Review – The Gunslinger’s Vow by Amy Sandas

About the Book:

Three runaway brides
Determined to escape their fates
Flee West to find freedom that can only be had
in a cowboy’s arms…

Alexandra Brighton has spent the last five years in Boston, with all evidence of the wild frontier girl she used to be erased. Before she settles down, she’s determined to visit her childhood home. When she finds herself far from her destination, she has no choice but to have the rugged Malcolm Kincaid escort her to Montana.

Now that Malcolm finally has the name and location of the man who killed his brother, he has no interest in protecting a pampered Eastern lady. But something about her tells him he just can’t leave her behind. And by the time they reach Montana, Malcolm must decide if seeing justice done for past wrongs is worth losing a future with a woman he never expected to need.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                   The Gunslinger’s Vow (Runaway Brides)

My Review:                     

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Alexandra Brighton was raised in Montana, where she learned to hunt, shoot, and live off the land.  Then at age fifteen, she was attacked, and her retaliation caused repercussions that forced her father to send her away to Boston to live with her aunt.  For the last five years, she has learned to be a proper lady, and now she has received a proposal that should have her overjoyed…..only, it doesn’t.  Though she requested many times that her father let her return home, he has never agreed.  Now Alex knows that she can never settle into a marriage until she returns to Montana  to determine which place is truly her home.  She sneaks away and boards a train west, anxious to see her father again, and to sort out her feelings.

Bounty hunter Malcolm Kincaid has had only one goal in life for the past eight years – find the man who killed his younger brother, or die trying.  Every time he gets close to Walter Dunstan, it seems that he is warned and manages to elude Kincaid.  Now Kincaid finally has a solid lead, and plans to start his quest the next day, when he is approached by a beautiful, well dressed lady, who requests that he escort her the rest of the way to Montana.  Kincaid is a loner, and has no desire to play nursemaid to Alexandra.  Though he initially firmly refuses her, he encounters her later, finding her abandoned by the party she had subsequently agreed to travel with.  He reluctantly agrees to take her as far as the next town, only to find the formerly bustling city has now dwindled down to a tenth of its former size.

It seems that fate is determined to foist Alex on Kincaid.  Despite his gruff manner, he can’t abandon her, so he agrees to escort her to her father’s home.  Initially, Kincaid is annoyed by Alex’s chatting and her questions.  He’s the epitome of the grumpy, surly, anti-social gunslinger.  (Think of the old Clint Eastwood westerns.)  But he’s also handsome, protective, a good hunter,  and a man so wracked with guilt that he’s given up all hope of a life and happiness of his own.  Though he finds Alex desirable, he’s honorable enough to keep his distance, as he’s a man with no future.  Each day, Alex slips more into her “Montana” skin and shows that she’s no helpless lady from back east.  She does her share of the work, and proves to Kincaid that she knows how to hunt, shoot better than he does, and takes care of him when he is injured.

When Kincaid’s injury forces them to seek shelter in a secluded cabin, they give in to the simmering attraction that both have been feeling.  Kincaid is quick to affirm that he has no future to promise, and Alex is content to accept their passion as something they’ll share only for now.  Up until then, the unspoken lust between them was like a bubbling cauldron that kept building and building, only to have Kincaid turn away.  The sexual tension was truly palpable, and showcased Kincaid’s unbelievable willpower and determination to not take advantage of Alex, though she gave every indication of being willing.

I don’t read many westerns, but Amy Sandas is an author whose historical regencies I’ve enjoyed, and I found myself loving THE GUNSLINGER’S VOW.  Both Kincaid and Alex are strong, determined, and focused on their goals.  I liked and admired them, and couldn’t wait for them to finally succumb to their overwhelming desire for each other.  I loved how well this book flowed, and how it turned out they had another connection in their pasts to link them.  The conclusion to this well written and passionate story was exciting and very satisfying.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming stories in the RUNAWAY BRIDES series.

Posted in Amy Sandas, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – Captain Amberton’s Inherited Bride by Jenni Fletcher

About the Book:

“Marry me…
and you’ll have your freedom.” 

Her father’s will dictates Violet Harper must wed or be disinherited—yet she’d rather face the wilderness of the wintry Yorkshire moors than be bound to cynical, damaged soldier Captain Lance Amberton. Lance promises a marriage of convenience that will grant Violet her independence. In exchange, she must put her faith in Lance and see beyond his gruff exterior to the man beneath…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                              Captain Amberton’s Inherited Bride (Harlequin Historical)

My Review:                    

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Captain Lance Amberton is returning home to accept the conditional title of Viscount, now that the heir, his beloved twin brother, Arthur, has been lost at sea and presumed dead.   Lance is bearing the guilt of not responding to Arthur’s pleas for him to come home to help him, as well as his own less than honorable actions while serving as a soldier.  In addition to the title, it seems that Lance has also inherited Arthur’s betrothed, as the contract only states the heir to the title, not listing a specific name.  Still, Lance is now ready to accept his duty, and prepares to wed.

Violet Harper is an heiress, the daughter of a shipbuilder who kept her isolated, and belittled her for all of her twenty three years.  Now that her father is dead, Violet learns that she must marry the Amberton heir within one month or be disinherited.  Although she has intentions of fleeing, she ends up in Lance’s company, and he offers her a compromise.  If she agrees to the marriage, they will split the inheritance, and Lance will offer her the freedom to travel and live the life she chooses.  At first Violet is opposed, remembering the perceived insult she received from Lance at their brief meeting five years ago.  Eventually, she capitulates, and they embark on a convenient marriage, agreeing not share a bed until some distant time in the future, and then, just to provide an heir.

I appreciate that Lance and Violet cleared up the misunderstanding of five years ago right away, rather than have it turn into a permanent wound in their new marriage.  Violet accepts that Lance was not being insulting to her, it was her own lack of confidence that made her so unaware of her own attractions.  After the marriage, Lance works at improving the family estate, while dealing with the injury he received and his constant drinking.  Violet begins to feel more sure of herself and blossoms.    Soon sparks begin between this couple, and they finally share a bed and look to be on their way to a happy future.  An unexpected twist causes Lance to reject the new happiness he’s found.  Will he be able to see the light and save his marriage before his action cause a permanent break?

CAPTAIN AMBERTON’S INHERITED BRIDE contains one of my favorite tropes, the marriage of convenience that turns to love, as well as significant character development.  Lance had not been an honorable man, but he redeemed himself.  Violet was unsure, a bit naive, and had no realization of her own beauty, and she came into her own.  The romance between this couple was sweet and believable, and made for a satisfying and delightful read.     ~Rose

Posted in Historical Romance, Jenni Fletcher, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – An Earl to Save Her Reputation by Laura Martin

About the Book:

A convenient betrothal

“It will save us both from scandal.”

Widowed three times over, Lady Anna Fortescue is used to ignoring the wagging tongues of the ton. After finding herself in a compromising position with handsome bachelor Lord Harry Edgerton, to avoid scandal she ends up engaged again. The arrangement may be one of convenience, but as Anna finds herself unable to resist Harry’s charms, she realizes the betrothal may have its benefits…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                An Earl to Save Her Reputation (Harlequin Historical)

My Review:                    

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lady Anna Fortescue is only twenty five years old, yet she has been widowed three times.  Only one of those marriages was by her own choice, and sadly, none of them were happy.  In fact, her third husband was cruel and abusive, leaving Anna determined to never marry again.  She owns and manages a small shipping company, which keeps her occupied and independent.  Her peace is shattered when she begins to receive a series of threatening notes and disturbing packages.

Harry Pershore, Earl of Edgerton, is not averse to marriage, as long as it’s a convenient one, as he has no use for love.  He also is a stickler for avoiding scandal, as his sister, Lydia, was caught in a shocking situation last year, causing her to retreat and hide from society.  When Harry and Anna are caught in a compromising situation, Harry, ever the gentleman,  is quick to announce their engagement.  While Anna would have stoically born being the subject of more gossip, the “Black Widow” reluctantly agrees to a temporary betrothal.  When Harry learns of the threatening letters and packages Anna has been receiving, his protective instincts kick in, and he’s determined to help her find out who her enemy is.

Harry and Anna soon find they have a genuine attraction, though neither of them wanted it.  Anna is a very strong woman now, having survived the abuse and lack of any input for her own future.  Being able to make her own decisions and controlling her fate are heady experiences that she’s not readily willing to give up.  Harry is a good and decent man, who wants Anna to feel free, while he still wants to shield her from harm.

AN EARL TO SAVE HER REPUTATION is a sweet and passionate romance with a worthy couple well deserving of  their happiness, if only they can work through their baggage.  There’s also a bit of mystery, along with a creepy villain.  I enjoy author Laura Martin’s writing style, and found AN EARL TO SAVE HER REPUTATION to be a solid and engaging read.

Posted in Historical Romance, Laura Martin, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – Tiger Striped by Jennifer Ashley

About the Book:

A novella of the Shifters Unbound series

Tiger wakes in the night knowing someone distant is in trouble, and he feels a terrible pull to help. His mate, Carly, is not about to let him run off alone, and so Tiger takes her on a wild adventure for what proves to be the most important rescue mission of his life.

 

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                               Tiger Striped: Shifters Unbound

 

My Review:                        

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

We first learned Tiger’s story in TIGER MAGIC, and since then, he and his mate, Carly, have created a loving life together, and have an infant son, Seth.  Tiger is awakened one night to a strong feeling of something being majorly wrong, and he receives a telepathic distress call for help.  This call is powerful and unlike anything Tiger has experienced before.  He doesn’t know who it’s from, or where he has to go, he just knows he must go now.  Carly awakens, and is determined to go along.  They hit the road, unaware at first that they have a stowaway young lion-shifter in back.

Carly is concerned, never having seen Tiger like this, but she follows his directions.  They keep driving until they come to a secluded house.  Along the way, they have been followed by mysterious men, as well as police.  Now in this house, Tiger finds who has been sending him the urgent message.  The unexpected captive is someone very important from Tiger’s past, someone who will impact and change his and Carly’s life  – that is, if they are able to overcome the police, guards, mystery men, and the prison itself.

Though this story is short, it’s filled with plenty of action as well as emotion.  Jennifer Ashley’s shifter world has its inhabitants treated as less than second class citizens, forced to wear collars, and live in specified areas.  Yet, these creatures exhibit more loyalty and love than most humans.  TIGER STRIPED includes an exciting and surprising twist, while showcasing Tiger’s and Carly’s strong love and devotion to each other.  I love the character of Tiger, and this fast paced story only made me adore him even more.  He’s a mysterious figure, exceptionally strong, yet gentle and kind to his family.  Carly is his perfect mate, and I can’t wait to see what the surprise that was revealed in this book portends for their future.

 

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Review – It’s All About the Duke by Amelia Grey

About the Book:

Nearing thirty, the Duke of Rathburne is finally ready to make amends for the wager that caused him and his best friends such scandal―but taking on a ward who needs a husband is a feat he’s not sure he can manage. The last he saw of Miss Marlena Fast, she was a spirited little ruffian, not the sort of bride most bachelors on the marriage mart sought. But one glance at the lovely lady she has become is enough to convince him otherwise…

Orphaned young and shuffled from family to family, Marlena counts on her fierce independence and quick wits to keep herself content. Being the responsibility of a notoriously wicked duke who upended so many lives is an unexpected challenge when she realizes he arouses her decidedly feminine desires. Marlena must be careful. She has her own scandalous secret to protect. If he finds out, will it shatter her chances of a happily-ever-after with the notorious rake?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                   It’s All About the Duke: The Rakes of St. James

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

“Rath,” the Duke of Rathburne, is one of a trio of dukes who took part in what was supposed to be a secret wager years ago.  Unfortunately, the secret leaked out, embarrassing the twelve young debutantes who were the subject of the wager.  Though the three dukes regretted their actions, they were relieved that there appeared to be no lasting harm or consequences to any of the young ladies.  Then, years later, the wager was brought up again in a scandal sheet, written by a mysterious “Miss Honora Truth,” who refuses to let the old scandal die.

The author of the posts written as Honora Truth is Marlena Fast, an orphan, who is under the guardianship of a close friend of Rath’s deceased father.  While living with her chaperone and cousin, Justine, Marlena became friends with her neighbors, one of whom was one of the debutantes targeted by the dukes’ infamous wager.  At the time, Veronica was so shaken by the scandal, that she hastily accepted a proposal and married a man who has not made her very happy.  Now Veronica’s life is poor, childless, and she battles depression.  Marlena began writing her column as a way to achieve a measure of revenge for Veronica, as well as giving her any funds that the column earns.

A strange coincidence causes Rath and Marlena to meet, although he did meet her briefly when she was a tomboyish youngster.  Marlena’s guardian becomes very ill, and he calls on Rath, using his friendship with Rath’s father as leverage, to implore him to take over the guardianship of Marlena, who is now almost twenty.  In a weak, and admittedly, inebriated moment, Rath agrees.  When he comes to call on Marlena, she is initially terrified that her alter ego has been found out and he has come to punish her.

While under Rath’s guardianship, Marlena quickly discovers that he is kind, courteous, generous, and ever so patient with her horrible chaperone, Justine.  Although known as a rake, Rath doesn’t dally with innocent ladies, so he may flirt with Marlena, but he does not take any liberties.  However, if Marlena were to kiss him first, that would be a whole different story….

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DUKE tells the charming story of Rath and Marlena falling slowly in love and acting on their passionate feelings.  There is not a lot of conflict or problems until their affair becomes serious, and Marlena realizes she has to confess her secret.  Both of these characters are likeable — Marlena is mature for a young lady who’s never been in society, and she’s quick to see how she may have misjudged Rath.  He, in turn, hardly seems rakish, but rather an honorable, generous, sexy man.  Some comic relief is provided by Justine, who is truly awful, while living in the past, but determined to squeeze every penny out of the present.  I’d recommend IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DUKE for historical romance fans looking for a more low key story without a lot of high drama.  I found it easy reading, enjoyable, and delightful.   ~Rose

Posted in Amelia Grey, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – Lady Cecily and the Mysterious Mr. Gray by Janice Preston

About the Book:

Love or family…How can she choose between them?Lady Cecily Beauchamp has always put her family first. Until she falls under the spell of the mysterious Zachary Gray–a man of Romany descent. Knowing her family will forbid their match, Cecily steels herself to do her duty and marry someone else. Only she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Zach as the spark between them ignites a passion neither can deny!

 

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                      Lady Cecily and the Mysterious Mr. Gray (The Beauchamp Betrothals)

My Review:              

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lady Cecily Beauchamp has spent her life raising her widowed brother’s children and managing his household.  Now that Leo has remarried, Cecily has no desire to become the poor relation, and is pondering her future.  Although she is thirty years old, she’s still young enough to marry, and possibly have children of her own.  Cecily thinks about Lord Kilburn, the suitor whose proposal she refused a year ago, and wonders if she should renew their acquaintance.  She doesn’t love him, but perhaps he’s her best chance at marriage.  But Cecily’s attention is caught by a tall, dark, and handsome man — a man with whom a romance is forbidden.

Zachary Gray is attending the wedding of his friend’s sister into the powerful Beauchamp family, when he notices a beautiful woman deep in contemplation.  They strike up a conversation, and feel an instant rapport, which only increases over their next several meetings.  Being half Romany, Zach is aware that he’s not considered suitable for Cecily, truly not even as an acquaintance.  Still their attraction grows.  They are determined to stay away from each other, but can’t seem to do so.

As Cecily’s brothers begin to notice that she is often in Zach’s company, their opposition to the connection becomes stronger and more vocal.  Cecily is torn between taking the safe path and pursuing her suitor of a year ago, or risking losing her position in society as well as her family to follow her heart and a future with Zach.

I admit that I was very disappointed at first with Cecily’s failure to stand up to her brothers and her reluctance to immediately fully accept Zach.  However, upon seeing how society truly treated him, calling him a gypsy and worse, and treating him as less than human, I began to understand how drastically her life would change.  As Cecily’s brothers, Leo and Vernon, were heroes of the last two books in this series, it did pain me to see them so hard headed and reluctant to even consider Zach, and to watch them use their influence to separate the couple.

LADY CECILY AND THE MYSTERIOUS MR. GRAY is more than a lighthearted romance, as it delves into people’s prejudices and fear of what and who is different from them.  Zach is a beautiful person, despite the abuse he suffered and the things he lost.  He’s a gentle soul who has his own demons to face and choices to make if he is to have any chance of a future with Cecily.  I love that Cecily had the full support of her brother’s wives right from the get go.  Though he was slow getting there, Leo eventually showed his true nature and what he was made of when the chips were down, and I felt he nicely redeemed himself.  I think Cecily and Zach’s happily-ever-after was sweeter because it was so hard won, and their passionate love story concludes with a romantic scene that had me smiling, if a bit teary eyed.    ~Rose

Posted in Historical Romance, Janice Preston, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – Let Sleeping Dukes Lie by Emily Windsor

About the Book:

“Strait-laced. Ruthless. Arrogant.”
Alexander Westhide, the Duke of Rakecombe has no quarrel with such faint praise as he has forever shunned marriage, women and anything remotely resembling love. Indeed, the damning words merely serve to enhance his haughty façade. But beneath the controlled demeanour lies a duke beset by tragedy, a man turbulent and restless.

“Forthright. Impudent… Capricious saucebox.”
Miss Aideen Quinlan can’t quite express why she feels the need to taunt, tease and generally annoy the Duke of Rakecombe. Maybe it was for the heart-racing spar of words that always ensued, or maybe it was to see the duke’s broad fist clench on his ebony cane, green eyes glittering.
Or maybe it was because she was unable to erase the memory of his vehement kiss…

An unlikely couple.
Torn between his world of espionage and this unquenchable passion, the duke still refuses to lower his fierce defences.
If Aideen is to capture her resistant duke’s troubled heart, it is she who must follow the Rules of the Rogue.
Resistance is futile…

A sensual Regency Romance with warmth and wit, this story also includes unpalatable chefs, a darling of the Season with a secondary love story, deadly walking canes and sheep…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Let Sleeping Dukes Lie (Rules of the Rogue Book 2)

My Review:          

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Alexander Westhide, Duke of Rakecombe, was recruited by the government right out of school to serve his country as a spy.  Very early in his career of espionage, someone dear to him suffered tragic consequences indirectly due to his job.  From that day forward, Alex has adopted the persona of the arrogant, stuffy, toplofty duke, never letting anyone close, and certainly never courting love.  It’s so inconvenient that he is on fire for Aideen Quinlan, a woman he rescued almost a year ago, and can’t seem to get out of his mind.

Aideen is a hot tempered Irish woman, who has a tendency to spew insulting Irish curses on any given occasion.  She is not in awe of Alexander in the least, and is quick to stand up to him, which Alex secretly adores.  Though she shared a kiss with Alex when he rescued her, he quickly disappeared from sight.  When he returned, it was back to bickering and insults.  Until one night when they are caught in a compromising position, and agree to marry.

Aideen is aware that Alex is a spy, as her cousin is married to one of his associates.  She’s a strong and feisty lady who can take care of herself, in fact, she’s a better shot than Alex is.  Still, Alex is torn, feeling that he has now placed Aideen in danger.  The guilt he carries from that long ago incident still haunts him, causing him to run hot and cold in his new marriage.  Their passion burns hot, and then he totally ignores her.

Alex is a complicated character – his coldness is a result of his trying to protect anyone from being hurt again because of him.  Aideen is no shrinking violet, and won’t accept Alex’s inattention and rudeness.  She’s tasted the passion he feels for her, and is determined that they can build a strong future together.  That is, until Alex rejects her one time too many.  Now that Alex sees what he’s lost, he’s determined to win back the woman he realizes he loves – but is he too late?

LET SLEEPING DUKES LIE is fast paced, entertaining, romantic, sometimes amusing, and a great read all the way through.  Aideen has a soft side which she keeps hidden behind her bravado and litany of curses and insults, and I grew to like her very much.  I’m a fan of the strong, silent hero, and Alex filled the bill, though he did need to be taken down a peg or two, and Aideen is just the woman for the job.  Their passion was steamy, and I can imagine a lifetime of their happily bickering and loving in equal parts.  As in previous books in this series, the relationship between the spies is pure delight.  There is a secondary romance, which is especially sweet, and the cast of characters, including Alex’s mother are entertaining and smile inducing.  LET SLEEPING DUKES LIE is one fabulous read that I highly recommend.    ~Rose

Posted in Emily Windsor, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Review – The Unlikely Master Genius by Carla Kelly

About the Book:

Sailing Master Able Six, Royal Navy, is a man like no other. To call him a mere polymath is to sell him short. Someone with his extraordinary gifts should rise to the top, unless it is the 1800s, where pedigree and money govern Regency society, as sure as Napoleon seeks world domination. A bastard raised in a Scottish workhouse with nothing in his favor except his amazing mind, Able must navigate life ashore on half-pay during the uneasy Truce of Amiens, and find a way to provide for his charming bride Meridee Bonfort, a gentlewoman to be sure, but lacking a dowry.

Assisted by two sea captains acquainted with his startling abilities, Able finds himself teaching mathematics and seamanship at St. Brendan the Navigator School, which is itself an experiment, taking boys like Able from workhouses and training them to serve the fleet in wartime. Meridee has agreed to invite four lads who need extra attention into their home in raffish, unsavory Portsmouth. Calling themselves the Gunwharf Rats, these St. Brendan lads show promise in an unpromising world. Can a sailing master-turned-teacher uncover their potential? Can Meridee find a way to nurture young hearts bruised too soon by life? What will happen when war breaks out again? And what is it about Able Six, the unlikely master genius?
Volume One: The St. Brendan Series.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                  The Unlikely Master Genius (St. Brendan Book 1)

My Review:                     

I received a complimentary copy of this book

Durable “Able” Six was abandoned at birth, and received his unusual name by being durable enough to survive the adverse conditions he was left in, and the orphanages simply used a sequential numbering system for their children.  Being illegitimate and raised in an orphanage is not an easy life, and Able’s was made even more difficult because he is a true genius.  Rather than appreciating and encouraging him, his cruel teachers beat and ridiculed him.  At age nine, Able ran away to begin his life on the sea.  Now at twenty-six, Able is a sailing master, but because there is a temporary peace, he is on land, waiting to see what the future holds.  At a temporary tutoring job, he and his students’ aunt, Meridee Bonfort, quickly fall in love and make plans to marry.

Meridee is a gentleman’s daughter, but has no dowry, no prospects, and is living with her sister, helping to care for her children.  The handsome tutor wins her heart, but their future seems uncertain due to their nonexistent financial assets.  Their luck changes when Able is offered a teaching job which will also provide a home for the newlywed couple.  Able is to teach and instruct orphans and abandoned children, much like he was, for careers on the sea.  There is also a bonus salary for Meridee, if she will allow some of the more vulnerable boys a place in her home.  The kindly sponsors of this program want the boys to feel a motherly love and caring, something they’ve not known before.

Both Meridee and Able are kind, loving, and caring people, and are very willing to have the boys in their home.  Able also is an instructor far unlike those who abused him years ago.  He encourages the boys, makes learning fun, and never, ever strikes them.  When Able and another teacher clash, Able makes an enemy, and inadvertently becomes victim of a plot for revenge that will cause retribution against his boys.

While Able’s genius allows him to remember literally everything, and learn how to do almost anything, it also comes with dark consequences.  Able feels that he should be able to know and do everything.  When he fails, his mind travels to an unworldly place.  Usually Meridee’s touch can bring him back, as this couple have a truly loving relationship.  I love how Meridee is not put off by Able’s oddness, but accepts and loves his total person.  She is, indeed, his keeper.  Able’s mind is so unlike everyone else’s, that at any given time, a slew of different conversations and thoughts can be occurring in his head at the same time.  Yet, he’s not cold or distant – he’s a passionate, warm, funny, caring man.  His relationship with Meridee is swoonworthy, and their passion, while not explicit, is frequent and obviously highly enjoyable to both of them.

I found THE UNLIKELY MASTER GENIUS a joy to read for so many reasons.  The storyline is very unusual, as is the hero.  He is handsome, sexy, caring, and obviously deeply in love with his new wife.  His mistreatment as a child didn’t make him bitter, but made him determined to never treat a child that way himself.  Meridee is Able’s perfect match, and their care of the orphaned boys is truly heartwarming.  Author Carla Kelly crafted a brilliant book that flows beautifully, holds your interest, touches your emotions, and warms your heart.  There are also some memorable secondary characters and some lighthearted, smileworthy moments.  I loved reading this book, and I can’t wait to follow Able and Meridee in the upcoming books in the ST. BRENDAN series.  Highly recommended for readers who enjoy a character driven romance with a very different type of hero.   ~Rose

Posted in Carla Kelly, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Review – The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

About the Book:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Knew Too Much sweeps readers back to 1930s California–where the most dazzling of illusions can’t hide the darkest secrets…

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they’ll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they’ll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be–and uncover the specter of a killer who’s been real all along…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Other Lady Vanishes

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

As Adelaide Blake is mourning the loss of her parents, Conrad Massey conveniently appears on the scene, just in time to help the heiress through her grief and loneliness.  The couple becomes engaged, with Conrad pushing for a quick wedding.  Adelaide has started to emerge from the fog of sorrow, and realizes that she acted hastily, and tells Conrad that she can’t marry him.  The next thing she knows, she is resident in an asylum, being called Mrs. Massey, and told that she had a nervous breakdown.  While there, she becomes a guinea pig to test an unpredictable drug, which causes hallucinations.  Through her own resourcefulness, she manages to escape Rushbrook Sanitarium, and ends up in the town of Burning Cove, California, where she is now Adelaide Brockton, working in a tearoom.

Jake Truett has also come to Burning Cove, which is known as a haven for Hollywood bigwigs.  He appears to be at loose ends, dealing with the death of his wife, and the sale of his family’s import/export business.  He politely makes small talk with Adelaide every day at the Refresh Tearoom, until a gift of show tickets has them going out on a date.  As he drops Adelaide at home, and it appears that there has been an intruder, Jake’s protective instincts kick in, and he and Adelaide find their relationship becoming more personal.

When a murder occurs, and Jake and Adelaide are both at the scene, it appears clear that someone was hoping to frame Adelaide.  They first agree to become investigative partners, then they become friends.  Eventually Adelaide trusts Jake enough to tell him about her past, and to her relief and surprise, he believes her.  Jake also has secrets, both about his past life, and about his real reason for being in Burning Cove.  As attempts are made on both their lives, and more deaths occur, Jake and Adelaide find some solace in passion as they become lovers.  The pieces of the mystery begin to fall into place, and it seems that there is a connection between Jake’s reason for being in town and Adelaide’s bogus institutionalization.

THE OTHER LADY VANISHES is an amazingly well written mystery that never pauses to catch a breath.  The reader is taken on a wild ride of twists and turns guaranteed to hold your interest, and keep you turning the pages as quickly as you can.  Though the romance happens in a relatively short period of time, it feels as if it built slowly and believably.  The heroine, Adelaide, is strong and resourceful, yet cautious, and I admired her pluck and determination.  The hero, Jake, who has a more colorful past than he initially reveals, is strong, protective, and accomplished.  Yet, he retains his humanity and his vulnerability.  I fell in love with him as he got emotional when confessing his feelings to Adelaide, and how he treated her as they were intimate.  Every facet of THE OTHER LADY VANISHES worked for me, and I heartily recommend this Book Number 2 of the BURNING COVE SERIES.  ~Rose

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Review – Someone to Care by Mary Balogh

About the Book:

Once the Countess of Riverdale, Viola Kingsley throws all caution to the wind when adventure calls in the form of a handsome aristocrat. . . . 

Two years after the death of the Earl of Riverdale, his family has overcome the shame of being stripped of their titles and fortune–except for his onetime countess, Viola. With her children grown and herself no longer part of the social whirl of the ton, she is uncertain where to look for happiness–until quite by accident her path crosses once again with that of the Marquess of Dorchester, Marcel Lamarr.

Marcel Lamarr has been a notorious womanizer since the death of his wife nearly twenty years earlier. Viola caught his eye when she herself was a young mother, but she evaded his seduction at the time. A prize that eluded him before, she is all the more irresistible to him now although he is surprised to discover that she is as eager now for the excitement he offers as he is himself.

When the two defy convention and run away together, they discover that the ties of respectability are not so easily severed, and pleasure can ensnare you when you least expect it.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    Someone to Care (A Westcott Novel)

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Viola Kingsley’s life changed drastically two years ago, when it was discovered that her late husband of twenty years married her while his first wife was still alive.  Thus the former Countess of Riverdale was never legally married, and their three children are now illegitimate.  In the intervening time, Viola left society and town, and kept a low profile.  She has just attended the christening of her grandchild, and becomes overwhelmed by her family, and uncharacteristically takes off on her own.  When her hired carriage is near to breaking down, she stops in a small village, and hires a room while the conveyance is being repaired.  She glances up, and her eyes meet those of a handsome man, and her thoughts travel back fifteen years.

Marcel Lamarr, Marquess of Dorchester, is stunned to see Viola at this small inn, miles from anywhere.  Fifteen years ago, the widowed Marcel, who was then only Mr. Lamarr, was blazing his way through a series of meaningless encounters and affairs after his wife’s death.  He blatantly avoided married women, but Viola was different, and he fell a little bit in love with her.  When she turned him down, he abided by her wishes and never approached her again.  She still looks beautiful, and Marcel wonders if fate has granted him a second chance.  He approaches Viola, and they agree to spend the day together, sampling the joys of a small town fair and dance.  When night approaches, they decide to spend that together, as well, sampling the joys of each other’s bodies.

Little does Marcel realize, but Viola fell a little bit in love with him back then, as well.  Her “marriage” to Riverdale was arranged, and was not a happy one.  Still, she decided to take the right path and not indulge in an extramarital affair, but she has never forgotten Marcel, particularly since she continued to hear of his ongoing sexual exploits over the years.  Their coming together now is sweet and hot and very fulfilling to both of them.  They are enjoying each other so much that they decide to take a little holiday from reality, and retreat to one of Marcel’s small properties to spend more time together.

I loved seeing the dignified marquess and the sad, disgraced former countess act silly, be frivolous, and bloom in each other’s company.  It’s clear that they are meant to be a couple and to have a second chance at happiness, but it’s not to be.  Reality intrudes, their families become aware of their stolen time, and they end up parting ways, each believing that their love isn’t returned.  I’m not a fan of the big misunderstanding, or situations where a simple, honest conversation could have precluded a whole lot of heartache, but author Mary Balogh demonstrates her considerable skill here.  Though I knew there just had to be a way for this couple to be together, my heart was broken as time and time again, Viola and Marcel didn’t take the first step to bring about their reconciliation.

I was also chomping at the bit to find out Marcel’s history — what was the mystery surrounding his young wife’s death, and why did he choose to let his children be raised by someone else?  There are many shades of gray to Marcel, he’s neither all good, nor all bad.  I was thrilled to have a hero and heroine who are in their early forties, and having to deal with a whole different set of issues, like having grown children, who sometimes act like they are the parent.  The previous cast of Westcotts was present, and though Mary Balogh did a credible job of explaining the relationships in this story, I feel readers will enjoy this book four much better for having read books one to three of the Westcott series.

SOMEONE TO CARE has all of Mary Balogh’s trademark emotional depth, and delves deep into the characters, as well.  I find that I couldn’t read fast enough as I was racing to see how this couple could possibly reconcile.  The conclusion was beautifully written, and emotionally satisfying, which left  me one very happy reader.  ~Rose

 

Posted in Historical Romance, Mary Balogh, Review, Rose | 3 Comments