Review: Fired by Her Fling by Christy McKellen

fired by her flingHero: 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).

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Fired by Her Fling

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: 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: 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: How to Marry a Marquis (Agents of the Crown, Book 2) by Julia Quinn

how to marry a marquisHero: James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, and agent to the crown, is good at uncovering secrets and finding bad guys. When his aunt informs him of a blackmailer, he is quick to ride to her rescue for she is like a mother to him. At her behest he arrives in disguise as the new estate manager and immediately has suspicions about his aunt’s companion, Elizabeth Hotchkiss.

Heroine: Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of four, is trying with few successes to raise her siblings. The lack of money is a constant worry for her as she’s trying to figure out how to keep the family together and pay for her brother to go to school. In Lady Danbury’s library she finds a silly book about how to marry a marquis. Reading it, she and her sister decide she must practice on a live subject… and the new estate manager would be perfect!

Review: I love when characters become the butt of their own schemes. When James offers to help Elizabeth find herself a husband, little does he know he will want her for his very own. Lady Agatha Danbury is a crafty old woman who shouldn’t be underestimated. She will make you laugh. A couple of characters are introduced, who are probably from the first book in the series, and didn’t add much for me. Overall, an easy read with a fluffy center.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: How to Marry a Marquis (Avon Romantic Treasure)

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Review: The Lady in Question (Effingtons, Book 7) by Victoria Alexander

lady in questionHeroine: Lady Philadelphia (Delia) Wilmont is the identical twin sister of Cassandra Effington. Delia is considered the sensible sister while Cassie is the reckless sister. So it comes as a complete shock to everyone when it is Delia who invokes a scandal by running off and marrying a rake. Before society can get over the scandal, her husband dies and makes her an infamous widow. When she finally returns to society, it is not as herself, but as her sister. For one glorious evening she is in the arms of the handsome Viscount St. Stephens. He seems wonderfully familiar, but she’s not sure why.

Hero: Viscount Anthony St. Stephens is an agent for the crown and has for the past little while been serving as Lady Wilmont’s butler… in disguise, of course. Delia could be in danger because of the actions of her late husband (who also happens to have been a good friend). Anthony is also in her house in order to discover clues as to why Lord Wilmont behaved as he did. Why did Wilmont marry Delia when the job only called for flirtation? All too soon the viscount understands and wants to marry the lovely widow himself…

Review: Loved the trumped up angst. Delia is afraid to reveal she’s the scandalous sister to Anthony, but Anthony knows because he’s the butler of her household. He’s at first in a position where he can’t tell her who he is without compromising the mission and then later can’t tell her without ruining their relationship.

I liked Anthony’s time as Gordon, the elderly butler. He and Delia were able to become friends through his actions. He gained her trust (for a little while) and at times was avuncular in his role trying to assist her in her daily decisions. They have very few walls between them as Gordon and Delia. This worked for me because we, as the reader’s knew Anthony was far from avuncular in his true regard for Delia and Delia was blissfully unaware of the whole quagmire until it is revealed.

The one glaring error I felt came when Anthony so easily trusted Delia’s uncle, the duke. As a spy there must have been some way to confirm the man’s position and loyalties. This whole “trust me because I say I am who I am” didn’t work for me. It especially didn’t work because Delia’s uncle was the whole reason behind Wilmont’s mission to woo Delia in the first place. Get close to the Effingtons and discover if they are loyal or not to the crown.

It’s a sweet romance with a lot of great moments.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Lady in Question (Effington Family)

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Review: Lady Vivian Defies a Duke (Beau Monde, Book 4) by Samantha Grace

lady vivian defies a dukeHeroine: Lady Vivian Worth refuses to be held to the standards of proper etiquette when nobody is around to witness her behavior. This lands her in hot water when a stranger finds her swimming in her chemise. Of course, it is not just any stranger but the right-hand man of her finance. She must now convince him she is a properly behaved bride-to-be and hope he will not tell the Duke of Foxhaven otherwise. Maybe if she can make him believe the stranger he met by the water wasn’t her! Yes, that sounds like a plan.

Hero: Luke Forest, the Duke of Foxhaven, is not supposed to be visiting his bride-to-be, but his steward. However, an attack of conscious bid him to come and explain to his fiancée that he can’t marry her… in person. The woman he meets at the water ends up being the woman his late father betrothed him to and she is a hoyden! His plans for his life rapidly take a turn toward the marriage mart, but he tries to set her up with another man despite his growing he-man inclinations to claim Vivian for himself. Eventually, he can’t imagine her marriage with anyone but him…

Review: This book is funny and cute with lots of mix-ups and outlandish behavior abound! I love how Luke defends Vivian to her hometown at the picnic and partners with her even when he is inclined to break their engagement. He can’t picture her wedded to any gentlemen but himself, because all others would seek to crush her spirit, a spirit he greatly admires. He struggles with the love he’s rapidly falling into and while the waters are tricky, they are worth it. Vivian knows this is her last chance, because of the position she was caught in before with a stableman. She sees Luke’s request as a challenge to change his mind and the more she gets to know him the more she wants this betrothal to stick. A series of mishaps and the machinations of a few characters almost break apart the romance, but luckily both characters know what their love is worth! No long drawn out misunderstanding here!

Rating: ★★★★½

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