My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton – Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

 
An unexpected duchess proves that behaving 
badly isn’t exclusive to the Dukedom.

MY FAIR DUCHESS

Dukes Behaving Badly #5
Megan Frampton
Releasing Feb 28, 2017
Avon Books

In Megan Frampton’s most recent installment of The Dukes Behaving Badly series, an unexpected duchess proves that behaving badly isn’t exclusive to the Dukedom.

The Unexpected Duchess
 

Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?

It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of her depth, she calls on an expert. And what an expert, with shoulders broad enough to lean on, and a wit that matches her own. Archie is supposed to teach her to be a lady and run her estate, but what she really wants to do is unladylike—run into his arms.

 

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan
Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge
earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband
and son. You can visit her on her website@meganf, and at Facebook.
 

 

Read an Excerpt:

1845, Lady Sophia’s Drawing Room

 “There’s only one solution,” Lady Sophia said, passing the letter to Archie as he felt his stomach drop. And his carefully ordered life teeter on the verge of change. “You’ll have to go to London to sort my goddaughter out.” She embellished her point by squeezing her tiny dog Truffles, who emitted a squeak and glared at Archie. As if it was his fault.

He resisted the urge to crumple the paper in his hand. “But the festival is in a few weeks,” Archie said, hearing the desperate tone in his voice. He did not want to ever return to London. That was the purpose of taking a position out here in the country after leaving the Queen’s Own Hussars a year prior. His family was there, and his father, at least, had made it clear he never wanted to see him again. What’s more, he did not want to assist a helpless aristocrat in some sort of desperate attempt to bring order to their lives. Even though that was what he was doing in Lady Sophia’s employ. But working for her had come to have its own kind of satisfactory order, one he did not want to disrupt.

“There is work to be done,” Archie continued, hoping to appeal to his employer’s sensible side.

Although in the course of working for her he had come to realize his employer didn’t really have a sensible side, so what was he hoping to accomplish?

“Didn’t you tell me Mr. McCready could do everything you could?” Lady Sophia asked. “You pointed out that if you were to get ill, or busy with other matters, your assistant steward could handle things just as well as you.”

That was when I was trying to get one of my men work, Archie thought in frustration. To help him get back on his feet after the rigors of war. And Bob had proven himself to be a remarkably able assistant, allowing Archie to dive into Lady Sophia’s woefully neglected accounts and see into her investments, neither of which she paid any attention to.

Lady Sophia placed Truffles on the rug before lifting her head to look at Archie. Who knew, in that moment, that he was doomed. Doomed to return to London to help out a likely far-too- indulged female in the very difficult position of being a powerful and wealthy aristocrat.

Perhaps it would have been easier to just get shot on the battlefield. It certainly would have been quicker.

“It’s settled.” She punctuated her words with a nod of her head, sending a few gray curls flying in the air. “You will go see to the new duchess and take care of her as ably as you do me. Mr. Mc-Cready will assist me while you are away.”

Archie looked at the letter again. “This duchess is your relative?” he asked. That would explain the new duchess’s equally silly mode of communication. An “unexpected duchess,” indeed. What kind of idiot wouldn’t have foreseen this circumstance? And done something to prepare for it?

“She calls me aunt, but she is not my actual niece, you understand,” Lady Sophia explained. “She is my goddaughter; her mother married the duke, the duchess’s father. It is quite unusual for a woman to inherit the duchy.”

“Quite,” Archie echoed.

“But it happened, somehow, and since I don’t know anything about being a duchess . . .” Because I do? Archie wondered. But there wasn’t anybody else. She wouldn’t have asked Lady Sophia, of all people, unless there was nobody else.

Or if she was as flighty and confident as her faux-aunt. A scenario that seemed more and more likely.

“The only thing Mr. McCready can’t do is attract as much feminine interest as you do, Mr. Salisbury.” She sat back up and regarded him. “Which might make him more productive,” she added. She leaned over to offer Truffles the end of her biscuit.

Archie opened his mouth to object, but closed it when he realized she was right. He wasn’t vain, but he did recognize that ladies tended to find his appearance attractive. Lady Sophia received many more visitors, she’d told him in an irritated tone, now that he’d been hired.

Bob, damn his eyes, smirked knowingly every time Archie was summoned to Lady Sophia’s drawing room to answer yet another question about estate management posed by a lady who’d likely never had such a question in her life.

Archie responded by making Bob personally in charge of the fertilizer. It didn’t stop Bob’s smirking, but it did make Archie feel better.

“And you will return in a month’s time so you can be here for the festival.”

“Sooner if I can, my lady.” If this duchess needed more time than a month, there would be no hope for her anyway. Country life suited him; he liked its quiet and regularity. It was a vast change from life in battle, or even being just on duty, but it was far more interesting than being the third son from a viscount’s family. A viscount who disowned his third boy when said boy was determined to join the army.

Meanwhile, however, he had to pack to head off to a new kind of battle—that of preparing a completely unprepared woman, likely a woman as flighty and often confused as Lady Sophia, to hold a position that she was entirely unsuited for.

Very much like working with raw recruits, in fact.

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

My Review:

Reviewed by Rose 3

Genevieve is the daughter of the Duke of Blakesley, and that title is one of the rare ones that may be passed down to a female heir if there is no living male to inherit.  At the age of twenty, with her father and brother dead, Genevieve now finds herself the Duchess of Blakesley.  Her father ignored her for all of her life, sending her off to live in the country with only servants to raise her.  She never made her debut in society, and she certainly doesn’t know how to act like or perform the duties of a duchess.  In desperation, she contacts her godmother, Sophia, asking for help.

Lady Sophia decides to send her steward, Archibald (Archie) Salisbury to town to help Genevieve out for a month.  Archie is a gentleman by birth.  Though he has no title, he is the third son of a viscount.  When Archie chose to become a soldier, then to work as a steward, his family disowned him, feeling that they didn’t want to associate with someone involved in trade.  Archie has no desire to return to town, as he doesn’t want to run into his family, and he certainly doesn’t want to babysit a young lady with no clue how to act.  Yet, his employer insists, and working for her in the country suits him very well, so off he goes.

Archie is surprised to find a sweet and lovely young lady with an earnest desire to become a good duchess, and to repair all the damage and neglect her father has caused.  Genevieve is initially smitten by Archie’s handsomeness, but soon sees beyond that to the hardworking, honorable man he is.  Each day, as Archie works to put the household, then the country estate, to good working order, he comes to be very fond of the fledgling duchess.  And each day, Genevieve’s poise and confidence grow, as does her affection for her temporary steward, who has become a dear friend.

The longing that Archie and Genevieve feel for each other jumps off the pages.  The attraction was there from the beginning, but the honest, slow building love and desire is very poignant.  They both know that there is no future for them, as Archie is so below her socially.  When the time approaches for them to part, and for Archie to return to his position with Lady Sophia, will either of them have the courage to face scandal to be together?

MY FAIR DUCHESS contains the humor that I’ve come to expect from author, Megan Frampton, this time in the form of notes that this couple writes to each other almost daily.  The desires they can’t express are written and then crossed out for the reader to see – a most enjoyable, and sometimes heartbreaking experience.  Archie and Genevieve are wonderful characters who are perfect for each other, both from a romantic standpoint, and from the way their characteristics and personalities mesh to form a perfect whole entity.  The role reversal is very well done, especially in the latter part of the book.  I had to smile, thinking of all the books I’ve read with the duke being in charge.  MY FAIR DUCHESS has humor, steam, sleazy relatives, a unique plot, and a very, very lovely romance.  I enjoyed it greatly.

Rating 4heat-level-hotblue-flame-heart

Click on the giveaway link below to enter to win a print copy of Why Do Dukes Fall in Love by Megan Frampton:               a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Historical Romance, Megan Frompton, Promotions, Review, Rose | 6 Comments

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran – Blog Tour and Review

a-ladys-code-of-misconduct

A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT                                by Meredith Duran

FROM THE usa today bestselling author of FOOL ME TWICE, the 2015 RITA AWARD Winner for Historical Romance 

AND LUCK BE A LADY, AN RT BOOK REVIEWS NOMINEE FOR BEST BOOK OF 2015 HISTORICAL NOVEL

Fifth in the Rules for the Reckless Series

Pocket Books  Publication Date: February 28, 2017  ISBN: 9781501139024  Price: $7.99

About the book:

A DEAL WITH the DEVIL…

Trapped in the countryside, facing an unwanted marriage and the theft of her fortune, Jane Mason is done behaving nicely. To win her freedom, she’ll strike a deal with the most dangerous man she knows—a rising star in politics, whose dark good looks mask an even darker heart.

 …NEVER GOES TO PLAN.

The bitter past has taught Crispin Burke to trust no one. He’ll gladly help a lovely young heiress, provided she pays a price. Yet when a single mistake shatters his life, it is Jane who holds the key to his salvation. And in a world that no longer makes sense, Crispin slowly realizes that she may be the only thing worth fighting for…

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
A Lady’s Code of Misconduct (Rules for the Reckless)

 About the author:

meredithduranauthorphotoMeredith Duran is the author of ten previous novels, including The Duke of Shadows (winner of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition); Wicked Becomes You (included on the Woman’s World List of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010), and the USA TODAY bestseller and RITA Award Winner Fool Me Twice. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women. Visit her at MeredithDuran.com, on Twitter @meredithduran and Facebook AuthorMeredithDuran.

Reckless Reward:

The twenty starred blogs (*) below will giveaway one set (Reckless Reward!) of three autographed copies in the Rules for the Reckless series: Fool Me Twice, Lady Be Good, and Luck Be A Lady. You can enter on all participating sites, but you can only win once. To celebrate the fifth in the series, there will be five Reckless Reward giveaways per day beginning publication day, Tuesday, February 28th – Friday, March 3rd. U.S. only.

Blog Tour:

Tuesday, February 28th                                                                                                                                           *The Romance Dish                *Canadian Book Addict             *Just Another New Blog       *Top 10 Romance   Books       *Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, March 1st                                                                                                                                            *Book Nerd                                *Reviews by Crystal                   *All About Romance   *Booktalk with Eileen             *We So Nerdy

Thursday, March 2nd                                                                                                                                                         *I am, Indeed                            *A Midlife Wife                           *Literary Gossip             *Undeniably Book Nerdy        *Dew On The Kudzu

Friday, March 3rd                                                                                                                                                        *Black ‘N Gold Girl’s Book Spot  *JoJo the Bookaholic           *Sportochick’s Musings        *The Reading Wench               *Got Fiction Book Blog

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

 

My Review:

Reviewed by Rose 3

Jane Mason was raised by loving parents who educated her, encouraged her to think, and valued her opinion.  When her parents died, she and her considerable fortune were put under the guardianship of her uncle, Philip, whose goals are to use Jane’s fortune to further his political and personal aspirations.  After coming to this household, Jane quickly learned to fade into the background and to keep her opinions to herself.  One of the household’s regular visitors is Crispin Burke, a self-contained, cold, cruel man with ambitions to be Prime Minister. He buys favors, votes, and people.

Jane is made aware that she is going to be forced to wed Uncle Philip’s son, her cousin Archie.  If that marriage happens, Jane will never be free again, and her fortune will be lost for good.  When Crispin Burke is brutally attacked, and expected to die within days, Jane concocts a scheme where she buys false paperwork showing that she and he were married.  Legally, she is now out of her uncle’s power, and he is enraged.  Jane moves to Crispin’s parents’ home, and she and the family watch over him and wait for his passing.

Only – Crispin doesn’t die.  Contrary to the opinions of several top doctors, Crispin wakes up, despite the severe injury to his head.  But all is not well – Crispin only remembers up until about five years ago.  He doesn’t remember the type of man he has become or the things he has done.  And he certainly doesn’t remember his new wife.  Yet, he treats her with courtesy, as he does his family, though they have become estranged.  Jane doesn’t know what to do.  Her plan revolved around her becoming a widow, and then leaving for America, or somewhere else far from her uncle’s clutches.  What will happen when Crispin regains his memory?  All the doctors are sure that he will, but they don’t know when.

I love it when amnesia is used as part of the plot if it’s well written, and in this story, it’s very, very well done.  Crispin’s current character is nothing like the man he used to be.  So, along with him, we learn all of the things that happened that changed him over the course of several years.  Because of his powerful position, he has to act as if he remembers everything.  The secret deals he made, and the plots he hatched are all unknown to him.  There is also the fact that something he was involved in caused him to be attacked and left for dead.  Throughout his recovery  process, his one constant is Jane, though he knows there is something not right about their marriage.

Jane is ready to flee on a moment’s notice, though this new version of Crispin attracts and intrigues her.  He values her opinions and intelligence, and he appreciates her.  Jane tries to be as honest as she can about everything, but she can’t yet reveal the fact of their false marriage.  When Crispin manages to get close, she pushes him away, knowing that “he” (meaning, the old Crispin) will return at any time.

Meredith Duran very skillfully peels back the layers of Crispin’s past, allowing the reader to learn his history along with him.  It’s a joy to watch the browbeaten Jane come back to the intelligent and vibrant woman she once was.  The romance developed slowly, believably, and sweetly.  I was, of course, wanting Jane’s happiness from the beginning, but Crispin’s redemption was beautifully rendered.  A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT is a fascinating, well written book, with a great story line, and complex protagonists who earn their well deserved happily ever after.  Highly recommended.

Rating 4.5heat-level-warm1-blue-flame

 

 

Posted in Historical Romance, Meredith Duran, Promotions, Review, Rose | 10 Comments

If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington – Release Day Blitz, Excerpt, and Review

if-the-duke-demands_blitz-banner

The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles)

if-the-duke-demandsRead an Excerpt:

Her eyes narrowed as she took in that bit of dubious advice and contemplated what he asked of her, with a curious look of deep study and concentration. For a moment, her expression was damnably disconcerting as she tried to think up a compliment to give him, as if she had never truly noticed him before as a man. Which inexplicably irked him to no end. How could she have not noticed him before as someone other than the Duke of Trent, other than just a friend?

“What you’re asking of me is impossible.” She shook her head with a soft sigh of defeat. “Every man in this room knows the rank you hold, the power and influence you’re gaining in Parliament. As for the ladies, you should have seen the way they all watched you when you crossed the room to ask me to dance.” She shrugged. “What could I possibly add to what everyone has already told you about how wonderful you are?”

He stared at her, momentarily stunned speechless. What she’d just said was exactly the kind of compliment a man wanted to hear from a beautiful woman . . .

And he didn’t believe a word of it. When he saw her lips twitch with amusement, his eyes narrowed. “You are incorrigible.”

She laughed happily. “Perhaps.” Her eyes shined, and for a brief moment, she shifted closer, somehow rising up on tiptoes as she danced to bring her mouth close to his ear. “But it is all true, you know.”

Then she pulled back into her original position and looked at him shyly through lowered lashes even as the tip of her tongue darted out to wet her lips. The paradoxical effect of innocent seduction was mesmerizing, and for a moment, he forgot they were dancing in the middle of a crowded ballroom. For a moment, there was only Miranda. And the pull of her was undeniable.separator

My Review:

Reviewed by Rose 3

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

When Miranda Hodgkins lost her parents, she went to live with her aunt and uncle who are land tenants of the local baron.  She soon became great friends with the baron’s children, and became a fixture in the Carlisle household.  As she started to leave childhood behind, she fancied herself in love with Robert Carlisle, the middle brother.  Robert, however, still sees Miranda as a little sister, and still calls her by her childhood nickname of “Sprite.”  When Robert shows marked interest in another woman, Miranda takes desperate steps.  She dresses seductively, wears a mask, and waits in Robert’s bedroom, intent on showing him that she’s now a woman.  When she has bewitched him, then she’ll remove her mask and reveal  her true identity.  The only problem is, she ends up in Sebastian’s bedroom instead.

Sebastian’s life has been filled with guilt, duties, and responsibilities since the death of his father.  The unexpected bestowal of a dukedom has changed Sebastian from a carefree rake to a serious man who only lives to serve the dukedom and his family.  Yet, when he finds a beautiful young woman in his bed, he can’t resist the temptation.  He begins to seduce her, until she utters Robert’s name, stopping him dead in his tracks.  He is horrified when he realizes that it’s Miranda, and even more surprised to find that she loves Robert.  Of course, he sends her home.

Sebastian (now the Duke of Trent) has decided that it’s time he found a suitable bride, and provide an heir for the dukedom.  The family will be going to London for the season, and Sebastian’s mother has already made arrangements to provide a season for Miranda, who has been like family, and so helpful to her when her husband died.  Sebastian, ever conscious of the family’s reputation, makes a deal with the exuberant Miranda – if she will behave and not cause any scandal or disgrace to his family, he will help her attract Robert’s notice. Miranda is delighted, and agrees, even offering to pick up what gossip and information she can to help Sebastian in his search for a wife.

Since Sebastian’s family is sponsoring Miranda, he naturally escorts her to many of the balls and functions.  Over the course of the season, the two become very close.  Soon they are sharing confidences and risqué comments.  They enjoy being in each other’s company more than anyone else.  Soon they act on the attraction that has been building ever since the night Miranda snuck into his room.  They become lovers, though Sebastian makes sure Miranda is aware they have no chance of a future together.  When Miranda realizes she truly loves Sebastian, and  there is no hope she’ll change his mind, she gives up on them and returns home to the country.

I feel that author Anna Harrington has written a masterpiece.  Miranda is vibrant, impulsive, giving, passionate, and brave.  She takes a gamble on winning Sebastian’s heart, which she does, but she can’t change his determination.  Sebastian has become “Trent, the duke,” losing himself in the process.  When he’s with Miranda, he finds himself again.  He finds the joy and fun and happiness that he once felt, yet, he can’t run from something in his past that insists he marry a suitable noblewoman, not an orphaned commoner.   Miranda and Sebastian are wonderful protagonists, and I fell in love with both of them.  IF THE DUKE DEMANDS is written so skillfully and beautifully, that I was on the emotional roller coaster along with them.  The heartbreak is so poignant, that it had me in tears.  I had to stay up ’til the wee hours to finish this one.  I love and highly recommend this steamy and heart wrenching story.

5-blue-rosesheat-level-hotblue-flame-heart

 

Posted in Anna Harrington, Historical Romance, Promotions, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – Wild Fire by Anne Stuart

wild-fireIn Anne Stuart’s Fire Series, smoking-hot alpha heroes are members of a secret organization called the Committee, a shadowy group that operates under the radar and outside the law to fight crime and terrorism. These sexy agents live fast-paced lives and play by their own rules. They’re used to dealing with intrigue, murder, and trouble at every turn. Their orders don’t include falling in love, but the women they become entangled with are irresistibly seductive. As danger and desire rise, these agents discover the only way to survive the heat is to form alliances—both in and out of the bedroom.

About Wildfire: Three years ago, ex-operative Sophie Jordan made the mistake of falling in love—and marrying—her target. Now she’s paying for it tenfold. Her husband might be one of the sexiest men alive, but he’s also a psychopath. She’s been a virtual prisoner, and the time has come for retribution—and escape. Undercover agent Malcolm Gunnison has his orders: get intel from Sophie’s arms-dealer husband, then kill him. He plans to get rid of her, too, if she gets in his way, but he’s unprepared when she gets under his skin instead. Whose side is she on? And what is she hiding behind those mesmerizing eyes? Sophie vowed to never fall for another man again, but this sexy undercover agent is different. With danger mounting, can Malcolm and Sophie trust each other—and their growing passion—enough to get out of this operation alive?

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Wildfire (The Fire Series Book 3)

My Review:Reviewed by Rose 3

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

The Committee is a nebulous organization which exists to fight the wrongs and evils of the world, but whose methods are ruthless, and sometimes leave collateral damage.  Sophie Jordan was in training to become an agent when she was sent on her first assignment.  Her team’s mission was to kill Archer MacDonald, who is a wealthy arms dealer, among other crimes.  Unfortunately, the inexperienced Sophie fell in love with him, and she ended up marrying him.  Not long after, Archer learned of Sophie’s involvement with the Committee, and contracted to have her killed.  The assassin only managed to injure Sophie’s spine, causing paralysis.  Archer, being a sadistic monster underneath his surface charm, takes great joy in having Sophie helpless and under his thumb.  He virtually holds her prisoner on his private island while he continues with his latest venture, which is brokering a deal for a new and dangerous chemical weapon.

Unbeknownst to Archer, Sophie has begun to regain the feeling in her legs.  Every day, while in her luxurious bathroom, out of reach of Archer’s surveillance cameras, she exercises her body, building up her strength.  She’s smart enough to know that she will be killed as soon as Archer tires of the cat and mouse games he plays with her.  Sophie plans to escape the island, and kill Archer before he kills her.  Enter, Malcolm “Mal” Gunnison, who is another agent for the Committee.  He is undercover, posing as an agent for a buyer of the chemical weapon, while his real assignment is to kill Archer.  Sophie is merely considered a footnote.  It’s up to Mal whether he rescues her, leaves her on the island, or kills her.  Mal is reserving judgment until he sees the lay of the land.

Archer proceeds to wine and dine his new guest while they wait for the inventor of the weapon to arrive on the island.  Everything is at Mal’s disposal, including the women Archer keeps around for entertainment.  Soon, Archer even offers his wife for Mal’s amusement, in fact, he insists upon it.  When Mal and Sophie are out of range of the cameras, they soon learn the truth about each other.  They have an intense attraction which neither wants, so their “working relationship” is antagonistic.  Then the action really ramps up, with a devastating tropical storm, attempted murder, and many more surprises.

I admit it – Anne Stuart is my guilty pleasure, and I adore her.  Her heroes are usually over-the-top bad boys who are somehow on the good side.  Mal is no exception – he does whatever it takes to complete his assignment, whether it be sex, murder, or anything in between.  Yet this hardened man falls for the very flawed Sophie.  Despite her training, Sophie made a huge mistake in judgment regarding Archer.  She was gullible enough to believe his lies, and turned her back on the Committee, and it cost her greatly.  She’s wise enough now not to fall for anyone else, especially a Committee agent.  Or, is she?  WILD FIRE is chock full of intrigue, twists, excitement, and very steamy sex.  I recommend this book for fans of romantic suspense who enjoy a hot, intense read and a dark hero – it’s Anne Stuart doing what she does best.

Rating 4heat-level-scorchingblueflame2

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anne-stuartAbout the Author: Bestselling author Anne Stuart is a master of romance, a winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, and a forty-year veteran of the publishing business. Her first novel was Barrett’s Hill, a Gothic romance published when Anne was just twenty-five. Since then, she’s written romances in nearly every subgenre, from Regency and historical to paranormal and suspense. Anne speaks all over the country and has been featured on Entertainment Tonight as well as in Vogue, People, USA Today, Woman’s Day, and many other national newspapers and magazines. She lives with her husband by a lake in northern Vermont, where she enjoys an empty nest, fabulous grandchildren, and overacting in local theater. She has so many books she still wants to write that she plans to live forever.

Posted in Anne Stuart, Review, Romantic Suspense, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – To Covet a Lady’s Heart by Ingrid Hahn

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After a lifetime of rakish behavior, Lord Maxfeld must pretend he’s reformed and find a fake wife. And there is nobody more suitable than Lady Phoebe. Trouble is, Phoebe will not agree to a false engagement and leaves Max no option but to blackmail her into agreeing to his scheme.

Phoebe will go to great lengths to avoid anything remotely dishonourable and blackmails Max right back—directly to the altar. Once married, though, Phoebe wants more than just Max’s ring — she wants his heart, something he can never give….

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Click on the title below for direct Amazon buy link:
To Covet a Lady’s Heart

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My Review:   

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

Reviewed by Rose 3

Lady Phoebe Landon and her family have only been given a lukewarm reception back into society after the scandal they suffered when Phoebe’s father gambled away their fortune.  When Grace, Phoebe’s sister, married an earl, invitations slowly started to come again, but it’s a precarious situation.  Phoebe knows that she has to avoid any hint of impropriety, so she intends to walk the straight and narrow path.

Max has his future planned, and it doesn’t include a wife or children.  He loves and dearly wants custody of his orphaned nephew, Thomas, but his mother (Thomas’ grandmother) won’t relinquish him because of Max’ rakish reputation.  So Max devises a plan to acquire a temporary fiancée – once his mother has become convinced he’s going to settle down, she’ll release Thomas to him, and then he can quietly end the engagement.  Max also knows exactly who will pose as his fiancée – Phoebe Landon.  Max knows that she needs to avoid scandal, and he knows a very damaging secret about her sister.  When Phoebe refuses, Max resorts to blackmail, threatening to reveal the secret and causing further scandal to the Landon family.  Phoebe has no choice but to agree.

Max and Phoebe were previously acquainted, but didn’t know each other very well.  Now that they are engaged and spending time together, they grow to genuinely like each other.  Phoebe begins to think she’d like this to be a real engagement, and though Max feels the same, he refuses to break his vow to himself never to wed or to be a father.  He won’t tell Phoebe why, though it’s clear he would dearly love to have her for his wife.  So Phoebe decides to do some blackmailing of her own.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading TO COVET A LADY’S HEART.  It was pretty clear almost from the beginning that Max was not a bad person, and that his blackmail was done out of desperation and love for his nephew. The reason Max refuses to father children of his own is revealed fairly early on, though I would have liked to know much more about that whole situation than was revealed. Phoebe makes for a great heroine, with her strength, intelligence, compassion, and wittiness.  This couple is clearly in love and deserves to have a happy ever after.  They have genuine obstacles to overcome, and not all of them are resolved in this book, but I was left with the belief that their love is strong, and that together they will face whatever comes their way.  I totally enjoy Ingrid Hahn’s writing – the story flowed smoothly and I love her dialogue.  TO COVET A LADY’S HEART is a delightful read that receives my solid recommendation.

Rating 4heat-level-hotblue-flame-heart

Posted in Historical Romance, Ingrid Hahn, Review, Rose | 4 Comments

Review – The Star in the Meadow by Carla Kelly

star-in-the-meadowMarco Mondragón and his wife Paloma are living hectic but happy lives at the Double Cross, on the edge of Comanchería. Five years after the death of Comanche leader Cuerno Verde, cautious diplomacy between the tribe and the colonists is underway to end Comanche raids into New Mexico. Paloma’s time has been fully consumed by her two toddlers and newborn son and Marco’s by spring planting.

The Seven Year Audit of 1784 arrives and with it comes auditor Fernando Ygnacio. After years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit, Señor Ygnacio is a broken man. Although his daughter Catalina is bitter about his mistreatment by his superiors, her storytelling abilities captivate the household, including a frequent visitor from the nearby presidio, El Teniente Joaquim Gasca, who has been undergoing his own reformation from rascal to leader.

Unknown to him, Marco has peculiar enemies plotting his downfall. When Paloma and Catalina set out on a visit to Marco’s sister, meant to give Paloma relief from her busy life, the women are kidnapped. Devastated, Marco is torn between love and duty. He yearns to search for his wife, but feels bound by colonial duties to accompany his friend Toshua to Río Napestle, where Comanches have gathered to debate the region’s fragile peace. In his absence from the Double Cross, will Joaquim Gasca and Toshua’s wife Eckapeta be able to find the missing women?

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Star in the Meadow (The Spanish Brand Book 4)

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I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review

MY REVIEW:

Reviewed by Rose 3

Marco Mondragon has overcome tragedy in his life, and has managed to find happiness again.  He lost his beloved wife and twin sons to illness, and after years of grief and loneliness, he found a new love, Paloma.  They have made a good life for themselves in New Mexico, overcoming the threat of smallpox, hostile Indians, and their supposed infertility.  They have forged true friendships, found lost family members, and Paloma has just given birth to their second child.  Most importantly, they have found a deep and passionate love in their marriage.

Yet, something feels different to Paloma after the birth of this child.  She feels sad and overwhelmed when she should only be feeling joy.  The tasks in her everyday life seem insurmountable.  (Today we would call this postpartum depression.) Marco decides to send Paloma off to visit his sister for two weeks, where she can just relax and visit and not worry about any duties in her home.  He hopes this will rejuvenate her and bring back her zest for life.

About the same time, there is a large gathering of Comanche, who want to discuss peace, and they demand that Marco be there, as he has played a large part in past negotiations.  Marco has a reputation for being fair, and talks won’t go forward without him.  Though Marco doesn’t want to attend, not with the state his wife is in, plus having a newborn baby, he feels that he has no choice.  In order to have peace and be safe in the future, they have to make arrangements now.

When Paloma and her companion, along with the newborn baby, are enroute to her sister-in-law’s home, their carriage is stopped by criminals who believe someone else is inside.  Upon learning that Paloma is Marco’s wife, they decide to kidnap them, as they have a grudge against him.  This action forces Paloma to make a heartbreaking decision about her child, a decision which no mother should have to make, and quite honestly, one that horrified me.  When Marco finds out that Paloma is missing, he decides he must search for her and not attend the gathering with the Comanche.  Toshua, his dear Comanche friend, insists that Marco will go, even if he has to kidnap him, as the precarious future of the area hangs in the balance.  This situation forces Marco to make a heartbreaking decision, as well.

The SPANISH BRAND series by Carla Kelly takes place in a time and setting that would normally not appeal to me.  Yet, because I love her writing so much, I took a chance on the first book, and I’ve been hooked right through this final book four.  I’ve become quite invested in Marco and Paloma and their extended circle of family and friends.  Their love for each other and their kindness and generosity seems to have an almost magical, healing quality that enfolds their loved ones, bringing happiness and second chances.  I found STAR IN THE MEADOW to be somewhat darker than previous books, and therefore more intense.  I hated what Paloma and Marco had to endure, yet I admit that I was totally enmeshed in the story.  Carla Kelly’s writing is masterful, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this whole series, and I believe you would enjoy each book more if you read them all.  STAR IN THE MEADOW is a stellar conclusion which will reside on my keeper shelf.  I’m sad to see this magnificent series end.

5-blue-rosesheat-level-warm1-blue-flame

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

Review – The Scoundrel’s Honor by Christi Caldwell

scoundrels-honorFor the ladies and lords of the ton, London Society is a place of rules. No one speaks aloud of the dark gaming hells, where sin and debauchery beckon. Those who run these exclusive clubs live and die by the dangerous rules of the streets, shunning the very nobility who fill their coffers. This is certainly no place for matchmaking, proper marriage contracts, or any kind of propriety. Indeed, these men may run the most notorious gaming hell in London, but even the wickedest of gentlemen aren’t immune to the greatest vice of all—love.

About The Scoundrel’s Honor   Thanks to her older siblings, Lady Penelope Tidemore is no stranger to scandal. In order for her to make a good match, her secret longings for intrigue and romance must be quelled. Yet it is through terrible mischance that Penelope is caught in a compromising position—however innocent—with the darkly enigmatic viscount Ryker Black.

Mr. Black is no gentleman. Raised from the streets and proprietor of the most notorious gaming hell in London, Black lives in a world filled with debauchery and danger. Taking a Society wife from the very ton he despises is not part of his plan, even if the innocent Penelope turns his blood hot with desire. But Penelope isn’t afraid of Mr. Black, and she soon discovers that his reputation as a scoundrel may be designed to hide a surprising vulnerability. As this unlikely husband and wife grow closer, they learn that what started as chance could end up sealing their fates.

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Scoundrel’s Honor (Sinful Brides)

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

My Review:

Lady Penelope Tidemore has just make her debut in society, and is determined to behave with the utmost decorum, and not add to her family’s already scandalous reputation.  When some intentionally hateful remarks are made within her earshot, she escapes outside for some solitude.  As she hears another set of footsteps approach, Penny knows she can’t be caught alone with a man, so she proceeds to hide under a bench.

Ryker Banbury (who goes by the last name of Black) was recently awarded the title of Viscount Chatham, but he is no gentleman.  He is the bastard son of a duke, who was raised in the slums of the city by a cruel criminal.  As he got older, he formed a “family” with four other street children, and they own a gaming hell.  Ryker is only at this event because one of his siblings has now married into society, and he feels that the connection will benefit his club.  His life is one of constant danger from rivals, and when Penny unfortunately makes a noise and becomes partially visible, Ryker pounces on her, fearing an enemy attack.  Of course, it’s at that moment that several people come outside and witness this, causing a scandal.

There is no doubt that Penny is now ruined.  Though her brother assures her she does not have to marry, Penny knows that her younger sister, who hasn’t yet made her debut, will not stand a chance in society if she doesn’t.  So Penny puts aside her lifelong dream of marrying for love, and weds the cold, hard man who has only scorn for nobles, and goes off to live with him in his gaming hell.

Though many novels have used this trope, I have to say that Ryker is about the most distant, unsmiling, cold man I’ve read about.  His brothers are the same way – there are no friends for Penny in her new home.  Everyone has an intense hatred for the ton and resents her intrusion into their world.  Penny even has to endure the indignity of having Ryker’s former mistress in the house.

Yet, Penny has an unworldly maturity for someone only eighteen years old.  She takes the barbs and arrows directed at her with dignity, and treats Ryker and his brothers like family.  While Ryker unbends enough to share passion with his new wife, whenever she makes a slight inroad into learning about him personally, he beats a hasty retreat.

THE SCOUNDREL’S HONOR is my first experience with author Christi Caldwell, and she writes very, very well.  There are previous books which tell the stories of Penny’s three older siblings, but I didn’t feel lost for not having read them. This book placed two polar opposite characters together in a seemingly impossible situation, yet let them grow toward each other to form a strong union and love.  The romantic and tender hearted Penelope develops strength and determination, while the self contained Ryker finally allows himself to show some vulnerability and admit that he needs help.  Their growth made for a most enjoyable read, and while their relationship solidified, there are many loose ends left dangling.  I expect this will lead to upcoming books in this series, which I am definitely anticipating.

Rating 4heat-level-warm1-blue-flameReviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Christi Caldwell, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 3 Comments

Review – Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James

seven-minutes-in-heavenAll of Eugenia Snowe’s problems start when Edward Reeve, an arrogant bastard son of an earl, bursts into her registry office. He wants a governess and he wants her. She gives him the governess he demands, but she refuses to give herself.

No question that Eugenia enjoys crossing wits with the brilliant inventor, but she will never tarnish her reputation with an affaire, particularly with a man who doesn’t realize she’s a lady!

She holds her ground…until he kidnaps her.

Ward will stop at nothing to convince Eugenia that they’re meant to be together. He promises her heaven.  She gives him seven minutes.

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Seven Minutes in Heaven (Desperate Duchesses By the Numbers)

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

 

My Review:

Eugenia Snowe lost her beloved husband in a tragic accident not long after their marriage.  Although she is the daughter of a marquess, she needed a challenge to help her through the grieving process.  For the last seven years, Eugenia ran a well respected employment agency for governesses.  Now she wonders if it’s time for her to start living again.  When Theodore Reeve, known as Ward, comes into her agency, demanding a replacement governess for the one who left, Eugenia finds the gentleman very attractive.

Ward is in a very unique situation – he’s the illegitimate son of an earl, but he was actually raised in his father’s home and is publicly acknowledged as his son.  His mother, thought by some to be eccentric at best, and mad at worst, left to travel with an acting troupe.  Unknown to Ward, she married and had two children, his half siblings.  Now his mother and her husband are dead, leaving the children in his care.  Ward is happy to take on the task, but the children’s (and his) own grandmother, who is a stuffy, toplofty, unpleasant woman, is challenging him for custody.  Ward knows that his status as an unmarried bastard jeopardizes his case, so he hires a top notch governess, and  begins to think about making an advantageous marriage to a society lady with an unblemished reputation.

When the second governess leaves her post due to the eccentric behavior of the children, Lizzie and Otis, Ward immediately runs to Eugenia’s agency to demand yet another replacement.  When there is no one available, Ward convinces Eugenia to act as governess for two weeks.  In the course of their conversation, which is fraught with serious flirting and sexual undertones, the couple begins to consider having an affair for those two weeks.  It turns out that Eugenia hits it off really well with the children, and also with Ward.  They share an intense passion and fondness that grows daily.

Now, this is where things get complicated.  Although it was the last thing she wanted to do, Eugenia finds that she is falling deeply in love with Ward, and adores the children.  Ward doesn’t realize that Eugenia is a lady, he thinks that she is just a businesswoman, when in fact her social status is vastly superior to his.  When Eugenia makes a couple of innocent mistakes regarding the children, Ward is doubly certain that she has no permanent place in his life, no matter how fond he and the children are of her.  When the two weeks are up, Ward determinedly ends the affair, despite Eugenia’s declaration of love, and sends her away.

Eugenia is a jewel, and I adore her.  I love how she had the courage to admit her love for Ward, and challenge him to admit his own love.  When she was rejected,  I admire her class and dignity, and her determination to carry on with her life.  Ward is a charming and sexy man – he couldn’t care less what society thinks of him and his birth, yet it was his concern for the children and their future that drove him to be so cruel to Eugenia.  He has his work cut out to try to win her back, especially when Eugenia now believes he only wants her for the social advantage she can supply.  Can this couple work out all the misunderstandings and find their way to happily ever after?  SEVEN MINUTES IN HEAVEN is an enjoyable read, which includes some heartbreak along the way with the light moments.  The children are quirky and quite adorable – and how many stories can boast a pet rat – especially one named Jarvis?

Rating 4heat-level-hotblue-flame-heartReviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Eloisa James, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

dukeHe is noble, notorious, and takes no prisoners…

Strong as a Viking. Handsome as Adonis. Rich as Midas. Collin “Cole” Talmage, Duke of Trewyth, is the stuff that legends are made of. He’s the English Empire’s golden son–until fate has its way with him. Cole’s family is killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor–and desire. And now he’s ready for the fight of his lifetime…

Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of convenience―one that left her a wealthy widow―but she never forgot Cole. Now that her long-lost lover has turned up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her, Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her leaves him wanting to protect and possess her…at all costs.

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Duke (Victorian Rebels)

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

My Review:

Collin Talmage, known as Cole, has just inherited the title of Duke of Trenwyth at the very high cost of losing his whole family.  While he is hurting and grieving, he is also scheduled to leave on an assignment for the crown tomorrow, so tonight he’s seeking out some human comfort.  When he walks into the Bare Kitten, a seedy tavern, he immediately focuses on Ginny, one of the barmaids, as the one he wants to spend the night with.  What Cole doesn’t know is that Ginny is not a lady-for-hire, as the other women working there are.  Ginny is really Imogen Pritchard, a nurse, who is supporting her mother and younger sister.  Her deceased father owes a substantial debt to the tavern’s owner, and she is working in disguise as a barmaid to whittle down the balance.  She recognizes who Cole is, as the newspapers have been full of his tragic story, and she can see the grief and sadness in his eyes.  Still, she refuses when he attempts to buy her for the night.  When she is told that the amount Cole paid is enough to reduce her servitude by a whole year, she agrees, knowing full well what this makes her.  Cole treats her with tenderness and courtesy, and they share a special bond and a warm, passionate night.  When Ginny leaves him, she realizes that she’ll never see him again, in fact, he may not survive his mission, but he’s taking a piece of her heart along with him.

A year later, the duke is brought to Imogen’s hospital, severely injured, and not expected to survive.  Imogen is tasked with nursing him, and ends up saving his life, though it costs her job.  Cole doesn’t recognize her as Ginny, and in his illness, rejects her and her care.  Rescue comes in the form of an elderly earl, a patient at the hospital, who is dying.  This earl values Imogen and appreciates all she has done for him, so he proposes marriage.  Imogen accepts, and is now a wealthy countess, who lives next door to Cole.  When the earl dies months later, Imogen begins working on her new passion, rescuing prostitutes, and other down-on-their-luck people.  Cole is infuriated at this activity happening next door to his home, and he is not shy about berating Imogen publicly and privately.  He believes she tricked the elderly earl into marriage and considers her nothing more than riffraff and totally beneath him.

Imogen is, of course, hurt by Cole’s assumptions and accusations.  The man she was a bit in love with is gone, and in his place is a sarcastic, angry, bitter, scarred man.  She has no idea of the extreme torture that Cole endured when he was captured, or that the only thing that kept him sane at all was his memory of Ginny and their magical night.  Since his return, he has searched endlessly for her, only to keep coming up with a dead end.  He feels that she, Ginny, is his only chance at retaining any of his humanity.  Without her, he knows he’ll fall completely into darkness.  Yet, slowly, he begins to see that Imogen is not the awful schemer he imagined.  He sees her character, her genuine commitment, and her care for those she rescues.  Then he sees her beauty, and begins to desire her.  What will happen if he finds out that Imogen is Ginny?  Imogen is determined to keep her past hidden, as if it became known, she will be ruined, and all her work will have been for nothing.

Kerrigan Byrne has written another powerful and dark masterpiece.  I don’t know how she does it, but I was in that prison with Cole, I felt his rage and anguish.  I detested the person he had become, but I totally understood it and didn’t hate him, just what was done to him to cause it.  I admired his search for Ginny, how he never gave up, looking to fight a way out of the darkness that had become his life.  I also had to admire Imogen for being strong enough to give up on any chance of a relationship with Cole when he rejected her back in the hospital.  Then when his treatment of her should only have earned her rejection, she stayed strong in her beliefs, and yet considered his injuries and treated him with compassion.  THE DUKE is not for everyone.  It’s gritty and dark and in-your-face, and I found it compelling, intense, passionate, and beautiful.  The characters are flawed, have done awful things, yet manage to find a measure of redemption through the power of love.  The Victorian Rebels series is magnificent, and I recommend THE DUKE most highly.  This one will surely be on my favorites list this year.  Fasten your seat belt and settle in for a thrilling ride.

5-blue-rosesheat-level-hotblue-flame-heartReviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Historical Romance, Kerrigan Byrne, Review, Rose | 4 Comments

Review – Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

someone-to-holdSomeone to Hold (Westcott #2)

Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery…

With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.

An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead…  

 Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                     Someone to Hold (A Westcott Novel)

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

My Review:

Camille Westcotts world, as she knew it, has crumbled. She was the daughter of an earl, engaged to a viscount,  and raised in wealth and privilege – but it’s all gone now.  Shortly after her father’s death, it was discovered that he was previously married, and though his first wife is deceased, he entered into his second marriage before she died.  This makes him a bigamist, his second marriage invalid, and the three children of that marriage illegitimate.  To make matters even worse, he never changed his first will, thus leaving all his fortune to the child of his first marriage, Anna.  Camille and her family are shocked at their reversal of fortune, and haughtily refuse all of Anna’s overtures of friendship.  They even reject her offer to share the fortune with all of them.  When Camille’s fiance breaks their engagement, she and her sister retreat to Bath to live with their grandmother.

Joel Cunningham is beginning to find some success as a portrait artist.  He’s an orphan, raised in the same orphanage in Bath as Camille’s sister, Anna.  In fact, they grew up together and are dear friends.  When Joel’s path begins  to cross with Camille’s  on a regular basis, he is at first prepared to dislike her, knowing how she treated Anna.  Camille is aloof, haughty, and not at all beautiful.  So why does Joel always seem to seek out her company?

In an act that surprises everyone, including herself, Camille applies for the teaching job at the orphanage where Anna was raised and later worked.  Though she displays an outward icy veneer, inside Camille is in turmoil.  She doesn’t know what to do with her life, or even who she is.  Her whole previous existence was geared to being the perfect society lady and making the perfect marriage.  In a desperate attempt to find some answers, Camille, in effect, decides to take a walk in Anna’s shoes.

SOMEONE TO HOLD has all the trademark qualities of a Mary Balogh book.  The romance between the unlikely couple of Joel and Camille develops slowly and is, by no means, smooth.  The focus is on the characters and their development.  Camille is not a very likable heroine until we start to see inside her hard outer shell.  She is scared, uncertain, ashamed, and insecure, which she hides with her arrogant manner.  It seems that the honorable and very likable Joel deserves another match, one more suited to his personality.  Yet, this couple comes to understand and desire each other, and somehow they end up being perfect for each other.  It was particularly touching to watch Camille fall in love with one of the orphaned children.  I love Mary Balogh’s writing, and the extent  that she fleshes out her characters, making them very real, faults and all.  SOMEONE TO HOLD is another warm and satisfying read which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend.

Rating 4heat-level-warm1-blue-flame

Reviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Historical Romance, Mary Balogh, Review, Rose | 1 Comment