she had such love for her younger sister she was willing to do what she must on her behalf. Ashmont wasn’t a very likable character to start, but he grew and changed as the novel progressed.

I do think it was a bit slow in parts. The first quarter or so especially seemed slow. I did enjoy the banter and the development of both characters and their romance. I just wished it had picked up a little sooner.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Difficult Dukes


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Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Posted March 15, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia QuinnReviewer: Casee
The Viscount who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Series: The Bridgertons #2
Also in this series: The Duke and I
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 5, 2000
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 391
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Casee's 2021 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, This Author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...

--Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814

But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry--he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield--the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate's the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes to not make the best husbands--and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate's determined to protect her sister--but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...

Anthony Bridgerton has decided it’s time to do his duty. He is going to get married and produce an heir before he dies. He even has his future bride picked out. Anthony doesn’t intend to love his bride, but he will care for her. Unfortunately for him, his intended’s sister is putting a major crimp in his plans. It’s well known through the ton that Kate Sheffield has to approve of the man her sister will marry.

Kate is determined that Edwina won’t end up with someone like Anthony Bridgerton. She’s also determined to dislike him no matter how charming he is. Kate’s (almost) hatred of him was hard to read. She had such a low opinion of herself. She always compared herself to her sister, though it hasn’t ever effected their relationship. She’s also not bitter about the fact that Edwina is beautiful and Kate herself is not (or so she thinks). Kate loves Edwina dearly and she wants her to marry for love and nothing less.

As Anthony starts to court Edwina, he gets to know Kate much better. He likes what he sees. While Edwina seems like she will make a perfectly suitable wife, it’s Kate he wants. Which is exactly why he can’t have her. He knows that he could fall in love with her and there is no way he’s going to take that chance. Anthony’s father died when he was just becoming a man and it affected him deeply. He’s convinced that he’s not going to live past the age his father was when he died.

I’m hooked. Anthony & Kate have hooked me on the series. After the cluster that was The Duke and I, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading the series. What Daphne did was so fucked up that I had a hard time getting past it. I decided to ignore what she did and move onto Anthony’s book. I am so glad that I did. This book was wonderful. Although, as I mentioned above, Kate didn’t think she was as important as her sister. She was very strong willed, but lacking self-confidence. Or so it seemed.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in this series. And I can’t wait for Colin’s book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Bridgertons

four-stars


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Lightning Review: Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries

Posted February 26, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina JeffriesReviewer: Holly
Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Duke Dynasty #1.5
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-half-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

This winter, steal away with the reigning queens of Regency Romance... plus one or two dukes, one heiress, and one headstrong beauty—to a surprise snow storm, the comfort of a blazing fire, and the heat of a lover's kisses...

A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter

Caroline Dunham has a bone to pick with notorious rake Baron Thornhill—and a creative plan to insure his undivided attention. Yet once in close quarters, she finds herself beholden to their smoldering connection.

A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries

Whisked away from a wintry ball by a commanding colonel, Cassandra Isles struggles with her feelings for Lord Heywood. For he is a man sworn to marry only for money—and Cass is an heiress who will accept nothing less than love.

I only read the first two stories in this novella.

A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter

Adam, Baron Thornhill gets abducted by a woman. He thinks he’s been abducted as revenge because his cousin put their family’s breeding horses down after illness swept through them. Only, no. It’s actually because he supposedly seduced her sister and got her with child. She plans to force them to marry. Adam is pretty sure he’s never met her sister, but he can’t be sure because he is something of a rake.

The premise of this story was interesting. It started out well but then went downhill when the MC’s started lusting after each other. They’re attracted to each other. Okay, I can buy that. So they keep kissing. How is this a thing? You think he’s a rake who seduced and abandoned your sister. You are literally holding him hostage to marry her, but you let him kiss and fondle you anyway? Gross.

View Spoiler »
 
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 (the .5 for the first few chapters)

A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries

Cass is an heiress who is determined to keep her fortune a secret so she can marry for love. Lord Heywood needs a fortune to restore the property he inherited. He intends to court her cousin, Kitty (also an heiress), but after they spend time together, it’s Cass he wants.

I really disliked the fact that Cass hid her fortune for as long as she did, but more importantly, I disliked how Heywood reacted when he found out about it. I wasn’t loving the story up to that point, and his giant man-tantrum didn’t help matters.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Duke Dynasty

After I read those two stories I was done with this anthology and skipped the Mary Jo Putney. I may go back and read it at some point.

one-half-stars


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