Source: Library

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


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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


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Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

Posted November 13, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Library, Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 9 hours and 58 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

The award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare and Silence for the Dead, presents another mesmerizing gothic story of intrigue...

London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James is available for the Audible Escape package. I downloaded it after finishing Silence for the Dead, because I wanted more from St. James and because I enjoyed the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, quite a bit. This gothic romance is perfect for the fall season.

Ellie Winter is a psychic Medium. When a rival Medium, Gloria Sutter, is murdered and her brother shows up asking for Ellie’s help in finding her, Ellie agrees reluctantly. She and Gloria had been friends once upon a time, but Gloria betrayed Ellie in a devastating way and they hadn’t spoken in years. If Gloria hadn’t left a note with her brother “Tell Ellie Winter to find me”, Ellie probably would have told him no. As it is, despite her anger and hurt over Gloria’s betrayal, she can’t walk away.

James Hawley is an investigator for the “New Society”. He, and his colleagues, try to verify or debunk psychics. He was instrumental in declaring Ellie’s mother a fraud, but something about their case has always bothered him. As the only verified true psychic – something he helped prove – Gloria had a lot of notoriety in London. Discovering if his findings are part of the reason she was murdered has James helping Ellie.

This is the second novel by St. James I’ve read. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first, but it was still a creepy, lovely tale. I quite enjoyed the setting – mid 1920s London – and the glimpse into the life of a true Medium who can see and summon spirits. Ellie’s talent in that regard came across well. I enjoyed her as whole, in fact. She was independent and strong, yet had a vein of vulnerability and loneliness running through her that made her easy to connect with.

I enjoyed the mystery of why Gloria Sutter was murdered, and by whom. I had the majority of things figured out, but still there were some twists and turns I didn’t see coming. This was a cozy, atmospheric Gothic novel not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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
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


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Guest Review: Highland Guard by Hannah Howell

Posted September 12, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Highland Guard by Hannah HowellReviewer: Tracy
Highland Guard by Hannah Howell
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Murray Family #20
Also in this series: Highland Groom, Highland Devil (Murray Family #22), Highland Wolf
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Length: 08:02
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Lady Annys MacQueen has no other choice. The deception that enabled her to keep her lands safe is on the verge of being revealed by a cruel kinsman. To shield her young son from the sword and her people from devastation, she must turn to the one man she could never forget. . .

He lives for duty and honor. So the only way Sir Harcourt Murray could repay the laird who saved his life was to agree to father a child with Sir MacQueen's wife. . .Lady Annys. Now the passion he still feels for the lovely strong-willed widow is as all-consuming and perilous as securing her lands. But to convince her that his love is forever real means confronting her most wrenching fears—and putting everything they treasure most at stake.

Annys MacQueen’s husband has died. Now she has kinsman who are trying to take her estate and lands away from her, stating that her son is not really a MacQueen. Annys doesn’t want to lose her lands, but they’re actually correct in believing that the child was not the laird’s. The Laird had actually contacted Harcourt Murray to come and father a child with his wife, since he was incapable of fathering children.

While Annys and Harcourt were together getting her pregnant, Annys fell for Harcourt. She loved her husband, but she was in love with Harcourt.  Harcourt has never forgotten Annys and thinks of her often. He would’ve liked nothing more than to stay with her forever, but he was only there for duty and to repay Laird MacQueen for saving his life. When Annys calls for him to help her save her lands, Harcourt is unprepared for the love he feels for both Annys and the child he fathered. Benet is adorable, amazing, precocious and just all-around wonderful and he never wants to be without them.

I ended up listening to this in audiobook. I very much enjoyed Angela Dawe as narrator and enjoyed the story immensely. I thought that Howell did a very good job in bringing these two people together, and I enjoyed their romance.

I thought I would have more of an issue with this one then I actually did. I don’t like infidelity in books, but for some reason this just worked for me.

While Hannah Howell’s Murray books are all very similar, this one stood out a little bit and I very much enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Murray Family

four-stars


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