Genre: Historical Romance

Review: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Posted October 31, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie DunmoreReviewer: Rowena
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 356
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar's daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....

After reading the blurb to this book, I was curious but not all that sure that I would actually read it. I’m glad that I gave this one a chance because it was a smart romance with complex characters that I really came to love. I really struggled with the hero early on but I’m glad that I stuck with the story because not only did I warm up to Sebastian, but I really came to love him and Annabelle together. Evie Dunmore wrote a lovely story for these two and she set up the next book just right because I’m all in for that one. I can’t wait to jump into that one.

Our heroine, Miss Annabelle Archer is a fiercely independent woman who fights extremely hard to get into the University of Oxford and she’s one of the very few women that are selected to go to school there. She takes that very seriously because her success in school is her ticket out of the life that she’s living now. She’s poor and all alone in the world except for a cousin who uses her as an unpaid Jane of all trades. She cleans, she watches his kids, she’s a lady’s maid to his wife and Annabelle has to scheme to go to school because her cousin can’t afford to send her and wouldn’t spend the money on her even if he could afford it. So when Annabelle gets a scholarship to go, she makes sure that she’s there and she makes sure that she does what she is supposed to do to keep her scholarship. What does she need to do, you ask? She needs to support the women’s suffrage movement and she needs to find some support amongst the males in England.

Sebastian Devereaux is the Duke of Montgomery and he’s on a mission to get back everything that his father squandered away. It’s taken him years but he’s put a huge dent in the list of properties that his father lost and one of the last remaining properties is the big one, the one that he won’t rest until he gets back and the Queen of England gives him an almost impossible task in exchange for…that property.

Things get interesting when Sebastian and Annabelle cross paths. They’re at cross purposes but the chemistry between them burns hot. I wasn’t a huge fan of the way that Sebastian treated Annabelle at first and boy did I connect with the way that Annabelle handled that meeting at Sebastian’s house because I would have done the exact same thing. Sebastian’s attitude was obviously the attitude of the aristocracy and was completely in line with how I figured all the Dukes from that time acted but it was still hard to take at times. I wanted to kick him in the balls more than a few times throughout the book but boy does he win me over by the end of the book. I really enjoyed seeing him and Annabelle fall in love with each other and I just enjoyed the way that we saw them fall in love. It wasn’t instantly, it was done really well and I appreciated Evie Dunmore’s efforts in showing us how their friendship grew into the love they shared in the end.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters and am looking forward to reading Lucie and Tom’s book. This book was a good one and I think everyone should give it a try because it’s smart, the characters are a fun bunch and the romance between Sebastian and Annabelle was delightful and steamy. You can’t really ask for more. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

A League of Extraordinary Women

Untitled #2

four-stars


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Review: Angel in a Devil’s Arms by Julie Anne Long

Posted October 30, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Angel in a Devil’s Arms by Julie Anne LongReviewer: Holly
Angel in a Devil's Arms by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #2
Also in this series: Lady Derring Takes a Lover
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long comes the second book in an exciting new historical romance series, the first since her beloved Pennyroyal Green series.

He has devil's blood in his veins. At least, that's always been the legend. How else could the Duke of Brexford's notorious bastard son return from the dead? The brutal decade since Lucien Durand, Lord Bolt, allegedly drowned in the Thames forged him into a man who always gets what—and who—he wants. And what he wants is vengeance for his stolen birthright...and one wild night in Angelique Breedlove's bed.

Angelique recognizes heartbreak when the enigmatic Lord Bolt walks into The Grand Palace on the Thames, and not even his devastating charm can tempt her to risk her own ever again. One scorching kiss drives home the danger.

But in the space between them springs a trust that feels anything but safe. And the passion—explosive, consuming—drives Lucien to his knees. Now his whole life depends on proving his love to a woman who doesn't believe in it...because his true birthright, he now knows, is guardian of Angelique Breedlove's heart.

Angel in a Devil’s Arms is the second book in The Palace of Rogues series by Julie Anne Long. I adored book one, Lady Derring Takes a Lover, and couldn’t wait for this next installment.

Angelique Breedlove has opened a boarding house with her close friend, Mrs. Delilah Hardy, the former Lady Derring. For the first time in her life, she feels safe and settled. That comes to an end when a mysterious boarder who let a room through an agent shows up. He’s handsome, devilish and as far from safe as Angelique can get. Yet she can’t seem to keep herself away from him…

Lucien Durand, Lord Bolt, is the bastard son of the Duke of Brexford. He was hellbent on raising cane until the night he had an “unfortunate accident” and got thrown into the Thames. He’s fairly certain his father’s wife is responsible, and he’s come back to prove it. The years away have matured him and given him new perspective, but he’s determined to get his revenge. Falling for the lovely Angelique is not part of his plans, but he can no more stop himself than a moth can stay away from a flame. She’s bold, witty and damn near perfect for him…if only she’d realize that.

I haven’t had a lot of dedicated reading time lately, so it took me almost a week to finish this book. I really enjoyed the first half, which I read in a single day.

The first half, where Lucien and Angelique are coming to know one another, trading barbs and learning each other’s secrets, is lovely. I truly enjoyed their banter and how they couldn’t seem to stay away from each other.

“If you could help us understand why you’ve chosen to . . .” she paused ostentatiously “. . . favor . . . our establishment with your resurrection? And what are your plans for the future?”

Oh, well done, Mrs. Breedlove, he thought. He had a weakness for a good, irresistibly subtle piss-taking.

Angelique has had many misfortunes in the love department, and she isn’t keen to try again. While she can’t deny her attraction to Lucien, she knows nothing can come of an affair. While Lucien works to change her mind, he also has to deal with his own affairs – his anger and resentment at his father and step-mother, his plans for revenge, etc. I though both characters were well drawn and I easily connected with both. Neither was afraid to hit the other with hard truths, and I loved how honest they were with one another.

She turned and had taken two steps when his voice rose. “Angelique.” She stopped. And turned. “Is it something about me? Or do you feel as though you can treat all men as though what we feel is of no consequence?”

The second half wasn’t as good, but that may be a result of me reading it in fits and starts. I wasn’t as emotionally involved as I might have otherwise been. The major confrontation between the two, as well as the smaller conflicts, didn’t have the same punch those of the first novel did.

Still, I enjoyed the underlying message of women empowerment and truly love the relationship between Angelique and Delilah. Their friendship remains my favorite part of this series. The books are well done and I enjoy the romances, but they’re worth reading simply for Delilah and Angelique.

“And he wants to open a gaming hell . What manner of pastime is that for a grown man?”

“A lucrative one, I should imagine,” Delilah said practically.

Angelique went mute in astonishment. “Do you see?” she said darkly after a moment. “Usually I’m the one who says things like that. And then you exclaim ‘Angelique!’ in shock, and I laugh, and you learn. He’s already upsetting the natural order of things.”

Parts of the story were a bit too neatly done, but I can’t deny I enjoyed spending time at The Grand Palace on the Thames.

And yet, for a mad, mad moment, if time had stopped and left him sitting here forever, watching her knit, he might not have objected.

Full of angst, romance and a beautiful friendship between two unlikely women, Angel in a Devil’s Arms doesn’t disappoint.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Palace of Rogues

four-stars


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Review: Falling Into Bed With a Duke by Lorraine Heath

Posted October 22, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Falling Into Bed With a Duke by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Holly
Falling Into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath
Narrator: Helen Lloyd
Series: The Hellions of Havisham #1
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Length: 10 hours and 5 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In the first in a dazzling new series, New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath introduces the Hellions of Havisham—three charismatic rogues destined to lose their hearts...

After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady's desires—and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.

A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime's pleasure?

Falling into Bed with a Duke is the first book in the Hellions of Havisham series by Lorraine Heath. I’ve enjoyed the few books I’ve read by Heath and I plan to dive further into her backlist this year. This was available in audio at the library, so I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed the narrator.

Miss Minerva Dodger is tired of fortune hunters. She’s had 6 seasons out, and hasn’t come close to finding someone who wants her for her, rather than her enormous dowry. Disgusted with the whole process, she decides to forego marriage altogether and instead vows to live for only herself. She and her friend ferret out the name of a club that caters to the needs and privacy of women, and she attends, thinking to finally take hold of her future. She doesn’t expect to meet the Duke of Ashebury there, or to be so attracted to him. But a man as beautiful as Ashe would never be interested in horse-faced Minerva…would he?

Ashe has been on a mission to capture parts of the female form in photograph, and the lovely woman at the Nightingale Club has the perfect legs for what he has in mind. Unfortunately, she isn’t interested in letting him photograph her. Undeterred, he vows to convince her the next time they meet at the club. Only, he’s certain he knows her. The rules of the club forbid him from asking, but he’s almost certain she’s the lovely Miss Dodger. As he pursues her both in the club and out, he gets tangled in a web of lies he can’t seem to get out of. But one thing is for certain, he wants Minerva, any way he can get her.

“Don’t take it personally, Sheridan,” Lord Whittaker said. “She denied us all a chance at her dowry. She wants love.”

“She’s not going to find that now, is she, the little termagant? Why would any man want to be saddled with a woman who spouts her own view on matters rather than agreeing with his? Makes her deuced irritating.”

I really loved how Minerva decided to embrace her Spinsterhood and refused to settle for just anyone. I also loved her unconventional family and how her parents encouraged her in everything. She was well read and had a head for business and investments that rivaled many men, and her family encouraged her in these pursuits. Her close relationship with her parents and brothers came across well. I especially enjoyed the closeness she had with her father.

“And if my happiness rests in doing something I ought not?”

“Like stealing my cigars?”

Her eyes widened. “You knew?”

“I can count inventory.”

“Could have been my brothers.”

He gave her a stern look. “They’ve never been as daring as you.”

Her insecurities in her appearance, and how she’d been made to feel she had no worth to men outside her dowry, also came across well and broke my heart.

I enjoyed the romance as well. Watching her and Ashebury circle around her identity and eventually come together was very satisfying. I had a hard time with the secrets he kept, however. I wish he’d come clean sooner. Still, I enjoyed the story and found the ending to be very satisfying.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Hellions of Havisham

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: The Wedding by Julie Garwood

Posted October 18, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: The Wedding by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Holly and Rowena
The Wedding by Julie Garwood
Series: Laird's Fiancees #2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 1, 2003
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

It's a classic plot: a marriage of convenience that lays the groundwork for true love.

1119. Journeying from England to Scotland to wed a highlander, Lady Brenna had resigned herself to the arranged match. But when a band of fierce, painted warriors captured her en route, she fearlessly met their demand to marry their leader -- the quick-tempered laird Connor MacAlister. She couldn't know that her capture was merely the first act of vengeance against her betrothed, Connor's sworn enemy.

Brenna harbored no illusions that her husband was in love with her; after a hasty forest wedding, MacAlister assured her she could return home once she had borne him a son. But she could not deny that she had once proposed to MacAlister -- ten years ago, when she was just a child, and the visitor to her father's castle charmed her with his dazzling, unexpected smile. Now, as she sets out to win the brave chieftain whom she has come to adore, a legacy of revenge ensnares Brenna in a furious clan war -- and only her faith in her gallant hero can save her....

Lady Brenna is on her way to marry Highland Laird McNare, when her party is intercepted by Laird Connor McAllister and some of his men. Connor has a feud going with McNare and intends to steal Brenna for his bride in retribution for something McNare did. It’s convenient that Brenna once asked him to marry her..when she was about 4.

Holly: This has long been one of our favorite Julie Garwood books. Rowena and I both love Connor and Brenna, the setting and the storyline. We both recently read it, so we decided to review it together.

So, what do you think? Did it hold up for you?

Rowena: This book is one of my all-time favorite books by Julie Garwood. I have always loved this book but I’m not going to lie, the older I get, the scarier it is to re-read books that I loved from back in the day. But no matter how many times that I read this book, I love it just a smidge more than I did the last time. This book is just too damn good.

Holly: Girl, preach. The older I get the more scared I am to re-read old favorites, too. I’d be so sad if I read an old favorite and the magic was lost. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here. I love this book. Connor, Brenna, all of it.

Rowena: I loved Brenna. I loved Connor. I loved it all.

Holly: I really enjoyed Brenna. Garwood writes too-perfect heroines, and Brenna followed suit, but I still loved her. Her quirks, her fears, her anger when Connor acted inconsiderate really worked for me. I loved seeing the glimpse of her as a precocious child, and then her grace and humor as an adult.

Rowena: I’ve pimped this book out to so many of my friends and my family and while they enjoy the book, nobody ever loves this book as much as I do. It just hits differently with me, I guess. I really love how easy it is for me to fall into Connor and Brenna’s world every single time that I read this. And every time I read this book, I’m thrown back to my early reading days when I read all of Julie Garwood’s books over and over again. I loved the writing in this one. I could see everything so vividly and I felt everything that Connor and Brenna felt and loved all of the side characters (except Raen and his stupid ass Mom).

Yeah, you’re right. Julie Garwood’s historical heroines are super perfect (even their imperfections are perfect) but that doesn’t stop me from loving each and every single one of them. Brenna included.

Some of my favorite scenes ever are in this one, and it doesn’t matter how many times I read this book, I cackle like a crazy person every time Connor answers Brenna with, “Nay, tis Connor.” And then there’s the wedding scene when Brenna talks in circles and circles and then Connor recites her vows back to her better than she does. Ha! I freaking love this book!

Holly: Raen and his mom came across so vividly on page, I really and truly hated them. I remember you telling me about this book when I first started reading Garwood, and thinking “There’s no way it’s that good”. I was wrong. It is that good.

That wedding scene gets me every time. And Brenna chewing Connor out in the stables and calling him a goat. I laughed. There was so many great scenes in this book.

Rowena: Same. They were such awful characters. I rage each and every time I read the part in the book where Euphemia tells Brenna to submit and my heart goes out to Brenna every single time when all of the shenanigans go down with Raen. They were such great villains, I swear. And I just love the way that Connor avenges Brenna. These Highlanders do vengeance really well.

Holly: My heart did hurt for Brenna at the end, though. When she thought Connor chose his family over her.

Rowena: The Wedding is just an all-around feel good romance. It’s packed with all of the best things that we love about romance novels. A strong main couple, a steamy romance, with humor sprinkled throughout and I think that I will always love this book. It gets 5 out of 5 stars from me.

Holly: This book is definitely a feel-good read. Humor, emotion, strength and cunning on the part of both main characters…it never fails to suck me in. 5 out of 5.

Final Grades

Holly: 5 out of 5
Rowena: 5 out of 5

Laird’s Fiancees

five-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Posted October 17, 2019 by Ames in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya BanksReviewer: Ames
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
Series: The Montgomerys and Armstrongs #1
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty—unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.

Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on October 19, 2012.

I enjoy Maya Banks’ historicals and Never Seduce a Scot is no exception. I was initially drawn to it because the heroine is deaf and I was utterly charmed by this whimsical story.

Eveline is the daughter of the Armstrong Laird. The king has just informed her family that she must wed their clan’s most hated enemy, Laird Montgomery, to foster peace in the highlands. The Armstrongs are furious because Eveline is daft following a riding accident three years ago and sending her off with a Montgomery is the worst thing they can imagine. Graeme, the laird of clan Montgomery, knows about his bride’s infliction and is not impressed. However, both families realize that to deny their king’s wishes makes them outlaws. Graeme must marry Eveline, even if it’s a marriage in name only.

Eveline is not daft. She’s deaf. But because of a situation out of her control, she decides to let her family believe she is daft to protect herself. She never imagined that she would marry, but she’s becoming somewhat hopeful when she figures out what’s going on, that the king has commanded she marry. Eveline may be deaf, but she is also extremely smart and she has taught herself how to read lips. And when her bridegroom shows up, Eveline is first drawn to his voice. She can’t hear it but she can feel it. The deep timbre of his voice creates very pleasant vibrations that Eveline can feel. And after a few interactions, she can tell that he is kind. Not the monster her family has made all Montgomery’s out to be. Eveline is hopeful for her future.

And things are fine between her and Graeme when they return to his keep, but it’s his clansmen and women that make things difficult. Graeme doesn’t hold who she was born to against her, knowing she had no control over being an Armstrong. And he doesn’t like how his people are taking their anger towards the Armstrongs out on his innocent wife. But Eveline wants to win his people over on her own. She knows she cannot get Graeme to command they respect her, she has to earn it.

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked that Eveline was deaf. I thought it was believable that she would feel vibrations and very loud noises. I also thought her reasons for acting daft around her family made sense. She was supposed to marry a MacHugh but when she met her intended, he was a real monster. She lost her hearing in a riding accident, trying to run away to avoid marrying him. But after marrying Graeme, she felt safe and she told him what happened. She also felt safe enough with Graeme to speak, something she hadn’t done in 3 years.

I liked how Graeme realized almost from the beginning that there was more to Eveline than what she presented. And he was very patient and kind with her. At first, thinking she was daft, he knew he would never be able to consummate his marriage. And even after ‘speaking’ with her before the wedding and realizing she was smarter than she let on, he still wasn’t planning on making his marriage real. He even put her in a separate room when they got to his keep. There’s a cute scene where Graeme’s sister helps Eveline move into Graeme’s room.

I really felt for Eveline when the women of Graeme’s clan were cruel to her. They did it in a way that was not obvious to Graeme, but I did love his reaction when he found out what was going on.

There’s a bit of a mystery when someone shoots Graeme and goes after Eveline…but I guessed almost right away who it was. Overall, I enjoyed the relationship between Graeme and Eveline and I liked how Banks handled Eveline’s deafness. Refreshing and sweet!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Montgomerys and Armstrong

four-stars


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