Genre: Historical Romance

Guest Review: The Scoundrel’s Daughter by Anne Gracie

Posted May 2, 2022 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Scoundrel’s Daughter by Anne GracieReviewer: Tracy
The Scoundrel's Daughter by Anne Gracie
Series: The Brides of Bellaire Gardens #1
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 24, 2021
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 336
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When Lady Charlton is forced into becoming London's most reluctant matchmaker, sparks fly and romance ensues, from the national bestselling author of Marry in Scarlet.

Alice, Lady Charlton, is finally free of her dominating husband, but on the verge of her new life, she is trapped when a blackmailer threatens to publish letters that could ruin her. To protect the secrets of her past Alice must find a lord for his daughter, Lucy, to marry.

Alice reluctantly agrees to find the girl a noble husband but when Lucy arrives, she's difficult and uncooperative and has no interest in her father's scheme. A lord, she says, will only look down his nose at her—and she's having none of that!

Desperate to retrieve the letters, Alice enlists the aid of her handsome young nephew, Gerald, who in turn seeks the help of his former commanding officer, James, Lord Tarrant. James is soon beguiled by the marriage-averse widow and sets out to change her mind. And each time they meet, Gerald and Lucy strike sparks off each other.

To find happiness, Alice and Lucy will have to be brave and trust in each other and the men who are attempting to win their hearts.

Alice is thrilled to be alone.  She doesn’t have much money, but she’d rather that then what she had when her husband was alive.  Alice’s deceased husband was an ass (hereafter referred to as The Ass).  He belittled and denigrated Alice at every turn, especially in public.  He was horrid and when he died, he left most of his wealth to his mistress.

Alice is happy, despite her financial situation, until she receives a visit from a Mr. Bamber.  He is in possession of letters that The Ass wrote to his mistress.  In these letters The Ass wrote horrible things about Alice, even about their time in bed together during their marriage, that are most embarrassing. Bamber states he will release these letters to the public if Alice doesn’t do what he wants – which is to have Alice bring out his daughter in society.  Not wanting the letters to get out, Alice agrees.

After a rough start, Alice and Lucy soon start making the rounds of balls and routs to introduce Lucy to society.  Lucy is introduced as Alice’s goddaughter so this put’s Alice’s nephew’s guard up since he’s never heard of Lucy. While Gerald is looking into Lucy, Gerald’s commanding office when he was in the Army, James, has set his sights on Alice.  Of course after the marriage she had, Alice has no desire to marry again, ever.

This was my second time reading this story.  I liked Alice so very much and my heart went out to her.  After 18 years with The Ass she was done with marriage for good.  James really had his work cut out for him in trying to woo her.  He was a father to three girls, and I loved how much he cared for them.  They really came first for him and that was obvious to the reader.  I thought that Alice and James made a great couple though I felt their romance was on the slim side.  He saw her and decided she was The One and it moved quickly from there.  I did enjoy reading about their time together, but it was fast.

Lucy and Gerald were also perfect for each other.  Unfortunately, I felt there was even less of a romance between these two.  They argued constantly and then they were kissing and getting engaged.  Granted, Lucy thought it was a fake engagement, but only Gerald knew it was real. While we got to know Lucy, I didn’t feel like I knew Gerald all that much by the end of the book.

Despite my issues with the romances the overall setting and tone and writing in the book kept my attention and I enjoyed the story.  I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Brides of Bellaire Gardens

three-half-stars


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Review: Bombshell by Sarah Maclean

Posted April 27, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bombshell by Sarah MacleanReviewer: Holly
Bombshell by Sarah MacLean
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Hell's Belles #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 24, 2021
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 394
Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with a blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series, Hell’s Belles, beginning with a bold, bombshell of a heroine, able to dispose of a scoundrel—or seduce one—in a single night.

After years of living as London’s brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom…and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.

No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not to notice his best friend’s beautiful, brash, brilliant sister. If you ask him, he’s been a saint about it, considering the way she looks at him…and the way she talks to him…and the way she’d felt in his arms during their one ill-advised kiss.

Except someone has to keep Sesily from tumbling into trouble during her dangerous late-night escapades, and maybe close proximity is exactly what Caleb needs to get this infuriating, outrageous woman out of his system. But now Caleb is the one in trouble, because he’s fast realizing that Sesily isn’t for forgetting…she’s forever. And forever isn’t something he can risk.

Bombshell is the first book in a spinoff of Maclean’s Scandal & Scoundrel series. I purchased the ebook, then requested the audiobook from the library since I have a long commute every day. I really like the narrator, Mary Jane Wells. I did struggle with the first couple chapters of the audiobook because there are a lot of characters and names that are introduced or discussed. Since I didn’t read the original series, I wasn’t familiar with any of them and it was confusing trying to keep everyone straight. After the first few chapters I easily fell into the story. I ended up switching between the ebook and the audiobook.

As much as this is the start of a new series, I do feel like I was missing some key information by not reading the previous Talbot sisters’ books. I may go back and read the series just to catch up.

I really enjoyed Sesily. She’s woman comfortable with herself and not afraid to go after what she wants. I loved her friendship with the other Hell’s Belles, and how they worked behind the scenes to fight injustices. I also liked that she didn’t take responsibility for the actions of anyone else.

I also enjoyed Caleb. He was able to hold his own against Sesily, which was good considering what a strong personality she had. I did become frustrated with the way his “big secret” was hinted at over and over again, but not revealed. That’s a personal preference. I don’t like when the reader is kept in the dark, especially since I had already guessed most of it. The romance was sweet, but honestly it was Sesily and the Belles who stole the show.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine Heath

Posted April 25, 2022 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Tracy
The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine Heath
Series: Once Upon a Dukedom #2
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Hugh Brinsley-Norton, the Duke of Kingsland, is in need of a duchess. However, restoring the dukedom—left in ruins by his father—to its former glory demands all his time, with little room for sentiment. He places an advert encouraging the single ladies of the ton to write why they should be the one chosen, and leaves it to his efficient secretary to select his future wife.

If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.

But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?

Penn has worked for the Duke of Kingsland for the past eight years and she’s made herself indispensable.  She is his right hand and he’s not sure what he would do without her.  King hasn’t ever seen Pettypeace (as he calls her) as anything but his secretary, but suddenly he’s seeing her in a new light.  He wants to make a move, but how can he when he knows that it will change their working relationship?

Penn has been in love with King forever, but he’s very closed off and is constantly stating that he doesn’t have a heart.  She knows this to be false.  When he suggests that maybe, after dark when they are no longer working, that she might come to him and they can explore the attraction, Penn goes for it. Everything is great and they are pretty much able to separate their two lives together until their secrets start coming out and then their relationship is tested.

I really enjoyed this book. I love the way that Heath writes, and her books always keep me engaged.  In this story I didn’t love King, but I didn’t dislike him either.  I liked that he knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it (he grew on me eventually).  Penn was pretty open as well and not scared to speak her mind.  Together they were a good couple.  They talked to each other and communicated and I loved that.

The secrets were what annoyed me.  I really wasn’t expecting King’s secret, so that was a nice surprise.  It was Penn’s that drove me bonkers.  I dislike when the secret is kept from the reader.  This is a romance, not a mystery!  In a mystery I expect it and that’s part of the anticipation.  With romance it makes me nuts. Just tell the reader already! We finally find out Penn’s secret about ¾ of the way through the book and it was much more devastating than expected.  I felt for Penn and her past and loved that King got over his shock and continued to love her anyway.

Overall it was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Once Upon a Dukedom

four-stars


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Review: Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas

Posted January 31, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Devil in Disguise by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly
Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #7
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake, Devil in Spring, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger, Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3), Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5), Devil's Daughter, Chasing Cassandra
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Historical Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


An enthralling and steaming romance between a widowed lady and a Scot on the run—who may have connections to one of London's most noble families.

Lady Merritt Sterling, a strong-willed young widow who’s running her late husband’s shipping company, knows London society is dying to catch her in a scandal. So far, she’s been too smart to provide them with one. But then she meets Keir MacRae, a rough-and-rugged Scottish whisky distiller, and all her sensible plans vanish like smoke. They couldn’t be more different, but their attraction is powerful, raw and irresistible.

From the moment Keir MacRae arrives in London, he has two goals. One: don’t fall in love with the dazzling Lady Merritt Sterling. Two: avoid being killed.

So far, neither of those is going well.

Keir doesn’t know why someone wants him dead until fate reveals his secret connection to one of England’s most powerful families. His world is thrown into upheaval, and the only one he trusts is Merritt. Their passion blazes with an intensity Merritt has never known before, making her long for the one thing she can’t have from Keir MacRae: forever. As danger draws closer, she’ll do whatever it takes to save the man she loves . . . even knowing he might be the devil in disguise.

Devil in Disguise (The Ravenels #7) by Lisa Kleypas is the much anticipated story of Lady Merritt Sterling, lately a widow and business owner.

Lady Merritt Sterling, the daughter of Lillian and Marcus, Lady and Lord Westcliff, is running her late husband’s shipping company. She is contracted with Scotsman Keir MacRae to store his whiskey in a bonded warehouse. It should be a fairly straight-forward process, but from the moment they meet they are drawn to one another. They come from two different worlds, but when someone tries to kill Keir, she’ll do whatever it takes to protect him.

Kleypas always tells a good story. I really enjoyed both Merritt and Keir, especially in the early parts of the book. Merritt was the perfect blend of her parents. Bold and fierce, yet caring and reserved. The way she and Keir got on was perfect.

There were things that bothered me. View Spoiler » Neither of those things ruined the story for me, but they did detract from my overall enjoyment. While I gobbled it right up, it isn’t my favorite of the series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Ravenels

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Someone Perfect by Mary Balogh

Posted November 21, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 6 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. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Someone Perfect by Mary BaloghSomeone Perfect by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #9
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
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Sometimes, just one person can pull a whole family apart. And sometimes, it just takes one person to pull it back together. For fans of Bridgerton, New York Times bestselling Regency Romance author Mary Balogh shows how love truly conquers all in this new Friends of the Westcotts novel.
As a young man, Justin Wiley was banished by his father for mysterious reasons, but now, his father is dead, and Justin has been Earl of Brandon for six years. A dark, dour man, he, nonetheless, takes it as his responsibility to care for his half-sister, Maria, when her mother dies. He travels to her home to fetch her back to the family seat at Everleigh Park.
Although she adored him, once, Maria now loathes Justin, and her friend, Lady Estelle Lamarr, can see, immediately, how his very name upsets her. When Justin arrives and invites Estelle and her brother to accompany Maria to Everleigh Park to help with her distress, she begrudgingly agrees, for Maria's sake.
As family secrets unravel in Maria's homecoming, Justin, too, uncovers his desire for a countess. And, while he may believe he's found an obvious candidate in the beautiful 25-year-old Lady Estelle, she is most certain that they could never make a match...

Excerpt

SOMEONE PERFECT – Excerpt

The grass had been newly scythed and looked neat and smelled heavenly. Then, however, the four large flower beds, which, long before Estelle was born, had been cut into the lawn with geometric precision to form four diamond shapes in a larger diamond formation, had ended up looking sadly ragged in contrast. She could have waited for the gardeners to get to them, as of course they would, but she liked doing a bit of gardening and was out here now pulling weeds and cutting deadheads from among the flowers and dropping them all into the basket she carried over her arm. And what a difference the pulling and cutting had made! The flowers in the three beds she had already done were looking considerably brighter and more fully alive again, and now this one did too. She stood back on the grass to admire her handiwork. But something caught the edge of her vision as she did so, and she looked across two large diamonds to the drive beyond.

A horse and rider were just coming into view, and for a moment she brightened with the expectation that Bertrand was returning from his visit to the vicarage in time for tea. The rider was not Bertrand, of course. He had walked into the village. It was the Earl of Brandon, and now Estelle could not even pretend to be away from home. He had seen her. So had his dog, which took a few menacing steps toward her across the lawn before stopping abruptly at something the man had said. She heard the low rumble of his voice but could not discern the actual words.

How very mortifying and unpleasant. Estelle was terribly aware of her ancient cotton dress, faded from innumerable washes and much despised by her maid, who always told her it was too old even for the ragbag. But it was cool and comfortable and was kept strictly for chores such as this one. Her straw hat must be almost as antique. Its brim was limp and shapeless and wonderfully effective in shading her face and neck from the sun. Her gloves were large and elbow length and bright green and ugly. But they kept her fingers and forearms from being pricked, and they kept the dirt from getting beneath her fingernails and the sap from staining her hands. Her shoes . . . Well, the less said about her shoes, the better.

She set down her basket, pulled off her gloves, and dropped them on top of the dead blooms and weeds. She could not do anything about the rest of her appearance. Let him think what he would. She did not much care about his good opinion anyway. She made her way toward him, skirting about the flower beds and eyeing the dog warily. It was panting, its tongue lolling out of its mouth. It was looking at her as though it would be happy to make her its afternoon tea if only its master would be obliging enough to ride out of sight for a few moments.

The man looked as morose as ever. Oh, it was wicked, perhaps, to have taken him in such thorough dislike. No, it was not. He had done nothing to make himself likable. Quite the opposite.

“Captain will not hurt you,” he told her.

“Not when you are here to call him off,” she agreed.

“Cap,” he said. “Shake.”

And the dog, still panting, still gazing intently and hungrily at her, sat on its haunches, lifted one of its giant paws, and dangled it toward her.

Oh dear God.

But he had done it deliberately to disconcert her— he man, that was. To make a cringing female out of her, as he had done by the river. How she wished now that she had left her legs dangling in the water and merely tossed her head— and her hair— in his direction. And raised one haughty eyebrow.

She took a few resolute steps forward, grasped the dog’s paw in a firm clasp, and shook it. It was gigantic. It could flatten her with one swat. And it had lethal-looking claws. Was that what one called them on a dog? Or were they nails?

“How do you do, Captain?” she said before looking up at the earl. Man and dog suited each other. He was gigantic too. And he had those huge hands, neatly gloved at the moment and holding the reins. “How do you do, Lord Brandon?”

He removed his hat. “I wondered, Lady Estelle,” he said, “if I might have a few words with you and Viscount Watley.”

From SOMEONE PERFECT published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Mary Balogh.

 

Wescott

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: November 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 Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh's Headshot

Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Slightly novels: Slightly Married, Slightly Wicked, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Tempted, Slightly Sinful, and Slightly Dangerous, as well as the romances No Man's Mistress, More than a Mistress, and One Night for Love. She is also the author of Simply Love, Simply Unforgettable, Simply Magic, and Simply Perfect, her dazzling quartet of novels set at Miss Martin's School for Girls. A former teacher herself, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.


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