Publisher: Avon

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Posted December 5, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game , The Wallflower Wager, The Duchess Deal
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Length: 7 hours and 23 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

The Governess Game is the second book in Tessa Dare‘s Girl Meets Duke series. I was on a break from historical romance for years, so I missed out on this series when it was first released. I was anxious to read this book after I finished book 1, The Duchess Deal, since I wanted to know more about Alex and The Bookshop Rake. My library had the audio available, so I downloaded it to listen on my commute. When that took too long, I switched to reading the digital copy I had in my TBR.

I really enjoyed Alex and her two charges, Rosamund and Daisy. The girls were hilarious and adorable. My heart broke for them and their insecurities. Both Alex and Chase did very well with them, despite their own issues.

I didn’t enjoy the romance as much as the previous. Chase’s reasons for holding back seemed rather contrived, as I never fully connected with him on that front. That is to say, I wasn’t emotionally invested in him and his plight, so the whole thing came off as rather stupid, rather than heartbreaking. Still, I liked his friendship with Alex and how well he treated his wards. I also loved his relationship with Mr. Barrow.

The rest of the story kept me invested, however. Alex and her three friends, Chase and Alex’s friendship, the girls and even the Duke of Ashbury who comes to protect Alex’s honor…all of it was very well done.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Posted November 29, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game , The Wallflower Wager, The Governess Game
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 370
Length: 7 hours and 56 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:- They will be husband and wife by night only.- No lights, no kissing. - No questions about his battle scars.- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:- They will have dinner together every evening.- With conversation.- And unlimited teasing.- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

The Duchess Deal is the first book in Tessa Dare‘s Girl Meets Duke series. I read and enjoyed quite a few Tessa Dare novels some time ago, but I went on a mini-historical hiatus and anything published after 2015 has been languishing in my TBR pile. I was searching for books narrated by Mary Jane Wells in my library and found this, so I decided to give it a go. It was such a fun, entertaining read. Wells did a fantastic job as narrator. The story truly came to life for me.

The Duke of Ashbury returned from war scarred both emotionally and physically. His mental state wasn’t helped any by his fiance freaking out at the sight of him, forcing him to end their engagement. When her dressmaker shows up demanding payment for the gown that was created for his wedding-that-wasn’t, Ash realizes this could be the solution to all his problems. So he offers her a proposition: If she’ll marry him and give him an heir, he’ll give her an estate of her own in the country.

Emma Gladstone knows what it is to have her heart broken. She’s not interested in being the plaything of a Duke. But she did offer to help a friend in need, and having her own country estate suits her purposes quite well. If it’s hard to keep her heart from leaping every time the Duke is near, well..no one but her has to know.

Filled with humor, wit and lovely banter, The Duchess Deal is the novel I didn’t know I was looking for. I easily fell into the story and found myself cheering them on. I laughed out loud on several occasions, and found my heart getting all melty whenever Ash did something sweet, in his gruff, surly way. I wasn’t ready for the story to end.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

Posted November 17, 2019 by Rowena in Features | 3 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. 🙂

This week’s spotlight is an oldie but a goodie. Dreaming of You is a book that I read in the early days of my discovering romance novels and man did I cry buckets while reading it. I adored everything about it and I completely loved both Derek and Sara. Their romance wasn’t an easy one to read but it was one of the most memorable ones that I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read their story yet, you’ll want to fix that because Lisa Kleypas has some gems in her backlist. She is still writing her ass off and making me cry but like with my other favorite authors, I love to re-read older Lisa Kleypas releases like this one. This one is such a good read. Check it out!

Sunday Spotlight: Dreaming of You by Lisa KleypasDreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Gamblers of Cravens #2
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

She stood at danger's threshold—then love beckoned her in.

In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Fielding puts pen to paper to create dreams. But curiosity has enticed the prim, well-bred gentlewoman out of her safe haven—and into Derek Craven's dangerous world.

A handsome, tough and tenacious Cockney, he rose from poverty to become lord of London's most exclusive gambling house—a struggle that has left Derek Craven fabulously wealthy, but hardened and suspicious. And now duty demands he allow Sara Fielding into his world—with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But here, in a perilous shadow-realm of ever-shifting fortunes, even a proper "mouse" can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress—and a world-weary gambler can be shaken to his cynical core by the power of passion...and the promise of love.

Excerpt

“Derek’s breath touched Sara’s throat in unsteady urges. “Sometimes,” he whispered, “I’m so close to you … and I’m still not close enough. I want to share your breath … every beat of your heart.”

He cradled her head in both his hands, his mouth hot on her neck. “Sometimes,” he murmured, “I want to punish you a little.”

“Why?”

“For making me want you until I ache with it. For the way I wake at night just to watch you sleeping.” His face was intense and passionate above her, his green eyes sharp in their brightness. “I want you more each time I’m with you. It’s a fever that never leaves me. I can’t be alone without wondering where you are, when I can have you again.” His lips possessed hers in a kiss that was both savage and tender, and she opened to him eagerly.”

Gamblers of Cravens

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 2019

Do you love this book as much as I do? Let us know in the comments and tell us what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lisa Kleypas

LISA KLEYPAS is the RITA award-winning author of 21 novels. Her books are published in fourteen languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband and two children.

five-stars


Tagged: , , , ,

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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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


Tagged: , , , , , ,

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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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


Tagged: , , , , , , ,