Tag: Historical

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Posted March 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Unclaimed (Turner, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Turner #2
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 422
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Her only hope for survival...

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.

Is to ruin the man she loves...

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse--seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs and the love she knows is impossible.

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

This review was originally published on September 28, 2011.

I considered not finishing this book when, more than halfway through, the heroine was still being dishonest about her motives and intentions with the hero. While I’m glad I finished it, I find her actions – both before he learned of her deceit and after – tarnished the story.

Jessica is a courtesan that can’t stand to be touched by men. She needs money to start over somewhere else and the only way she can get it is by ruining the most popular man in England. Mark Turner is supposed to be chaste, but Jessica knows all men have a price. She just has to find his. If she can, she’ll receive enough money from her former protector to start a quiet life elsewhere.

Mark needs a break from the pressure of London and the hordes of adoring fans, so he retires to the country. Which is where he meets the widow Jessica Farleigh. Mark isn’t just chaste – he’s trying to live a chaste lifestyle. That means doing the right thing because it’s right, not because it’s fashionable. He isn’t a hypocrite. He has needs and desires the same as every other man. He’s just chosen not to act on them..because to do so wouldn’t be fair to either himself or the lady in question.

Jessica is wounded. Her life hasn’t been what she expected it would be and things have only gone from bad to worse. She needs an out, and for a woman in her position life doesn’t offer many. I understood that. But I had a hard time connecting with her. Part of the problem is my own hang-up. I can’t stand it when a character keeps a massive secret from his/her counterpart for the entire book. Especially when it’s something that will cause the other person pain. Since Jessica did this – even having good reasons for doing so – I had a really hard time forgiving her.

Aside from that, I truly enjoyed her personal journey. She needed to learn to like herself. It wasn’t always easy, but with Mark’s help she was able to recognize her own worth. I found this personal aspect of her story fascinating.

Mark was..well, honestly, Mark was close to perfect. He wasn’t just pretending to be a chaste man. He wasn’t just pretending to want to do the right thing. He was a flawed man willing to own his mistakes and shortcomings, and to try to overcome them. It wasn’t that he wasn’t flawed, because he was, but he accepted his flaws.

This was a well written historical romance that deals very well with the personal journey of the heroine. But I found it somewhat lacking in the romance. Not that I didn’t believe in the HEA, but I wasn’t invested in them as a couple so much as I was curious about them as individuals.

The romance world needs more heroes like Sir Mark Turner.

3.75 out of 5

e=UTF8&tag=boobin-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″ target=”_blank”>here or here in e-format.


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Throwback Thursday Review: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Posted March 15, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 12 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude DeverauxReviewer: Holly and Rowena
A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
Series: Montgomery/Taggert #15
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 27th 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 416
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Once upon a time . . . as a fair maiden lay weeping upon a cold tombstone, her heartfelt desire was suddenly made real before her: tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, her knight in shining armor had come to rescue his damsel in distress. . . .
A Knight in Shining Armor
Hailed worldwide as one of the most romantic novels of all time, Jude Deveraux’s dazzling bestseller “will capture your heart—and hold it” (Daily Herald, Chicago) with its breathtaking tale of lovely Dougless Montgomery; her savior knight, Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck; and the timeless adventure of passion and memory, danger and desire that sweeps them into each other’s arms.

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

Holly: Rowena and I got into a discussion about this book on Twitter (caution, thread contains spoilers for this book and others) this week along with some other long-time romance readers. We all agree this is one of the few books that can still fill us with rage even all these years later. I’ll never be over that ending. Never.

This review was originally published on June 7, 2008.

I saw a review for this one online a couple of days ago and got mad all over again so I’m going to resurrect this review Holly and I did over at our old blog, Sanctuary’s Finest.


Rowena says:

Jude Deveraux did such a wonderful job sucking me in with Dougless Montgomery and Nicholas Stafford. I mean, Dougless wanted nothing more than a man, a good man to love and care for her enough to marry her, she strived to have a family of her own with a man who wouldn’t make her look like the insipid younger sister to her family, she didn’t want to be the laughingstock of her family which is understandable and I thought it was so sweet that she asked for a Knight in Shining Armor and got it…in the form of Elizabethan Knight, Nicholas Stafford.

Nicholas Stafford was a rascal of a hero who died long ago and WAS the laughingstock of not only his family but of England. He wanted so much to be remembered for his learning and for his architecture, but instead was remembered as a traitor to his Queen and a sexual exploit of his youth on a table. What a way to be remembered and back in the day, well in Nicholas’ day, all you had to live for was your honor.

Honor made men out of boys and Nicholas’ wanted to be remembered by his mind. He wasn’t perfect by any means (I mean come on now, you slept with a married woman for goodness sakes but still) but he did work hard to supply for his family and he did have a heart, a very big one.

I really loved Nicholas Stafford and I loved the whole story between him and Dougless, they were perfect for eachother, so bloody perfect. The ice cream scene in the kitchen? YUM! I mean, there wasn’t much to love about Dougless and Nicholas because they were both just so loveable. You wanted someone like Dougless as your friend because she cared a whole lot about those around her and she was loyal and just an all around good hearted young woman. Nicholas on the other hand, you wanted Nicholas in your bed, he was hot, he was funny and he was caring. He really was though, just a regular guy with the same goofiness as all of those guys that you can’t help but love.

I can’t tell you guys how great Jude Deveraux did with the telling of this story. The entire time you were rootin’ these two on because you wanted them to have their happy ending. Dougless was a good strong heroine who was soft hearted but worked hard for those around her and then Nicholas, you couldn’t help but fall in love with him, he was just too cute. He too, worked so hard to right the wrongs that were done to him and you really wanted him to find his happy ending…..with Dougless.

Now, JD did a wonderful job with the secondary characters too, you either loved them or you hated them. I mean, with Kit and Lady Margaret, you fell in absolute love with their characters because there was a wealth of love between these two and Nicholas. It was more than aparent that Kit had Nicholas’ back and that he loved his brother with everything, same thing with Lady Margaret, she was a great mother to the two men and she showed that love by fighting for the truth about Nicholas to save him, she was a smart cookie and the bad guys seriously underestimated her abilities to dig out the truth, she was an amazing mother and she was gracious to Dougless for saving both of her sons, I thought that was great.

Now on the flip side of the coin, we have characters like Arabella Sydney who I hated just because she was a little slut that cheated on her husband with Nicholas, stupid chit needed to keep her damn legs closed and work on her marriage to her husband, since that man was one evil ass man. Then you have Robert and Gloria, Dougless’ insufferable boyfriend and his evil spawn of a daughter. Never in my life have I wanted to hurt people more than I wanted to hurt these two, I’m serious because I wanted to stab Robert and keep stabbing him until he had more holes in him than a piece of Swiss Cheese and then I wanted to hang him by his balls and let him bleed out, ever so slowly. You don’t want to know what I wanted to do to his good for nothing little shit of a daughter.


So as you can see, JD did a great job with this book because she got this kind of reaction out of me, always looking on the bright side Rowena, that’s me. If a book is bad, I’ll overlook it if I enjoyed the story as a whole, oh but not this time around. Not with this book, this book infuriated me so much that I am going to burn this shit in the Burn Book pile, oh wait…I already did that, but this time I’m going to keep it in the burn pile.

You see, as much as I loved the story, I hated the ending, the ending is what burned the book, ruined it for me, but aside from that horrendous ending, the book was FABULOUS!

Holly says:

I couldn’t agree with Rowena more. When we first meet Douglass she’s on her way to England for a vacation with her stupid cad boyfriend and his stupid, spoiled daughter, and as a reader, you want so much for her to find true love and happiness, because she’s the type that deserves it.

As a member of the overachieving Montgomery clan, Douglass has always felt inferior to the rest of her family and she truly just wants to be loved and accepted for who she is, and not reminded of the mistakes she’s made. As a woman, a sister and a mother, I totally identified with her.

When she was weeping on the steps of the church because her jerkass boyfriend had abandoned her in a foreign country, I wept with her. And when Nicholas Stafford was brought forward through time as her Knight in Shining Armor, I cried harder and wanted so much for them to be together. I cried again when Nicholas was sent back home and I prayed Douglass would find a way to be with him again.

I cheered when Douglass went back to Nicholas’ time and I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation, waiting to see how the story would unfold. Would Nicholas remember Douglass from when he was in the future? Would his family come to accuse her of being a witch? Would Nicholas fall in love with the Douglass in his time, or remember he loved her in her time? Would he still marry the psycho that got him into trouble before?

The scenes Rowena mentioned, like the ice cream scene, were amazingly told. I was completely wrapped up in this story, breathless with anticipation and almost sick to my stomach wondering how JD was going to keep these two amazing characters together. I just wanted them to have their HEA….together.

Conclusion: With Spoilers…you were warned!

View Spoiler »

Dammit. And Double Dammit. There’s no redeeming this book at all. No matter how I look at it, it sucked ass, plain and simple.

Stupid ass book!

Story: 4 Ending: 1

This book is available from Simon & Schuster . You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Lady in Waiting by Marie Tremayne

Posted March 15, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Lady in Waiting by Marie TremayneReviewer: Tracy
Lady in Waiting (Reluctant Brides #1) by Marie Tremayne
Series: Reluctant Brides #1
Published by Harper Collins, Avon Impulse
Publication Date: March 13th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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She wants to escape her present . . .

When Clara Mayfield helps her sister elope, she’s prepared for the scandal to seal her fate as a spinster. What she doesn't expect is to find herself engaged to the vile Baron Rutherford as a means of salvaging her family's reputation. Determined not to be chained to a man she loathes, Clara slips out of Essex and sheds her identity: she becomes Helen, maid at the Earl of Ashworth’s country estate. After all, below stairs is the last place anyone would think to look for an heiress . . .

He wants to forget his past . . .

William, Lord Ashworth, is attempting to rebuild his life after the devastating accident that claimed the lives of his entire family, save his beloved sister and niece. Haunted by memories of what was and determined to live up to the title he never expected to inherit, William doesn’t have time for love. What he needs is a noble and accomplished wife, one who can further the Ashworth line and keep the family name untarnished . . .

Together, can they find the perfect future?

From their first encounter, the attraction between them is undeniable. But Clara knows William is falling for Helen, a woman who doesn’t even exist. The question is, if she reveals the truth about her identity, can she trust the broken William to forgive her lie and stand by her side when scandal—and the baron—inevitably follow her to his door?

After helping her sister elope, Clara Mayfield is not someone that the ton wants to associate themselves with.  After a whole season of being a wallflower Clara is approached by a reprehensible man named Baron Rutherford.  He basically threatens her with marriage and to my shock her parents accept his proposal the next day.  Six weeks later Clara is climbing out her bedroom window the night before her wedding in order to escape her fate.

With the help of her lady’s maid she finds a position with the Earl of Ashford’s household in Kent.  Clara, now Helen, barely gets a position as a maid and when she does she doesn’t really have a clue what she’s doing, obviously.  She is helped by her fellow, friendly maids but none of them can teach her how to keep her mouth shut when needed.  She is outspoken when she shouldn’t be and it’s constantly a trial to try to act like a maid.

The Earl of Ashford has been in seclusion since a carriage accident killed his father, older brother and brother-in-law.  He was in the accident as well and has had to deal with the physical, but mostly emotional, pain of losing so many in his family.  When William sees Clara in the village and then saves her from getting run over he’s smitten from minute one.  When she becomes a maid in his household it’s all he can do to keep her at arm’s length when she affects him so deeply.  Can he keep himself away from the Helen as he knows he should? Will Clara continue to be able to hide from Baron Rutherford? Will she be able to live with her love for William, never being able to show it because of their differences in station?

The book started off just jumping straight into Clara’s sister’s elopement and then her impending, unwanted marriage.  I loved how the author just got right down to it.  We knew all the details but as that wasn’t the main part of the story it was nice to be able to get the facts and move on.  Don’t get me wrong, it was well written, I was just happy that the author didn’t spend an unneeded amount of time on laying out the story.

Clara was awesome.  I loved her strength of character, her compassion, friendliness and almost everything else about her.  I can’t imagine how hard it was for a woman raised in wealth (her father was a banker) to suddenly be ordered around and do the back-breaking work that maids did back then.  It couldn’t have been easy, but she didn’t complain and learned what she needed to learn in order to keep herself hidden.  She was a genuinely nice person and that helped her win friends in the end.

William took me a little longer to like.  The man was hot and cold but I really tried not to fault him for that as he was trying to be honorable and not make a move on his housemaid!  He tried to keep himself away, he did!  Some of his actions were a bit abrupt but I got it.

I really enjoyed this book and how it was written.  I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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Guest Review: Lost to a Spy by Sharon Cullen

Posted March 14, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Lost to a Spy by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
Lost to a Spy (All the Queen's Spies #3) by Sharon Cullen
Series: All the Queen's Spies #3
Also in this series: Wed to a Spy, Bound to a Spy
Published by Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept
Publication Date: March 13th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 222
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Ladies in waiting can’t help noticing more than they let on. After so many years at the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, Emma Howard sees quite plainly that the royal couple is anything but happy. Reeling from a failed marriage herself, Emma sympathizes with her beloved queen. But the last thing she wants is for the king to be murdered, let alone to witness the shocking act herself. With her whole world turned upside-down, Emma is saved by the quick thinking of a lowly printer . . . who, unbeknownst to her, is one of England’s most daring spies.

At Queen Elizabeth’s behest, Tristan has been stirring discontent against the Scottish nobility. Now that the king is dead, his mission is even more critical. There’s only one complication: the exquisite courtier who’s unexpectedly fallen under Tristan’s protection. Emma rouses his body and his soul. But after she learns that he’s a traitor, the fate of two nations hangs on her response. Tristan’s prepared to risk his life in exchange for hers. Will Emma do the same for the man she’s come to love?

Emma Hamilton lives at Holyrood Palace and is close with Mary, Queen of Scots.  She feels safe there and Mary has been kind to her since her Emma’s evil husband died. She’s a Scot through and through and doesn’t plan on leaving the palace any time soon.

One night while walking home from dinner she witnesses what might be a murder but before she can think too long on it, there’s an explosion and Emma is knocked unconscious.  The sound rouses the Edinburgh residents from their homes, including printer Tristan Fitzherbert.  He finds Emma and takes her back to his home above the print shop to nurse her back to health.  He did this as he could tell she was nobility by how she was dressed and feared that she would be arrested when she was found as she was so close to the explosion site.

Emma fears all men after her husband treated her so badly during their marriage.  She’s frightened when she wakes up in a strange place but Tristan puts her at ease and soon she’s enjoying spending time with him. As the explosion killed the King consort, Lord Darnley, they talk a lot about that and Emma tries to sort out what she saw that night.  Tristan, for his part tries to get Emma to see that the Queen’s right-hand man, Bothwell, is most likely responsible for the death.  The more he talks, the more she sees things might not be as safe in Holyrood Palace as she thought.  In just a few days she starts to have feelings for Tristan and he for her.  Emma’s a smart girl, however, and soon figures out that Tristan isn’t necessarily who he says he is – a lowly printer.  More like an agent for Queen Elizabeth of England.  She fears for his safety when she hears about printers being gathered up and questioned for printing seditious placards but what can a woman do to help the man she loves?

This was another wonderfully intriguing book by Sharon Cullen.  I’m just loving this series so far and this book was no different.

Emma and Tristan were farther apart in station then I think the previous couples in the series were so that made it a bit more interesting for me.  They were so cute together!  The main part of the story takes place in the span of about 2 weeks which is a short time to fall in love, but I guess when you know, you know.  The pair just clicked from the first and of course Tristan’s protectiveness kicked in when Emma was hurt.

I’ve loved reading about all of the intrigue throughout this series.  When I first started I didn’t know much history about Mary, Queen of Scots but I’ve done a little reading up on her since then and I think Cullen has kept pretty closely with the actual events in history, taking just a little license with it all.

If you haven’t read any of the books in this series I definitely recommend them.

All the Queen’s Spies Series

Rating: 4 out of 5


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Guest Review: Surrender to the Highlander by Lynsay Sands

Posted March 9, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Surrender to the Highlander by Lynsay SandsReviewer: Tracy
Surrender to the Highlander by Lynsay Sands
Series: Highlander Series #5
Published by Avon
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Edith Drummond owes her life to Niels Buchanan and his brothers. Waking after an illness to a castle overrun by rugged Highlanders is disconcerting, but so is learning that she’s slowly being poisoned. Niels insists on staying by her side, and Edith soon discovers that even more dangerous is her wild attraction to the fierce warrior.

Niels has never met a more courageous—or enticing—woman than Lady Edith. The idea of such a bonny lass being forced to enter a nunnery is more than any red-blooded Scotsman could bear. He’ll gladly marry her himself. But while sweeping her off her feet is easy, it’ll take all his skill to defeat her family’s relentless enemies, and convince her to surrender to his sweet embrace.

Neils Buchanan and his brothers are sent to check on Edith Drummond.  Their sister Saidh had sent several messages to her good friend Edith and hasn’t received word in return, which is not like Edith.  When the brothers arrive, they have a tough time gaining entry into the estate but when they hear that Edith is on her deathbed they manage to get in.  It appears that Edith’s father and two brothers have already died and Edith has been sick for weeks, just hanging on by a thread.  Rory Buchanan, a healer, diagnoses poison and treats accordingly. Soon Edith takes a turn for the better.

The brothers and Edith come to realize that her family has been targeted and they set about trying to figure out who the murderer is, which isn’t easy.  While they investigate, Neils protects Edith.  She believes her brother Brody, who is now Laird, and his wife will send her to a nunnery as soon as he gets back (he thought the castle had a catching illness so he left to avoid it) but after almost acting on their lust for each other, Neils asks Edith to marry him.  They liked each other but never thought they’d fall in love, especially when their fighting for Edith’s life.

This was another great book in the Highlanders series by Sands.  I’ve really enjoyed all of the books so far and this was no different.  I loved both Edith and Neils and thought they were perfect together.

Edith was an amazing woman.  She had been through hell with the deaths in her family and had almost died herself but in the end was looking out for everyone else, not herself.  She was kind, giving, thoughtful, smart.  I just loved her!  Neils was a good man as well and I loved how up front he was with Edith when he proposed.  He told her what he admired about her but admitted he didn’t love her.  That sounds harsh but I was happy to hear that he didn’t try to trick her in any way.  He was just as thoughtful as Edith and I loved watching these two fall in love.

The mystery part of the series was a good one.  I didn’t figure out “who-dun-it” until right before the characters started figuring things out.  Sands did a great job of making us think it was others and I loved that.

Overall a great book and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series, which will be Neils’ brother Auley’s book.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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