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: Owned (The Billionaire Banker, Book 1) by Georgia Le Carre

ownedReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Millionaire Banker Blake Law Barrington sets his eyes on the incredibly gorgeous Lana Bloom and cannot help what he thinks about her. He wants to have her, bed her and own her as she is young and innocent, unlike him. He is a man who knows what he wants, and how to ensnare those who don’t understand the type of man he is, but Lana has her own agenda, as her mother runs the risk of dying from her illness, she decides in that despair to offer herself to a rich man so she can pay for her mother’s expensive treatment. Blake however sees her as an attractive proposition and wants her, thwarting the other man who also had desires on her.

Review: The concept is a really sound one; it shows Lana’s desperation to help save her mother even though it means her being owned by a man who sees most women as sex objects. Though it isn’t the sort of story a feminist would read as it makes out every woman has a price on their bodies if misfortune heads their way at some point in their lives, Lana handles the situation as best she can, even going so far as being ready to leave him once she gets what she wants. Lana does start out with only her mother’s welfare in mind, but sooner than later she develops an affection for the rich man who has brought her into the very strange world of power and riches – wealth for him comes as part of his life whether she likes it or not, but there is something she doesn’t know about Blake she might not ever want to find out.

Lana grows inevitably to like him beyond all the glitz and glamour, wealth and position, but as she has only money in mind, she wishes she could actually form a real relationship with him outside of that. This for her is nothing more than a pipe-dream, though as she also doesn’t want to get involved with a man who has secrets.

Good Bits:

  • Written in first person POV.
  • This is full of throbbing passion and sensuality.
  • They do say that opposites attract, and this is pretty much what this novel is about.

Summary: As it makes some women look like money-grabbers, this novel isn’t for everyone. I liked how the story started and what it hoped to achieve. It’s a sizzler that is full of passion and has a lot to say of what some women think love really is. I found myself looking forward to book 2.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Owned (Billionaire Banker 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: The Wicked Wallflower (Bad Boys and Wallflowers, Book 1) by Maya Rodale

wicked wallflowerHeroine: Lady Emma Avery is a respectable wallflower with the nickname the Buxom Bluestocking from finishing school. She is one of London’s Least Likely (to Misbehave) and in her own opinion least likely to be married by the next finishing school graduate ball, which marks the end of her fourth Season. Her long-time “beau” has yet to come up to scratch. Her friends, Olivia and Prudence, propose a wild idea of announcing their engagement. It was risky, but surely a gentleman could not refuse once it was so publically announced. While composing the letter, one of them said if Emma was going to risk scandal then they should go big or go home.

It’s all fun and games until someone actually sends the letter to the newspaper. Then it’s too late — and instead of a financially strapped second son of a viscount, the most eligible bachelor is declared the groom-to-be, and not just any bachelor, but a duke! Emma just knows she is ruined!

Hero: Blake, the Duke of Ashbrooke, is about to find out his past behavior can and will catch up to him. His charmed life of being the toast of a party, London’s most desirable rake and duke, and participating wild dares are not going to help him now. His backers desert him on his difference engine project and stress that it’s because of the man leading the project not the idea. They can’t trust him. Suddenly he needs a respectable wife… or at least the appearance of one until the financing is secure.

When the London Weekly posts his engagement announcement to a women he’s never met, he has the solution to his problem. He arrives at her drawing room to make it official – or failing that official long enough for them to try their hand at winning his aunt’s fortune in this year’s annual Fortune Games. Ashbrooke always likes a challenge so when the lady says no – he takes matters into his own hands.

Review: I loved this book from the main characters to the side characters to the romance. It checked all my boxes. My favorite parts were the love-letter writing on Emma’s bed and then Blake’s fulfillment of their fake courtship. He created a rundown gazebo, built a trellis, and said some of the prettiest proposals. Le sigh. He kind of goofs it all up at the end and could have come around a little quicker, but overall he’s one dreamy duke. The story ends as it begins with a potential scandal in the making. I wholly recommend to anyone looking for a fun and silly romp.

Narrator: I very much enjoyed listening to Carolyn Morris narrate. She pronounced clearly, naturally, and was easy to understand. I loved her portrayal of the hero and heroine and her accent and acting really pulled the story together cohesively. She had a very good presence and gave the story life. I’d listen to her again.

Rating: ★★★★½

The Wicked Wallflower (Wallflower Trilogy Book 1), Wicked Wallflower (Audiobook)

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Review: Seducing the Playboy (Hot Nights, Book 2) by Amanda Usen

Seducing the PlayboyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

Roman Gallagher has a visit from Jenna Cooper. The reader at this point is treated to a scene of instant combustion. I feel that this book should come with a warning – it’s going to make you hungry. And if you love to cook, you may want to get out some of your favorite recipes. I can see gaining weight with this book – picture reading this story in a bakery or sitting outside of a restaurant.

One thing that I absolutely loved about Jenna was her attitude. I could almost picture her sticking her tongue out. And Roman is a man who knows how to cook. And what I love about Roman’s character is that he doesn’t stand a chance against Jenna’s will.

Our author shows her readers that there are all different types of hunger and she definitely knows how to feed that need. She also does a great job of seducing and teasing her readers. There’s just enough to get a reader’s imagination flowing. And then there are the fantasies. The sad part is that you can get this book read in one day. I’m glad to see this is a series. Into The Fire is the first book of the series should you need to get caught up. Another sad part is that I can’t find anything about book three. We’ll just have to be patient.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Seducing the Playboy (A Hot Nights Series Book) (Entangled Brazen)

Review: The Bad Baron’s Daughter by Laura London

bad baron's daughterHeroine: Katie Kendricks’ father has disappeared. He’s done it a time or two before but has never been gone for so long. It wouldn’t be a problem, except his creditors are breathing down Katie’s neck and frightening her. Her plan to reach her friend’s bar, The Merry Maidenhead, in London is met with success… but her plans to stay do not when she upsets a regular brute in the bar who wants to show her a lesson or two.

Hero: Lord Linden is a rake of the first order. He goes from one amusement to the next as the mood strikes him. He is easily bored with the London life, but what gentleman isn’t? Having once worked for the War Office, he recognizes on second look that the barboy is in fact a bargirl and is moved to rescue her from the lowlife attempting to teach her a lesson in the middle of the bar. When the owner of the Merry Maidenhead pimps her out, he’s disgusted at the man but pays him fifty pounds to save the girl from the other brute lined up… the more he learns about the girl, the more he’s certain he’s not good for her, but clearly someone needs to watch out for her as someone wants her dead.

Review: The hero, Lesley Byrne, Lord Linden, has made his way onto my favorite heroes list. He reminds me of Justin Alastair from These Old Shades, who is also one of my favorite heroes. There’s a striking contrast between his elegant ennui and his sincere desire to protect the heroine… even from himself. He wants her desperately, but can’t bring himself to debauch her and take her innocence. He’s frustrated and irritated by these new feelings and can come across cruel, violent, or forgetful, but he’s the opposite underneath his outward shell. That dichotomy is what makes it work for me.

The writing is nearly flawless. There was a time or two when a character would make an observation mentally and another character would also expound on it mentally as if in agreement. I had to reread those passages to see if I had missed something. Overall this was a delightful Regency romp that I wish I had known about sooner! It is well worth getting a hold of this book because I believe you will want to keep it on your favorite’s shelf and revisit often. I know that is what I will be doing.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Bad Baron’s Daughter

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Review: The Pretender to the Throne (Call of Duty, Book 3) by Maisey Yates

pretender to the throneHero: Xander Drakos is the rebel wastrel prince of Kyrnos. He left the country after his mother’s death. He blamed himself for her death as much as his father and brother did. He pushed his feelings away and drowned his sorrows in all the wrong places, never healing. Now he’s back in the country to finally do his duty as heir-apparent and take over the throne from his ailing father. Just one problem… nobody particularly wants him back.

Heroine: Layna Xenakos was permanently disfigured by acid in the unrest that occurred when Xander left the country. She’s hid herself in a nunnery, believing the lack of vanity makes her a better humanitarian. But, she does care deeply about her appearances—she just buries her feelings and locks them away. That is, until Xander walks back into her quiet life asking her to pick up their relationship as if he never left… to help him win the people over again. Well good luck, he’s going to have to win her over first.

Review: This was a different romance than your usual fare, because it is the heroine that is scarred and not the hero. Layna in a nunnery reminded me of Sound of Music (or maybe I’ve been looking for Sound of Music ever since I got the Blu-Ray and went to Salzburg.) I also thought it was interesting that both of the main characters had spent the time apart hiding from the world. Yes, I know Xander was out in it and living the wild life, but he wasn’t really active in it. He used the club scenes and gambling scenes to hide from himself. Overall, I liked it, but wanted to like the characters a little more than I did. I didn’t really connect with them.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Pretender to the Throne (The Call of Duty)

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Review: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (Rule of Scoundrels, Book 3) by Sarah MacLean

no good duke goes unpunishedReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: William Harrow, aka the Killer Duke or Temple is accused of murdering Mara Lowe before her wedding day. He was not able to receive his rightful title. Now he works at a successful casino, but even still that one night completely destroys any good aspects of his reputation. Temple is annoyed to see Mara return to him with a proposal even though she should by rights be dead. This proposal could clear his now tarnished name, offering to come back into polite society in order to put right his reputation for good, but what does she want in return?

Review: When the rules of the ton are broken…no good duke goes unpunished, or at least that’s the theory. As the third book in the Rule of Scoundrels series, the first being A Rogue by Any Other Name, and the second one One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (of which I thoroughly enjoyed) this one is a jewel among paperbacks with a cover that belies what is really inside. Of all the opening lines of a novel, this one is this years’ favourite and I’m sure it will stick in the mind of other readers too. Temple fights at the aptly named Fallen Angel gambling establishment in Mayfair after losing his title, family and right to his fortune. His manager, Chase has a long list of high standing men who want to fight him, a well-known killer duke and live, or win (which they don’t) but there is one man he will never face no matter what the odds, and this seems to be his Achilles heel in the story.

Good Bits:

  • Chase saying he doesn’t believe he killed Mara.
  • The fight scene at the beginning with Temple and Montlake – I was surprised at how lethal the blows were and how realistic.
  • Temple won’t fight Christopher Lowe – could it be that he is innocent of his sister’s murder?
  • Lavender, the MacIntyre piglet…awww.

Bad Bits:

  • None.

Final Thoughts: The general plot of Temple getting revenge on Mara aside, he isn’t seeing the whole picture. While he sees only having his revenge on her for what she did to him, he doesn’t see her as a governess who does her best to look after the illegitimate boys at the orphanage. These boys are the love children of some of the most high standing men in London who would rather not have their illicit affairs made public. She struggles to keep the boys fed and the orphanage heated at winter, so her deal with Temple is promising to her if only to give the boys a decent life. Temple starts out by only wanting revenge and sets the ground rules for it with Mara, but when he gets too close to her, he finds he can’t let her go despite how he feels about her. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean is one of the best romance novels of 2013 and Sarah MacLean is a writer I will look out for in the future.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

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