Hero: Alexander Foakes, Earl of Sheffield, looks just like his twin, and like his twin, he’s a rakehell. His twin is just more charming. Alex meets a mysterious lady at a Cyprian’s ball, seduces her, takes her virginity (surprise!), and follows her too late to discover who she is… fast forward and now he’s a father and a widower, having married a woman who cheated on him repeatedly. He’s got ISSUES.
Heroine: Lady Charlotte Daicheston allows her friend to badger her into going to an ill-advised and unchaperoned party with a “parson” who gets the two women drunk and tries to make out with the friend. Charlotte spies a handsome stranger and
her passion the alcohol overrules her natural inhibitions. She finds out she likes sex, but a lady shouldn’t, and she berates herself for it. She’s got ISSUES.
Review: The cover! Oy! Terrible. The original in paperback isn’t much better (which I realized too late that I owned, although unread).
The heroine’s situation in how she met the hero should be a lesson for all. Please be aware if the person you are with has been incapacitated by alcohol. Don’t assume just because you do not know them that this is normal behavior, not even if you’re at a ball/party/bar. Ask permission. Pay attention.
Now when Alex and Charlotte are behaving like rational people the story is great. I love his persistent courting of her. I love how he tenderly cares for her before and after his proposal. I love when the twin comes back and the rumors start flying. BUT when they’re not behaving well, it’s all kind of wack-a-doodle… and it’s mostly Alex who is the dunderhead. I normally love angst, and big misunderstandings, but Alex crosses a line. For that, this romance shows it’s age.
Narrator: I listened to and rejected a lot of audio books because of Susan Duerden’s narration in the offered sample. Somehow I accidentally chose this book without realizing she also narrated it. I’m happy to say that her sample pieces aren’t the end-all be-all of her voice work and that she was better than my expectations.
Buy: Potent Pleasures (The Pleasures Trilogy)
Heroine: Lucy Merryweather is an American heiress. She’s also a spinster, a runaway, and a burgeoning adventuress intent on fulfilling most of her great aunt’s bucket list.
Hero: Cameron Effington, the youngest son of a duke, and a journalist with lofty intentions of writing a book, meets Lucy and his identity is mistaken for that of a bodyguard/private investigator. He continues the charade because Lucy is a great muse.
Review: I loved the exploits (listed below to reduce unintentional spoilerage). They were fun and cute and risque for the period (some of them anyway). Lucy is a wonderful heroine who combines sense with adventure. Does she trust the hero too quickly and without references, of course, but she does so to keep her own runaway adventures a secret from her folks for as long as possible. Cameron is a sweet and sexy protector. I enjoyed the pairing very much.
Narrator: Gemma Dawson is very good. I loved the voices she created for the story. Dawson exhibited nice pacing. I would listen to her again. She’s definitely a candidate for being one of my favorite readers.
Buy: The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress
Exploits: painted nude, hot air balloon flight, ride an elephant, enter a gentlemen’s club, get a dog, make an unexpected friend, travel to England, dance with a prince
Summary: Melina Parker has been dumped again for being the opposite of what a man desires in the bedroom. She doesn’t understand what she’s doing wrong. Enlisting the help of one of her close friends, a trusted playboy with a heart of gold, she plans to get practical hands-on experience to improve her future performances. Little does she know that Max Dalton plans to substitute his twin brother Rhys for the sexual teaching/awakening.
Review: Max got in the way of Melina and Rhys when they were in high school and has felt bad ever since. Rhys hasn’t ever really moved on, so when Max is propositioned by Melina to turn her into a sex diva he jumps on board in hopes of making amends. It’s little work to convince Melina to drop the spectacles and push his brother into the hotel room. Once the door is shut the rest is on them. This story starts off very sexy but derails a bit as the story progresses. I found future scenes between the two lacking that initial heat and passion. A lot of time is devoted to unraveling the threads of the past, getting over hurt feelings, and then figuring out if the relationship is worth it. (Max and Rhys are traveling magicians; Melina wants 2.5 kids and a white picket fence.)
Buy: Bedding The Wrong Brother (Bedding the Bachelors, Book 1)
Summary: Henry St. Giles, the Earl of Cravenswood, was in love with his mistress, but she left him for another protector. He would have married her if he could, but the ton would never allow it. Miserable among his blissfully wedded friends, Henry misses his perfect match who is right before his eyes. His friends conspire to get the two together, but little do they know that Henry and Lady Amy Shipton had already shared a secret and passionate embrace. (Not that Henry remembers who of course… but he’s determined to find her.)
Review: I loved the secret encounter in the garden, which leads to a lost earring. Henry guesses and then doubts that the woman in his arms had been Amy due to her clever thinking. You have to enjoy a heroine who can trick a hero and get him to look for a fake lost pet for an hour. As Amy and Henry fall for each other you have many things that get in their way – mostly misunderstandings. Amy wants someone who can love her and her alone, something she doesn’t think Henry is capable of. In Henry’s search for the woman missing the earring he uncovers what he thinks is his friend’s adultery. Overall, a very cute and sweet read.
Narrator: The trilogy is narrated as a whole by Marian Hussey. I found her to be a pleasant narrator with good pacing. She can do a nice husky male voice which made the heroes all the more convincing.
Buy: To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers Trilogy)
Hero: Tristan Bamfield arrives in London to settle a personnel dispute at his father’s radio station. Cleaning up messes for his dad is something Tristan is used to, having taken over the family kitchen cabinet business years ago. He has a fabulous evening with a sexy woman only to find out the next day that she’s one half of the dispute he has to resolve. He’s been played a fool — again!
Heroine: Tallulah (Lula) Lazenby gets tongue-tied around people which may sound odd as her job is as a radio DJ. Sleeping with her boss at the station was a huge mistake. Jez is a major sleazeball; and the promotion he promised her? Nowhere in sight. Imagine her surprise when her one night stand ends up firing her and calls her on the carpet for unethical behavior and manipulation.
Review: Lula’s celebrity personality (the confident side of herself) I felt had better chemistry with Tristan than her “real” timid personality. Tristan has some serious family issues with his brother stealing his fiancée and his dad serially marrying women. My favorite sequences in this story included the night these two hooked up the first time, when they realized who the other one was and the subsequent firing, and Tristan’s later groveling where he wins her back to the studio with gifts (not all appropriate, but all right, cute anyway).
Buy: Fired by Her Fling