Tag: Hellions of Halstead

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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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


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Review: A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted March 23, 2012 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Holly‘s review of A Lady Never Surrenders (Hellions of Halstead Hall, Book 5) by Sabrina Jeffries

When the youngest Sharpe sister hatches a plan to gain marriage offers, the straight-laced Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter knows he’ll do whatever it takes to ruin her scheme…

With two months left to find a husband to fulfill her grandmother’s ultimatum, Lady Celia Sharpe sets her sights on three eligible bachelors. Becoming betrothed to one of these wealthy, high-ranking men will surely prove her capable of getting married, so hopefully the wedding itself won’t be necessary for Celia and her siblings to receive their inheritance. Step two of her audacious plan is hiring the dangerously compelling Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter to investigate the three men she’s chosen. But with Lady Celia bedeviling Jackson’s days and nights, the last thing he wants is to help her find a husband. And when she recalls shadowed memories that lead his investigation into her parents’ mysterious deaths in a new direction—putting her in danger—Jackson realizes the only man he wants Celia to marry is himself

 This is the final installment of the Hellions of Halstead series. I’m sad to see it end. I’ve enjoyed spending time with the Sharpe family.

I have to say, I was much more bothered by Hettie’s interference in this novel. I’m not sure if it’s because we got more from her POV, or if her meddling went over the top. While I understood her reasons for being wary of Pinter, it didn’t make a lot of sense for her to push him so hard. Especially when it was obvious Celia cared for him. It went against her actions in previous books, where she played the part of disapproving harpy, but was secretly working to push the couple together.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the novel. I liked that Pinter wasn’t a member of the aristocracy. He was an investigator with Bow Street and lived in a modest home in Cheapside. Though he wasn’t dirt poor, he wasn’t rich, either. We don’t see enough of these types of heroes in romance. Of course it was somewhat ruined by Celia’s giant inheritance, but whatever.

Celia has a lot of insecurities. Her grandmother – and some of the other members of her family – have made her feel like she isn’t good enough to find a husband. “Who would want to marry you” is what she feels like they’re saying to her. Especially her grandmother. Because of this, there was additional conflict with Pinter (who himself had insecurities about marrying above himself). While it could have been extreme, I think Celia’s issues gave her an air of vulnerability that made her more likable. She wasn’t just a brash young woman looking to challenge the men of London to duels. 

There were several times I snickered over Celia’s attempts to downplay her knowledge about weapons and Pinter’s determination to see her outed. The two of them had great chemistry, as well as quick-witted banter.

The mystery behind their parent’s murder is finally resolved here. While I wouldn’t say it was completely contrived, I did think the resolution was somewhat anti-climatic. I might have liked to see it come about earlier in the novel so more time could be spent on the reactions of the family. Still and all, this was an enjoyable read and a nice way to close out the series. 

4.25 out of 5

The series:
The Truth About Lord Stoneville (Hellions of Halstead Hall)A Hellion in Her Bed (Hellions of Halstead Hall)How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

This book is available from Pocket Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Review: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted January 17, 2011 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Holly‘s review of How to Woo a Reluctant Lady (Hellions of Halstead Hall, Book 3) by Sabrina Jeffries

The third novel in Sabrina Jeffries’s “Hellions of Hallstead Hall” series, featuring the independent and talented Lady Minerva Sharpe.

When a charming rogue proposes she marry him to meet her grandmother’s ultimatum, the Sharpe clan’s strong-willed sister makes a tempting counter-offer that preserves her inheritance and ignites his imagination.

Lady Minerva Sharpe has the perfect plan to thwart her grandmother’s demands: become engaged to a rogue! Surely Gran would rather release her inheritance than see her wed a scoundrel. And who better to play the part of Minerva’s would-be husband than wild barrister Giles Masters, the very inspiration for the handsome spy in the popular Gothic novels she writes? The memory of his passionate kiss on her nineteenth birthday has lingered in Minerva’s imagination, though she has no intention of really falling for such a rakehell, much less marrying him. Little does she know, he really is a covert government operative. When they team up to investigate the mystery behind her parents’ deaths, their fake betrothal leads to red-hot desire. Then Minerva discovers Giles’s secret double life, and he must use all the cunning tricks of his trade to find his way back into her heart.

I’m really enjoying Jeffries’ Hellions of Halstead series. This latest installment was different in that the lady didn’t want to be married, but the gentleman did. I always love stories where the reluctant heroine needs to be wooed into a relationship by the besotted man.

Minerva Sharpe has wanted Giles for a long time, but he sees her as a child. Not only was she too young for him, but her older brothers made it clear she was off limits to the likes of him. Until her 19th birthday when they shared a kiss – one that rocked Giles and Minerva both. Determined to save her from himself, Giles says some nasty things to her. As a result, Minerva creates a villain in her novels based on Giles.

The problem is she uses real-life situations and since Giles really is a government agent, he needs her to stop before other people realize she’s writing about him and get suspicious. The best way to make that happen? Marry her. The fact that he’s in need of a wife, truly enjoys Minerva’s company, and finds her extremely attractive is just icing on the cake. But of course he needs to convince her…

Minerva has seen what marriage can to do a person and knows it isn’t for her. She’s perfectly content to remain alone for the rest of her days, being the favorite aunt and writing novels. She doesn’t want a husband who will dictate her life, or stop her from doing the things she loves. Giles is an enigma to her. She’s vowed to hate him, but he makes it very difficult to stay angry with him. He seems to genuinely care for her, yet she knows that can’t be so. Can it?

Giles was a bit of a surprise. Though it was alluded to in previous novels that he had more substance than we saw, it was still a shock to see him as an upstanding barrister rather than a playboy. He had a reputation as a wild man-about-town who gambled too much and spent a lot of time with the opposite sex. That wasn’t truly who he was, he only played it up to keep his cover for his government work. Proving it to Minerva was difficult, but he persevered. It was good to see that his reputation wasn’t just brushed aside. That was a major sticking point with Minerva and she didn’t let him off the hook about it easily. At the same time, it was easy to see he cared for her and wanted to see her happy. I’m a sap for a man who truly wants his woman to be happy, even if that means making sacrifices in his own life to see it happen.

Minerva had every reason to want to remain single. She had a means to support herself through her writing and she’d have her freedom. She didn’t expect Giles to intrigue her as much as he did. Though she was reluctant to enter into a marriage with him, she still took the time to get to know him. I liked that she didn’t judge him solely on his past behavior, but agreed to consider the man he was when he was with her.

Giles’ lack of trust in Minerva began to grate after awhile. It was understandable that he was concerned with what she’d put in her books early in the story, but as their relationship progressed and he came to know her better I thought that was a weak argument on his part. Similarly I was disappointed with the way Minerva brushed it aside as fairly minor once she found out. That should have been the major problem between them, not a minor side-issue.

That aside, this was a well told love story. I really enjoyed both Giles and Minerva as well as the full cast of secondary characters. With each story, the series just gets better.

4 out of 5

The series:

The Truth About Lord Stoneville (Hellions of Halstead Hall)A Hellion in Her Bed (Hellions of Halstead Hall)How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

This book is available from Pocket Star. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Review: A Hellion in Her Bed by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted September 24, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 8 Comments

Holly‘s review of A Hellion in Her Bed (The Hellions of Halstead Hall, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries

Furious at his grandmother’s ultimatum to marry or lose his inheritance, Lord Jarret Sharpe wagers his luck—and his heart—at the card table against a most unlikely opponent.Mired in scandal after his parents’ mysterious deaths, notorious gambler Lord Jarret Sharpe agrees to tamely run the family brewery for a year if his Machiavellian grandmother rescinds her ultimatum that he marry.

But the gambler in him can’t resist when beguiling Annabel Lake proposes a wager. If she wins their card game, he must help save her family’s foundering brewery. But if he wins, she must spend a night in his bed. The outcome sets off a chain of events that threatens to destroy all his plans . . . and unveils the secret Annabel has held for so long. When Jarret discovers the darker reason behind her wager, he forces her into another one—and this time he intends to win not just her body, but her heart.

I adored the first book in this series, The Truth About Lord Stoneville, and couldn’t wait for the next installment to come out. Unfortunately for me, I’m in the same boat again. I adored this novel and can’t wait for the next to come out. If only Jeffries would write faster!

Annabel is in a bind. Her father’s brewery isn’t doing well, thanks in large part to her brother’s constant drinking. She knows she can bring new business in if she can just get her foot in with the India trading. But to do that she needs help. So she goes to the only person she thinks might be willing to help. Jarret’s grandmother. Unfortunately, she’s ill and Jarret is running the brewery in her absence. Annabel has heard all about Lord Jarret. She knows he’s a gambler and a rake, but she’s desperate. So she makes a bargain with him – if she can beat him at a game of cards, he’ll help her family brewery. If not, she’ll sleep with him. But Annabel isn’t telling Jarret the whole truth about why her brother’s brewery is in trouble, or about her own past.

Jarret isn’t happy about being manipulated by his grandmother into running the brewery. It had been his dream once to take it over, but she’d sent him to school instead, and now he prefers making his living at the gaming tables.  When she falls ill he’s left with no choice, but he lets her know he’s taking it over on his terms, not hers. Even so, he isn’t a complete idiot. Forming a partnership with a brewery that’s in trouble isn’t a good idea. Why, then, can’t he stop himself from making a bargain with Annabel? And following through when it’s over will be his pleasure….and hers.

I loved  both Jarret and Annabel. Jarret may play the part of inveterate rake, but inside he still feels like a lost boy, with no one to turn to and no direction in his life. As a child he knew he’d inherit his grandparent’s brewery and that’s where he wished to spend all his time. When his grandmother forced him to Eton instead, she broke something fragile between them, though she didn’t realize it at the time. He just desperately wanted somewhere he fit in, somewhere he belonged. As a child, the brewery was that place for him. As an adult, it’s with Annabel. His willingness to open himself to her was wonderful, especially after he finds out her secrets.

Annabel was strong and caring, and my heart broke for her after learning her secret. I completely understood why she kept it from Jarret, though it was hard to read about at times. She’s a caretaker, willing to put herself in precarious situations if needed to take care of those she loved. She wasn’t stupid about it, though I would say she was a bit reckless at times. The bargain with Jarret was a calculated risk, one she didn’t think about too hard before making. I liked that she realized later how wrong she was to make the bargain, but knows she’d probably do it again – as long as it was Jarret she was betting against. I also liked that she was willing to put herself out there for him.

Annabel’s secrets played a huge role in the story. There were two major ones that she guarded closely, though one wasn’t quite as deep and dark as the other. As I said above, I totally understood her reasons for not telling Jarret that her brother was a drinker, though I did struggle with the other one a bit. I don’t want to spoil it, but I think she should have been more honest sooner about her brother. I know why she kept it a secret at first, but she should have opened up sooner.

I really liked Annabel and Jarret together. They had strong chemistry and just seemed to fit together. They were able to lean on one another and draw strength from each other. I loved that each brought out the best in the other. 

I really enjoyed the secondary characters. Because much of the book is spent at Annabel’s home, we don’t see as much of Jarret’s siblings as we did in the first book, but when they were around I really enjoyed them. I also liked Annabel’s family and some of the brewery employees. Even the kids were well written.

Overall this was another excellent entry in the series. I’m just disappointed we have to wait so long for the next installment (How to Woo a Reluctant Lady, 1/11).

4.5 out of 5

The series:

The Truth About Lord Stoneville (Hellions of Halstead Hall)A Hellion in Her Bed (Hellions of Halstead Hall)

This book is available from Pocket Star. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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