Review – An Affair With a Notorious Heiress by Lorraine Heath

The son of a duke and an infamous mother, Alistair Mabry, Marquess of Rexton, fought his way to respectability. Now, the most eligible bachelor in London, marriage-shy Rexton will take only a wife with an impeccable reputation, good breeding, and a penchant for staying out of the gossip sheets. But when he strikes a deal to be seen “courting” a sweet young debutante whose notorious older sister has blemished her chances for marriage, Rexton is unexpectedly drawn to the highly inappropriate, calamitous Tillie, Lady Landsdowne herself.

After a scandalous incident that sent shockwaves throughout society and disgraced her, Tillie refuses to cower in the face of the ton. Instead, she will hold her head high as she serves as chaperone for her younger sister, but Tillie is convinced Rexton’s courtship is shrouded with secrets—ones she vows to uncover. However, doing so requires getting dangerously close to the devilishly handsome and forbidden marquess…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Affair with a Notorious Heiress, An

My Review:  

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Alistair Mabry, the Marquess of Rexton, (“Rex”) was the victim of intense bullying when he was a young boy, due to his mother being a child of the streets.  When Rex finally began to grow up, and could take care of himself, the bullies faded away, but he learned a valuable lesson.  When the time comes for him to marry, it will be to someone noble with an impeccable reputation.  No child of his will ever suffer or be a victim the way he was.  Rex also tries to live his life in a manner above reproach, if perhaps a bit on the dull side.  When Rex is approached by an American businessman with an offer he can’t refuse, he is forced to step out of his comfort zone.  If Rex will pretend to court the man’s niece, in the hopes of piquing other gentlemen’s interest, Rex will win the stud services of a champion horse which he has been unable to buy.

Gina Hammersley is a beautiful, young American heiress, but her debut has been less than impressive because of her notorious older sister, Tillie.  When Tillie was Gina’s age, she was married to the Earl of Lansdowne, who was happy to take her large dowry and then carry on as if he were still single.  After three years of Lansdowne’s cheating and indifference, Tillie begged him to divorce her.  He consistently refused, right up until the time he caught her in an affair with a footman – or, so rumor says.  The public humiliation forced Lansdowne to file for the divorce, which was granted after three more years.  Tillie is now free, but is a social disgrace.  She lives away from society and is happy to do so, but she doesn’t want her younger sister, Gina, to suffer because of her actions.  She is determined that Gina marry for love, and is understandably prickly and abrupt when Rex comes calling on Gina.

Rex begins his pretend courtship of Gina, only to find himself powerfully attracted to Tillie, possibly the most scandalous woman in London.  As for Tillie, she is understandably gun-shy after her disastrous marital experience, but she finds herself liking and attracted to Rex.  Tillie comes off as somewhat hard at first, though there’s no doubt that she loves and wants the best for her sister.  She’s naturally wary and suspicious of men, especially titled men.  As the story progresses, we begin to see each layer of her personality peeled back, and the details of her sad marriage are revealed.  In truth, she’s a strong and determined woman, willing to accept all the consequences of her actions, and I have great admiration for her.  As Rex begins to face the fact that what he feels for Tillie is love as well as desire, he has to search his soul, and re-examine all his decisions of what he said he would never do.  If he chooses to pursue a future with Tillie, it’s no secret that their future will not be an easy one.

AN AFFAIR WITH A NOTORIOUS HEIRESS is very well written, with Lorraine Heath’s trademark emotion filled scenes and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Rex and Tillie are very different from each other, but they clearly belong together, and I loved their journey to arriving at the point where they are willing to risk scandal and censure in order to be together.  Gina is another great character, as she is very wise beyond her young years, and does her part to ensure her sister’s happy ever after.  In my opinion, no one writes an epilogue better than Lorraine Heath, and the one in AN AFFAIR WITH A NOTORIOUS COUNTESS is  poignant and very satisfying.  For those who are familiar with Lorraine Heath’s previous books, Rex is the child of Frannie and Sterling from SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL, and the brother of Grace from WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED (a magnificent book in its own right) though it’s not necessary to have read them to enjoy this passionate and romantic story.

Posted in Historical Romance, Lorraine Heath, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

Three sinfully handsome dukes, three scores to settle, three hearts about to meet their matches. All in one thrilling new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter . . .

Name and title: Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton.
Affiliation: London’s elite Society of Decadent Dukes.
Family history: Scandalous.
Personality traits: Dark and brooding, with a thirst for revenge.
Ideal romantic partner: A woman of means, with beauty and brains, willing to live with reckless abandon.
Desire: Clara Cheswick, gorgeous daughter of his family’s sworn enemy.

Clara may be the woman Adam wants, but there’s one problem: she’s far more interested in publishing her women’s journal than getting married—especially to a man said to be dead-set on vengeance. Though, with her nose for a story, Clara wonders if his desire for justice is sincere—along with his incredibly unnerving intention to be her husband. If her weak-kneed response to his kiss is any indication, falling for Adam clearly comes with a cost. But who knew courting danger could be such exhilarating fun?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton, has returned to England after five years of self exile in France.  Adam left when his father, the victim of rumors of treason, killed himself.  While in France, he fought three duels defending his father’s honor – two of the men died, and the third was seriously injured.  Now the French government wants him gone, and he has been summoned home to England by the Monarch himself.  Most of society is giving Adam a wide berth, as now rumors swirl around him, saying that he is out for revenge.  Those rumors are, in fact, true.  Adam is determined to find out the name(s) of those responsible for destroying his father’s reputation, and exacting revenge.  At the top of his list is the Earl of Marwood and his family, who have a long standing feud with his own family.  Imagine Adam’s surprise when the dowager Countess of Marwood invites him to meet with her, and offers to end the feud by having him marry her younger granddaughter, Emilia.

Clara Cheswick is Emilia’s older sister, and the product of the late earl’s first marriage.  Clara’s father loved her deeply, and provided a substantial inheritance for her, so that she could be independent, and would never have to marry or depend on the generosity of her family or a husband.  Her unconventional upbringing has left her determined never to marry, which would put her land and money in the control of her husband.  She’s happy being the anonymous publisher of an eclectic news magazine, and socializing with her few close friends and colleagues.

While Adam actually considers the offer to wed Marwood’s daughter, Emilia, who is a very beautiful young lady, he sees Clara riding in the distance and immediately feels drawn to her.  He arranges to meet her, only to find her prickly and not at all interested.  Her spirit only rouses Adam’s interest even further, and he begins his pursuit.  The thought of using this connection somehow in his revenge does occur to Adam, but his attraction to Clara is purely personal.  Time after time, he puts himself in her path, only to be rebuffed.  While Clara can’t deny that she is drawn to the dangerous and handsome duke, she will resist him.  Or, so she thinks.  Adam has a dark, brooding presence, and this appeals to Clara.  Soon this independent lady decides that since she will never marry, she wants to taste passion with the man who stirs her as no one else ever has.  Their affair is scorching!

THE MOST DANGEROUS DUKE IN LONDON is a book I read in one sitting, and has all the qualities I love in a great story.  I found Adam just as appealing as Clara did – I love a brooding hero.  Yet, he has a code of honor.  He treated Clara beautifully, even though she may have been his enemy’s daughter.  He’s generous and honest, even answering Clara’s questions about his motivation truthfully.  And he is as hot as all get out!  Clara, in turn, is generous as well, and shows her loving nature once she decides to accept Adam as her lover.  I love her courage in standing up to her shrew of a grandmother, in particular, her actions at the book’s end.  This story flowed effortlessly, contained a swoonworthy romance, steamy passion, great characters, and a very satisfying resolution.  I highly recommend THE MOST DANGEROUS DUKE IN LONDON, which is one of author Madeline Hunter’s best, and goes on my favorites list for this year.

Posted in Historical Romance, Madeline Hunter, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

An Unexpected Countess by Laurie Benson – Review and Giveaway

“Dash it, Miss Forrester, what are you doing up here?” 

The Earl of Hartwick delights in scandalizing the ton with his behavior. But it’s his turn to be scandalized when, on an escapade, he bumps into Miss Sarah Forrester—in the rain, at night, on a rooftop!

Sarah is hunting for a diamond, and the last thing she needs is the infuriating Hart distracting her. But he’s looking for the jewel, too! They may be rivals, but the sparks between them are uncontrollable. And soon Sarah finds herself longing for another treasure—becoming Hart’s countess!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    An Unexpected Countess (Secret Lives of the Ton)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Sarah Forrester is the daughter of an American diplomat, who is currently on assignment in England.  When Sarah intercepts a letter intended for her father which indicates that her deceased brother was a traitor, not the hero they believed him to be,  she decides to comply with the would-be-blackmailer’s terms.  The unknown correspondent requires that he receive a missing diamond in exchange for his silence.  The path to the diamond is somewhat of a scavenger hunt, as the clues to its whereabouts are painted on links of a bracelet belonging to Lady Everill, who constantly wears the bracelet, never letting it out of her sight.  The blackmailer is not the only one who wants the diamond.  The Regent himself is eager to have it, and has enlisted his friend, the Earl of Hartwick (“Hart”) to retrieve it.

Hart and Sarah are acquainted, as their best friends are married to each other.  They have a bit of a snarky relationship, though they actually enjoy the sniping with each other.  As they each set off on their quest, they keep running into each other.  It’s soon obvious to both of them that the meetings aren’t coincidental, and they both want the diamond.  At first they have no reason to trust each other, and are very cagey about their motivations, but when they reach an impasse because they each have one key, they devise a contest where the one who solves the final puzzle will win the diamond.

Hart is a charming, handsome, somewhat arrogant rake. who regularly sleeps with other men’s wives.  I have to admit that this really bothered me, as it said to me that he didn’t respect marriage and had no qualms about cuckolding his peers.  We later learn that this is not a lifestyle that he just fell into, but rather one that he made a conscious decision to adopt.  Beneath his outward carefree appearance, he hides a lifetime of hurt, confusion, and a sense of abandonment.  While I could never fully justify the choices he made, I at least came to understand his motivations and reasons.

Sarah is fearless and determined.  I admire her resolve to protect her parents from any further grief over her brother’s actions.  Though some of her own deeds weren’t the wisest, and certainly were dangerous, her heart was in the right place, and I liked her very much.  I loved her honesty and her ability to stand up to Hart, and to give as good as she got.

When Sarah and Hart take a break from their hunt long enough to indulge in a kiss, they discover a sizzling connection that takes them both by surprise.  When temptation becomes too great to endure, they agree to give in to passion,  with no expectations and their eyes wide open.  Hart has no intention of every marrying, and Sarah will be returning to America when her father’s  diplomatic assignment is complete.  Even if they wanted a future together, it’s not possible.

Before long, I found myself totally engrossed in AN UNEXPECTED COUNTESS.  The sheer fun and outrageousness of some of the scenes and dialogue had me smiling, and hoping that this seemingly unlikely couple could find a way to be together.  Hart won me over as he discovered that he did have a heart and was capable of love and of changing.  Author Laurie Benson also tossed in a couple of interesting  plot twists, and penned an intelligent resolution that left me very satisfied with the outcome.  AN UNEXPECTED COUNTESS is well written, passionate, complex, and a very enjoyable read.

About the Author: (Website – )

Laurie Benson is an award-winning historical romance author and 2015 Golden Heart® finalist. She began her writing career as an advertising copywriter, where she learned more than you could ever want to know about hot dogs and credit score reports. Her interest in history began when she was in elementary school, and that interest was fueled by many visits to many museums.

When she isn’t at her laptop avoiding laundry, Laurie can be found browsing antique shops, going on ridiculously long hikes, or sitting in her car on the school pickup line. She lives with her husband and two sons in a house filled with testosterone—even her bunny is a boy.

Laurie is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

Author Laurie Benson will send a signed copy of AN UNEXPECTED COUNTESS to one person (United States only, please) who leaves a comment below.  Winner picked on May 28.  Good Luck!

Posted in Historical Romance, Laurie Benson, Review, Rose | 6 Comments

Review – Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

A gorgeous, deft literary retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s beloved Jane Eyre–through the eyes of the dashing, mysterious Mr. Rochester himself.

“Reader, she married me.”
For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece. But his own story has never been told.

Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker’s rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.

But much as he longs to be accepted-and to return to the home where he was born-his father has made clear that Thornfield is reserved for his older brother, Rowland, and that Edward’s inheritance lies instead on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica. That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and not long after his arrival, Edward finds himself entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town’s ravishing heiress, Antoinetta Bertha Mason.

Eventually, after a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain, young governess who will teach him how to love again.

It is impossible not to watch enthralled as this tender-hearted child grows into the tormented hero Brontë immortalized-and as Jane surprises them both by stealing his heart. MR. ROCHESTER is a great, sweeping, classic coming-of-age story, and a stirring tale of adventure, romance, and deceit. Faithful in every particular to Brontë’s original yet full of unexpected twists and riveting behind-the-scenes drama, this novel will completely, deliciously, and forever change how we read and remember Jane Eyre.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Mr. Rochester

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Little did I know, decades ago, when I happened upon an old black and white movie about a governess who fell in love with her mysterious employer, that it would lead me to a lifelong love affair with Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre.  I have read the book countless times, and collected and watched all the movie versions I could acquire, always looking for the “perfect” adaptation.  Over the years, the dialogue from my favorite scenes has become imprinted in my mind, and still has the power to bring me to tears.  Yet, I’ve always been perplexed.  Why do I love Rochester?  He was hot and cold, sometimes even cruel, and, of course, there’s his secret in the attic.  But I did love him, and I wanted him to win Jane and live happily ever after.  When I heard of this novel, which told his life story from his viewpoint, I knew I had to read it.  Quite honestly, I did not have high expectations.  Holy Thornfield, was I wrong!  I’m sharing my thoughts of this book, assuming that anyone reading will have read the original Jane Eyre, or, at the very least, watched a thorough adaptation.  If you haven’t, and don’t like spoilers, please don’t read further.

Edward Fairfax Rochester is the younger son of a wealthy businessman and landowner.  He never knew his mother, who died after his birth.  His father largely ignored him, as did his older brother, except for an occasional cuff to the head.  The only kindness Edward knew was from servants, and his happiness came from roaming his beloved home, Thornfield Hall, and its grounds.  Even that was taken from Edward, when at only eight years old, he was sent off to live with a tutor and to begin his education.  From there, Edward served an apprenticeship, and then attended Cambridge.  At that point, Edward’s father deemed him ready to take over the family business interests in Jamaica, which were to be his inheritance, as his older brother will inherit Thornfield.  His father also makes it clear that he wants Edward to marry his partner’s daughter.  When Edward meets the beautiful and seductive Bertha Mason, he is more than willing to marry her, little knowing the disastrous effect it will have on his future.

MR. ROCHESTER is absolutely brilliantly written.  The story of Edward’s life is told consistently with what we are privy to in Jane Eyre, yet the details are filled in via the author’s imagination in a way that is totally believable.  All of the life events lead up to Edward returning to Thornfield and meeting Jane for the first time.  I expected to see all the dialogue from the original book, but that’s not the case, only portions of the conversations appear here as well.  Ah, but those insights into Edward’s mind – they are so revealing  and perfectly explain his hot and cold emotions, his actions, and his sometimes cruel manner.  I totally bought into his motivations.  Author Sarah Shoemaker also devised an extremely clever plot twist which is totally new to this story, but is so seamless that it’s nothing short of magnificent.  I only had one small disappointment in reading this book, and that was when Jane returns to Rochester for the final time.  This meeting is condensed down to one day, and less than two pages, and doesn’t mirror the meetings in the original book, which includes Jane coaxing him to dinner, combing his hair, and then teasing him about her marriage proposal. Overall, MR. ROCHESTER feels true to the original Jane Eyre, and is a truly satisfying read which gains a place on my keeper shelf.  There is a lovely epilogue, which only makes me want to read Jane Eyre again, this time with a copy of MR. ROCHESTER alongside to double the enjoyment of my all time favorite novel.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Sarah Shoemaker | 3 Comments

Review – Bombshell by C D Reiss

From New York Times bestselling author CD Reiss, a standalone romance about a nanny, a Hollywood star, and a love they never expected.

Hollywood bad boy Brad Sinclair always gets his way, whether it’s the role he wants or the bikini-clad model he has to have. But when a bombshell gets dropped in his lap in the form of a dimpled five-year-old from a forgotten relationship, he knows his life is about to change forever.

Cara DuMont isn’t exactly thrilled when she gets assigned to be the nanny for the latest box-office king. She has one rule: no celebrity fathers, especially single ones with devilish good looks and rock-hard abs.

But as soon as Cara meets Brad and his adorable little girl, she knows she’s in for a world of trouble. Because there’s something about the way Brad looks at her that makes her believe that some rules are meant to be broken…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Bombshell (Hollywood A-List Book 1)

About the Author: CD Reiss

CD Reiss shot up the USA Today bestseller list with sizzling works like Hardball and Shuttergirl, but she still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God, but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t answer, she’s at the well hauling buckets.

Born in New York City, Reiss moved to Hollywood to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. Unfortunately, her screenwriting went nowhere, but it did give her enough confidence to write novels.

Today she’s adoringly referred to as the “Shakespeare of Smut,” which she thinks is flattering, but it hasn’t gotten her out of chopping a single piece of wood.

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

I stepped out of my comfort zone to read BOMBSHELL, which is far removed from my usual choices.  The premise of a hot Hollywood star with a newly discovered daughter and their relationship with their nanny sounded intriguing.  Brad Sinclair is the stereotype of the young superstar on top of the world.  He’s a good old southern boy from Arkansas who has skyrocketed to Hollywood’s A-List in a few short years.  He’s described as dark haired, tall, and with stunning blue eyes – I couldn’t help but think of Matt Bomer.  His lifestyle is also what one would expect, the mansion with the pool, security, publicist, manager, personal assistant, maids, caterers, and on and on.  While he is a skilled actor and does work very hard, he also plays hard.  His bachelor life is a constant stream of drinking and sexual encounters, often with multiple women simultaneously.  However, he’s always used protection, always.  Well, apparently except for that one time about six years ago, when he got his first big break.  The result of that celebratory liaison has arrived at his doorstep in the person of his daughter, Nicole.  The DNA test proved that she is, indeed, his.  Life as he knew it is about to change.  First step – hire a nanny to look after the constantly crying little girl who just lost her mother.

Cara DuMont genuinely loves children, and has chosen the career of nanny, despite all the pitfalls that come with it, especially in Los Angeles.  A long term dream assignment has just ended because her former boss became engaged, and the new fiancée did not want a beautiful nanny in the house.  Cara was forced to leave the two children she had grown to love, and an ideal situation where the boss was NOT hitting on her.  A very dear friend of hers, who is also a nanny, became fodder for the tabloids when she fell prey to the married man she was working for, and it ruined her career and created havoc in her life.  At the employment agency, Cara is able to comfort the sobbing young child, and Brad determines that she is the one for the job.  Of course, Cara refuses, but a persistent Brad eventually works out a temporary thirty day assignment, to facilitate the transition to a new nanny.

Cara is determined to never see herself in the tabloids or to have a relationship with her employer.  She comes off as very professional, somewhat distant, and always in control.  Inside, though, her heart breaks for the children she always falls in love with and has to leave.  And she is not immune to the appeal of Brad Sinclair.  She immediately begins to fantasize and to dream about him, though she’s determined to never let it happen in real life.  Brad likes women, and he’s very attracted to Cara, but he’s determined to keep the relationship professional, as well.  It seems that neither of them is all that strong, though, because they give in to their scorching chemistry.  And it is hot!

I did not care much for Brad through most of the book.  His lifestyle, and what seemed to me his feelings of entitlement just were a turnoff.  Cara was great with Nicole, but I really didn’t warm up much to her either.  The first part of BOMBSHELL really dragged for me, and I almost gave up.  Then Brad and Cara realize that they don’t want their relationship to end when the thirty days are up.  Brad begins to have some genuine feelings for his daughter, and starts to get real about his life.  Cara begins to consider the possibility of a genuine relationship.  Of course, there are secrets, and bumps in the road as Brad and Cara and Nicole try to create a family.  It was really interesting to me to see the perspective of this situation from the nanny’s point of view.  The chapters alternated, one from each lead character’s point of view, and I enjoyed that very much. The second half of BOMBSHELL flowed much better, and concluded in an almost fairy tale like scenario.  But isn’t that what Hollywood is all about?

Posted in C D Reiss, Contemporary Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – Wedded Bliss by Celeste Bradley

From the New York Times bestselling author of I Thee Wed comes a Wicked Worthingtons novel of a love that will not be denied….

As a ship’s captain, highborn bastard Morgan Pryce has spent his life sailing away from England. The last thing he needs is a wife. But when he fears that his titled half brother, Neville, is about to be snared by a gold digger, Morgan aims to protect Neville by tricking the lovely crook into marrying him first. He knows he can’t allow himself to believe a word she says. If only she weren’t so convincing….

Determined beauty Bliss Worthington is not terribly fond of finding another man waiting for her at the altar—after all, no one tricks a Worthington and gets away with it. Somehow she must persuade her dangerously handsome new husband to grant her an annulment, because her heart is set on his brother.

Soon the newlyweds must deal with a secret but mutual attraction. Morgan finds himself oddly devastated by her tenderness and braveness. When Neville shows up to rescue her from a loveless marriage, she will have to quickly decide which man is the right one for her….

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Wedded Bliss (The Wicked Worthington Series)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Bliss Worthington has been living in the country with her guardian all her life.  Though her parents are alive, their busy lives are centered in London, and they only come to visit her occasionally. Upon her guardian’s death, Bliss comes to town to stay with her cousins, the eccentric and quirky Worthington family.  Because of her abandonment by her parents, Bliss is very cognizant of being left alone.  She has a strong desire to build her own family, one with a solid husband who will never leave her.  Bliss finds just such a man in her dear friend, Neville, Duke of Camberton.  As their friendship grows, Bliss begins to plan their marriage, even though she feels only affection, not a deep, abiding love.  As a duke, Neville will always stay put to manage his estates, and his sweet and amiable nature will surely lead to love down the road.

Morgan Pryce is a sea captain, the illegitimate son of a duke, and Neville’s older half brother.  He is fully acknowledged by Neville, and the two share a deep friendship and love, something rare in Morgan’s life.  When Morgan is contacted by their Uncle Oliver, and advised that a scheming harpy is trying to trick Neville into marriage, he is only too willing to help.  Especially since, if he succeeds, Oliver will supply him with a ship of his own, his lifelong dream.  Oliver has been intercepting letters sent by Bliss to Neville, and has all the details of the wedding plans.  Since Morgan and Neville look so much alike, Oliver plans to put Morgan in place as the bridegroom.  Though this seems farfetched, it’s actually very cleverly done.

When Bliss realizes that she’s been tricked, she demands an annulment.  Of course, Morgan doesn’t agree, he’s eager to consummate the marriage, collect his prize, and head off to sea again.  Bliss, realizing that Morgan thinks her a fortune hunter, decides to prove him wrong by showing what a good wife she’ll be.  She turns his spare and uninviting living quarters into a home, cooks appetizing meals, and treats him with dignity.  What she doesn’t do is go to bed with him – that would cancel out any chance of annulment.  Though they think the worst of each other, Bliss and Morgan can’t deny that they greatly desire one another, and it’s getting harder to resist temptation.

Of course, the marriage greatly hurts Neville, who is very fond of Bliss.  While he hadn’t yet thought of marriage, he would have gone along with Bliss.  Now his anger and hurt are directed at his brother, who he thinks a traitor, and the close bond of love and friendship appears to be severed.  Neither Morgan nor Neville has yet recognized their scheming Uncle Oliver for the evil dirtbag that he truly is.

WEDDED BLISS is such a well written, captivating book.  While I dearly love Morgan, and felt great sympathy for his lot in life, I also was very fond of Neville, who seemed to me deserving of his own happy ending.  If the marriage gets annulled, what will happen to Morgan?  If Morgan and Bliss stay together, how will she realize her goal of having a mate who’s always with her when her husband is gone off to sea most of the time?  Will Morgan and Neville reconcile?  Will sleazy Uncle Oliver get his comeuppance?

I loved reading this book, and the glimpses of the screwball Worthington family only added to my enjoyment.  Aside from the situation in which Bliss finally succumbs to the charms of one of her suitors, which I found  unappealing, this book delivers on all fronts.  (You’ll have to read the book to see who she ends up with.)  Characters to love, (and hate)an interesting and fast paced plot, page turning excitement, and scorching chemistry make WEDDED BLISS a pure delight, with a happy ever after for all.  All who deserve one, that is.

Posted in Celeste Bradley, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Review – The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

Amanda Quick, the bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part, transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins…

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool…

The dead woman had a red-hot secret about up-and-coming leading man Nick Tremayne, a scoop that Irene couldn’t resist—especially since she’s just a rookie at a third-rate gossip rag. But now Irene’s investigation into the drowning threatens to tear down the wall of illusion that is so deftly built around the famous actor, and there are powerful men willing to do anything to protect their investment.

Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago…

With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Girl Who Knew Too Much

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Anna Harris has a fantastic, well paying job, and is very happy with the way her life is going, when it all falls apart.  She finds her boss brutally murdered, leaving her some funds, a mysterious notebook, and a cryptic letter advising her to run and to trust no one.  In fear for her life, Anna leaves New York, heads for California, and changes her identity.  Now known as Irene Glasson, she works for a gossip magazine.  When she arrives at a scheduled meeting to interview a woman regarding some potentially scandalous news about an upcoming star, she finds the woman dead in the hotel swimming pool.  Finding two dead bodies – how lucky can one girl be?

Oliver Ward’s hotel is a haven for celebrities, and is known for not allowing reporters on the premises.  A dead woman found on site is not good for publicity, and Oliver is not letting the reporter leave until he has questioned her thoroughly.  Eventually, Oliver and Irene agree to form a partnership, as they both intend to find out if this death was a murder or an accident.  Oliver has a fascinating history, as he is a former magician, whose career ended with a stunt gone wrong, leaving him with one badly injured leg that requires he now use a cane.  He has never publicly spoken about the incident, insisting that it was purely an accident.

Oliver and Irene are both interesting characters with obviously colorful pasts, which they don’t discuss.  Oliver resents sympathy and curiosity and is tight lipped about his former career.  I liked that he took care of all his former employees and now has them working at his hotel complex.  He inspires loyalty and respect from his staff, which says a lot about his character.  Irene’s choice to become a reporter surprised me, as I would think that she would choose a profession completely out of the public eye.  As the case progressed, and more incidents happen, she becomes more endangered than ever, yet she’s as tenacious as a dog with a bone, refusing to let go.

Oliver and Irene open up enough with each other to act on their attraction and begin an affair.  Little by little, they reveal more of themselves and grow closer.  There is a lot happening, as the original murderer in New York has tracked Anna/Irene down, and is moving in.  Meanwhile, the murderer in California is also making plans to end Irene’s investigation by whatever means necessary.

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH takes place in the 1930’s, a very different time period than Amanda Quick’s usual books.  I enjoyed this time period, although I do prefer Regency or Victorian.  The romance between Oliver and Irene was warm, intelligent, and full of mutual respect, but I missed the scorching heat that Amanda Quick can write when she chooses to.  The story moved along quickly, with never a dull moment, but the focus was definitely on the suspense, not the romance.  I enjoyed THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH a lot, and I particularly liked the twist at the end, which leaves the door open for future frolics in Burning Cove, California.

Posted in Amanda Quick, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor – Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Review

All were shocked at the announcement of the “cursed” Lady Claire Cavensham to Lord Alexander Hallworth, the Marquess of Pembrooke, especially since she is already engaged to another unfortunate Lord. Perhaps she will make it to the altar this time with one of these fine gentlemen! —Midnight Cryer

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…

Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper…

“Full-bodied romance…with intelligence and heart.”—Cathy Maxwell
“Captivating characters and a romance that sizzles.”—Eloisa James
“Will leave you swooning.”—Sabrina Jeffries

The Bad Luck Bride is the first in a new Regency romance series from Janna MacGregor!

Read an Excerpt:

Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.

She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”

This night could not end with her escaping, so he tried another tactic. “You need to protect your Wrenwood estate and your wealth from lechers who would feed upon your vulnerability. Not to mention stop that ridiculous curse.”

“I have two.” She held up two gloved fingers.

“Two? Two what? Curses?” No one at his club had uttered a peep about another curse.

“Estates. I have two estates, Wrenwood and Lockhart.” She returned his stare.

Her answer was unexpected, but his business experience had taught him to show nothing. The report from his private investigator had not mentioned additional properties. Thoughts were percolating if she chose to disclose this information.

A razor of lightning split the sky. She flinched and took a step closer to him, but her reaction had nothing to do with him. It was the storm.

Her gaze darted to the exit of the alcove, then she returned her attention to him. With a slight shrug of her shoulders, his evening jacket fell into her hands. She offered it to him. “My lord, good night.” Outside their hideaway, the voices of a man and a woman floated in the air.

Alex put his hand on her shoulder to prevent her escape. “Will you give me some assistance? I seem to have lost my valet.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Besides, if you leave now, whoever is out there will see us.”

She ventured a halfhearted grin and held his jacket in two hands. With a little persistence, he wrestled his way into the evening coat. Her hands smoothed the material across his shoulders and back, causing a pleasant sensation to cascade through him at the slight touch.

Claire took several steps toward the pathway. In a flash, he moved beside her and grasped her elbow. When he brought her close, something flared between them as he gazed into her haunted eyes. Whether the desire to keep her next to him was passion or the need to protect a vulnerable woman made little difference. He pulled her into the shadows and brought his mouth to her ear. “Wait until they pass.” The warmth from her skin beckoned.

A flash of lightning lit the gardens and the alcove.

With a gentle hand, he pushed her against the wall and stood to the side so he blocked her body from view.

A clap of thunder cracked as if the sky were breaking. It rolled into a loud rumble that refused to die.

“Please.” Her whisper grew ragged as she struggled for breath. In one fluid motion, she pulled the lapels of his evening coat toward her. She buried her face against his chest and pressed the rest of her body to his, almost as if she sought sanctuary inside. “Don’t leave me.” Her voice had weakened, the sound fragile, as if she’d break into a million pieces.

“I won’t. I promise.” Alex pulled her tight. One hand sank into the soft satin of her skirts while the other slid around the nape of her neck to hold her close to his chest. It was the most natural thing in the world to hold her. Her body fit perfectly against his.

With the slightest movement, she pulled away. Her eyes wildly searched his. For what, he couldn’t fathom.

He lowered his mouth until his lips were mere inches from tasting her. Madness had consumed him. All he wanted was to kiss her thoroughly until she forgot her fear—until she forgot everything but him.

Her breath mingled with his, and the slight moan that escaped her was intoxicating. Nothing in his entire life felt as right as this moment. He bent to brush his lips against hers.

“Pembrooke? Have you seen Lady—”

Claire leaned back and released his lapels. Without her warmth, he experienced a sudden loss of equilibrium. He turned with a snarl to greet the intruders.

Immediately, Lord Fredrick Honeycutt and his sister, Lady Sophia, took a step back as their eyes grew round as dinner plates.

The first to recover, Honeycutt announced, “I see you found Lady Claire.” He bowed his head slightly, then lowered his voice. “The Duke of Langham is looking for his niece and is directly behind us.”

A sense of wariness flooded Alex’s mind when Claire’s uncle strolled forward and came into sharp focus. As he stood, his feet spread shoulder width apart, the duke’s presence commanded everyone’s attention. His visage held the hint of a smile, but the two large fists resting by his sides were the real barometer of his mood. “Claire, are you all right?” The affection in his voice was at odds with the fury flashing in his eyes.

Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

After his younger sister, Alice, commits suicide, the Marquess of Pembrooke, Alexander Hallworth, has only one goal – revenge.  Alice left a note, confessing that she couldn’t bear the shame of being pregnant and unwed, and asking Alex not to blame Paul, one of his closest friends.  When confronted, Lord Paul Barstowe is surprisingly belligerent, and verbally attacks Alex in return.  Frustrated by his inability to physically harm Paul, Alex devises a plan to completely ruin his life.  Over the next year, he systematically takes everything Paul has in the way of property and money.  When Paul becomes engaged to an heiress, Alex decides that he will take her, too.

Lady Claire Cavensham is the orphaned daughter of a duke and heiress to a great fortune.  Her life, however, has been full of many adversities.  The tragic accident which took her parents, and the death or serious injury of three fiancés has left her rumored to be cursed.  Now, Paul is fiancé number four, and she just longs to be married and start her own family and put the curse behind her.  When Alex forces Paul to cry off from the engagement on the very night of what was to be their engagement ball, Alex steps in.  He comforts Claire, and makes an announcement that THEY are engaged.  More behind the scene machinations from Alex ensure that Claire accepts and they agree to marry within the week.

It doesn’t matter to Alex who Paul’s fiancée is, his only thought is to take her away.  Surprisingly, he finds Claire lovely and desirable.  He has no intention of hurting her – in his mind, he’s rescuing her from a fortune hunting scoundrel.  Alex finds it easy to shower her with kindness and to comfort her.  He agrees to all her marriage terms, and the kisses they share hint that their life together may be full of passion and contentment.

In fact, their marriage gets off to a lovely start.  Alex takes Claire to his estate and allows her to set the pace for their physical relationship, though by now he is burning for her.  They grow closer every day, and begin to like each other.  Claire fits beautifully into his world.  They’ve begun to sleep together, and their chemistry is scorching.  Both have begun to fall in love and are thankful for the good luck that led them to this marriage.  But happy ever after is not so easy.  What if Alice’s situation wasn’t so cut and dried?  What if Alex didn’t know all the facts?  And what if Claire were to discover her new husband only married her out of a need for revenge?

THE BAD LUCK BRIDE is very well written, especially for a debut novel.  Claire is a very sympathetic character, of course, as she has been the victim of tragedy all her life, and now is the pawn in a twisted game.  I liked her, and only wanted her happiness.  Alex is a little harder to peg.  He is a credit to his title, he manages his lands way he should, and is generous and hard working.  He loves his family, treats them well and does his duty.  Though his motives were skewed, he treats Claire like a queen, and helps her through her residual nightmares. Yet the guilt he feels over not protecting his sister drives everything else to the background, and I have mixed feelings about him.  This story is a compelling read, and intersperses light and loving moments with very dark ones.  I can’t deny that I was a bit unsettled, yet enthralled and engrossed while reading  THE BAD LUCK BRIDE.

Author Bio:
Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. The Bad Luck Bride is her first novel.

Social Links:
Twitter: @JannaMacGregor
Instagram: @jannamacgregor
Twitter: @SMPRomance
Facebook: @SMPRomance

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Review – The Dukes of Vauxhall by Shana Galen, Christi Caldwell, Theresa Romain, and Vanessa Kelly

Four dukes. Two balls. One prizefight.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens will never be the same.

After England’s victory in the Battle of Waterloo, the Prince Regent arranges a series of lavish celebrations at London’s notorious Vauxhall Gardens. The royal festivities bring together the rich and the desperate, the criminal and the lordly…and allow four very different dukes to find the love of a lifetime.

A proper viscount is kidnapped by a duke of the criminal underworld, only to encounter a mysterious woman from his past. A retired prizefighter, once known as the Duke of the Ring, stakes his reputation on a scrappy young boxer for the sake of a long-lost love. A traveler who inherited a dukedom needs a tightrope dancer’s help with a fake engagement that just might turn real. And the buccaneer son of a royal duke goes hunting for a respectable, highborn wife to salvage his scandalous reputation.

Let the pleasures begin…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Dukes of Vauxhall

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

THE DUKES OF VAUXHALL is a collection of four concurrent short stories taking place, at least partially, in the famous (or infamous) Pleasure Gardens at the time the end of the war was being celebrated.  Not all of these tales are of the typical highborn duke, but rather a variety of the noble and the not-so-noble, and undoubtedly with unique storylines.  Shana Galen’s is a somewhat dark story of lovers from two different worlds.  Christi Caldwell’s lovely story is about forgiveness and a second chance at love.  Theresa Romain’s touching story is also about second chances, and choices.  Vanessa Kelly’s delightful story is about opposites attracting, and having to battle opposition  to be together.  You expect quality from these four talented ladies, and they deliver in this most enjoyable collection.  Recommended.

TAKEN BY THE DUKE by Shana Galen

Henry and Kate were childhood friends with respectable families.  Henry grew up to become a barrister, then unexpectedly inherited a viscountcy.  Kate’s father took a spiral, and her family lost everything, and Kate made a decision to take a much different path into a life of vice and crime.  When Henry’s new title forces him to become the party planner for the Regent’s birthday celebration at Vauxhall, his preparations put a crimp in the style of the criminal element.  The reigning crime lord, known as the Duke of Vauxhall, has Henry kidnapped in order to lay down the law to him.  Imagine Henry’s surprise to find that the “Duke” is really his long lost childhood friend, Kate.  Though hardened by her current life, Kate chooses to only warn Henry instead of seriously harming, or even killing him.  Their continued meetings cause a strong attraction to develop, which really was born years ago as they were youngsters just beginning to mature.  How could there possibly be any future between a respected peer and a wanted crime lord?

FIGHTING FOR HIS LADY by Christi Caldwell

Patience is the daughter of a former fighter, now a renowned instructor.  When a young man, Godrick, comes to train with him, Patience soon finds herself falling in love.  Over the course of his training, they plan to marry and build a future together.  When it turns out that Godrick has neglected to share the truth of his birth and his availability, Patience is devastated and sends him away.  Godrick’s path took him to success and wealth, while Patience’s family is living a threadbare existence.  Now, ten years later, Patience’s younger brother has a shot at a large prize in a bout with the top fighter around, but he’s not quite ready.  Godrick is now an instructor, and Patience knows that he is the only one who can prepare her brother in the short time left.  She swallows her pride, and seeks out Godrick to ask this favor.  Over the course of time, neither Godrick nor Patience has loved anyone else or has forgotten the other.  Can past wrongs be forgiven, and can this couple realize that they belong together forever?

THE PRODIGAL DUKE by Theresa Romain

Leo and Poppy are great friends, and are headed on the path to happy-ever-after, when Leo’s older brother, the duke, declares that he intends to marry Poppy.  Wanting her to have the best, Leo leaves the country, not returning for six years, and then, only at his inheriting the dukedom upon his brother’s death.  Poppy turned down the duke’s proposal and has never married, and is now earning a living as Madame Haut, tightrope walker at Vauxhall Gardens.  When Leo finds Poppy, it’s only to learn that she is pregnant and unmarried.  As soon as she has sufficient funds, she plans to leave the country to raise her child in France.  Any dreams of a reconciliation are gone, as how can a duke possibly claim another’s child (and possibly the next duke) as his own?


Roman is the illegitimate son of a royal duke, who has spent years as a privateer.  Now his father wants him to settle down  and find a high ranking noble lady to marry.  While Antonia is an heiress, there are also rumors about her birth, and she has a direct and quirky personality.  At first glance, Roman dismisses her, but they more they meet, the more he’s determined to have her.  Antonia’s forthrightness is purely delightful, as is their attraction to each other.  Their conversations are guaranteed to bring a smile and you can’t help but root for them as they try to convince Antonia’s watchdog father and the duke that they belong together.

   (The heat level varies from kisses to warm intimacy.  The sexual content is not overly explicit.)

Posted in Christi Caldwell, Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Shana Galen, Theresa Romain, Vanessa Kelly | 3 Comments

Spotlight Tour – Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford – Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Title: Nothing Like a Duke

Author: Jane Ashford

Series: The Duke’s Sons, #4

ISBN: 9781492621652

Pub date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

 He wants her.  She has no intention of wanting him.

But even Flora has to admit…  There’s nothing like a Duke.

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful and independent Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about the beauty haunting his thoughts.

Too bad the lady in question has no intention of being forgotten.

JANE ASHFORD, a beloved author of historical romances, has been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, and Spain, as well as the United States. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Read an Excerpt:

A protruding bit of bramble caught the side of Flora’s pelisse. She twisted to reach for it, and a whole raft of briars shifted with her, entangling the other side of her skirts, her right arm, and the brim of her bonnet. If she pulled away, it would rip the cloth. She struggled a little; more thorns dug in. “Blast it, I suppose you were right, you wretched dog,” she exclaimed, and discovered that Plato was gone.

Flora lifted a hand to free her hat. The movement tipped another part of the bush, which swayed and seemed to grab at her. A second branch lodged in her bonnet. She felt several claw at her back. A stem lashed across her neck. That one drew blood. She tried to step back, and was pricked by more thorns, through her clothes, from all directions.

Flora went very still. She saw that the path petered out just ahead. Or perhaps this hadn’t been a path at all, but merely a deceptive opening in the vegetation. She hadn’t been paying attention. She tried again to move. She was trapped in a sea of briars. The thorns were long and wickedly barbed. They pricked the skin of her neck, her arm, her back, her side.

She became aware of a rustling in the leaves near her feet. What next? The badgers? Snakes? No, of course not snakes. It was far too cold.

A small black-furred head poked through an opening at the base of the briars. Evading the thorns with no visible effort, Plato emerged and stared up at her. “Oh, you’re back, are you?” said Flora. He sat down at her feet. “Come to gloat? Point out that if I’d followed you, I wouldn’t be in this predicament?”

Plato looked at her. Not judgmentally, because that was impossible.

“Go fetch help,” commanded Flora. The dog didn’t move. “Some clever gardeners. A footman from the house. Anyone. Go!”

“Plato? Where are you, you dratted animal?” called a voice nearby.

“Lord Robert?” she called.

There was a short silence. “Flora?”

“Yes. I’ve, ah, become entangled in some brambles. Plato doesn’t appear to care in the least. Or, actually, he’s staring at me as if it was all my fault.” She frowned down at the dog. “Does he ever blink? He’s really a bit uncanny, don’t you—”

Robert appeared on the path. “Good God!” He started forward.

“Be careful! It’s very easy to get caught. If you touch one branch, the whole mass moves.”

“I see.” He examined the arching stems. “You really are caught, aren’t you?” His lips twitched.

“If you laugh, I’ll…make you sorry,” Flora promised. Plato made one of his odd grumpy gargling sounds. “And you! I’ll find a badger and hand you over to him.”

Robert choked. “So, would you say you’re in need of rescue?”

“Just get me out!”

Robert moved a few steps closer. He could see that the thorns had barbs like fishhooks, ready to rip and tear if not removed very carefully. There was a trickle of blood on Flora’s neck. After a moment of calculation, he eeled between two branches. He had to stop once and detach thorns from his sleeve before he reached her side.

“These things are diabolical,” she said. “When I turned to pull loose, they seemed to…sort of lunge at me.”

“Stay very still.”

“I know!” She let out a huff of breath. “I beg your pardon. This is…rather irritating.” She smiled an apology.

Robert felt a catch in his chest, as if his heart had stumbled briefly. “Right then. Move back, Plato,” he said. For once, the little dog obeyed him, slipping easily out to a more open spot.

He began on the closest branch, embedded in the skirts of Flora’s pelisse. He had to kneel to reach it properly. His knife was small for the tough fibers. The bush swayed as he sawed at the branch. A spray of thorns rasped across his hair, but didn’t catch hold.

Robert soon pricked his skin. There was no way to hold the branch still without being stuck, and he’d left his gloves indoors when he’d seen Plato shoot wildly out of the bushes and then go haring off again.

Blood made the blasted thing slippery. Robert got out his handkerchief, used it to wrap the branch, and went back to work. At last, he was through. The severed stem sprang back a little, he was glad to see, giving him a few inches of working room. He looked up. “One down,” he said with a smile.

The heated gaze he encountered went through him like a thunderbolt. He was suddenly acutely aware of his position, right in among her skirts. His shoulder rested against her thigh. The scent of her—flowery perfume and sheer female—enveloped him.

“You’ve hurt yourself,” she said.

“It’s nothing.” Intensely aroused, Robert eased to his feet. Flora smiled at him again. Her fierce blue eyes raked him. He knew, absolutely, that she was remembering their kisses.

The next branch was wrapped around her far sleeve. He had to press close to her to avoid the briars at his back as he reached for it. And stay there while he cut through the stringy fiber of the bramble. The feel of her—curve of breast and hip, her cheek resting on his chest—made him clumsier. At one point a thorn drove deep into the pad of his index finger, and he stifled an oath.

Flora was having trouble breathing. She could feel his heartbeat, so near her ear, accelerating in tandem with her own. She could feel his muscles shift against her as he cut at the brambles. If she looked up, carefully, she could see his face—handsome, intent. The lips that had thrilled her were only inches away. But she couldn’t move enough to offer her own again. She had to remain very still, plastered against him.

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Flora Jennings is a scholarly type of lady who has no use for society.  Her mother was ostracized when she married Flora’s father, and retreated to live a quiet life.  She made a point of drumming into Flora how much being snubbed hurt, and Flora learned the lesson well.  Despite all her misgivings, she has been persuaded to attend a houseparty with her friend, Harriet, and is dismayed to find Robert Gresham in attendance as well.  Flora and Robert have somewhat of a recent history, as they spent time together while Robert was pursuing scholarly interests.  Though he’s the son of a duke, Robert happily spent time in Flora’s world and became quite fond of her.  He eventually gave up on the relationship due to Flora’s seeming  reluctance, and decided to forget her.  He’s only attending the houseparty to please his friend, and is very surprised to see Flora.  Despite his resolution, he decides to further their acquaintance to see where it may lead.

I haven’t read the previous books in this series, so I did feel a little at sea for not having seen Flora’s and Robert’s interactions firsthand.  Flora comes off as very wary, a little petulant, and often stubborn, as she keeps insisting that she can take care of herself.  As the book progresses, she does manage to loosen up and take part in some of the activities, even enduring the efforts of the host’s daughter to paint her in an unfavorable light with good humor.  Robert is an endearing man, charming, good natured, and kind.  He even rescues and adopts a sadly abused mutt, whom he dubs “Plato.”  This is no ordinary dog, and he’s as much a main character as Robert and Flora, and sometimes manages to steal the show.

NOTHING LIKE A DUKE is about two people from different walks of life who have to learn to live in each other’s world if they want a future together.  Robert seemed much more open from the get go, but Flora had a lot of growing to do.  I did not like Flora at first, and while I did warm up to her somewhat, I never really grew to love her.  The pacing of the story seemed a bit uneven, as some parts dragged, while others were interesting and amusing.  The romance was sweet, but not scorching.  For those following the Duke’s Sons series, NOTHING LIKE A DUKE will be a must read.

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