Hero: Alexander Foakes, Earl of Sheffield, looks just like his twin, and like his twin, he’s a rakehell. His twin is just more charming. Alex meets a mysterious lady at a Cyprian’s ball, seduces her, takes her virginity (surprise!), and follows her too late to discover who she is… fast forward and now he’s a father and a widower, having married a woman who cheated on him repeatedly. He’s got ISSUES.
Heroine: Lady Charlotte Daicheston allows her friend to badger her into going to an ill-advised and unchaperoned party with a “parson” who gets the two women drunk and tries to make out with the friend. Charlotte spies a handsome stranger and
her passion the alcohol overrules her natural inhibitions. She finds out she likes sex, but a lady shouldn’t, and she berates herself for it. She’s got ISSUES.
Review: The cover! Oy! Terrible. The original in paperback isn’t much better (which I realized too late that I owned, although unread).
The heroine’s situation in how she met the hero should be a lesson for all. Please be aware if the person you are with has been incapacitated by alcohol. Don’t assume just because you do not know them that this is normal behavior, not even if you’re at a ball/party/bar. Ask permission. Pay attention.
Now when Alex and Charlotte are behaving like rational people the story is great. I love his persistent courting of her. I love how he tenderly cares for her before and after his proposal. I love when the twin comes back and the rumors start flying. BUT when they’re not behaving well, it’s all kind of wack-a-doodle… and it’s mostly Alex who is the dunderhead. I normally love angst, and big misunderstandings, but Alex crosses a line. For that, this romance shows it’s age.
Narrator: I listened to and rejected a lot of audio books because of Susan Duerden’s narration in the offered sample. Somehow I accidentally chose this book without realizing she also narrated it. I’m happy to say that her sample pieces aren’t the end-all be-all of her voice work and that she was better than my expectations.
Buy: Potent Pleasures (The Pleasures Trilogy)
Heroine: Lady Clara Fairfax receives too many proposals. (If only we all had this problem.) Men from the ton all seem to be proposing, but none of them interest her. She’s smart and she wants a man she can hold a true conversation with and discuss important matters.
Hero: Oliver Radford is a barrister that is too smart for his own good because he often sticks his foot in it. Although he normally doesn’t care, because he knows he’s right. He can’t afford to let Clara overrule his judgement, but he can’t seem to help it.
Review: I didn’t like this one very much at all. It was hard to like the hero. He’s too condescending, gives back-handed compliments, and renders apologies that are negated by the next words out of his mouth. I don’t think I would feel so antagonistic toward him if it wasn’t for the fact that it was an audio book. I don’t really fault the narrator, it’s just the difference between being able to skim read and having to listen to every word. At least the heroine repeatedly tosses his words back into his face. I did enjoy how he had to argue for her hand with her parents, that was fun.
Narrator: Kate Reading has some great lower London voices. I like her children voices quite a lot for the side characters like Squirrel.
Buy: Dukes Prefer Blondes (The Dressmakers Series)
Summary: Harlow Telford, the Duke of Dangerfield, has won his neighbor’s estate. He plans to give it to his younger half-brother as revenge on the man who took advantage of his mother’s grief. Harlow isn’t expecting the man’s hellion daughter on his doorstep demanding he return the property. It wasn’t her father’s to wager. It was her property left to her through her mother’s estate. Even though his conscience demands he return it, Harlow chooses another route. If he marries the chit, she won’t need the estate. So he wagers her. The stakes are steep – if she wins, he returns the property; if he wins, she joins him in his bed.
Review: This book is my favorite in the trilogy. I love how tenacious Lady Caitlin “Cate” Southall is to see her future secure. She is also smart to demand the contests be fair. There’s horse racing (her pick), a bake-off (a bystander’s pick), and a game of cards (his pick). Who will win? Because the stakes aren’t what they appear – the true thing at stake is love. Fast, fun, and fabulous.
Narrator: The trilogy is narrated as a whole by Marian Hussey. I found her to be a pleasant narrator with good pacing. She can do a nice husky male voice which made the heroes all the more convincing. I’d listen to her again.
Buy: To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers Trilogy)
Summary: Henry St. Giles, the Earl of Cravenswood, was in love with his mistress, but she left him for another protector. He would have married her if he could, but the ton would never allow it. Miserable among his blissfully wedded friends, Henry misses his perfect match who is right before his eyes. His friends conspire to get the two together, but little do they know that Henry and Lady Amy Shipton had already shared a secret and passionate embrace. (Not that Henry remembers who of course… but he’s determined to find her.)
Review: I loved the secret encounter in the garden, which leads to a lost earring. Henry guesses and then doubts that the woman in his arms had been Amy due to her clever thinking. You have to enjoy a heroine who can trick a hero and get him to look for a fake lost pet for an hour. As Amy and Henry fall for each other you have many things that get in their way – mostly misunderstandings. Amy wants someone who can love her and her alone, something she doesn’t think Henry is capable of. In Henry’s search for the woman missing the earring he uncovers what he thinks is his friend’s adultery. Overall, a very cute and sweet read.
Narrator: The trilogy is narrated as a whole by Marian Hussey. I found her to be a pleasant narrator with good pacing. She can do a nice husky male voice which made the heroes all the more convincing.
Buy: To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers Trilogy)
Hero: 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!
Buy: How to Marry a Duke, How to Marry a Duke (Audio Book)