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: In Bed with a Rogue (Rival Rogues, Book 2) by Samantha Grace

bed with a rogueHero: Baron Sebastian Thorne is the subject of ton gossip ever since he was jilted at the altar. It doesn’t help that his sister was also jilted. The ton wonders if there’s something wrong with them — because their father was mad — and if madness runs in the family. Sebastian vows to restore the family’s good name and help his sister.

Heroine: For widowed Lady Helena Prestwick’s proper appearances are deceiving. She is a woman of many secrets. Sold by her father to pay his gambling debts, she live many unhappy years in Scotland. Now independent she’s searching for her other sisters, planning to rescue them all. The two are brought together when Helena (the White Angel) rescues Sebastian from thugs in White Chapel.

Review: The opening sequence when the main characters meet each other is probably my favorite part. I liked the intrigue surrounding the White Angel, who brought relief to the slums through charity. Her man servant is searching brothels for her sister and she’s supposed to stay nearby to help coax her sister out if found. Instead she has an opportunity to save someone and takes it. I love that she takes the role usually reserved for the hero. The pacing of the story is where the novel didn’t work for me. It seemed to plod a long time before it picked up the pace.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: In Bed with a Rogue (Rival Rogues Book 2)

Review: Must Love Breeches (Must Love, Book 1) by Angela Quarles

22664678Heroine: Isabelle Rochon thought this reenactment ball would be spectacular. She did the research, came dressed in a period-correct gown, and finds the evening less than enchanting. The women are dressed slutty, the dancing is a boor, the lights too bright, and her coworker crush turns out to be an ass. Where’s the magic? Clearly her expectation for the evening were to high, but wouldn’t this ball have been just the thing in the past? Sigh.

Hero: Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount, espies the lovely Isabelle Rochon in her exquisitely French and modish attire and is intrigued. He’s in luck that she’s talking to his cousin so he can finagle an introduction. She’s a delightful distraction and he rues his growing reputation because he feels it precludes him from pursuing her… but then he strikes on just the thing… she can be part of his scheme for revenge on the men involved in his sister’s ruination.

Review: Lord Montagu is the kind of perfectly charming and sincere man Isabelle has been looking for – but when she finally realizes what happened and that she’s back in time she’s heartbroken because she can’t have him. She takes his cousin in her confidence and shows off her phone (and calculator app) to prove her story… but alas the battery dies before she can show him (when she’s ready to trust him… after all Bedlam is not a nice place she hears).

Pro: A focus on the progress of the times – it wasn’t all balls and parades in the park, there was also science and differential engines, and flying mechanical horses (that didn’t work).

Con: The heroine was too hesitant to snap the hero up… Lord Montagu would have been whisked off his feet before he had a chance to rise up from his bow. 😉

One of the best time travel romances I’ve read. Definitely recommend.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Must Love Breeches: A Time Travel Romance (Must Love Series Book 1)

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: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2) by Lorraine Heath

once more my darling rogueHero: Drake Darling isn’t his real name, but it’s the one he uses. Drake’s father was an awful abusive man who murdered his mother. Drake watched him hang. He was taken in by a nice well-to-do family and raised as one of their own, even though he wasn’t. He can charm any woman, but Lady Ophelia Lyttleton. She knows what he is and makes sure he knows it too.

Heroine: Phe (Ophelia) loses her memory in an accident she can’t recall. She doesn’t even really know who she is, but the man, Drake, who says he’s her employer makes her feel safe. She likes that feeling even if the rest of what he says seems false. How can she be a servant? She doesn’t even know how to do the basic things a servant does!

Review: This book started off very strong for me and kept it’s pace right up to the last portion of the book. Then the story kind of nosedived and hit concrete instead of landing in the pool. I didn’t like that the author made the heroine a victim of incestuous rape in order to make her likable. Not to diminish the horror of it, but the whole thing reeked like a cop-out. I liked the heroine perfectly fine when she was an uppity chit with airs and so much pride she became a snobby ill-bred person around the hero. She could have been a product of her upbringing like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. She even had lovely Emma undertones as her personality was revealed in little pieces here and there as her memory loss allowed her to flourish away from what society demanded of her. It’s really too bad because for me it took the book from a five star rating and plummeted it. For somebody else it might work.

Narrator: At first I didn’t really like Helen Lloyd as she narrated the heroine’s part. Her voice didn’t quite jive, but as the story progressed I learned to like her. James Adams had a very nice voice and I liked listening to him a lot. It’s always fun to listen to men narrate romances.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2), Once More, My Darling Rogue (Audio Book)

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)