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: The Tattooed Duke (The Writing Girls, Book 3) by Maya Rodale

tattoed dukeHero: Sebastian Digby, the Duke of Wycliff, is in need of a wealthy bride. His newly inherited dukedom is full of responsibilities and short on cash. All he wants to do is travel and discover Timbuktu. Unfortunately for him, all his dirty laundry is being aired by The London Weekly negating any chance he has at finding a suitable bride. He can’t prove who it is, but he suspects either his cousin or an employee.

Heroine: Eliza Fielding hasn’t had much to write about for her boss at The London Weekly. She’s about to be fired unless she can produce some scandalously meaty prose. Her undercover disguise as a housemaid in the duke’s household is perfect for getting close to the duke… in more ways than one. But as she gets to know this tattooed duke, Eliza has to wonder if getting her own dream – a column of her very own — is worth more than helping Sebastian obtain his dreams.

Review: This historical romance has a very modern edge. It worked for me where it might not work for others. I bought this book as an audiobook and I enjoyed the narrator, Carolyn Morris, immensely. Her accent work really placed me in the story and gave a sense of sophistication and Regency glamor. Sebastian Digby (whose last name, I must have missed… ha!) is a different duke than you’re used to meeting. He doesn’t want the duchy if it means curtailing his own desires for adventure, but it’s not exactly something you can just pretend isn’t yours. The scene where Eliza sees his tattoos for the first time was deliciously steamy (pun intended.) Eliza is a feisty heroine, who because she’s not gentry, can do things most well-bred young ladies can’t… like hide in plain sight of the hero she’s covering for her newspaper. Sebestian thinks the leak in his household is Eliza, but refuses to really give it credence because he doesn’t want it to be true. Overall a great listen!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Tattooed Duke

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Review: An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons, Book 3) by Julia Quinn

offer from a gentlemanHeroine: Sophie Beckett might be the daughter of an earl, but she’s not legitimate. She’s lived as an unpaid maid to her stepmother and stepsisters since her father passed away. One evening, she dared to sneak into Lady Bridgerton′s masquerade ball and found “Prince Charming.” As charming as he may be, Sophie know not even a second son would never marry her… or would he?

Hero: Benedict Bridgerton’s society nickname ‘Second’ relegated him to a nonentity from a young age. It’s a state of being he’s determined to break even if society would rather keep him there. At a family ball he spies a gorgeous creature dressed in silver, but before the evening’s end she vanished. Years later, his mother gets a new housemaid who stirs him. But he’s still determined to find his silver beauty and wed her… even if his heart might be leaning elsewhere.

Review: Fancy a sweet Cinderella romance? Then you’ll want to pick this book up! We start at the ball almost immediately and boy is it an adorable sequence with a splash of sexy. Their story is part magic and part harsh reality. In the magic of the ball all seems possible. In the light of day, he’s a nobleman and she’s a maid. How could it ever work? In reality, it couldn’t, but lucky for Benedict he’s falling for the same woman twice. Sensual, charming, and full of life.

Fav Quote: “I can live with you hating me,” he said to the closed door. “I just can’t live without you” — Benedict to Sophie

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons)

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Review: Take Me Home for Christmas (Whiskey Creek, Book 5) by Brenda Novak

Take Me Home for ChristmasReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sophie DeBussi seems to have a sorry existence with no means of escape. Ted Dixon knows Sophie personally from high school and what he describes is someone that very well may have been someone you went to school with. Their lives reconnect during a time in Sophie’s life when she can really use a friend.

Our author reminds us that tragedy can strike at any time of year – even the holidays. It’s also a time when Sophie finds out who her real friends are. It’s a tough read because you just can’t imagine the pain that Brenda has created. But that’s what makes a great author – we come to care for the characters as if they’re part of the family or a really close friend.

This was my first book in the series so I’m behind in knowing who all the couples are. Sophie’s story can be read as a stand-alone but if you want to know all the couples better, you’ll want to go back and read books one through four. It also had me wanting to know more about the people of Whiskey Creek.

This is not a book that I could read without stopping every once in a while (but that’s not a bad thing). I guess my glasses are slightly rose-colored – it’s just you can’t believe people will act that way. But sad to say, that’s not the case. Brenda had me making comparisons to the family of Bernie Madoff – were they her inspiration for this story? It certainly gives you another perspective.

What I loved about this story is that it didn’t start at Christmas time. So, technically you could read it at any time of year. But the “moral of the story” definitely has the holiday spirit involved. It has a great lesson to it and it shows that miracles do happen – amidst tragedy love can blossom. The ending will also have you smiling. It has me looking forward to March when book six, titled Come Home To Me, will be coming out. This also gives me time to catch up on the series in the meantime. So, if you’re getting your holiday reads together and you want something that’s slightly different from most make sure to pick up a copy of Brenda’s book.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Take Me Home for Christmas (Whiskey Creek)

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Review: The Duchess Hunt (House of Trent, Book 1) by Jennifer Haymore

duchess huntReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sarah Osborne and Simon Hawkins have known each other for a very long time. Some time has passed since they last saw each other. Upon his return, a mystery is afoot. I love a story that starts off with a mystery. I have to follow because I need to know when the mystery gets solved.

Sarah was the child of an employee and as an adult she is now an employee herself. This was probably the norm back in that time period because everyone stayed within his or her “station”. Simon is a good man who looks at a person beyond their station. I’m glad that this practice has long since changed.

There is one scene where Luke, Simon’s brother shows up a little “under the weather”. As I read the scene, I have to wonder if he’s going to have his own book. And in going over to Jennifer’s web site, http://www.jenniferhaymore.com, I find out that book two titled The Rogue’s Proposal will be his story. The book will be coming out in November of this year. They have a sister Esme and she has a novella titled The Devil’s Pearl, which came out in May.

Jennifer will keep you on your toes because just when you think everything is going well for Simon and Sarah, she gives the reader a “What?” moment. At this point you have no choice but to keep reading otherwise you won’t know how things turn out.

This is most certainly a story of true love especially when nothing can stand in the way – including what other people think. If you’re looking for a story that will make you feel good at the end but with a mystery – a mystery that is not solved by the end – you will want to pick up a copy of Jennifer’s book. And if you haven’t read Esme’s novella, I’ve already picked up my copy, you’ll have plenty of time to get it read before November.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Duchess Hunt (House of Trent)

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Review: Promises, Promises by Erica James

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Main Characters: Maggie Storm, wife to car mechanic Dave for 17 years. Maggie is a housekeeper to Ethan Edwards. Ethan owns his own business and his wife Francine loves to spend his money. Ella Moore is a decorative paint artist who ends up doing work for Francine.

The book setting is in England and for some American readers you may get lost among some of the words, phrases, and references – unless you want to do some sleuthing to find out what they mean. Erica does a great job of describing settings. The reader can almost picture the places where the story takes place.

We see that Maggie loves to go to the library on her day off and read books – and guess what, she loves to read romance novels. She’s miserable at home. Her husband’s nickname is “Mr. Blobby” and she has a terror of a mother-in-law. Will she ever stick up for herself? You’ll just have to read to find out.

This story seems to interconnect all the main characters. Ella meets Ethan, although she doesn’t know it at the time, by saving him from getting mugged. Ethan’s wife always wants to impress everyone and the only way to do that is to do that is to spend all of Ethan’s money and then some. So she hires Ella.

If you want to get a picture in your mind of what Francine may be like – think of the old movies, or soap operas, where the wife is totally oblivious to anything but spending her husband’s money so that she can show off to her neighbors.

Thrown into this crazy mix is the next door neighbor’s wife that has the hots for Ethan. We also see what lengths she will go to – she wants Ethan all to herself. You will need to read the book to see how this all works out in the end.
We get a lot of backstory on our main characters – sometimes I think a little too much. It may have made the book a little more interesting if there was a little less character history. It seemed to make the story drag at certain times. Would it have changed the story any if some of it was left out?

At one point in the story we see Ethan musing about some of his previous conquests. I don’t know that this adds anything to the story. The only thing it does is gives the reader a look into how much of a philanderer Ethan really is.

Erica writes one scene of Ethan having dinner with a client. I don’t see that this added anything to the story other than showing the fiscal hard times he’s having. But couldn’t this have been shown some other way?

Ella also has an ex-boyfriend Lawrence who wants to get back together with her. But after seeing how things used to be between them, does she really want to put herself through that again? Isn’t there someone else better out there for her?

Maggie meets a guy named Daryl Delaney. She ends up starting to have a relationship with him. Like a lot of stories, she gets caught and then makes herself miserable because of it.

The book just seemed to go on and on. It wasn’t until I was three-fourths of the way through the book that I finally started to enjoy it. I will say that Erica did a great job of showing how Ethan’s family acted after he got sick. It all follows with how they act at the beginning.

If you’re looking for a sexy chick-lit book you won’t find it here. It reads more like a soap opera. It’s an ok story but if I were to read it again, I would go check it out from my local library.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Promises, Promises

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Review: Gallant Waif by Anne Gracie

Story: Lady Cahill is Jack Carstairs’ grandmother and is determined to see her moping scarred and wounded grandson back on his feet and back in the market for marriage. Just because his father disowned him, and his fiancée dumps him doesn’t mean he can turn his sister away from his door and refuse to see her! That is just outrageous. Well let him try putting his grandmother off! Ha!

On the way she’ll kill two birds with one stone and pick up Kate Farleigh. Except there’s a snag… one headstrong girl. Not to worry! Immediately after Kate refuses her offer for a Season in London Lady Cahill kidnaps her. The Lady can’t imagine why the stupid chit turned her down. They have a connection! She’s the godmother of the girl’s dead mother, so of course it’s not charity!

The morning after she arrives with Kate in tow Lady Cahill decides to get the two kids together… for the animation in Jack’s face inspired by Kate is just too tempting to ignore. But Kate still isn’t interested in a Season. What’s a grandmother to do? She hires Kate as Jack’s housekeeper and dashes off to get out of the way, that’s what.

Review: I love Jack. He’s so outraged on Kate’s behalf its funny! A genteel lady shouldn’t be scrubbing floors, cooking his meals, or anything else a housekeeper does. He doesn’t understand why Kate thinks its good enough, because clearly it isn’t!

Their banter on it was hilarious – the kind of hilarious that requires stitches. :P Jack doesn’t know how to fight with Kate and usually ends up flustered and speechless with rage. She’s so calm about most of their confrontations, but sometimes she seeks to egg him on too because she loves his responses. She knows it means he cares and with her background (being unloved by her father) knowing someone cares means a lot.

I liked a lot of this novel… but

(Spoilers) I felt Kate’s secret history was very sad… she was raped during the war by a French man who took advantage of her amnesia (and maybe caused it, who knows, because she definitely was knocked over the head by someone). He claimed to be her husband and she gave him conjugal rights.

I didn’t feel her emotions connected to this made much sense. I would have reacted differently been angry or bitter or something more than accepting. Especially since all she’d ever wanted was a nice husband and kids (she really wanted kids.) Luckily for her, she’s the heroine of a romance novel!

I’m very glad that when the other soldiers show up that they don’t treat her like a whore (how she was treated on the continent by those who knew) and that they wanted to see her and Jack together. Nobody made an inappropriate advance on her from among Jack’s friends… (but someone tries for other reasons.)

The ending sequence when the group of soldiers ban together to help Jack save Kate’s reputation at a ball is so sweet and heartwarming.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Gallant Waif (Harlequin Historical)

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Review: Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas

bookreview1

Have you ever picked up a novel and about halfway through feel like there’s something you should know about it because it seems familiar? I thought I was going insane! I couldn’t remember the book, but I remembered the characters. I was certain I hadn’t read it before but how could I explain my knowledge of the main characters and the two of the side characters? Thank heavens I finally figured it out! Lady Sophia’s Lover is the second of the Bow Street Trilogy. The first is Someone to Watch Over Me. Where I recognized the characters was from the third Worth Any Price which follows the brother of the heroine in LSL. Nothing like solving a mystery to start off my day!

Sophia Sydney is out for revenge. She wants to destroy the man who sent her brother off to his death. Sophia is certain of her facts and equally certain of Sir Ross Cannon’s cruelty and guilt. It seems fortuitous when an ad to be his secretary appears in the papers. Taking it as a sign, Sophia appears in Cannon’s offices on Bow Street determined not to take no for an answer.

Ross is completely stunned by Sophia. Her very presence shatters his carefully constructed walls. He tries to regulate her into a housekeeping position instead of the secretary position. Her argument that he didn’t specify gender completely flummoxes him and before he knows it, Sophia is both his secretary and his housekeeper.

Sophia is equally dazzled. The fat, old, wig wearing man she expected is not there. The man she sees is not the man she pictured. Ross is distinguished, virile, and devastating. While Sophia is trying to gather evidence against Ross and his runners, she finds herself hopelessly drawn to him. Will love win out over vengeance?

Rating: 4 Stars

Buy: Lady Sophia’s Lover

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