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)

Audio Review: Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Bluegrass, Book 3) by Molly Harper

molly harper snow falling bluegrassSummary: Snowed-in at a lodge on a work retreat, Kelsey will not only have to organize her work colleagues, but also her love life. First Darrell, her ex, makes her life miserable by handing her credit card debt she didn’t sign up for or enjoy. Then the cute statistician at the office, Charlie, flashes hot and cold with her. Is he interested or not? And then there’s Luke, who is running the lodge in the absence of other employees and he’s a Ranger. He’s definitely interested in her. Maybe being snowed-in isn’t such a disaster after all!

Review: Molly Harper is funny, which is no surprise as she’s a former humor columnist. It’s even funnier to hear the narrator, Amanda Ronconi, say and act some of these lines. Kelsey is a smart, funny, high energy person. She’s got a sense of humor and is willing to crack jokes at herself. You have to wonder how a girl like her stuck it out with Darrell for as long as she did. Molly does explain and it is plausible but the backstory made me feel more like I was missing a key element than filling in the blanks. Perhaps this was more readily apparent in a previous book in the series. Both of Kelsey’s crushes are good guys. I would happily see her wind up with either one of them, which is very rare for me to say so. And I would definitely read about the one who didn’t win Kelsey’s heart.

Narrator: I recently listened to Amanda Ronconi in another audio book. She did a great job then and she did a great job this time. When I first heard her speak I couldn’t place the previous audio book I had heard her narrate. I think that means she did an excellent job adapting to the character profiles and accents. I’d listen to her again. She’s definitely a great listen for contemporary romances.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Snow Falling on Bluegrass, Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Audiobook)

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)

Get into Bed with Molly Harper (Author Interview 2)

molly harper snow falling bluegrassKeira: If Kelsey, the heroine of Snow Falling on Bluegrass were to recommend her top five places in Kentucky – where would she tell us to go?

Molly Harper:

  • Moonlight Barbecue in Owensboro, Ky. – a Kentucky tradition. Get the pulled pork shoulder.
  • Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville
  • The Kentucky State Fair
  • Tater Day in Benton, Ky. – A local festival that has to be experienced to be believed
  • Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Ky. – The only museum in the world solely dedicated to the ventriloquist arts.

Keira: I love secluded romances where a set of circumstances (such as a snow storm) cause the main characters to be isolated together away from the “real world.” What is your favorite aspect of secluded/isolated romances?

Molly: The improvisation.  I love that they cook frozen pizza on a gas grill and make romantic pillow forts. It was like writing a “desert island” romance because any random item can become a solution to any problem.  My only regret is that I didn’t get to build a fictional Swiss Family Robinson house. It’s considerably sexier than my own ice storm experience, when the only time I saw my husband was when he stumbled in from twelve-hour emergency police shifts to sleep for a few hours and then get back out for another shift.

Keira: Snow Falling on Bluegrass also features a love triangle. What are the three best aspects of Luke and Charlie (in their opinion and/or Kelsey’s opinion)?

Molly: Well, there’s insane hotness on both of their parts, which is always a plus. Kelsey enjoys Charlie’s quiet genius and the fact that he has a snarky center she is trying to help him cultivate.  They share the same sense of humor and enthusiasm for their work. They were friends first and slowly fell for each other.

But while Charlie is shy and reluctant to tell Kelsey how he feels, Luke is very upfront about his appreciation for Kelsey.  Not only does he enjoy her subversive personality, but he very openly admires her looks, something that Kelsey is a little insecure about, after getting out of a relationship with a guy who made her self-conscious about them. She appreciates that he’s straight-forward with her.  He doesn’t make her guess.

Keira: What’s the best part of writing a love triangle and what’s one of the pitfalls?

Molly: It’s fun to write not one, but two, romantic connections. The drawback is writing the characters to be equally good matches for the hero/ine, without obviously leaning toward one or the other.

Keira: As a former humor columnist, do you find humor to be easy to write or is it one of those things that’s difficult to always get right?

Molly: For me, humor has always come effortlessly. It comes a lot easier than plotting, characterization, etc.  In some cases, it happens unintentionally and I have to go back and remove it because it’s inappropriate.

OK, that happens a lot.

Keira: What’s next for you in life and/or books?

Molly: I’m writing five more Half-Moon Hollow spin-offs.  My Christmas novella, I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas will be released in November.  And I will have some interesting news to announce in the next few weeks!

Book Blurb:

Kentucky Tourism Commission employee and executive assistant extraordinaire Kelsey is known around the office for having everything under control. So it’s not surprising that she and her boss, Sadie, have everything planned to the second for the office winter retreat. But there are things even Kelsey can’t micromanage.

An unprecedented snowstorm smothers half of Kentucky and knocks out the power, closes the roads, and generally shuts down the state. Luckily, the lodge has working fireplaces and enough food to keep the staff from turning on each other like something out of The Shining. Kelsey wouldn’t mind being stuck inside if it wasn’t for the tension with her not-so-secret crush, Charlie, the office’s statistician. But handsome Ranger Luke, the lodge’s only employee on hand, is there to take Kelsey’s mind off her discomfort.

Even though this weekend is supposed to be a planning session for KTC, Kelsey can’t help her mind from wandering and finds herself conflicted over Luke and Charlie. Someone’s love will keep her warm, but whose will it be?

Buy: Snow Falling on Bluegrass

Giveaway: Two readers will get a digital copy of Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper. Leave a comment to enter! Last chance to enter is 9/28/2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audio Review: A Passionate Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

passionate affairSummary: Charley Lambert wants the perfect life and thinks she has the perfect career. Which is great for her because she is a workaholic who lusts for her boss. He’s hot, they click, and he’s a damn good flirt. But it’s been seven years! So when she breaks her leg, finds out her boss is getting married, and must take time off from perfect job – Charley searches for something to fill the void. Her friends guide her to the perfect hobby – providing online dating help to the luckless women out on the web. She does their flirting for them and they get to meet the guys they think are great. Charley’s friend and roommate, Sam is an actor wannabe who loves women and junk food. They’ve friend-zoned each other long before the story starts. He helps her with her get her business started. It’s fun and smooth-sailing until Charley falls for a guy she’s helping another woman snag.

Review (with spoilers): So it was clear to me from the start of the sequence for the online-dating that Sam was going to be perfect for Charley. They both just didn’t know it. I never liked Charley’s boss (what kind of guy claims to like a woman for seven years and never ask her out and what kind of woman waits seven years to be asked out?) – and his behavior and general smarmy attitude just didn’t work for me. Sam was very immature at the start and grows into a better guy through a series of events in the novel. My favorite sequence was Charley falling in love with Sam and Sam with Charley but both thinking they were falling for a stranger on the internet and ghost-writing for a client. Loved it.

Narrator: Cathleen McCarron’s voice is very distinct and so is the Scottish accent. On one hand she was a great narrator lending Charley some maturity when needed and levity when needed. On the other hand Cathleen was sometimes difficult to listen to as it seemed like she read slower in certain parts.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger

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)

[phpbay]maya rodale wicked wallflower, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Audio Review: The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides, Book 1) by Valerie Bowman

unexpected duchessHero: Newly appointed by the crown, Lord Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon, made a promise to his friend Julian, who is dying. His moniker among the ton is the Duke of Decisive for he makes quick decisions and sticks to them – winning many battles and honors because of it, including his dukedom. He will wed Lady Cassandra because it not in his nature to be indecisive or to change his mind. But a kink quickly appears in his plan when a friend of the lady in question insists Cassandra is not interested.

Heroine: Lady Lucy Upton will not let her dear friend be coerced into a courtship with the dashing duke. Cassandra is in love with another and waits for his return from the war. If the duke and Cassandra’s mother had their way, Cass would be wed before the fortnight was out. When Cass asks for help, Lucy does what she does best – interfere and deliver cutting set-downs. But it doesn’t scare Claringdon off. Instead he comes back for more again and again and Lucy’s traitorous heart hopes it’s because of her and not Cass.

Review: One of my favorite scenes is the verbal wit challenge between Derek and Lucy. He asks her to dance and she says “no.” He must then come up with 20 cleverer ways to turn a gentleman down for a dance. I won’t share my particular favorites, because they’re just too good to give away. I also enjoyed Derek wooing Lucy by writing letters to her appearing to be from another suitor. She sees the differences between the letters and the person and can’t quite make them fit, but doesn’t suspect Derek is writing to her.  The friendship between the ladies is strong, which is nice to see. The story itself is silly and very humorous. I would only change the timing of Derek’s change of heart and the start of his pursuit of Lucy sooner. For somebody decisive, he was too hesitant to break a promise that needed breaking.

Narrator: Alison Larkin could deliver on Lady Lucy Upton. She brought much life to the heroine and brought out her personality and wit. She delivered Lucy’s set-downs with a flourish!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Unexpected Duchess, The Unexpected Duchess (Audiobook)

[phpbay]unexpected duchess valeria bowman, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

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

[phpbay]ravishing heiress sherry, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]