Audio Review: Her Secondhand Groom (The Grooms, Book 3) by Rose Gordon

secondhand groomHero: Patrick Ramsey, needs a woman. She must like children, be good with children, and able to teach children. And Viscount Drakely will get what he needs – a motherness – or a mother and a governess for his three girls (Celia, Helena and Kate), all rolled up into one female. He knows the perfect woman to fill the position – Juliet Hughes, because her family borrowed money to send her to school and to give her a London Season and are indebted to him.

Heroine: Miss Juliet Hughes, was educated at London’s finishing school for young ladies. She’s plain. She’s common. Not at all like her sister, Henrietta, who Patrick thinks is her and the one he wants. He doesn’t bargain for Juliet to be confident, determined, and strong-willed. She is his match and equal in every way and she won’t let him look down on her.

Review: If you like mistaken identities and big misunderstandings, you’ll love Her Secondhand Groom. Juliet tries to tell Patrick he’s wrong but he won’t listen now that he has a plan to put in motion. I liked Juliet’s nickname for Patrick – Lord Presumptuous. She’s a heroine who can call her hero out on his idiocy and pigheadedness. She does it so charmingly too. I liked her relationship with the girls and how they all interacted. About the only thing that doesn’t work is Patrick’s devotion to his dead wife who he later calls manipulative.

Narrator: Louisa Murray has a very nice voice and I enjoyed listening to her narrate the story. She was very lively in her recitations between Juliet and Patrick. I would listen to Louisa again.
Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Her Secondhand Groom (Groom Series Book 3), Her Secondhand Groom (Audio Book)

Review: Fortune’s Son by Emery Lee

Reviewed by Susan S.

Summary: Hero, Philip Drake, is the proverbial black sheep of his family. And an embarrassing disappointment to his father, the Earl of Hastings. Philip is a rebellious and impulsive young man; who’s spent the last four years drinking, bedding tavern maids, and gambling. Drake’s life is an unmitigated disaster; a reckless gamester locked in a cycle of wins and losses.

When Philip reluctantly agrees to teach a young widow to play cards, he turns a deaf ear to his friend’s cautionary warning. It’s not long after Susannah, Lady Messingham, enters his life that he finds himself in financial ruin.

Life is about to teach Philip and Susannah that when there’s nothing left to lose, there’s still something to be gained.

Review: I could pardon Philip’s impulsive nature in youth, but felt let down he reverted back to old patterns of behavior (after a ten year military career). His good intentions fell short. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect with the hero. And when he marries “another” lady for her dowry, I stopped sympathizing with his character. His sulking and self imposed pity also failed in endearing me to him.

Now, the heroine is a horse of a different color. She was more relatable. Here’s this young widow managing her finances for the first time, while trying to maintain her mode of living among societal circles. Sure, she makes mistakes. Some were monumental, but she learns from them. Matures.

I enjoyed the twelve year journey showing the evolvement of the main characters; with their highs and their lows. And think the author did a nice job with the story’s resolution. Her strength lies in presenting the reader with great imagery. Her details also appear to be accurate, seeing as I did verify a few out of sheer curiosity.

The story itself would’ve been much improved with the editing of the terminated near rape scene. It felt misplaced in this story, and would’ve fitted more comfortably within another genre. I would read Ms. Lee’s future novels, but am hoping for a stronger hero next time. As that does seem to be my preference.

Recommendations: This novel will appeal to those readers who enjoy the damaged hero/nurturing heroine as well as the older woman/younger man tropes. If you like card games (like Blackjack) and gambling, this is definitely “the” book for you. I’m also recommending it to those who like to read romantic historical novels, more specifically, during the Georgian era. Certain readers may not agree with the infidelity themes throughout, or with the capture of a young lady (near rape scene).

Disclosure: I received this novel free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Favorite scenes:

Favorite scene #1: After riding on horseback in the rain for almost four hours, Philip shows up at Susannah’s home completely drenched. LOVE that scene! Wanted more of them. Anyhow, she recommends he remove the wet clothes. Which he does. But he hit a snag; Drake’s having trouble with the wet boots. He can’t take them off. His instructions to her are absolutely hilarious. Picture his leg between hers, Messingham’s rear end facing him-while she’s yanking and yanking. `Course, he loves every minute of it. He’s turned on.

Favorite scene #2: You know what I love about Georgian romances? That there’s always a duel. Some man is always seeking satisfaction, and I love when he gets it! This novel has a duel. J

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Fortune’s Son

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Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., Historical Romance, November 2011, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 445. ISBN# 978-1-4022-5644-8.

Review: It Happened One Bite by Lydia Dare

by Susan S., guest reviewer

Wickedly sensual! You’ll wish you had your own vampyre to make your heart race.

Summary: Heroine, Blaire Garia Lindsay, has agreed to travel to Loch Calavie at her brother’s insistence. He’s just inherited Briarcraig Castle; the ancestral home of the battle-born witches. It’s been said to be haunted by ghosts. But Blaire doesn’t place too much stock on gossips. Until she hears a voice. It’s coming from the cellar. Turns out she was right not to believe in ghosts. What she does find is rather…unexpected. Ms. Lindsay uncovers a vampyre! And just what the devil is hero, James Maitland, Baron Kettering of Derbyshire doing locked in a cellar? Well, that’s exactly what Blaire intends to find out.

Lindsay and Kettering will have to search for answers, either acknowledge or deny their growing attraction, and uncover hidden secrets without him dying, again, or her dying the first time.

Hope they find the answers soon! Trouble’s coming…without an invitation.

Review: I was right you know. Those unanswered questions from The Taming of the Wolf were resolved in this newest release. Things didn’t go as I had envisioned though. Lydia Dare’s unexpected plot twists gave me no foreshadowing the events would play out as they did. Two key events came at me from left field. Hitting me both hard and unexpectedly. What fun!

It Happened One Bite has a powerful beginning, strong mysterious elements, lots of magick, humor, as well as plenty of sensuality. You’ll close the book wishing the Còig witches would just conjure an additional 400 pages for you to read.

It’s always great fun when Dare’s heroes get utterly foxed; James does. He had a wee bit too much whiskey, and said a wee bit more than he should have. Whoops! As for the Vicar, Mr. Crawford, he’s at his wits end with the lot of these sinning witches and their male counterparts. What’s my overall opinion? This novel is another winner by the Dynamic Dare Duo!

My only recommendation: Baron Kettering should’ve taken an additional bath or two. Heck, he should’ve taken one before every chapter! (Suppressing laughter).

Recommendations: It Happened One Bite has mass appeal. It’ll draw readers like termites to wood. Especially if you like: romance, historicals, paranormal novels, and mysteries. Also for “adult readers” who liked the Twilight series.

Number of spotted cameos: I spied with my little eye seven familiar characters from the previous installments. There were three of Blaire’s coven sisters: Rhiannon, Elspeth, and Sorcha. Then Elspeth’s yummy lycan husband, Lord Benjamin Westfield. The Vicar, Mr. Crawford, Alec MacQuarrie, as well as Matthew Halkett, the Earl of Blodswell, which we met in The Taming of the Wolf. And who we’ll get to know more intimately in the next installment. (See What’s Next?) If I missed any cameos I blame it on Kettering. He kept distracting me with his hickey bites.

What’s Next? In the Heat of the Biteis set to release in July 2011; bringing us Rhiannon and Matthew’s story. Brace yourselves. A storm’s brewing!

Review-O-Meter Rating: Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: It Happened One Bite

Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Romance, Copyright 2011, Print Pages 385. ISBN-13# 978-1-4022-4507-7.

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Review: The Spurned Viscountess by Shelley Munro

by Susan S., guest reviewer

“Quick! Grab the fingerprint dusting powder!” We have a murder mystery on our hands.

Summary: Heroine, Rosalind, is realizing marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, she expected some sort of adjustment phase, as well as the awkwardness of marrying a stranger. But what Rosalind did not expect was to be scorned. Allow me to explain…

Lucien, Viscount Hastings, is a brooding widower. The only emotion he feeds is anger. And there’s only one thing he desires, revenge. Not an innocent and insubordinate viscountess! Lucien (hero) is distracted on several fronts. His amnesia refuses to relinquish its hold. The culprit responsible for the deaths of his previous wife, and their unborn child continues to evade discovery. Closure is distancing itself from him rather than drawing near. And to think his new viscountess wants to fill Castle St. Clare with children, his children. Not likely! What results is he spurns Rosalind and she feels dejected.

The viscount and his viscountess are two parallel lines eluding the act of intersecting. Until… subtle mysterious goings-on start occurring. Then, there are the accidents which escalate into fatally obvious murders. Safety is now a thing of the past. Unfortunate events are escalating. No one is safe. Not family, nor guests, not even the servants who are under their employ at Castle St. Clare. Until they find the culprit(s) everyone is suspect!

When Rosalind’s secret is revealed, will her name be penned on the suspect list?

Review: It’s hard to believe Lucien and Rosalind cheat death so many times. I thought good karma like that only accumulates after 10 benevolent lifetimes.

Think about the last time you watched a horror movie. The main female lead hears a noise…in the dead of night…while she’s all alone. Then, she does something that warrants your reprimand. You’re screaming in your head, “Don’t go outside!” But, you know she will. Well, this novel will give you plenty of occasions to scream in your head. Good fun though. Go ahead; I give you permission to tell Rosalind, “I told you so!”

I thought it fit Rosalind’s character to ignore the red flags (signaling danger). What didn’t work as well was Lucien’s inaction. He’s so engrossed in finding the antagonist that he doesn’t stir to action, until it’s almost too late. He warns her about being unaccompanied in the village, however, he’s rarely around to see to her safety. Mind you, all the while the body counts are rising like high water levels during extreme high tides. As her husband and viscount, he should have made certain she was accompanied at all times. He may be tall, dark, mysterious, and delicious, but protector he is not!

Recommended For: Readers, who like me, enjoy a good mystery novel.

If you’re drawn to books like Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, and Agatha Christie mysteries you’ll take to The Spurned Viscountess like Sherlock Holmes to a pipe. Also recommended for anyone seeking an escape from the 21st century. This novel places you within England’s Georgian era.

Review-O-Meter Rating: ★★★½☆ Clues

Buy: The Spurned Viscountess

eBook, Carina Press, September 2010, Gothic, Historical Romance, Mystery, Romance, eISBN# 978-142689058-1.

Review: The Dangerous Viscount by Miranda Neville

Do you love hot virgin heroes? Yes? Me too! That’s just one of the reasons why I loved The Dangerous Viscount. He’s clueless and inexperienced. He grew up without a lot of affection and the actions of his cousins did little to bridge his social awkwardness.

The heroine is at first completely stuck in a childhood fantasy. Her actions reveal her to be a little vapid, a lot vain, and pretty silly, because it takes her so long to recognize the truth and to find her true love. But she also has a deep well of strength and a whole lot of spunk.

One of my favorite scenes is one between Sebastian and his friends. He’s asking them for help on how to woo Diana… and the first step is gaining her attention. It reads a lot to me like how Mr. Darcy would have asked Bingley for help in wooing Elizabeth Bennet.

Page 88 –

He swallowed hard. “I’m not very good at making myself agreeable in company,” he admitted humbly.

Tarquin doubled over with mirth. “The first step to reform is to acknowledge its necessity,” he said, when he’d finally recovered. “Luckily you couldn’t have a better tutor than me. I shall teach you to cultivate address.”

Lady Diana Fanshawe is husband hunting. She’s determined to win herself prestige and her childhood crush all in one fell swoop. In order to gain the attentions of Lord Blakeney she agrees to a bet that she can seduce Blakeney’s socially backwards cousin. All to the tune of 500 pounds.

She discovers Blakeney’s cousin is nearly as eccentric as her family, a family she’s been trying to distance herself from since her first marriage. Sebastian Iverley is just as weird, always in his books, collecting them even, not to mention a bad dresser… but he’s also a brilliant and quirky man… and as she finds out, a damn good kisser.

For Sebastian it all started with a pair of pink stockings… Diana’s to be exact. The more he learns about her the more he’s drawn to her. She’s not like other girls and when he kisses her he’s transported over the moon. For the first time in his life, marriage and love doesn’t sound so scary. But then his joy is smashed when he overhears about the bet and now all he wants is revenge.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Dangerous Viscount

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Review: Taken by the Highest Bidder by Jane Porter (no spoilers)

guestreview

By: Cara Lynn, guest reviewer

This one had a few twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and it was more believable. The background of the leading characters unfolds throughout the book, and some of it you don’t find out until mid-point.

Samantha van Bergen is in a disastrous marriage, mothering a step-daughter that she dearly loves. This little girl is bright and precocious, and knows more than anyone realizes she does. Her mother died, and Samantha had been her nanny.

The book begins with a bang. Samantha’s husband, Johann, is a compulsive gambler, who has gambled away a family fortune. He loses it all to Cristiano. And come to find out, he has tossed in Samantha to sweeten the pot, but only after he offers his daughter first (nice guy, right?!) but Cristiano rejects this.

Of course, Cristiano has fallen in love with Samantha at first sight. He knows that the little girl will come with her stepmother.

The question is why is he going to this trouble? And what other unfoldments might we find along the way that unlock the puzzle?

Sam takes Gabriella and goes to England from Monte Carlo. When she is there, we learn more about her early life. She is definitely worthy of the best.

Lucky for her, Cristiano agrees with this. He wants to settle a fortune on her in a pre-nup, but she isn’t interested in his money. They marry without a pre-nup, and when a divorce seems imminent, he wants her to use an attorney to guarantee her rights.

Instead, she decides to fight her fears, and she is successful.

She is a plucky heroine and you root for her when she comes out on top. There’s very little fighting or whining; there is a strong, wealthy and scarred hero.

I give it a 3. Have you read it?

If you’d like to submit a review on a novel you’ve read, check out LRP’s guidelines for submission.

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Book Review: The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke

bookreview

I generally liked this novel. It revolves around how a marriage once destroyed by infidelity can be healed. I have pretty strong views on this subject so I’ll talk about what ruffled my feathers. I’m like Viola, the heroine, at the start of the novel, looking at things in black and white. The author didn’t persuade me to think in gray matter, too bad Viola did. Luckily in the end she got what she deserved – a loving, devoted, adoring husband – but you could have fooled me. I still thought the hero was shy of truly learning how to love at the end of the book. However, you can be the judge.

Viola is the sister of a Duke and at the age of nineteen she knew she was in love with Viscount John Hammond. She also knew that despite the circumstances of his situation, he loved her, not the money she brought with her. How naïve she had been. John knew nothing of love; he was all empty words and passion.

“When unaccompanied by his love, a man’s desire was like the wind. It had no substance, and it was impossible to hold onto.” – pg 186

Now eight going on nine years after their vows, John has come to the decision to get himself an heir. For that, he will need to woo his way back into his wife’s bed. This task would prove impossible until he changed. But can a man like John, change his spots?

In the last ten pages he did. Until then the brute refused to take blame for more than half the novel and managed to in nearly every conversation lay the whole troubled affair at Viola’s feet. This is much like what happens in the movie Something to Talk About starring Julia Roberts. This made me really mad and when it wasn’t John telling Viola how she made him break his marriage vows and slip into other women, it was the Duke’s wife that was telling her how she wasn’t looking at things from John’s point of view.

John broke his vows. Period. The end. Case closed. What kind of man has to hide his dirty deeds behind his innocent wife? In today’s world with all the diseases that can be caught, a man who cheats ought to be charged with attempted murder if he slips back into his wife’s bed (undetected or not) without first having himself checked out thoroughly.

Viola first turns John away from their marriage bed when she learns that he kept a mistress during the entire time he was courting her. All his words of love, adoration, devotion were lies. She might have forgiven him those if the other woman wasn’t involved. After all impoverished lords needed funds and heiresses to make them solvent – he could have learned to love her.

John waits a month and leaves Viola to live a separate life. There he has count them, five, mistresses in the space of the years prior to his most devout attempt at reconciling. He only does it because he needs a legitimate heir to the viscountcy. Viola is the only woman who can grant him this. So once again he plans to use false words to get her into bed and if that doesn’t work the law is on his side and he can force her there.

But in his own words the five mistresses were her own fault for being cold to him. Poor baby. Eventually he says he is sorry for his part in breaking their marriage by using his young nephew to be his buffer. I don’t think Viola had any part to breaking the marriage. Distraught as she was she stayed with him (granted making him take separate sleeping quarters and refusing to allow him to use passion against her to win his way back into her good graces) until he left.

Marriage vows are not a one way street. A man and his needs can be resolved with a hand not another woman or any of her body parts. Fidelity goes both ways. If he required it of her then it was not an unreasonable request for Viola to make of him. John said it was and refused to be sexually blackmailed. Well what the hell was he doing when he refused to promise fidelity but sexually blackmailing his wife?

Has anyone read this book? What do you think?

Rating: 2.5 Stars