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: 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)

Review: How to Catch a Wild Viscount by Tessa Dare

how to catch a wild viscountPreviously titled The Legend of the Werestag. Not a paranormal.

Hero: Luke Trenton, Viscount Merritt, is beastly in appearance and temperament. War stripped him of his civility and hardened his heart. He feels like he has nothing to offer the girl who looks at him with stars in her eyes. He wants her to get over him as he knows she will and move on so he can too.

Heroine: Cecily Hale has loved Luke for a while and treasures the kiss they shared before he left for war. When he came home from war and didn’t seek her out she was hurt. She hopes the house party they are both at will be just the setting to win his heart. A local legend of a werestag catches her attention and she convinces the party to go in search of it… but her real hunt is not a wild deer but a wild viscount!

Review: An exceptional novella. I loved the hero and heroine so much I could have read an expanded version of this story. Luke is a deliciously aloof stubborn cad. He rejects her after she pledges her love to him which humiliates and wounds Cecily. Our heroine doesn’t take this too kindly and focuses her attention on the stag hunt instead of the man. At one point she needs rescuing because of a wild boar attack and the mysterious stranger who protects her and things start to develop and get steamy from there on out. Very enjoyable.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: How to Catch a Wild Viscount

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: 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)

Audio Review: Her Secondhand Groom (The Grooms, Book 3) by Rose Gordon

secondhand groomHero: Patrick Ramsey, needs a woman. She must like children, be good with children, and able to teach children. And Viscount Drakely will get what he needs – a motherness – or a mother and a governess for his three girls (Celia, Helena and Kate), all rolled up into one female. He knows the perfect woman to fill the position – Juliet Hughes, because her family borrowed money to send her to school and to give her a London Season and are indebted to him.

Heroine: Miss Juliet Hughes, was educated at London’s finishing school for young ladies. She’s plain. She’s common. Not at all like her sister, Henrietta, who Patrick thinks is her and the one he wants. He doesn’t bargain for Juliet to be confident, determined, and strong-willed. She is his match and equal in every way and she won’t let him look down on her.

Review: If you like mistaken identities and big misunderstandings, you’ll love Her Secondhand Groom. Juliet tries to tell Patrick he’s wrong but he won’t listen now that he has a plan to put in motion. I liked Juliet’s nickname for Patrick – Lord Presumptuous. She’s a heroine who can call her hero out on his idiocy and pigheadedness. She does it so charmingly too. I liked her relationship with the girls and how they all interacted. About the only thing that doesn’t work is Patrick’s devotion to his dead wife who he later calls manipulative.

Narrator: Louisa Murray has a very nice voice and I enjoyed listening to her narrate the story. She was very lively in her recitations between Juliet and Patrick. I would listen to Louisa again.
Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Her Secondhand Groom (Groom Series Book 3), Her Secondhand Groom (Audio Book)

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)