Review – The Earl Most Likely by Jane Goodger

The Brides of St. Ives
 
The picturesque seaside town of St. Ives is home to all manner of treasures . . .

It’s not every day a young woman is offered ten thousand pounds for a few month’s work—especially the plain, shy daughter of a tin mine owner. The only thing special about Harriet Anderson is her extraordinary memory for even the smallest, most obscure detail. So when she’s asked by a gentleman to help restore his once magnificent ancestral home, she simply can’t refuse, no matter how scandalous the position. The money will mean freedom from her callous parents, and a life of independence. Harriet doesn’t imagine dreaming of anything more . . .

Augustus Lawton, Lord Berkley, cares about only one thing: restoring his beloved Costille House to its former, historically correct, glory. His late wife had taken great vindictive delight in transforming the old castle into a modern Victorian nightmare. Harriet’s remarkable memory will be invaluable in repairing it—and in helping him solve his wife’s murder. Yet as they work together, Augustus finds that besides her uncanny gift, Harriet possesses other priceless qualities. And as the castle’s beauty is gradually revealed, he can’t help noticing, so is hers . . .

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                 The Earl Most Likely (The Brides of St. Ives)

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

No one seems to notice Harriet Anderson, because her older sister, Clara, is one of the most beautiful women around.  Even her parents focus all their attention on Clara, hoping she’ll make a successful marriage that will elevate their family status in society.  The Andersons obtained their wealth from a tin mine, and the girls’ mother is a truly awful social climber.  Harriet is shy to begin with, but due to her mother’s constant belittling, she has withdrawn even further, only feeling at ease with her sister and her small circle of friends.  Harriet does have a unique talent – a photographic memory.  When the Earl of Berkley overhears Harriet and her friends playing a game which tests the accuracy of Harriet’s memory, he believes he’s found the answer to his prayers.

Augustus Lawton, Earl of Berkley, is widowed, and his brief arranged marriage was a farce.  When his new bride showed her contempt for him, he left her at his beloved Costille House and traveled to America for two years.  When he returned home, determined to confront his bride, he found that she had transformed his historic home into a modern feminine frilly nightmare.  Shortly after, his wife dies, and Berkley is determined to restore his home to its previous glory, only to find that his wife burned the detailed plans, and he is clueless as to how to proceed.  He asks Harriet if she had ever toured his home while it was open, and it happens that she did – twice.  He makes her a financial offer that will allow her to live independently of her horrible parents if she will agree to oversee the restoration of Costille House, and she agrees.

Berkley is not very likeable at first.  Though he tells himself that he doesn’t really want his title, and enjoyed his time in America when he was just known as “Gus,” he still has a snobbishness that lets him look down on Harriet.  He knows it’s time for him to marry and father an heir, and he’s determined that only a blue blooded society lady with an impeccable family background will do. He also belittles Harriet in his own mind, calling her plain and skinny.

Strangely enough, after Harriet’s initial wariness wears off, she becomes at ease in Berkley’s company, and begins to amuse him.  Soon he begins to find little things about her attractive – her lips, her eyes, her hair, when it’s unbound.  Eventually he gives in to the temptation to steal a kiss, which Harriet greatly enjoys.  Though he struggles with his honor, Berkley finally asks Harriet to be his mistress, and she refuses.  However, she’s not averse to being his lover for the duration of time she will be working on his home’s restoration.

Harriet has no illusions about herself, and she’s aware that she will probably never receive a marriage proposal.  She also knows that she’s developed strong feelings for Berkley, and decides to enjoy passion while she has the opportunity.  They arrange their meetings at an abandoned cottage, and begin their no-strings, no-regrets affair.  Though Berkley is cynical about love, he finds that he is falling under Harriet’s spell, and he doesn’t think he can let his “Catalina” go.  I greatly enjoyed seeing the change in Berkley, even as he fights himself and what he thinks is correct and proper for his title.

I hate the treatment that Harriet received from her parents.  To them, she may well have been invisible.  They spared no expense for Clara, yet even left Harriet at home in the country with servants as they traveled to London.  It seems that no one could see Harriet’s beauty behind the shabby clothes and the severe hairstyle.  I love that Berkley’s eyes were finally opened to her, and the self confidence that it gave Harriet.

THE EARL MOST LIKELY is one of those books that I loved reading and devoured in one sitting.  I enjoyed Berkley’s character growth and Harriet’s blossoming.  Author Jane Goodger has written a well paced, engaging, and romantic story, which didn’t shy away from all the social hurdles that this couple will face if they are to have a future together.  I heartily recommend this well written and delightful book.

Posted in Historical Romance, Jane Goodger, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – Surrender to Ruin by Carolyn Jewel

Her beauty is divine. His heart yearns for another. Will attempted revenge result in true love?

Emily is the last unmarried Sinclair sister. For all her spellbinding beauty, she’s never been able to clear a certain man from her head and her heart. He’s made it clear there’s no hope, and now he’s about to marry her best friend.

The Earl of Bracebridge knows how to hold a grudge. The former prizefighter turned disreputable nobleman hoped to marry Emily’s sister until she was forced to wed another. After his hopes for a suitable marriage are dashed once again, he seizes the chance to settle the score with Thomas Sinclair by eloping with Emily and consigning them both to a union without love.

Emily knows Bracebridge loves another, but every time they’re alone, sparks fly. Can Bracebridge get past his heartbreak to realize the perfect woman didn’t get away, she’s already his wife?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                       Surrender To Ruin (Sinclair Sisters Book 3)

My Review:                  

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Emily Sinclair’s father has sold and gambled away everything, even their home.  Emily is all that he has left, so he’s arranged to marry her off against her will.  Devon Carlisle, Earl of Bracebridge, bought up Mr. Sinclair’s gaming vowels when he learned of them, and proceeds to his home to confront him.  After a heated argument, as Devon is leaving, he encounters the odious man who plans to marry Emily.  Devon makes the decision that he will marry Emily himself, thus saving her from a horrible marriage, and thwarting his enemy, her father.

The problem is that Emily and Devon have a history, and it’s not a happy or friendly one.  Devon was deeply in love with Anne, Emily’s older sister, and planned to marry her.  Anne found herself in a compromising situation with another man, who happened to be one of Devon’s best friends, and was forced to marry him.  Anne and her husband eventually came to love each other and have a very happy and solid marriage.  Meanwhile, Emily has always been in love with Devon, who only scorned her and thought her vain and shallow, while never really knowing her.  He can’t deny, however, that he has always lusted after her.

Devon and Emily race to Scotland to be married, and have no expectations of finding any happiness.  Devon is still devoted to Anne, whom he thinks about constantly, and Emily is aware that Devon will never love her, and stoically accepts this.  They do connect on a basic, physical level in a big way.  Their chemistry in the bedroom is off the charts, while during the day Devon is polite but distant, and Emily hides her broken heart behind a brilliant smile.

Devon is a former fighter, as he never expected to inherit the title with several older brothers in line ahead of him.  He’s a large, muscular man, who Emily delights in calling a brute, though she loves the rough side of him.  Devon can’t get enough of Emily sexually, though he resents the physical allure she has for him. As he feels that he’s being unfaithful somehow to his true love, Anne, he sometimes acts cruel, or just disinterested in Emily during the day.  He even invites friends to his home, including a former lover, who takes pleasure in belittling Emily.

Emily enjoys her nights with Devon, but doesn’t expect or even try to win his love.  Though she’s nothing like the vain and shallow woman Devon thinks her to be, she is very hopeless and undemanding.  I kept wanting to urge her to rail at him, or to try to make him love her, but she kept her deepest emotions hidden behind her placid expression.  She just accepted that Devon would always love her sister, and that was just the way it was going to be.

SURRENDER TO RUIN was a somewhat difficult read because of the seeming hopelessness of the situation.  Devon’s love has lasted for years, and I hated his unwillingness to give it up.  Finally his eyes are opened, but it may be too late, as Emily is offered sanctuary by her brother-in-law, and has decided that she may be better off living away from Devon.  This couple’s possible happy ending doesn’t come easily at all, and they both suffer much pain and heartache along the (decidedly steamy) way.

 

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Review – If Ever I Should Love You by Cathy Maxwell

Once upon a time there were three young ladies who, despite their fortunes, had been on the Marriage Mart a bit too long. They were known as the “Spinster Heiresses” . . . 

He’s inherited a title, but not a penny to speak of, so the Earl of Rochdale knows he must find a wife—preferably one tolerably pretty and good-tempered, but definitely wealthy, and willing to exchange her fortune for his family name.

His choice: Leonie Charnock, one of the season’s “Spinster Heiresses.” Years before, the earl had saved the dark-eyed beauty’s reputation, and she is still breathtakingly lovely, leading Rochdale to hope that their marriage will be more than in name only.

However, Leonie doesn’t want to be anyone’s wife. Nearly destroyed by the secrets in her past, Leonie agrees to their union with one condition: there will be a wedding but no bedding. But it’s a condition the new Countess Rochdale isn’t sure even she can keep . . .

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                             If Ever I Should Love You: A Spinster Heiresses Novel (The Spinster Heiresses)

My Review:          

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Roman Gilchrist has unexpectedly inherited a title, but unfortunately, no wealth to go with it.  The new Earl of Rochdale not only has an estate in desperate need of funds, but has inherited his predecessor’s debts, as well.  Roman is informed that there are three ladies, dubbed as “The Spinster Heiresses,” who may be amenable to marriage.  When Roman learns that one of the heiresses is Leonie Charnock, he is definitely interested.  He and Leonie have a history, going back six years, when he was a soldier, and she was living in India with her parents.  Roman feels that Leonie owes him a debt, and he intends to pursue her to claim it.

Leonie is living an unhappy life since her return from India six years ago.  When she was just seventeen, she unwisely dangled two men on a string, one of them being Roman.  She finally chose to elope with the other man, Arthur, but changed her mind at the last moment.  Arthur objected, and his actions caused one crime which led to another, which led to certain ruin for Leonie.  Roman intervened, taking the blame, though he was innocent, and losing his career as a soldier, and his reputation in the process.  Meanwhile, Leonie and her parents scurried home to England.  Though she’s unhappy living with her indifferent parents, Leonie has no desire to marry, unless it’s a marriage in name only.  Still, when Roman returns, and approaches her, she knows that she owes him a debt.  Her father accepts Roman’s suit, and her fate is sealed.  Though she continually tries to force Roman to agree that it’s to be a “white” marriage, he never consents to this.

Surprisingly, Roman’s patience and skill overcome Leonie’s fears about physical intimacy, and they start their married life passionately and satisfyingly.  Roman even feels that the love he felt for young Leonie from six years ago never died.  This brief interlude of happiness is very short lived, as it turns out that there is another secret Leonie is hiding, an addiction that she, herself, doesn’t recognize for what it is.  As the situation becomes clear to Roman, he is horrified, and considers putting Leonie aside.

IF EVER I SHOULD LOVE YOU is not an easy or lighthearted read.  It is very real and intense and deals seriously with a subject often glossed over in typical historical romances.  Leonie’s addiction makes her extremely unlikeable in certain situations – there were many times throughout the book, when I felt she could not be redeemed.  I even railed at her for not being able to see the truth about herself.  While Roman is definitely the wronged party here, both in the present and the past, he is not a perfect or blameless character either.  He intentionally lied to Leonie about his estate, painting a much rosier picture than the real sad state of affairs.  Both of these characters had to show strength and growth, and make a solid commitment to each other and their future in order to find their way to the possibility of happiness.  Their journey is not easy or quick, and there are failures along the way.  Though at times this was an uncomfortable read, and I became frustrated with their failings, I do believe Leonie and Roman earned their happy ever after.

*See Spoiler after rating below if you wish to see a possible “trigger” alert.

 

*Spoiler AlertPlease only read further if you wish to learn details of the book which may be “triggers” for some readers.

Be advised that this book contains rape as well as alcohol addiction, along with its accompanying effects.

Posted in Cathy Maxwell, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Best of 2017 – My Favorite Reads

It’s time again to choose those books that I felt were the best I read in 2017.  Throughout the year, as I read and review, I keep another list which includes my top picks.  This year I had over thirty!  It was so hard to reduce the list down, and I was unable to choose only ten.  So, here are my top fifteen books of 2017, along with two novellas that were so excellent, I had to mention them.  Below is a listing of each book.  Clicking on the title will take you to the Amazon buy page, and clicking on “See My Review Here,” will take you to my detailed review.  I loved all of these books and heartily recommend them!

 Someone to Wed (A Westcott Novel)  by Mary Balogh by Mary Balogh

See my review here

 

 Between the Devil and the Duke (A Season for Scandal) by Kelly Bowen

See my review here

 

The Devil Is a Marquess (Rescued from Ruin Book 4) by Elisa Braden

Review pending

 

The Scot Beds His Wife (Victorian Rebels) by Kerrigan Byrne

See my review here

 

A Momentary Marriage by Candace Camp

See my review here

 

A Perfect Gentleman: A Novel by Candace Camp

See my review here

 

A Duke in Shining Armor: Difficult Dukes by Loretta Chase

See my review here

 

The Duchess Deal: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

See my review here

 

If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles) by Anna Harrington

See my review here

 

The Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society) by Madeline Hunter

See my review here

 

Wilde in Love: The Wildes of Lindow Castle by Eloisa James

See my review here

 

Trusting Miss Trentham (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series Book 3) by Emily Larkin

See my review here

 

The English Duke by Karen Ranney

See my review here

 

Scandalous Ever After (Romance of the Turf Book 2) by Theresa Romain

See my review here

 

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

See my review here

 

Catching Captain Nash (The Dashing Widows Book 6) by Anna Campbell

See my review here

 

When the Marquess Falls by Lorraine Heath

See my review here

Posted in Anna Campbell, Anna Harrington, Candace Camp, Elisa Braden, Eloisa James, Emily Larkin, Karen Ranney, Kelly Bowen, Kerrigan Byrne, Loretta Chase, Lorraine Heath, Madeline Hunter, Mary Balogh, Rose, Sarah Shoemaker, Special Posts, Tessa Dare, Theresa Romain | Leave a comment

Review – To the Duke, With Love by Amelia Grey

There may be times when a gentleman is desperate to gain a lady’s attention, but a gentleman would never resort to desperate measures to obtain it.
―A Proper Gentleman’s Guide to Wooing the Perfect Lady

Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn is guardian for his sweet, younger sister. Due to his misguided past as one of the infamous Rakes of St James, Hawk is hoping to avoid the Season by securing a match for her before it begins. He has the perfect gentleman in mind, but for one infuriating―and unexpectedly intoxicating―obstacle: the intended groom’s own sister, Miss Loretta Quick.

Having narrowly avoided her own arranged marriage to an unacceptable nobleman, Loretta is determined that her dear brother―a gentle, good-natured soul―should marry for love. Matching wits with Hawk may be her greatest challenge yet. . .until she realizes it may also be her greatest pleasure. For the young duke’s irresistible charm has not only begun to crumble her stubborn resolve, it has claimed her heart in true love as well. . .

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    To the Duke, With Love: The Rakes of St. James

My Review:           

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Loretta Quick and her brother, Paxton, have been dependent on their uncle, the earl, since their parents died.  When Loretta bailed at the last minute on an arranged marriage to a viscount, the earl was furious.  He coerced her into making a solemn promise about her future, and banished her to his country estate, far away from society.  Every request Loretta made to visit town or a friend has been soundly rejected by the earl, and after several years, she has come to terms with her lot in life.  Though Paxton lives there as well, he regularly leaves to visit friends and spends time in town, at least, as much as his small allowance from the earl allows.  Loretta is surprised when the Duke of Hawksthorn shows up at their remote home, requesting to see Paxton.

Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn, or Hawk, as he is familiarly known, is anxious to see his younger sister, Adele, settled into an engagement before she makes her come out.  A decade ago, Hawk, and his two friends made a wager among themselves, which involved the twelve debutantes of that social season.  No one else was to ever learn of it, but everything went south, and word leaked out.  Now there is talk that someone with a long memory may be seeking revenge by causing trouble for Adele in retribution.  Hawk feels that if Adele is securely engaged, she’ll be beyond the reach of the would-be-troublemaker, and he also feels that Paxton Quick is the perfect match for Adele.  He sends correspondence to Paxton to set up a meeting date, and sets off to visit Paxton’s home, only to find him away visiting friends.

Loretta’s own experience with an arranged marriage ensures that she’s not a fan of Hawk’s plan.  Though she will support Paxton’s decision, she plans to encourage him to hold out until he falls madly in love.  Loretta has no qualms about telling Hawk how she feels, and he’s taken aback to be spoken to in that way.  Surprisingly, he finds that he enjoys someone standing up to him, and not trying to earn his favor.  A lame horse ensures that Hawk must spend the night, and he is quick to act on his attraction to Loretta, though he normally doesn’t trifle with innocents.  Although Loretta succumbs to some steamy kisses, she’s not about to risk an affair with a known rake, and calls a halt.  Hawk respects her decision, and concedes the battle, but not the war.

Paxton is willing to at least meet Adele, and consider the possibility of an engagement, though he will not commit himself just yet.  As Paxton and Adele become further acquainted, Hawk uses every opportunity to spend time with Loretta, and to further his attempted seduction.  When their intense attraction turns to love, Hawk finds that there is a serious roadblock to his marrying Loretta.  This obstacle, and its resolution is out of the ordinary, and is something I don’t recall ever reading about in a romance novel.  TO THE DUKE, WITH LOVE is an enjoyable read with a satisfying happily ever after.  It is book Two of the Rakes of St. James series, but can easily be read as a standalone.

 

Posted in Amelia Grey, Historical Romance, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – The Lady in Red by Kelly Bowen

A lady with secrets, a man with a burning desire, a love that breaks all the rules

Lady Charlotte Beaumont has spent her whole life being ignored. By her parents, her brother, even the servants. So she was secretly able to develop her talent for painting well beyond the usual watercolors. Too bad no one will let her actually use it-women are rarely accepted into the Royal Academy. But when a connection at the Haverhall School for Young Ladies gets Charlotte her dream commission, she’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. Including disguising herself as “Charlie.”

Flynn Rutledge has something to prove. His lowly upbringing is not going to stop him from achieving his artistic dreams. This commission is the key to his future, and his partner, an unknown youth in oversized clothes who is barely old enough to shave, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. But Charlie does inspire Flynn’s artistic passion-something he worried he might have lost forever. For all his street smarts, nothing can prepare Flynn for the shock of Charlie’s true identity. He doesn’t care that she’s a woman, but a lady of the ton is a different matter altogether . . . 

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Lady in Red (Kindle Single) (A Season for Scandal)

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lady Charlotte Beaumont is of no use to her father, the earl, or to her brothers.  She’s too tall, too broad shouldered, and not beautiful in any traditional sense.  She is regularly sent away to their country estate, chaperoned by an indifferent aunt.  Over the years, Charlotte has taken the art training she received as a child and has perfected her skills to become a truly formidable artist.  However, the world isn’t yet ready for a female artist to be accepted or successful.  In order to pursue her dream, and to get away from her indifferent family, Charlotte approaches a mysterious man, known as King, with a devil’s bargain.  King is a powerful force, one not to be trifled with, but he is willing to make a deal with Charlotte.  He will arrange that she is granted the remaining open spot on a prestigious project if she is willing to repay his request when he summons her.  Charlotte agrees, and is transformed into “Charlie” Beaumont, and sets off to obtain her dream.

Flynn Rutledge at first appears to be the poster child of a temperamental artist who is suffering with lack of inspiration.  He can’t believe that his partner in designing murals for this church project is an unknown young boy, who no one has heard of, and who looks like a mere teenager.  Charlie’s initial conversations are met with anger, sarcasm, and suspicion.  Flynn is suspicious, because he is assuming that Charlie knows of the great scandal in his past, and is only waiting for the opportune moment to  fling that information in Flynn’s face.  Flynn is a talented and dedicated artist, but his reputation took a serious hit when he became involved in an affair with a notorious widow.  Believing himself in love, he publicly proposed, and suffered the humiliation of being soundly rejected.  The widow’s friends declared that the son of a prostitute had no business trying to marry into their ranks.  While Flynn’s pride was greatly damaged, his heart wasn’t, but he developed an intense hatred for titled aristocrats.

Slowly, Charlie’s calm nature overcomes Flynn’s hostility.  Flynn sees Charlie’s genuine talent, and finds the inspiration that had been eluding him recently.  The two of them agree on the handling of the project and begin a comfortable and amicable working relationship, with mutual respect on both sides.  The status quo is interrupted when an attack on Charlie leaves her injured, and Flynn discovers her gender while rendering aid.

Surprisingly, Flynn doesn’t threaten to reveal Charlotte’s secret, or insist that she leave the project.  He does ask for her reasons, and he’s sympathetic to the plight of a woman with her talent who has no outlet for it.  The new facet to their relationship leads to a sizzling affair and a deepening of their bond of friendship.  Charlotte told Flynn all the facts about herself, except that she is a titled lady.  When their project is over, Flynn learns that Charlotte is an earl’s daughter, and feels betrayed and used all over again.  Will he be able to overcome his prejudice, or will he throw away the chance at a great love?

I am always leery of reading stories with characters masquerading  as the opposite gender, as I have a hard time believing they could be successful.  However, the description of Charlotte’s appearance made me believe she could pull off appearing as a youth, without making her appear to be ugly.  I love Flynn’s reaction to her, how he studied her, and found the loveliness in her.  I love that he made her feel beautiful and respected her talent as an artist and as an equal.  In turn, Charlotte is very good for Flynn.  She provided inspiration to him when he floundered, she made him think, and she provided him with a sense of self worth when the world scorned him.  I find it amazing that a woman who was valued so little by her own family  was able to become such a determined and caring person.  The romance between Flynn and Charlotte developed beautifully and their sexual chemistry is hot.  THE LADY IN RED is another amazing read from Kelly Bowen, and it concludes with a grand gesture of love from Charlotte which is pure perfection.

Posted in Historical Romance, Kelly Bowen, Review, Rose | 3 Comments

Review – Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holidayand Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met . . .

Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she’ll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the one gift this mismatched pair can’t wait to unwrap.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                             Once Upon a Christmas Eve: A Maiden Lane Novella (Kindle Single)

My Review:                  

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, is traveling with his beloved grandmother, when a carriage mishap brings their journey to a screeching halt.  Concerned for his frail grandmother, Adam decides to return to a house they passed a mile or two back, to see if they can take shelter there.  His pounding on the door is answered by none other than Godric St. John, (one of my very favorite Maiden Lane heroes,) who is celebrating the Christmas holiday with his family. Godric and Adam return to the scene of the accident to pick up his grandmother, who is looking very unwell.  One of the other houseguests happens to be a doctor, and his examination concludes that the elderly lady is very ill and should not travel for a couple weeks.  Thus, Adam is now part of the St. John family Christmas house party.

Sarah St. John, Godric’s sister, is very aware of Adam’s rakish reputation, biting wit, and vain personality.  She is not happy to have him as a houseguest, and doesn’t hesitate to let him know it.  Sarah harbors a particular loathing for rakes because of an incident that happened to her when she was a young lady of only sixteen.  That incident severely damaged her reputation, and kept her away from town for several seasons.  She has never been genuinely courted, and longs for a family and home of her own.  Now at age twenty seven, she feels her chances of achieving her dream are slim.

Though Adam and Sarah snipe at each other, they feel a strong attraction, which they attempt to camouflage with their biting remarks.  Adam’s rakish reputation is well deserved, but over the course of the party, Sarah begins to see another side to him – his love and care for his grandmother, his genuine happiness in frolicking with a puppy, and his strong defense of another young lady at the party who is accosted by someone against her will.  Adam, in turn, learns the story of how Sarah’s unhappy encounter when she was young has shaped the current way she reacts to him.

Adam’s own personal code doesn’t let him dally with innocent ladies, yet his feelings for Sarah are strong, unlike anything he’s felt before.  Sarah also wants to give in to Adam, and explore these new and exciting emotions and sensations.  Is it possible that these two totally dissimilar people could find a genuine love for Christmas?  ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS EVE is a short, steamy, and truly romantic read.  As always, Elizabeth Hoyt parallels each chapter with her take on a fairy tale, which is as entertaining and captivating as the main story.  This novella is billed as the end of the Maiden Lane series, which breaks my heart, as it’s absolutely one of the best, EVER, in historical romance.  I have hopes that in a year or two, Ms. Hoyt will have a brilliant idea for another book or novella, which can’t be suppressed, which will take us back to visit the world, or revisit the characters of Maiden Lane.

Posted in Christmas, Elizabeth Hoyt, Historical Romance, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – Regency Christmas Wishes by Carla Kelly, Janice Preston, and Christine Merrill

Three Regency tales of festive wishes come true… 

CAPTAIN GREY’S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL by Carla Kelly 

Captain Grey had been fighting malarial fever in Savannah when he met Theodora Winnings. He proposed by letter—but it’s taken ten years to receive her reply. The answer was “yes!”—but is she still free to become his Christmas bride?

HER CHRISTMAS TEMPTATION by Christine Merrill 

Faith Strickland’s plan to marry to save her family backfires when notorious rake James Leggett sets out to break her unhappy engagement. He’ll storm her Twelfth Night celebrations and scorch her into surrender!

AWAKENING HIS SLEEPING BEAUTY by Janice Preston 

Lonely Diana Fleming knows handsome knights don’t really exist. But can a festive kiss from the man she loves reawaken her frozen heart?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Regency Christmas Wishes: Captain Grey’s Christmas Proposal\Her Christmas Temptation\Awakening His Sleeping Beauty

My Review:              

There are three novellas included in this collection.  I have reviewed two for this post:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Captain Grey’s Christmas Proposal by Carla Kelly

Over ten years ago, Captain James “Jem” Grey was in a South Carolina hospital recovering from a serious case of malaria.  A beautiful young woman named Theodora “Teddy” Winnings regularly visited the facility, and talked with, and read to the patients.  Jem soon became quite fond of Teddy, and she began to spend most of her time visiting with him only.  When Jem recovered enough to return to duty in the Royal Navy, he decided to write to Teddy and propose.  When he never received a response, he did his best to put Teddy out of his mind.

The years have passed, and Jem is now about to become partner of a ship building business.  His travels take him to a hotel in Plymouth, where the owner has cleared out an old box in storage, only to find a long forgotten letter underneath.  The letter is for Jem, and it’s in sad shape, but it’s from Teddy.  She responded to his letter, and the legible parts tell Jem that she accepted his proposal.  There is more that has been obscured by water stains and time – all that Jem can make out is that there was something that Teddy felt she should have told him.

This letter hits Jem like a ton of bricks!  What to do?  Jem never married, but he never really forgot Teddy either.  What did she possibly think when he never responded to her letter?  No doubt she’s married by now, and he should just leave it alone – but he can’t.  He travels to Charleston, and begins the process of tracking down his long lost love.  The search is not easy or straight forward, but Jem finally finds her, and the shabby woman he finds is nothing like the well dressed young lady he remembers.  When Jem learns what it is that Teddy referred to in her letter – the indecipherable thing that she should have told him, it turns out to be shocking, indeed.

Teddy has never married, but her secret means that there is a large impediment to their being together, if, indeed, Jem still wants to.  It turns out that Jem is a very steadfast man who doesn’t give up easily.  He still wants Teddy, and it seems that she still wants him, so Jem begins to plan and plot, trying to find a way.

Carla Kelly has written a sweet and very unique second chance at love Christmas story with a hero willing to risk everything, and a heroine who is strong and determined.  Their well deserved happy ever after may not have been achieved if they weren’t  helped along the way by a mysterious man – one who appears to possess Christmas magic, which he uses to aid their seemingly impossible cause.  CAPTAIN GREY’S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL is a warm and satisfying read which will brighten up your holiday season.

Awakening His Sleeping Beauty by Janice Preston

Diana Fleming’s life hasn’t been the same since her younger brother died eight years ago.  Her father buries himself in his office, while her mother generally stays in her own room, demanding that Diana attend to her constantly.  There’s no socializing, no joy, and certainly no Christmas celebration in this household.  When Diana’s father, Viscount Lavenham, surprisingly announces that his cousin is coming to visit, along with her seven children, Diana’s mother is horrified, preferring to dwell in her grief and solitude.  But for once, Lavenham won’t give in to his wife’s demands.  He’s determined that  his distant cousins will spend the Christmas holidays with them.

Aaron Fleming is Diana’s third or fourth cousin, and he’s now heir to her father, since her brother died.  Initially, he has no more desire to spend Christmas with Diana and her family, than she and her mother have for his family.  Their first impression upon meeting for the first time in years doesn’t  change their opinions, as Aaron finds Diana stiff and quiet, while she finds him overbearing.  Little do either of them know, but Aaron’s mother and Diana’s father arranged this holiday with the particular hope that they would make a match.  Since Aaron is the heir, when Lavenham dies, Diana will be out of a home, and marriage between them sounds like an ideal solution.

After a rocky start, Diana finds that she is enjoying spending time with her numerous cousins.  They revive Christmas traditions and the quiet and cold house starts to feel like a home again.  Some shared mistletoe kisses with Aaron have Diana hoping that they may have a future together.  Aaron is highly sensitive to being manipulated, as one of his best friends just tried to trick him into being compromised with his sister.  Aside from that, Aaron is very stubborn, and when he learns of the plot between his mother and Diana’s father, he storms out, even though he was starting to have genuine feelings  for Diana.

Aaron is a hotheaded young man, and it seems that he will not be coerced in any way.  If he can’t make a choice of his own, he wants no part of it.  Yet, as he thinks of Diana, and how she blossomed during the short time they spent together, and how sweet it was to kiss her, he wonders if he’s making the right decision.  Diana’s mother literally sucked the life and vitality right out of her.  It was wonderful to see her “awaken” again, and to see the sparkle and joy that was part of her personality before it was subdued.  It was satisfying to watch Aaron start thinking about his own family, and what he really wants from life.  He seemed to mature before my eyes and become the man who would take Diana to a happy future.  Janice Preston neatly wrapped up the loose ends to show the two families bonding, and celebrating a Christmas that indicated a much brighter future for all of them.  AWAKENING HIS SLEEPING BEAUTY is an enjoyable read, which I feel really captures the spirit of family and romantic love at Christmas time.

Posted in Carla Kelly, Christmas, Historical Romance, Janice Preston, Review, Rose, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New Releases – December 2017

Some good reading coming up in December.  My list looks a little shorter this month, which is OK – I’ve got some catching up to do from those great November books, as well as some Christmas stories.  Below the graphic, I’ve posted the blurbs for these books, and clicking on the titles will take you right to the Amazon page if you’d like to add any of these goodies to your own TBR pile!

Merry Christmas, My Viscount (Rules of the Rogue)  by Emily Windsor – Mrs Lily Mereworth’s List of Bold New Life Resolutions. To be completed by Christmas Eve, 1814.

• Burn Miss Pikesworth’s Guide to Etiquette – Achieved.
• Visit a gaming hell and win oneself lots of money – Achieved.
• Imbibe new-fangled absinthe – Preparations underway.
• Seduce a rogue – ?

Attending a Christmastide gathering is surely the best way for the most proper widow Mrs Lily Mereworth to complete her list and banish her past. After all, there will be more than a few suitable gentlemen present.
If only a shrewd, hazel-eyed viscount didn’t keep disrupting her plans…

Newly ennobled Viscount Asher Rainham has no schedule for seduction, Christmas or dallying with women. He has merely turned up for the good company, intelligent card playing and excellent brandy. But as snow swathes the land, a certain Mrs Mereworth confounds his expectations and assaults his methodical senses.
Asher, spymaster, a man who never takes risks, finds himself in need of some Rules of the Rogue…

Ghost stories on a windy night, swordplay down the Great Portrait Gallery, snapdragon in the dark – a lady and a gentleman with no thought to love… Merry Christmas.

The Lady in Red (Kindle Single) (A Season for Scandal)  by Kelly Bowen – A lady with secrets, a man with a burning desire, a love that breaks all the rules…

Lady Charlotte Beaumont has spent her whole life being ignored. By her parents, her brother, even the servants. So she was secretly able to develop her talent for painting well beyond the usual watercolors. Too bad no one will let her actually use it—women are rarely accepted into the Royal Academy. But when a connection at the Haverhall School for Young Ladies gets Charlotte her dream commission, she’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. Including disguising herself as “Charlie.”

Flynn Rutledge has something to prove. His lowly upbringing is not going to stop him from achieving his artistic dreams. This commission is the key to his future, and his partner, an unknown youth in oversized clothes who is barely old enough to shave, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. But Charlie does inspire Flynn’s artistic passion—something he worried he might have lost forever. For all his street smarts, nothing can prepare Flynn for the shock of Charlie’s true identity. He doesn’t care that she’s a woman, but a lady of the ton is a different matter altogether.

The Lord Meets His Lady (Midnight Meetings)  by Gina Conkle – Lord Marcus Bowles has stained his family’s reputation for the last time. Only after spending a scandal-free year restoring some far-flung property can this second son return in good graces. But Marcus isn’t one to abandon a lone damsel on a dark country lane.

One stolen kiss and Genevieve Turner’s handsome midnight savior disappears. Typical. No matter, Gen is finally on the way to her new post, and hopefully to finding her grandmother as well. Instead she finds her mischievous hero is her new employer. Surely a few more kisses won’t hurt…

To the Duke, With Love: The Rakes of St. James  by Amelia Grey – There may be times when a gentleman is desperate to gain a lady’s attention, but a gentleman would never resort to desperate measures to obtain it.
―A Proper Gentleman’s Guide to Wooing the Perfect Lady

Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn is guardian for his sweet, younger sister. Due to his misguided past as one of the infamous Rakes of St James, Hawk is hoping to avoid the Season by securing a match for her before it begins. He has the perfect gentleman in mind, but for one infuriating―and unexpectedly intoxicating―obstacle: the intended groom’s own sister, Miss Loretta Quick.

Having narrowly avoided her own arranged marriage to an unacceptable nobleman, Loretta is determined that her dear brother―a gentle, good-natured soul―should marry for love. Matching wits with Hawk may be her greatest challenge yet. . .until she realizes it may also be her greatest pleasure. For the young duke’s irresistible charm has not only begun to crumble her stubborn resolve, it has claimed her heart in true love as well. . .

Once Upon a Christmas Eve: A Maiden Lane Novella (Kindle Single)  by Elizabeth Hoyt – Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met.

Sarah St. John really rather loathes rakes. The self-satisfied smirks. The sly predatory gazes. Oh, and the constant witty banter rife with double meaning. But in the spirit of the season, she’ll welcome this admittedly handsome viscount into her home. But as the snowstorm rages, the Yule log crackles, and the tension rises, Sarah and Adam find themselves locked in a fiery, passionate kiss. If love is the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the one gift this mismatched pair can’t wait to unwrap.

Surrender To Ruin (Sinclair Sisters Book 3)  by Carolyn Jewel – Her beauty is divine. His heart yearns for another. Will attempted revenge result in true love?

Emily is the last unmarried Sinclair sister. For all her spellbinding beauty, she’s never been able to clear a certain man from her head and her heart. He’s made it clear there’s no hope, and now he’s about to marry her best friend.

The Earl of Bracebridge knows how to hold a grudge. The former prizefighter turned disreputable nobleman hoped to marry Emily’s sister until she was forced to wed another. After his hopes for a suitable marriage are dashed once again, he seizes the chance to settle the score with Thomas Sinclair by eloping with Emily and consigning them both to a union without love.

Emily knows Bracebridge loves another, but every time they’re alone, sparks fly. Can Bracebridge get past his heartbreak to realize the perfect woman didn’t get away, she’s already his wife? 

Lady Isabella’s Ogre  by Emily Larkin – She’s one of London’s beauties … He’s London’s ogre. 

Lady Isabella Knox enjoys her independence. She collects strays—dogs, kittens, runaway brides—but she has no intention of collecting a husband.

Major Nicholas Reynolds returns from the Battle of Waterloo a hero. He’s had enough of soldiering; all he wants now is a bride … but his scarred face sends young ladies fleeing—literally.

When a slip of her tongue brands the major an ogre—and his chances of marriage disintegrate—Isabella sets out to undo the harm she inadvertently caused. How better to revive the major’s marriage prospects than for the two of them to indulge in a make-believe flirtation? They both know it’s not real, so where’s the danger?

But Isabella is soon in over her head—and so is Major Reynolds.

A Regency romance featuring a beauty, an ogre, a runaway bride, several kittens, and a dog.

Please note: 1. Lady Isabella’s Ogre is a new version of Beauty and the Scarred Hero, which was published under the penname Emily May. The last few chapters have been rewritten. Some things are the same, some are different…  2. This edition is currently only available in North America. Apologies to everyone who’s not in North America! I hope to be able to release this book worldwide in the future. 

A Match Made in Heather  by Anna Harrington – WHEN HIGHLAND HEARTS COLLIDE…
Arabel Rowland was the laird’s daughter, courted by sons of dukes and as wild and untamed as the Highlands around her. Garrick McGuiness was nothing more than a penniless, nameless Scot working in the Rowland stables with nothing to offer but his heart. On the eve when they were to elope, Arabel is forced to make a decision that changes both of their lives—one that drives them apart for a decade.

SPARKS ARE SURE TO FLY!
Ten years later, Garrick is now Earl of Townsend and surprised to receive word of an inheritance from the Rowlands—and simply stunned to learn that he must share that inheritance with the one woman he hoped never to see again. His plan is to fulfill the will’s requirement, take the money, and never return to Scotland again. But when the deadly secret that came between them is revealed, he finds himself experiencing the Highlands—and his feelings toward Arabel—in a way he never did before.

Fate tore them apart, but now he’s back in her life with status, money and a title. Can they let go of past hurts and find love?

The Pretender: Games People Play  by Helen Kay Dimon – They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, and Harrison Tate is proof. Once a professional burglar, he now makes a lawful living tracking down stolen art. No one needs to know about his secret sideline, “liberating” artifacts acquired through underhanded methods. At least until one of those jobs sees him walking in on a murder.

Gabrielle Wright has long been estranged from her wealthy family, but she didn’t kill her sister. Trouble is, the only person who can prove it is the sexy, elusive criminal who shouldn’t have been at the island estate on that terrible night. She’s not expecting honor among thieves—or for their mutual attraction to spark into an intense inferno of desire.

Under the guise of evaluating her family’s art, Harris comes back to the estate hoping to clear Gabby’s name. But returning to the scene of the crime has never been riskier, with their hearts and lives on the line.

If Ever I Should Love You: A Spinster Heiresses Novel (The Spinster Heiresses)  by Cathy Maxwell – Once upon a time there were three young ladies who, despite their fortunes, had been on the Marriage Mart a bit too long. They were known as the “Spinster Heiresses” . . . 

He’s inherited a title, but not a penny to speak of, so the Earl of Rochdale knows he must find a wife—preferably one tolerably pretty and good-tempered, but definitely wealthy, and willing to exchange her fortune for his family name.

His choice: Leonie Charnock, one of the season’s “Spinster Heiresses.” Years before, the earl had saved the dark-eyed beauty’s reputation, and she is still breathtakingly lovely, leading Rochdale to hope that their marriage will be more than in name only.

However, Leonie doesn’t want to be anyone’s wife. Nearly destroyed by the secrets in her past, Leonie agrees to their union with one condition: there will be a wedding but no bedding. But it’s a condition the new Countess Rochdale isn’t sure even she can keep . . .

Happy Reading!

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A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase – Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

 

 

Not all dukes are created equal. Most are upstanding members of Society. And then there’s the trio known as Their Dis-Graces.

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia Hightower and return her to her intended bridegroom.

For reasons that elude her, bookish, bespectacled Olympia is supposed to marry a gorgeous rake of a duke. The ton is flabbergasted. Her family’s ecstatic. And Olympia? She’s climbing out of a window, bent on a getaway. But tall, dark, and exasperating Ripley is hot on her trail, determined to bring her back to his friend. For once, the world-famous hellion is trying to do the honorable thing.

So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him . . . ?

About the Book

A Duke In Shining Armor
by Loretta Chase

Series
Difficult Dukes

Genre
Adult
Historical Romance

Publisher
Avon Books

Publication Date
November 28, 2017

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TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY DETAILS

LINK: https://goo.gl/9hgByc

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of A Duke In Shining Armor by Loretta Chase.  This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 12/5/2017 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address.  Duplicates will be deleted.

About Loretta Chase

Loretta Chase has worked in academe, retail, and the visual arts, as well as on the streets-as a meter maid-and in video, as a scriptwriter. She might have developed an excitingly checkered career had her spouse not nagged her into writing fiction. Her bestselling historical romances, set in the Regency and Romantic eras of the early 19th century, have won a number of awards, including the Romance Writers of America’s Rita. For more about her past, her books, and what she does and doesn’t do on social media, please visit her website http://www.LorettaChase.com.

Author Links

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Read an Excerpt:

Prologue
London
Early morning of 11 June 1833

The Duke of Ashmont was not a very good duke—rather an awful one, actually. And so nobody could be in the least surprised to see him, drunk as an emperor—that was to say, ten times as drunk as a lord—staggering down the steps of Crockford’s Club on the arm of one of his two best friends.

This one was Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley. Where Ashmont was fair-haired, blue-eyed, and angelic-­looking, Ripley was dark. Unlike Ashmont, he did not appear to be spun of dreams and gossamer, and women did not follow his movements with the moonstruck expressions they accorded His Grace with the Angel Face.

On a good day, someone had said once, Ripley’s face resembled that of a wolf who’d been in too many fights.
Furthermore, though his slightly older title ranked him a notch or two higher in precedence than Ashmont, Ripley was merely as drunk as a lord. He could still distinguish up from down. When, therefore, His Grace of Ashmont showed an inclination to stumble in the downhill direction, toward St. James’s Palace, Ripley hauled him about.

“This way,” he said. “Hackney stand up ahead.” “Right,” Ashmont said. “Can’t miss the wedding.

Not this one. It’s me doing it. Me and Olympia. Have to be there. Promised.”

“You will be,” Ripley said as he led his friend across the street. The wedding had been news to him, the choice of bride a shock: Lady Olympia Hightower, of all women. She was the last girl on earth he’d thought would marry Ashmont—or any of them, for that matter.

Not that Ripley knew her very well. Or at all. They’d been introduced, yes, years ago. That was in the days when respectable persons still introduced Ripley and his two friends to innocent girls. But those were not the kinds of girls the ducal trio wanted. Gently bred maidens were for marrying, and marriage was sup-posed to be years away, sometime in the dim, distant future.

Apparently, the future had arrived while Ripley wasn’t looking.

First the Duke of Blackwood, the other of his two boon companions, had married Ripley’s sister over a year ago, a few days before Ripley left for the Conti-nent. Now Ashmont was doing it. Ripley had heard the happy news mere hours after his return to London yesterday.

No, he’d returned the day before, because today was yesterday now. He’d come to Crockford’s because he wanted a decent meal, and Crockford’s Ude was the next best thing to Ripley’s own chef, Chardot, who’d come down with a foul cold sometime during the Channel crossing.

Chardot went with him everywhere because he was amply paid to do so, and Ripley liked his comfort. Having been forced, for no sane reason, to live like a pauper during his boyhood, he lived like a king now.

Ripley was debating with himself whether, on the whole, he’d better have stayed abroad, when four men spilled out of a narrow court, one crashing into Ash-mont, with force enough to dislodge him from Ripley’s light grasp and push him into a shop front.

Ashmont bounced back with surprising energy. “You clumsy, bleeding, half-­wit! I have to get married, you bloody arsehole!” At the same moment, he drove his fist at the fellow’s face.

One of the man’s friends tried to butt in. With a sigh, Ripley grabbed him by the back of the collar. The fel-low swung at him, obliging Ripley to knock him into the gutter.

What happened after that was what often happened when Ashmont was about: a lot of filthy language and filthy fighting, and men rushing out of the clubs, shout-ing bets, and a female or two screaming somewhere.

Then it was over. Their foes lay strewn about the pavement. Ripley didn’t wait to count or identify them. He collected Ashmont from the railing he’d slumped against and trudged to the corner with him. He sig-naled, and the first in line of the hackneys plodded their way. He threw Ashmont into the decrepit coach and directed the driver to Ashmont House.

Servants waited up, as they were accustomed to do, for Ashmont. They bore him up the stairs to his bed-room and undressed and washed him without fuss.

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Hugh Ancaster, the Duke of Ripley, along with Dukes Blackwood and Ashmont, have been best friends since their school days at Eton.  They are now nearing thirty years old, and their years of drunkenness, debauchery, fighting, and duels have earned them the name of, “Their Dis-Graces.”  Although they’re wealthy, handsome, and, of course, dukes, polite society avoids them.

Lady Olympia Hightower is now twenty five years old.  After several seasons, she has given up her dream of finding genuine love.  One day, she sees Ashmont, who seems to be in a continual state of inebriation, almost run over, and manages to pull him to safety.  She then puts him in her own carriage and sees him safely home.  Ashmont is stunned at such kindness from a lady, and decides that he will court her.  Olympia is well aware of Ashmont’s reputation, and realizes that if she should marry him, he will continue with his rakish ways and never be faithful.  She also knows that she may not get another offer, and his wealth will greatly help her family. Despite her misgivings, she agrees to marry him, and it’s now her wedding day.  Her mother provides her with some brandy laced tea to settle her nerves.  Then Olympia discards the tea and goes straight for the brandy, which has the opposite effect of calming her.  We now have a runaway bride.

Although it’s his wedding day, Ashmont is in his usual state of drunkenness.  He has tasked Ripley with being sure that he gets to the church, that he has the ring, and that all proceeds smoothly.  Ripley takes his task seriously, and when he discovers that Olympia has bolted, he takes off in pursuit of her.  Ripley is firmly in favor of this marriage, believing that Olympia will be very good for Ashmont.  Yet, he finds himself agreeing to all of Olympia’s demands to help her escape, many of which are hilarious.  As their path takes them out of the city, first to her aunt’s home, then his, things begin to change.  Ripley thinks about how he’s noticed Olympia all these years, yet never approached her.  He regrets never taking a chance on making her his own, and now it’s too late.  Olympia also noticed Ripley, and thinks about how she always wished they could have danced.

Over the next few days, Ripley fights his feelings, urging Olympia to return to town and Ashmont.  When they finally succumb to sharing some kisses, Olympia knows what she wants – it’s Ripley, and she’s brave enough to tell him so.  But Ripley can’t betray his best friend, no matter what his own feelings are, so he resists.  Olympia, however, decides to use every weapon she has to change Ripley’s mind, and the innocent seduces the seducer.  Their chemistry is off the charts, and Ripley knows that he can’t give her up, even knowing that it will cost him his best friend, and will, no doubt, result in a duel.

Without a doubt, A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR is one of the best, if not THE best book I have read this year.  Ripley is to die for – from his amazement that Olympia would prefer his dark looks to Ashmont’s golden beauty, to his sense of honor to his friend, to his praise of Olympia’s beauty.  As he realizes that he’s truly in love, he shows a romantic streak that brought tears to my eyes.  His promise of fidelity to Olympia is swoonworthy, and his care of her speaks volumes as to his true character.  Olympia, in turn, had no illusions about herself, thinking she’s boring and unattractive.  Ripley’s love brings out her passionate and naughty nature and her self confidence.  She has always been kind and compassionate, but now she’s a force to be reckoned with.  There are so many wonderful scenes in this book, some humorous, some joyful, and some tear inducing.  Loretta Chase is in top form, as she weaves her magic to bring an impossible situation to a happy ever after.  I love every word in A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR, and I adore Ripley and Olympia.  This book is amazing, and has everything I look for in a story.  I give it my highest recommendation, and urge you to move it to the top of your reading list.

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