Review: An Affair Downstairs by (Thornbrook Park, Book 2) by Sherri Browning

an affair downstairsHero: Logan Winthrop is an estate manager with a past. He was once gentry but was linked with the murder of his lover’s husband. To keep his brother’s family free of gossip he hid from polite society. But he can’t keep hiding around Alice.

Heroine: Lady Alice Emerson has no intention of ever marrying. She has a bucket list and she plans to pursue the completion of every adventure on it and a husband would get in the way. Alice wants to see India, shoot a pistol, and have an affair to name a few things on her list.

Review: Logan is a hero who will do what it takes to protect those around him, even if it is from himself. He has desired Alice for a while but saw the differences in their circumstances as insurmountable. He’s relatively easy to seduce when Alice chooses him as her first sexual experience. Don’t let Alice fool you, she thinks he’s a good choice for all the wrong reasons. Another man enters the picture and he says all the right things, pays all the right attention to Alice, and yet there’s something off about him. Will Logan step aside to give Alice a chance at the perfect match or will he claim her as his own? One nice thing about this book is that the sister isn’t evil (and there will be a time when you wonder, but she’s mostly shallow and clueless which are forgivable because she loves Alice).

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: An Affair Downstairs (A Thornbrook Park Romance Book 2)

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)

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)

Audio Review: Surrender by Amanda Quick

surrenderHero: Lucas Colebrook, the new Earl of Stonevale, needs an heiress to finance the repairs of his crumbling estate and projects to revitalize the lands. He goes to his former love, the perfect paragon of society, Jessica (I can’t recall her last name.) She presents him with two choices – a young woman just out of the schoolroom (almost an exact replica of Jessica) or the very independent Victoria Huntington. Lucas knows instantly which heiress he’d prefer and strategizes how to win her. His conclusion is to give her exactly what she thinks she wants.

Heroine: Victoria Huntington, heiress, orphan, has fought off fortune hunters since being in leading strings. She’s even had suitors for her friend investigated by Bow Street Runners! Not easily fooled, Victoria knows if she waits just a little while longer, her status of spinsterhood will be sealed and the real adventures of life can begin. But she doesn’t really wish to wait – she wants to experience it all now and accepts Lucas’s escort through these experiences.

Review: Victoria is wildly reckless with her reputation and that of her friend’s. She doesn’t seem to truly grasp the consequences of any one of her little escapades. It off-balances the intelligence she seems to have regarding men. Lucas manages to distract her with what she wants – from adventures to watch boxing matches in the wee hours of the night or trips to brothels dressed as a man – and so escape her notice as another fortune hunter. He’s able to do this because Jessica is circulating that he’s due to receive a huge influx of funds. So, I have little sympathy when Vicky bemoans getting caught in the parson’s trap.

Lucas is patient and protective. His scheme is manipulative, but his intentions are roughly pure. He wants to aid his tenets and bring prosperity back to the region. I loved his stodginess and how it played with Vicky’s recklessness. They rub off on each other. He becomes a little less stodgy and she a little less reckless. I loved how he’d climb garden walls for her even with a wounded leg. Very romantic.

In the novel, he decides quickly he wants Vicky for more than her money, but doesn’t reveal his true need for the wedding until it is much too late. On their wedding day, before their wedding trip, Jessica reveals all to Vicky in an attempt to beg kindness for Lucas. What a little viper! Jessica is not a paragon – she’s clearly manipulative and while her words don’t endear her to hero or heroine, there’s no true repercussion. Vicky takes it out on Lucas instead of Jessica… and then in the end the couple uses Jessica once more. I find that very odd.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik is one of my favorite narrators. I liked listening to her immensely.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Surrender, Surrender

Audio Review: The Duke’s Deceit by Sherrill Bodine

Sherrill Bodine duke deceitHero: Richard, the Duke of Avalon, knows he’s made a terrible mistake. His fiancé is a horribly vain and self-centered chit, more concerned with appearances than him. When he makes a decision to travel right before the wedding to visit a philosophy professor in Scotland, she informs him that if he does not return with plenty of time for the wedding, she will call it off. He’s eager to skirt the deadline in hopes she will actually follow-through on her threat.

Heroine: Mary Masterton faces a terrible conundrum. Her late father amassed debts trying to realize a stud farm to a local noble. Sir Robert insists she wed him to cancel the debts, but Mary has no interest in the creep. When a heroic stranger is knocked unconscious by a falling timber while aiding her in rescuing horses from a fire, she claims him as her fiancé. When he wakes, he has no memory at all. He recovers and sticks around fulfilling all the desperate longings of Mary’s heart… but can she keep a man she loves in the dark?

Reviews: What Mary doesn’t know about the barn fire is that it was staged. Readers will realize right away who is behind the attack, or do they? There’s more going on then what is happening on the surface. It’s a little convoluted – involving a late grandmother, a cousin, a fortune, America, and blackmail.

Mary is a kind and tenderhearted heroine. She wants to tell the truth but is convinced by many parties that to reveal her deception to Richard would cause him irrefutable harm in his condition. He might die! So she holds her tongue, falls in love with him, and then the tables are turned. He regains his memories (not unusual) and pretends otherwise to get at the truth Mary hid. I liked Richard the man when was suffering under amnesia, he’s less likeable as the Duke in his initial dealings with Mary.

Narrator: Susan Duerden is a likeable narrator. I would describe her voice a bit like a stage whisper. It does not sound like how she might usually talk and is pitched a little low and a little husky.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Duke’s Deceit, The Duke’s Deceit (Audiobook)

Review: Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, Book 2) by Sherry Thomas

ravishing an heiressHero: Fitzhugh is an impoverished Earl, who recently inherited his earldom. If he doesn’t wed for money he and his family will be doomed to live in poverty forever. The idea of a loveless marriage does not appeal to him in the slightest as he is in love with a beautiful woman… but he can’t provide her with the life she deserves and she isn’t as wealthy as he needs. So, for the love of duty and England, he will marry Millie instead.

Heroine: Millicent (Millie) is a sardine-canning heiress. She’s not gentry, she’s not beautiful… and she isn’t Isabelle. She agrees to marry Fitz knowing that he doesn’t love her. She proposes that they abstain from consummating the marriage for a few years and then get together long enough for them to beget an heir. Fitz thinks that is a great idea because he can’t imagine wanting to sleep with his wife and proposes an extension of the abstinence plan.

So, of course, the beautiful Isabelle returns freshly widowed and ready to start an illicit affair with Fitz just when the married couple plans to consummate the marriage.

Review: My big issue with this book is the flaunting of adultery as the hero cheats and screws his way around London. He’s even willing to abandon his wife publically for a calculating harpy, just because his younger self thought he was in love with the woman. Ugh. I did however, like Millie, even if she took the role of doormat. I got her as a character. She loved Fitz at first site, is a young teenage girl, and believes she’s causing him more harm than good by being married to him. Sure it is a bit delusional, seeing as she’s bringing way more to the marriage with successful businesses and wealth while he’s only bringing a title and some land… but… that’s Millie. The hero has very few redeemable qualities and uses his broken heart as an excuse to behave awfully. What I didn’t understand was why Isabelle wasn’t given the cut-direct several times over? She’s clearly not “high society” even if she married well because she relentless pursues a scandal broth that would consume her, Fitz, and her children. In short, if Millie got a very determined admirer who honestly made her feel special and gave her the idea to run away from her loveless marriage, I might have enjoyed the story better.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Ravishing the Heiress

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Audio Review: The Duke Next Door (Heiress Brides, Book 2) by Celeste Bradley

thedukenextdoorHeroine: One of three girl cousins, gorgeous Deirdre Cantor is in the running to inherit her grandfather’s fortune. In order to be the heiress though, she needs to wed a duke and she knows just the future-duke to wed! He’s a man she’s admired from afar. Originally, he was engaged to one of her cousins, but then was jilted for the younger brother prior to the wedding. This gives her the perfect opportunity to propose the match to him.

Hero: Calder Marbrook, the Marquis of Brookhaven and future Duke of Brookmoor, needs a wife… but mostly because he needs a permanent mother figure for his young woefully misbehaved daughter. (The child comes as a shock to the heroine after they wed… even though she saved news clippings on him for years.)

Review: This book did not work well for me as an audiobook. The narrator, Susan Ericksen, was fine, but the problems with the book are exasperated in audio format. The hero treats the heroine like a misbehaving child within seconds of reaching his country estate. If she doesn’t become the wife/governess he needs her to be for his daughter, he’ll not pay for dresses and won’t let her attend parties or go to London for the society… Apparently, he’s too distracted by his wife’s breasts to take his foot out of his mouth. How can this autocratic alpha bully not handle the nurses and governesses taking care of his child… or even his willful child? The secondary character romance and the setup for the next book’s romance were distracting, and for me, unwanted. Also, how can Diedre think that the best revenge on her husband is to actually do as he says and take his daughter in hand? That doesn’t make sense. Although, I did like the stepmother/stepdaughter relationship.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

The Duke Next Door (Heiress Brides), Audible Audiobook

Review: The Lady Most Willing (Lady Most, Book 2) by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

lady most willingWhat happened:  Laird Taran Ferguson and some of his clansmen kidnap four ladies, one by mistake, and carry them back to Finovair castle. Along the way the men accidentally kidnap a duke and everybody gets snowed-in. Will there be hell to pay or marriages at the end of this debacle? Whatever the case this is guaranteed to be the most talked about scandal all season!

Why was it done? Taran wanted to provide wealthy matches for his reluctant nephews to wed.

The players:

  • John Shevington, Duke of Bretton – He wasn’t meant to be in the carriage, but since it was his, it shouldn’t have surprised the laird and his men to find him in it.
  • Byron Wotton, Earl of Oakley – A proper gentlemen who’s horrified by his uncle’s actions.
  • Robert (Robin) Parles, Comte de Rocheforte – A rake of the first order whose reputation may or may not be deserved.
  • Lady Cecily Tarleton – She knows who she wants and she refuses to let him get away.
  • Catriona Burns – The lady kidnapped by mistake all because she wore blue. Cat is not an heiress and is therefore out of the running according to Taran for his nephews. Good thing the Duke doesn’t care what Taran thinks.
  • Fiona Chisholm – Bespectacled and respectable heiress usually overlooked when her lively, younger, and prettier sister is around…. But somebody notices her!
  • Marilla Chisholm – A gorgeous female who knows it. This is one hellcat whose claws you don’t want to sink into you!

Favorite match: The Duke and Cat.

Most surprising match: Marilla’s.

Review: I loved the house part games and kind of wish we had house parties like it now! A must read if you love humor, Regency house parties, and love at first sight!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Lady Most Willing

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