Author: Sabrina Jeffries

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
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 19th, 2010
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 392
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four-stars
Series Rating: 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: Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries writing as Deborah Martin

Posted July 1, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries writing as Deborah MartinReviewer: Tracy
Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries, Deborah Martin
Series: Wales Series #1
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 28th 2016
Format: eARC
Genres: Historical Romance
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four-stars

The first wedding night that Lady Juliana St. Albans spent with the dark and daring Rhys Vaughan was intoxicating, the heady culmination of her new husband’s driving hunger and her own awakened sensuality. When he mysteriously disappeared the next morning, she waited for him in hope and desperation. And when he was finally proclaimed dead in a shipwreck, she bitterly mourned the loss of her love.

The second wedding night that Juliana spent with Rhys Vaughan was six years later, after he returned to claim her just as she was about to wed another. This Rhys was different—bolder, harder, and convinced that she’d betrayed him. Only their blazing passion remains from their years apart. But is it enough to light their way through the maze of mystery, menace, and mistrust—to the love they once shared and would have to find again?

Juliana St. Albans is considered a blue-stocking.  Her and her family reside in Wales but are English.  She hears about a meeting of the Sons of Wales which was a group of men who were opposing the English and the loss of the Welsh language among many other things.  The speaker of the group that night was Rhys Vaughan who is the son of a local squire.  Rhys’s father had gambled against Juliana’s father and had lost their family estate because of it.  Dressed as a lady’s maid she attends the Sons of Wales meeting and can’t help but become completely infatuated with Rhys Vaughan.  He is compelling and a wonderful speaker as well as a gorgeous man.

Rhys stops Juliana after the meeting as he’s intrigued by her as well.  When he finds out who she really is he heads to her house to speak with her father as he’s just positive the father sent her to be a spy.  He’s very wrong and Juliana gets into some serious trouble.  As she’s confined to her room for a two-week period Rhys climbs a tree and visits her.  Juliana should hate him for getting her into trouble but she just can’t.  They become friends and Rhys ends up visiting every night.  They talk about books and poetry and soon find themselves in love.  They plan to elope, which they do, but instead of fleeing afterward as they had planned they get separated and Rhys is impressed into the English Navy.

Now it’s six years later and Juliana believes Rhys is dead.  He still has her heart but she also wants a family.  At her betrothal dinner Rhys shows up and Juliana is thrilled but completely shocked.  Of course when he starts flinging accusations at her that she knows aren’t true she finds she must clear the air.  While she’s incredibly mad at her husband she’s so happy he’s home.  If only he could trust that what she tells him is the truth they could be happy once again.  But Rhys had a very long time in the Navy to think about Juliana’s involvement in his impressment and he’s positive that it was all her idea.  Will they ever work through the lies and find the love they once shared for each other?

This was a really good story.  I liked so many things about it.  First and foremost were Rhys and Juliana.  While I was pissed at Rhys’s attitude for a lot of the book I was still impressed with how he survived all the years in the Navy and then in America.  Even as mad as he was at Juliana all those years he truly never stopped loving her and of course Juliana waited for him for years and years, hoping he would return to her.

The person behind it all made me incredibly angry.  He might have told himself that he was doing what he did for his sister but it was all purely selfish and I disliked him intensely.  The fact that he kept lying and lying straight to Juliana’s face made me want to slap him on numerous occasions.  Then there was his involvement with her lady’s maid and wow – what a bastard.

Anyway, the story was a really good one that I enjoyed reading.  This is a reissue of the original that was published in 1995 so you might have read it way back when.  If you haven’t read it you should and if you have, you should read it again.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted April 1, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Study of Seduction by Sabrina JeffriesReviewer: Whitley
The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors #2
Also in this series: What Happens Under the Mistletoe

Publication Date: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A marriage of convenience ignites into a passionate love affair in the hotly anticipated second novel in New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s addictive Sinful Suitors series!

When Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, agrees to help his best friend’s impetuous ward, Lady Clarissa Lindsey, in her time of need, he knows he’s in for trouble. He’s been hunting for someone to wed, and she’ll just get in the way. Although captivated by the witty, free-spirited beauty, he fears she’d be all wrong as a wife...if she would even take such a gruff cynic for her husband. Yet he wants nothing more than to have her for his own.

Clarissa has no intention of marrying anyone—not Edwin, whom she’s sure would be an overbearing husband, and certainly not the powerful French diplomat stalking her. But when matters escalate with the diplomat, she chooses Edwin’s gallant offer of a marriage between friends in hopes that it will deter her stalker. She expects nothing more than an amiable union, but their increasingly tempestuous kisses prove more than she bargained for. When her stalker’s vow to expose the lovers’ deepest secrets threatens to destroy their blossoming attraction, will their tenuous bond withstand public ruin, or will Edwin lose all that’s important to him to protect his bride?

I have…things to say. Because this book tackles rape, and it does it very well, but this is a topic dear to me, so it makes me quite wordy.

But first, let’s talk about the whole rest of the book. 😛 I loved Clarissa and Edwin. They had some great chemistry together, their banter was snappy, and they just had this genuine affection for each other that I loved. The fact that they have history and start the book already comfortable with each other helps here, it lets the narrative really delve deeper into their relationship and establish it as something with many layers. (I mean, I like books where the couple meet in the pages, of course, but hot damn do I love me some “already crushing on each other” storylines.)

The story was good, and the stalker was super creepy in the best and worst ways, although I do feel like after the midpoint he…was rather forgotten about by the plot. Clarissa and Edwin just hared off to be shmoopy, which is always fun, but it did feel a bit like a detour into a different novel.

Okay, on to the rape. Like I said, it’s done pretty well. Like, maybe 90% well. The actual event happened in backstory, and the parts in the book focus on Clarissa still dealing with the effects. I loved her so much for presenting us with a strong, vivacious survivor. Not that other portrayals aren’t valid (there are so many ways to respond to that, after all), but Clarissa’s determination to live a full of happy life gave us such a nice alternative to the ‘broken’ survivor narrative. She was presented as someone who had managed to emotionally recover, but she refused to marry because she was not able to get over her fear of sex. (And, to be fair, that was presented partly as a lack of information; she had no idea that consensual sex worked/felt different.)

Edwin was a dear, very respectful and supportive and patient. Even when he had no idea why Clarissa was enjoying his kisses one minute and fighting him the next, he didn’t get aggressive, and when all the info came to light and he was great. The very best part? Zero victim blaming from anyone in the book. The second best part? HYMEN MYTHS! Oh thank heaven, a book finally points out that hymens don’t 100% always have to tear.

Some scenes were really hard to read, though. When Clarissa has a flashback (as happens multiple times in the book)? It’s very vivid. When her stalker is stalking it up? His attitude and his behavior and his speech just made my skin crawl. These sections, though, were supposed to be hard to read, so A+ for that.

But then…well, then we get to the other 10%. For all I loved a lot of the points here, a few things really bothered me. Like, Edwin was great to Clarissa…but only after she came clean about her past. I feel like, given what we find out about him, he should have been able to guess sooner. But more than that, I’m really uncomfortable with “you have to meet my standard, regardless of how hard that is for you, before I’ll support you.” He knew enough at that point to treat her right without forcing her to tell him the details of the most traumatic event of her life. And they had a great conversation afterwards, but the book could have reached that point a bit more…consensually.   Second, the veneration of man-on-top sex. I get the value in facing one’s fears (it’s a trigger for Clarissa) but the book attributed all kinds of other, “yay we’re a real couple now” meaning to her finally being comfortable with that position.

Third, I wanted the stalker to just be a stalker. He was so thoroughly “entitled dude just destroying lives because he feels like he’s owed.” There are jerks who just lash out because they feel slighted, logic be damned. The book felt like he needed a rational reason. Made for an exciting ending, but eh.

Again, most of the book was really great. I really don’t want to take away from that fact by drawing out its flaws. On the other hand, whenever a book comes so close to 100%, I feel like these sorts of discussions are even more important. Not to disparage the books (let’s face it, ‘right’ wouldn’t be right for everyone anyway), but because they are going to generate thoughts and discussions and it’s important not to let things slip under the rug.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Candace Camp, Karen Hawkins, Meredith Duran

Posted January 5, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Candace Camp, Karen Hawkins, Meredith DuranReviewer: Whitley
What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, Candace Camp, Meredith Duran
Series: Sinful Suitors #1.5
Also in this series: The Study of Seduction
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling authors Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, and Candace Camp, and USA TODAY bestselling author Meredith Duran come together for a sizzling historical romance holiday anthology.

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’s delightful yuletide story, "The Heiress and the Hothead".

In the snowy Scottish countryside, Karen Hawkins’s rakish duke has an unforgettable holiday encounter in "Twelve Kisses" when the alluring lady he surprises under the mistletoe is not who he expected, but a long-lost love with a score to settle.

In "By Any Other Name", Edinburgh is aglitter for Christmastime as Candace Camp sends a curious gentleman in hot pursuit of an intriguing lady in disguise—one who refuses to reveal her true identity, though she fears he has already stolen her heart with his kiss.

In "Sweet Ruin", will the festive spirit of the season sweep Meredith Duran’s feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue whose carelessness soiled her reputation and sent her into exile in London?

In this all-new story collection sparkling with sexy charm and heartwarming wit, four beloved bestselling authors reveal the mix-ups and make-ups, the missed chances and golden opportunities that come but once a year.

Whitley’s review of What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries et al.

The Heiress and the Hothead

A sweet enough story, about a reporter who’s tackling inhumane working conditions in mills and a woman who owns a mill.  They get off to a bad start when the reporter (quite understandably) is wary of anyone who runs a mill, and our American heiress’s delicate sensibilities are upset by this. (Okay, so, clearly I’m biased in their argument.  The whole thing had shades of #NotAllMillOwners to it.  And FFS, the guy wasn’t even all that offensive; it felt like the woman was just upset that the reporter guy didn’t immediately assume she was an angel.)  Once they got over their Required First Meeting Misunderstanding and down to the business of shutting down the local, heinous mill (and making out a lot in the process), things got a lot better.

Twelve Kisses

A noble at a masquerade plans to kiss his mistress under the mistletoe, but his old lover is dressed in the same costume and Murphy’s Law applies.  After being caught in such a scandalous embrace, the two try to go get the woman’s father and convince him to help ease the gossip, but they’re stuck in a snowstorm instead.  They find a secret cabin in the woods (it makes sense in the end, really) to hide out, and that’s when things actually get interesting.  I could have done without the party set-up, as it doesn’t seem to have added anything and all the good stuff was during the storm.  I very much enjoyed these two characters fighting and slowly discovering what broke them up as a couple before the story’s opening.  It was a very believable, human sort of misunderstanding, and they were sweet while working it out.

By Any Other Name

I straight-up DNFed this crap.  The guy is an unrelenting jackass and the whole setup is creepy as all get out.  The girl is cross-dressing to try and find her wayward brother, who likes to hang out in gambling halls.  The guy saves her from a mugging attempt and discovers her true gender.  All is well and good, except then the girl repeatedly, emphatically says “Don’t try to find me, leave me alone, stop, no, don’t” while the guy just gleefully runs around tracking her down and stalking her to various events anyway.  I stopped after the guy realized she’d told him a lie and he mournfully thought “well, that must mean she wasn’t interested in me.”  NO, SHITHEAD, ALL OF HER REPEATED CRIES OF “STOP FOLLOWING ME” MEAN SHE’S NOT INTERESTED, WTF IS WITH GUYS WHO IGNORE BOLD-ASS STATEMENTS AND THEN READ 8000 MEANINGS INTO RANDOM ACTIONS YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND I HATE YOUR FACE.

ahem  Yes, anyway.

Sweet Ruin

Without a doubt my favorite short story of the bunch.  The lady is the daughter of a diplomat who has to play hostess after her father is called away from a house party.  One of the guests has stolen an important document, so her father sends in one of his (ish) employees to help covertly search for it.  Only Daughter and Employee had a bit of a fling a few years ago which ended badly, so they are none too pleased to see each other.  I loved the interactions between these two.  So cutthroat while staying (technically) civil.  And while they find out that their breakup was a misunderstanding, said misunderstanding isn’t dragged out to the point of frustration.  It’s handled perfectly, with just enough double-talk to make you cry “no, mush faces already!” but before that gets old they do.  And the ending when they confront the conniver that broke them apart was beautiful.  A+, perfect short story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted July 31, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: What the Duke Desires by Sabrina JeffriesReviewer: Tracy
What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: The Duke's Men #1
Publisher: Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Format: eARC
Genres: Historical Romance
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

 

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, long ago buried his grief for his missing elder brother, Peter, who was presumed dead after being kidnapped. When a mysterious note arrives from Tristan Bonnaud asserting that the Duke’s brother is alive, it leads Max straight to the winsome Lisette Bonnaud, illegitimate daughter of a viscount and Tristan’s sister. Soon he and Lisette are traveling to Paris posing as husband and wife, in search of Tristan, who has disappeared. And the longer he spends with Lisette, the easier it is for Max to see that the line between dukedom and desire is easier to cross than he imagined…

Lisette Bonnaud and her brother Tristan are the illegitimate children of a viscount. When their father dies their oldest half-brother, George, throws them out of their home the next day and put a warrant out for the arrest of Tristan, stating that he stole a horse. The family moves back to be with their mothers family in France. Lisette doesn’t return to England for 12 years and when she does she starts to work with her other half-brother, Dominic, in his investigation business.

When the Duke of Lyons shows up demanding to see Dom because of something that Tristan supposedly did Lisette is at attention. She knows that Tristan wouldn’t have returned to England because of the warrant this is still out for his arrest, but she can’t deny that the letter that the duke received is in Tristan’s handwriting. She talks the duke into traveling to France to find out Tristan’s whereabouts from his former employer.

They are to travel as siblings but right as they’re to board the coach Dom’s neighbor recognizes Lisette and the duke, Max, comes up with the story that they are newly married. Since no one knows Max is a duke this seems like a viable option – except now they have to share a room together.

The couple does the best they can but frankly the sexual tension arcing between the two of them could light up a small city. They manage to keep their hands to themselves for…well, not that long but when they do come together it’s amazing. Of course Lisette knows that the duke can never marry a bastard like her but Max actually wants to – with stipulations. You see Max’s father and great-uncle both went mad and Max believes that this is hereditary and that he too will go mad eventually. Lisette agrees to marry him but only if he will let her take care of him when the time comes. Max won’t agree so they’re at an impasse.

This was, as usual, a good Sabrina Jeffries novel. I really liked Max a lot and felt so bad for the life that he had led. First with his brother getting kidnapped and then his parents obviously keeping secrets from him ThEN the fact that he may go mad sitting on his shoulders. He’s had a very emotional time of it. For him meeting Lisette was a breath of fresh air. Being the daughter of an actress and of course the bastard daughter of a viscount she really had to learn throughout life to not take what everyone says to heart. Max isn’t used to the straight forward approach that Lisette takes to just about everything but it’s something he really needed in his life. Not being kowtowed to was something incredibly new for Max. Their relationship was quite honest – not too much hiding behind themselves – just being up front with everything, and I liked that.

The different characters brought in made me think of other books that will be coming in the future and I’m certainly looking forward to Dom’s book as I really liked him – even though he wasn’t in the story all that much. Overall another great romance from Ms. Jeffries.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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