Audio Review: How to Marry a Duke (How To, Book 1) by Vicky Dreiling

how to marry a dukeHero: Some think the Duke of Shelbourne is too picky. He wants to find the perfect wife – someone who is a darling in the ballroom and a temptress in bed. He’s perfectly bored with the ladies he’s met so far and is sure he doesn’t want to court a girl just out of the schoolroom. When he stumbles into a matchmaker he believes he’s found the perfect solution. Have her find him a bride and then he’ll court for a day or two, maybe a week, propose, marry, and that will be it. Back to life as normal.

Heroine: Normal? What man could marry without knowing his bride first? Tessa Mansfield can not believe what she’s hearing from the Duke. She knows his plan is abysmal so she goes ahead with her own. He doesn’t want word to get out? She ensures two dozen ladies and their mamas attend the first round of his courtship. He wants each candidate to have the full list of charms he says are important to him? She’s positive each girl lacks one or two. She and the duke bicker and flirt the whole time and somewhere along the way she wishes she’d placed herself on his candidate list.

Review: It’s like a dating reality TV show! I liked that aspect immensely. I wish some of the dating schemes in the beginning were longer, but understand that going into detail on two dozen candidates would be a bit heavy handed. I might be one of the few who really liked the play of a contemporary theme in a historical setting. So, if you don’t think a dating contest is even remotely legit in a Regency historical setting don’t pick up the book. Otherwise if you’re looking for something light, sweet, and sexy go right on ahead.

“We must talk.”

An arrested expression crossed her face. “I do not think that is a good idea.”

“Tess, we’ve no time to argue now.”

She inhaled sharply. “I am deeply sorry for seducing you. It did not occur to me that you would become so distraught.”

“What?” Had she forgotten to pack her brains?

“You must not worry, for I will still respect you tomorrow.” She paused. “But…”

Tristan gaped at her.He must have pleasured her senseless. A knock sounded at the door. They both turned to stare at it.

Then she glanced at him and said in a rush, “I hope you will forgive me, but I cannot make an honest man out of you.”

Narrator: Elizabeth Jasicki has a nice voice. She narrates convincingly for both sexes. I chose to listen to her at a slightly faster than normal rate of reading. Overall I would listen to her again. She did a good job!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: How to Marry a Duke, How to Marry a Duke (Audio Book)

Audio Review: Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

sylvesterHeroine: Phoebe Marlow has a good head on her shoulders and sees the ton’s foibles for what they are. She’s also an aspiring writer who just finished penning a marvelous Gothic romance with cameos of different persons in the ton. She makes her bad guy the insufferable Duke of Salford and unwittingly creates his fictional character with a background very close to the real Sylvester. When Sylvester makes a good impression on her after the book is sent to the publishers, she’s desperate to change it but it’s too late!

Hero: Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, doesn’t remember meeting Phoebe the first time. He’s always prided himself on upholding the title with pride and dignity. To treat anyone ill is beneath him and his station. He decides the best way to get back at Phoebe for her slander is to marry the girl, but he goes about it all wrong and botches everything.

Review: In some respects you could say Sylvester is like Mr. Darcy, but they are not exact copies. Loved Sylvester’s nickname for Phoebe, “sparrow.” Super cute. I love a great nickname. I also liked the dynamics of the story. You have several side characters who add to the story’s tapestry and orchestrate all kinds of shenanigans from an ill-behaved nephew, a spoiled woman who wants the attention from being a pitiable mother without having to mother, a man as pompous as he is wealthy, and a platonic male friend who tries to do right but ends up making a mess of things because he lacks the savvy Sylvester was born with. Overall very enjoyable.

Narrator: Nicholas Rowe has a nice smooth voice. The recording is a little soft and I had to listen to it at higher volume than I normally would, but Rowe himself was great. He had a good cadence with the book and made Heyer’s novel entertaining and engaging.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Sylvester: or The Wicked Uncle, Sylvester: Or, the Wicked Uncle (audio book)

Dominated by the Earl?

DominatedByTheEarl-200x300Guest blog by Raven McAllen, author of Dominated By The Earl

Well, who wouldn’t want to be?

Especially, when in Regency times, you could be a boring wife, or well wink turn the tables a bit…

Hi, I’m Raven, and I freely admit, I find it really hard to talk about myself, or how I write. I’d love to be able to say, oh I have a formula for writing, I do x, y, or x, but in reality I don’t.

In all honesty, I can’t even say where my ideas form, they just pop into my head, and the characters shout until I listen. It gets confusing when it’s more than one book’s worth at once, but somehow I seem to sort them out, and work out who takes priority.

However, I do know I must listen to them, and if I don’t ohh dear. That’s several k’s worth of words deleted then.

I guess that means I’m a pantster character-driven writer. Strangely, of late I have been roughing out things I know I have to add into my story at sometime, but generally I have a start and a finish, and no clue how I’m going to get there, and how many words it will take for me to do so.

It doesn’t always go according to plan, but ah well, I write as I can, not as I think I aught and it works for me. Well, I think it does, you might beg to differ.

So, what can I say?

I’m growing old disgracefully and loving it.

Dh and I live on the edge of a Scottish forest, and rattle around in a house much too big for us.

Our kids have grown up and flown the nest, but roll back up when they want to take a deep breath and smell the daisies so to speak.

I write in my study, which overlooks the garden and the lane. I’m often seen procrastinating, by checking out the wild life, looking—only looking—at the ironing basket and assuring tourists that indeed, I’m not the bed and breakfast. That would mean cooking fried eggs without breaking the yolks, and disturbing the dust bunnies as they procreate under the beds. Not to be thought of.

Being able to do what I love, and knowing people get pleasure from my writing is fantastic. Long may it last.

Blurb…

Leonora knew she’d wait for Justin to come home.

She hadn’t expected it to be so long or so fraught.

When Justin joined his regiment, and was sent to the continent, Leonora promised to wait for him to return.

She didn’t think it would take so long, or she’d have so many difficulties to face. Her life changes as she struggles to cope without Justin and keep his estate running.

With someone out to destroy all she holds dear, Leonora has to fight for her beliefs and her family, and hope they get the happy ever after they deserve.

Buy: Dominated By The Earl

A wee tease…

“Have you finished?” Justin gestured at the chicken bone in her hand.

“What? Oh, yes.” The bone had no meat on it. She had finished it without any thought. “Thank you, I’ll be fine now.”

“I won’t.” Justin put the bone back into the bag and rested it on the ground by his feet. With a grin that Nora could only think of as wicked, he pushed her back up against a tree trunk. The bark was rough to her touch as she put her

“I won’t be fine until I’m deep inside you,” he whispered. “Pushing you to the edge. Taking you further than you’ve ever gone before. Listening to you scream…for everything.”

Nora felt the warmth of his breath on her ear. That, combined with his words, sent a gush of arousal through her that she had thought she would never find again. Her juices gathered and their warmth coated her mound and the apex of her thighs. Before she had a chance to rub her legs together—she wasn’t sure if it was to increase or reduce that delicious ache—Justin thrust his knee between them, and pressed against her quim. Sharp daggers of excitement bombarded her and she moaned. He put a hand over her mouth and Nora slipped her tongue between her lips to circle his palm. She tasted warmth and sweat.

“Shh, and do not do that, minx. I want you, oh, how I want you. If we were alone, and had more time, I would take you here. Strip you, and bare our souls, as I plunge into you in every way possible. Drink your juices and your cries, and let you milk me, as I will do you. That thought has kept me going many a long month. To stroke your breasts, feel your nipples come alive by my touch. To suckle as our child did, and then to watch you splinter as I fill your cunt. And there’s more,” he continued in a compelling undertone as Nora tingled at the erotic pictures his words created. “I have a need to introduce you to new delights such as we had no chance to experience before I left. But we can’t do anything here, and I need to explain so much to you. In truth, Nora, I can only but hope you give me leave to do all this and more once we’ve talked.” He rubbed his knee across her quim. The pressure was enough to make her squirm in ecstasy.

“I need…” she moaned. “I want…” What did she want? Coherent thought was impossible as he slipped his hand under the cloak and nipped one of her nipples through the thin material of her day gown.

“So do I, but sadly we will have to hold those thoughts. We need to move on.”

He moved backward an inch or two, and Nora felt his withdrawal as acutely as if he had left her alone again. His smile lit his face. “I know, love. I feel it as well. Soon I hope we can sate ourselves. Now let’s move.” He took her hand and led her toward the horses. As he threw her up into the saddle, her hands moved to the neck of the cloak. Justin stayed her hands. “Keep it on. It will not upset Moonlight, and it will hopefully warm you until I can.”

Buy: Dominated By The Earl

Raven McAllan Author PicBio: Raven lives in Scotland, along with her husband and their two cats—their children having flown the nest—surrounded by beautiful scenery, which inspires a lot of the settings in her books.

She is used to sharing her life with the occasional deer, red squirrel, and lost tourist, to say nothing of the scourge of Scotland—the midge.

A lover of reading, she appreciates the history inside a book, and the chance to peek into the lives of those from years ago. Raven admits that she enjoys the research for her books almost as much as the writing; so much so, that sometimes she realizes she’s strayed way past the information she needs to know, and not a paragraph has been added to her WIP.

http://www.ravenmcallan.com

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Review: A Rake by Any Other Name (Somerfield Park, Book 1) by Mia Marlowe

rake by any other nameHero: Richard Barrett (Lord Hartley) was enjoying his Grand Tour when he is called home to take his rightful place as the head of the household. His father fell from the roof and while alive, is no longer fit to run the estate. Richard soon discovers the financial situation is only going to be fix by wedding an heiress… which sucks because he was ready to offer marriage to Lady Antonia Pruett.

Heroine: Miss Sophie Goodnight and her parents are newly arrived from India where her father made his fortunes. Her dad is looking to sell her and his fortune to ensure his grandkids are aristocrats. Since she’s not too keen on that idea she partners up with Richard to foil their parents attempts at a match.

Review: This book sets up a love triangle between Sophie, Richard, and Antonia. As with most love triangles in romance between two females and a male, Lady Antonia was not an ideal match for Richard (or really any man) due to her duplicitous nature. All we had to do was wait for Richard to figure that out. I liked Sophie as a heroine. She was smart, capable, and put Richard in his place a time or two which left him all agog. Richard was a good hero too. He wanted to do right by his family and the estate, even when his family was using him to ensure their own comforts (a fun twist on the usual scenario where the heroine is sacrificed at the altar of marriage to ensure her family’s well-being.) The romance is sweet and lively and was one of my favorites to read this year. I devoured it quite quickly waiting to see what happened next.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: A Rake by Any Other Name (Somerfield Park)

Review: Wicked Designs (League of Rogues, Book 1) by Lauren Smith

wicked designsHeroine: Miss Emily Parr moved into her uncle’s home when her parents died. Her uncle sold everything she had of value because of his debts. His partner is a lecherous creep. She wants to get married and quickly to escape both men. Someone kind who will leave her alone to her books… but then she’s kidnapped.

Hero: The Duke of Essex, Godric St. Laurent, and his four best friends kidnap Miss Emily Parr in order to ruin her reputation or ransom her for the funds he’s owed (her uncle swindled money from Godric to pay his debts not invest.) To his consternation, Godric finds he likes the dauntless Miss Emily… and so do his friends.

Review:  You’ve got to love a heroine who’s unwilling to remained kidnapped. She lets her captors know that the person they ruined was her not her uncle and the ruination was unjust. She expects one of them to marry her. Several of the gentlemen would be willing to do so, Godric more than any other.

But here lies the problem, there’s too many men interested in pursuing her and it leads to many scenes where the gentlemen argue over hurting her feelings and taking undue advantage of her. She became a “magic hoo hoo” without the sex for these gents, which is a phenomenon only meant to effect the hero.

Her spunk faded and the hero’s bristling broodiness turned into puppy love (which let me be clear would have been fine if the heroine was still acting spunky with escape attempts and fighting back.) The gents can all speak Greek and so can she so the private conversations are not so private (convenient). Overall while this book wasn’t for me I would definitely give the author another go because the good parts were good and the author made me laugh.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues)

Audio Review: Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, Book 4) by Tessa Dare

any duchess will doHero: Griffin York has just been kidnapped by his momma. She’s a desperate duchess and wants grandbabies, but her son, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed. So they make a deal – he will pick one woman from the ladies present at the inn and if his momma can turn her into a duchess acceptable to the ton he will wed her. Who does he pick? The barmaid. Take that!

“Her – I choose her.”

Heroine: Pauline Simms is just trying to save money to open her own circulating library. She wants to remove both herself and her sister from under her father’s heavy handed rules. She can’t believe he’d sell her for five pounds to a duke. She’s determined to walk away with something from this ridiculous bargain and that is the finances to start her dream. So she agrees to being employed by the duke, take duchess training, and fail at it – but he can have a week – she needs to be home for her sister.

Review: This is a feel-good romance. You will laugh, you will sigh, and you’ll want it to last longer. Griff and Pauline together are a great match. They find the longer they are together the more they have in common. Pretty soon Griff isn’t thinking a week – he’s thinking a lifetime. Some of the best moments in the book are in Griff’s private thoughts as he finds himself thinking again and again “Her – I choose her.”

Pauline’s duchess training is similar to Eliza Doolittle’s. Pauline gets to practice her “H” sounds by reading “H” words from Bible. She adds a few in there to suit her mood too. She starts on her madcap adventure believing everything she does results in failure which should be a plus for her current assignment… except she wants to be told she’s doing well (at failing) and she wants Griff’s approval (and kisses).
You’re going to love Griff’s momma.

Narrator: Eva Kaminsky does a great job switching from a “low class” accent to an “upper-crust” accent. She brings a lot of liveliness to the story and is a refreshing narrator. I’d listen to her again.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove Book 4), Any Duchess Will Do (Audiobook)

Review: The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (Pink Carnation, Book 11) by Lauren Willig

mark of the midnight manzanillaReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Make sure to read the Prologue because it prepares the reader for the first chapter.

Sally Fitzhugh is at an evening soirée and she has an interesting discussion with friends.  Lucien, the Duke of Belliston, has a late night visitor and they have an interesting discussion – there’s no way you can stop reading now.  Believe me, if you like to read historical, paranormal, and time travel romances by the end of chapter two this author will have you hooked.

Sally has an interesting personality and she’s a woman who doesn’t mind trying to figure things out.  This author could have left that story at that and just let things unfold from there but she took it a step further- she’s added in a mystery to be solved.  And don’t worry about wondering if you’ll be lost between the past and present – the author lets you know so there’s no confusion.

This was a book that looks to be part of a great series.  My only disappointment was that I didn’t start reading this author’s work before now.  I found that this book could be read as a stand-alone so you don’t need to read any of the other books to understand what is going on here.  My only hope is that if you liked this book as much as I did, and you haven’t read this series before, you will want to go back and read more about the ladies of the Pink Carnation.  If you’re patient, book twelve is scheduled to come out next August.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla: A Pink Carnation Novel

Audio Review: Midsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter

midsummer magicHero: Philip Hawsbury is no longer the second son. When his older brother died, he became the next Earl of Rothermere. Now his father is on his deathbed and Philip must fulfill a longstanding promise his father made to impoverished Alexander Kilbracken, the Scottish Earl of Ruthven. He must marry one of the daughters – Viola, Clare, or Frances.  He has no desire to wed anyone and would prefer to stay in London with his mistress. Now how can he proceed to do both?

Heroine: Frances does not want to be married off to Philip or really anyone sight unseen. She’s certain he’s going to be an arrogant Sassenach. She’s the apple of her father’s eye and has a premonition that her father would like to see her marry the man. Since she must be present and participate, she decides to do so in the worst way possible. While her sisters, Clare and Viola, vie for the young earl’s attention, she’s going to make herself ugly, aloof, and a shrew. Little does she know that she presents the perfect image of a wife for Philip – who wants to fulfill his father’s promise, but leave the missus behind at Desborough Hall while he pursues his London life unchecked and unencumbered.

Review: This book comes from the era of the “bodice-ripper” / “forced seduction” and has the flaws that associate with that period of romances. The hero for instance is not a worthy hero by today’s standard’s. He’s shallow and doesn’t learn to love the heroine in her disguise, but rather falls for her [beauty] when it comes off. He’s also either a product of his times or an idiot because he doesn’t think wives should be treated like mistresses and in so believing makes zero attempts to please his bride when he and she do their “duties” to conceive.  But it’s supposed to be acceptable and tolerable because both characters don’t know any better. Baloney. He also likes to pretend he’s the wounded party in all of this, which is very aggravating.

When he’s not being an irritating jerk he at least remembers the cream (which is not saying much.)

It should be noted that the heroine’s characterization starts off great – she’s feisty, stands up to her father, and tries to trick the hero with a “clever” ugly duckling disguise. But then this tom-boyish, heart of gold (she walks miles to visit her father’s tenets,) strong heroine gets replaced by someone else entirely during their “honeymoon” stage. She’s uncertain, quiet, mousey, and timid – and not just for the appearance of keeping up her disguise.

So what did work for me was the beginning and the initial set-up.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik as usual had a wonderful performance. She is one of the reasons I stuck with the story to the end.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Midsummer Magic (Magic Trilogy), Midsummer Magic (Audiobook)