Review: The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne (Sydney Dovedale, Book 2) by Jayne Fresina

the wicked wedding of miss ellie vyneHero: James Hartley is tracking down the man who stole a family heirloom right off the neck of his mistress. He knew better than to give her the jewels, she was not the mysterious woman he kissed at a costume ball. The only person he wants to find more than the Count de Bonneville is his Marie Antoinette. If he only knew they were one and the same!

Heroine: Ellie Vyne does what she must to keep her stepfather and half-sisters afloat. If they guessed she did it crossing-dressing and pretending to be a Count while fleecing noble drunkards at the gaming tables nearly every evening, they would all surely have a fit and explode. She’s just deciding to call the charade quits, when James bursts into her room at a hotel and comes to the conclusion she’s the Count’s mistress. Oh boy.

Review: As childhood frenemies, Ellie liked to take James down a size so he and his ego could fit through a door, and it’s much the same now that they are grown. If he won’t get over Sophie (see previous book in series) and notice how much she likes him, then she’ll poke fun at him instead. Grieves is a great side character – adding depth to the hero’s life and supplying endless dry humor for the reader. There were a few things I’d write out of the story, like the bastard child, but overall there are few complaints to be had. The wit, banter, and charm of the story are a home run smash out of the park. In conclusion, if you are looking for a terrific, wonderful, and amusing romp – look no further than Jayne Fresina’s latest release – with characters you like, and a couple to lose your heart too. You will want to run not walk to the bookstore.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne

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Review: Compromising the Marquess (The Forsters, Book 1) by Wendy Soliman

Compromising the Marquess(1)Heroine: Leah Elliot and her sister are near destitution and live by the grace their graceless aunt and well-meaning but easily subdued uncle. They lost everything when their father died in a fire. His precious and expensive book collection went up in smoke. When Leah’s sister got sick, Leah turned to a family friend and started selling ton secrets to his gossip rag to survive. Knowing that their lives are not as stable as they seem, Leah is tempted to sell a few more secrets from their uncle’s country estate. The juiciest ones around seem to center on the Marquess.

Hero: Hal Forster is the Marquess of Denby. He worked for the British government during the reign of Napoleon as a spy. His secrets may be juicy, but they are meant to stay secret. When his French asset is killed, Hal rescues the man’s son and the manservant who helped smuggle the boy to safety. Not fooled by Leah’s disguise as a boy, Hal keeps a close eye on her. When her gossip opens up the possibility of social damage he convinces her to help him undo it.

Review: I love the cross-dressing heroine trope. It’s always fun and quirky. Not that the girl on the cover of the book could ever be mistaken as a boy, but the idea is still cute. I could have done without the sick and fragile sister. A healthy sister over her sickness would have been fine. I loved Hal’s willingness to aid Leah and uncover what really happened with her father. As far as the main mystery goes, I loved who the traitor ended up being. I figured it out two seconds before the big reveal. Wow. I also liked how Leah reveals clues to Hal about her location and what he might encounter when he comes to the rescue.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Compromising the Marquess (The Forsters)

Review: The Rake by Mary Jo Putney

rake mary jo putneyHero: Reginald Davenport is the disinherited rake turned poor relation wastrel to his cousin the Duke, which is why Reggie is thrown for a loop when his cousin gifts him his childhood home, the most prosperous property the new Duke owns. Strickland brings back many ghosts for Reggie, but he is not prepared to meet with Weston, his steward… and a female!

Heroine: Alys Weston came to Strickland with a secret and a grim determination to succeed, reform, and raise a parcel of children not her own. It wasn’t in her plans to like the new owner of Strickland, a woebegone and restless rake, but she admits he does have his own charm.

Review: A heroine with a career and a hero who wants to keep her in the position? Very unlikely! Reggie keeps Alys on as his steward despite how unlikely it is for a (unmarried!!!) woman to hold the position.

What’s more is that Reggie is predictable as an unrespectable and indolent rake. Like other heroes of similar ilk in romance he is tired of the lifestyle and is looking for something to bring the joy of life back into his life. He also is willing to work hard and do jobs meant for menial labor, thus giving him a heart of gold underneath that tarnish.

Unlike the other rakes in romance who drink socially and never to often in books, Reggie is a functioning drunk. He’s an alcoholic and recognizes that his blackouts are a bad sign. But he can’t go cold turkey and he’s not sure he wants too, and really wants to stock his new home with all sorts of alcohol. Of course, Reggie must not stay a drunk, so much of the story is focused on changing that, but it takes up too much focus and pulls from the romance. It’s hard for me to buy the romance because of this.

Many people rank this book as one of the best romances written and on their favorite shelf. Are you one?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: The Rake

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Review: Celtic Storms (Celtic Steel, Book 1) by Delaney Rhodes

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Darina O’Malley is distraught at the knowledge that her cousin, Kyra is to be betrothed to a man she does not know – he might as well be a stranger as far as she is concerned. She knows there are secrets about her clan that could undo them, but she is far more interested in the Laird Kyra is to be married to.

A lot is mentioned about the scenery and surroundings of O’Malley Castle as well as the scenery inside it. It is a convincing story, and setting, and the characters are written to play their parts well enough. Instead of appointing her as clan Laird, even though she was adept in battle, her family instead decide to marry her off to another clan’s Laird, and in doing so want to forge an alliance. Not many girls would be up for marrying an older man-not even nowadays, so it is easy to understand what Kyra would be going through.

There are certain sections of the story that can leave you baffled though, as to why Ruarc would send Kyra, a woman on horseback dressed like a man to send a message. If the men don’t respect her as a warrior, they are risking a lot using her as a messenger-she could get caught and anything could happen. I can see from Rhodes’s point of view that she is trying to prove that Kyra is just as good at espionage as any man, though.

Rather than this novel just being a steamy romance, it is easy to tell that a lot of research has gone into the history of Ireland for the story. Rhodes has shared the past of two main characters that make up a good part of it. The warning at the beginning helps readers to notice what the subject matter will be in the novel, so in a way it prepares the reader for what to expect. In this novel’s case it is the occult, and a great deal of erotic scenes that some, if they like erotic romance novels as much as I do won’t get offended by.

If you like romance novels to be historical and erotic with a nice touch of political Irish court intrigue, then this will be as hot as you want it, and you will be as desiring to get hold of a copy.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Celtic Storms (Celtic Steel Series, Book 1)

Review: Too Wicked to Wed (Lords of Midnight, Book 1) by Cara Elliott

too wicked to wedHero: The Earl of Killingworth, Connor Linsley, is not your usual Earl of the Realm. He works for a living earning money from his gambling den and brothel that carters to men of the peerage. He hides this fact from others by pretending to be just any other high roller in the establishment. Like any alpha he keeps his heart guarded, but the fiery Alexa gets to him like no other could – when she lays claim to half of his business and refuses to give it back!

Heroine: Lady Alexa Hendrie is fierce. She tracks her brother to The Wolf’s Lair and demands of Connor his location. The price for that information is a kiss (and it will knock your socks off and Connor’s too). Later unbeknownst to her, Connor is robbed at the gaming tables and from his safe. When his pledge of half the business (which is exchanged for money from a friend) comes across her path–while she’s dressed as a man playing cards–she wins it and uses it to blackmail Connor into helping her locate her wayward brother.

Review: The story really picks up the pace when Connor gets shot and the two of them flee to Linsley Close, Connor’s abandoned estate by the coast. There they pose as newlyweds while Connor convalesces. It’s pretty funny when the housekeeper walks in on them to bring Connor sustenance. These two lovebirds have got some pretty blistering chemistry. There’s lots of kissing – the really hot kind!

I also like the other lords who are Connor’s friends: Gryff and Cam. Gryff is going to have to lay off the booze, it’s not that attractive, but his other qualities make up for it (for now). Cam is seriously hot and a thief. I want to read his book. Yum!

Favorite Quote:

“Why the devil does she feel she must take such awful risks?”

“Is that a rhetorical question,” asked Cameron. “Or do you wish for an honest answer?”

[…]

“Because she loves you. She’s willing to risk anything to win your heart.” Cameron crossed one booted leg over the other. “And you, you ungrateful cur, ought to have your teeth kicked out through your arse if you don’t appreciate what a rare and wondrous gift that is.”

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Too Wicked to Wed (Lords of Midnight)

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Review: The Rogue Pirate’s Bride by Shana Galen

Reviewed by Susan S.

Climb aboard The Shadow! And set sail upon the high seas with Shana Galen’s new novel, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. There’s plenty of adventure (narrowly escaping death by sword, dagger, pistols, and sinking ships), romance (hot cabin sex), and entertainment (whether imprisoned or freed-they’ll hate each other, save each other, and love each other).

Summary: The Conclusion to the Seas of the Revolution Trilogy, Book Three When Raeven Russell (heroine) finds Captain Cutlass (Bastien), she’s going to rip his black heart out! It was his ship The Shadow which battled the HMS Valor. And now, her fiancé is dead. For months, she’s entertained thoughts of avenging Timothy’s death. What Raeven never expected-was to be held captive aboard the privateer’s ship.

Bastien has just kidnapped the daughter of a British admiral; initiating events that’ll surely culminate with his death. Will Raeven find a way to escape her captivity? Can Cutlass outrun the British Navy? More important, will the traitor in their midsts change the course of their lives? Forever.

Review: My first thought was, there is no believable way the hero and heroine will fall in love. After all, the heroine’s always trying to kill the hero. And whenever there’s a respite in their sword fighting- it’s only because they’re battling other adversaries. And yet, Ms. Galen “does” have them fall in love-in a realistic manner. How? By keying in on their commonalities.

What impressed me the most, I think, was the author’s expert use of imagery. The scenes I mentally visualized were an effortless process. And the “reason” this novel earned a five-star review. I could see (in my mind) the ships moving into battle positions. I could envision the damage sustained by the ships. As well as picturing the injuries of the seamen.

Recommendations: My first recommendation is for readers who gravitate toward the enemies-to-lovers tropes. If you like them, then this novel is a must read that’s sure to please. Also for booklovers who enjoy: historical romance novels. And if you revel in stories of handsome buccaneers and fearless heroines-you’ll love Captain Cutlass and Raeven.

Disclaimer: I received this novel free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Others in the Series:

Review-O-Meter Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Rogue Pirate’s Bride

Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., Copyright February 2012, Historical Regency Romance, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 340. ISBN-13# 9781402265556

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Review: Wicked (Medieval Trilogy, Book 3) by Jill Barnett

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sofia Howard is seen reading a book that was written by Queen Eleanor. When the book was written, Sofia didn’t want a husband and went to any lengths to make sure that didn’t happen. At least until she met Sir Tobin de Clare.

Sofia appears to be a women’s libber of her time. She has certain beliefs and doesn’t like to be told she can’t. Her king wants her to wed but she wants to have a say in who she chooses. Her friend, Edith, makes a good comic foil for Sophia.

Edith is the one that introduces Sofia to Sir Tobin. But Sofia doesn’t realize that they have met before. You will definitely want to read their reunion. Then we get to see that grown men still like to play childish games. You also get to see why “payback’s a bitch”.

Sofia and Tobin’s story reminds me of The Taming of the Shrew. I loved the movie version with Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Richard Burton. I can definitely see those two in the parts of Sofia and Tobin. It will be interesting to see who will outwit whom.

Our author has a wicked sense of humor. She also makes our couple very prideful – neither wants to give an inch. Our couple exists at a point in time where women don’t have the freedom we have today. There are also consequences for their actions.

The story then jumps to when Sofia spends time at a nunnery. You have to laugh how Sofia’s mind works. But we also have to remember that she is a young lady and is probably just acting her age.

She wants something specific from Sister Judith. She starts out a workout routine that would impress any athlete. Tobin and Sofia are reunited and you will love their reunion. I was starting to get worried that certain things were never going to happen.

But when you read, sometimes you just have to be patient – like the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait”. Their interactions are what makes this a page turner. The ending will surprise you, even though it probably shouldn’t. The only downside was I couldn’t figure out how the title came to be.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Wicked

Review: A Clockwork Fairytale by Helen Scott Taylor

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This is book 1 in the “Sorcerers of Arco” series.

We see Melba trying to escape from being captured. Master Turk appears to be a Robin Hood of sorts. Mel wants to pledge her service to him. He’s impressed by her skills but doesn’t realize that not everything is as it appears.

They have Jinn that inhabit their world. Master Turk has an Earth Jinn that tends his plants. He also has a very smart housekeeper, Gwinnie. No one can pull anything over on her – not even Mel.

Gwinnie is someone you need to get used to. She’s very gruff and brusque. She is a character that takes some getting used to. She also appears to hate Mel – and why is that. You’ll have to keep reading to see if that ever changes.

For some reason Melba wants to be a spy and she feels that Master Turk can do that for her. He also has some special abilities – he can track people and listen to their thoughts just by them having a special stone. If you had that kind of ability, whose thoughts would you want to listen to?

He wants Mel to start acting like a girl instead of the boy he was raised to be. We have to wonder what his motives are. You’ll just have to read the story to find out. We watch as Mel grows into a young lady and that includes the feelings that go along with it.

If you’ve watched the Mummy movies, there is a scene that just reminds you of some of the creepy scenes – it will make you shiver. It definitely makes it a different type of fairytale. Very different from the fairytales that I grew up with.

Vittorio seems to be the evil in this story. He wants to be king and will do anything to make that happen. He also knows how to change his looks that can fool people. He feels that Turk is getting in his way of getting what he wants. How does he accomplish this? This is what will keep you reading – you need to have this question answered.

You’ll need to read this book as a fantasy and not as a romance. If you are looking for a sexy fairytale, this book is not it. There are plots and twists in this tale just like a suspense novel. We have questions that need to be answered – what will happen to Turk, Dante, Vittorio, and Melba? Will good overcome evil? Will we ever see Turk and Melba fall in love?

If you are a softhearted person, this story may not be for you. Even I cringed at some of the cruelty written into the storyline. You will be surprised at how the story ends. This is what will draw you in to reading the second book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: A Clockwork Fairytale