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)

Review: Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

knight of loveHero: The hero has a complicated name. He is Wolfram von Wolfsbach und Ravensworth, also known as Wolf, the English Earl of Ravensworth. He first meets the heroine when he’s undercover as a blacksmith in Prince Kurt’s court, where he finds her being publicly whipped for a small infraction to the amusement of the Prince. Barely able to contain himself, Wolf watches and then volunteers to carry Lenora upstairs where he gives her a large knife for protection.

Heroine: Despite appearances to the contrary, Lady Lenora Trevelyan is not a damsel in distress. She is resourceful and determined to make her escape on her own… no knight in shiny armor needed. She successfully escapes her abusive fiancé, Prince Kurt von Rotenburg-Gruselstadt and is galloping toward freedom and safety with the English/German diplomat… and gets captured by rebels just days down the road. The head of the rebel camp is none other than the blacksmith who gave her the knife.

Review: The hero is an unusual mix of beta and alpha characteristics. He’s very flowery in his language, chivalrous, and believes in love at first sight, but is also skilled at war, believes in civil rights of man (and woman,) and carefully controlling to ensure all is in his favor. For my tastes, I would have had less flowery language and more determined wooing. Wolf arranges a wedding to Lenora in order to protect her – this battlefield wedding is hardly legit as she didn’t give her consent. Still, he consummates the marriage in a forced seduction that evening. It is a heartbreaking (and erotic) experience for both of them which makes it successful. That night destroys what trust Lenora had in him. Now she’s plotting a new escape… but it’s harder to break the touch of silk than the touch of iron. There’s also an erotic scene where Lenora is in full control of Wolf and that is also successful as it is healing for both. I felt the story fell short when it changed locations from Germany to England. It was a night and day difference and the smoldering passion cooled quickly. Definitely a memorable read.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Knight of Love

Review: Malachim (Secrets and Sins Series, Book 2) by Naima Simone

MalachimReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This book is told in the first person.

Elena has an abusive husband. Our author shows how a woman can feel as if she’s helpless and can’t get out of a toxic relationship. This is totally different from Gabriel’s story. I recommend that you read this series in order. This is a series about four friends and this is why you should read them in order.

Naima grabs the readers attention right away by showing how cruel some men can be to their wives. But we need to remember that we don’t have to take that kind of abuse anymore. This is a story of empowerment and it is also inspirational. I know Danielle is a fictional character but she shows the reader that you can be strong and overcome adversity – love is a great incentive to make that happen.

Malachim Jerrod is a Boston lawyer and he’s a friend of Gabriel’s. Danielle Warren seems to come out of nowhere in his hour of need. She’s a woman who seems a little skittish. Naima also reminds her readers that sometimes what you do in the past will come back to haunt you.

Just like with book one, my only disappointment is that I didn’t want to put it down when it was time to go to bed or to work. This is already a fast read so you don’t need to speed-read. But you’ll be happy to know that Raphael’s story is next. The bad news is that we have to wait until April 2014 before it comes out. If you’re not good about waiting, the author puts a teaser at the end of this book.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Secrets and Sins: Malachim (A Secrets and Sins Novel) (Entangled Ignite)

Review: Getting Rowdy (Love Undercover Series, Book 3) by Lori Foster

getting rowdyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Avery Mullins is head bartender at a bar owned by Rowdy Yates. The mystery in this book seems to revolve around Avery. Since we can only use our imagination, Lori does a great job of showing the tension between the two. She also shows the reader what Rowdy had to deal with while he was growing up – what made him the adult he is today.

This is a story that will tug at your heartstrings. We have two people that have some personal demons but it doesn’t stop them from getting close – they may fight it but you just can’t stop love.

Lori has introduced a character by the name of Cannon. She has me curious to find out if he’s going to have his own book. I went to Lori’s web site, http://lorifoster.com, but can’t find anything for him yet. She had me hooked on him, from the time he stepped into the pages, and I’ll just have to keep my eyes open to see what she has in store for the Love Undercover Series.

Our author also shows the reader how hot near sex can be – pass around the fan or crank up the air conditioning. My favorite sentence that describes Rowdy is “…he’s outrageous and downright sinful”. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lori creates a character that you will just hate. Rowdy gives him the perfect nickname – “Fish”.

I loved the suspense in this story – it kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see that everything was going to be all right. And yes, Lori does give you your happy ending (you’ll actually get more than one). She also reminds you that family is important – cherish them while you have them.

This is a series where I’ve loved all the books so far and I would suggest that you read them in order. You could read this one as a stand-alone but you will miss out in learning about some of the characters if you don’t read books one and two first. If you’re a fan of Lori Foster’s, you’ll be happy to know to know that the next book titled Dash of Peril will be coming out in March 2014.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Getting Rowdy

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Review: Music for My Soul by Lauren Linwood

music for my soulReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Most readers tend to go for Regency when someone mentions historical to them, but Medieval isn’t as left out as you might think – it’s still going strong thanks to those authors who decide to take it on themselves to create a stormy and sensual novel – which this is. Madeleine Bouchard is an unhappy wife in a difficult relationship with her husband who beats her when things don’t go right with his life.

As a vineyard owner, he expected her to bear him a son, but after years of trying for one, and with no success, he blames her for their barren relationship. When she finds out he plans to kill her, she decides to leave and make a new life on the road in England as a troubadour, singing songs and entertaining people. It is then she catches the eye of Garrett Montayne.

Garrett is a wealthy nobleman who wants to see more of Madeleine even though he thinks she might do him a disservice at some point. He does his best to encourage her, and summer plans to be a whirlwind affair where the both of them will fall in love, but problems lurk on the horizon when her husband has discovered where she might be, and intends to kill her no matter what.

What can Madeleine do now?

As a debut author, this is Lauren Linwood’s first novel, one of three in fact set in 1346 and starts at the point where she is ready to flee her abusive husband, Henri and thinks hard on the problems she will have once she does leave the relative comfort of what she has considered her home with him. Through all her plotting she also considers that she has to not alert him as to her sudden decision to move, but with him being a drunkard, she feels he is unlikely to notice any change in her. His annoyance at her not being able to bear children can quickly be traced back to Henri as he is unlikely to be able to father any with his constant drinking enabling him. Garrett on the other hand already has a daughter, Lissa who he loves very much and he is a completely different man to her husband. He has the wealth and the caring attitude toward her she has missed while being with Henri.

Good bits:

  • I am with her all the way through while she is plotting to leave Henri – the suspense is killing me!
  • Garrett Montayne is everything you would want in a man, strong, cuddly and good with kids.
  • There is an excellent build-up to the sensual parts in the story.

Bad bits:

  • Henri, she does a great job of making him sound positively awful most of the way through the novel.
  • Lauren makes you wait before anything saucy happens – naughty

Review: For a debut romance author this gets right to the nub of the matter without any messing around – Madeleine wants to leave her husband and she does right at the start. Lauren knows the strength of a setting and using interesting characters you want to get to know more of in the story, and has them do the most amazing things for love.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Music For My Soul

Review: Highlander Most Wanted (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs, Book 2) by Maya Banks

highlander most wantedHeroine: Genevieve McInnes has been held captive at McHugh Keep for over a year. Her family believes she is dead and she prefers it that way because of the atrocities she’s been forced to endure at the hands of the laird’s son and his men. She hasn’t a hope to escape her situation until she another clan comes to exact revenge on Patrick and Ian. When hope blossoms she offers up her last shred of dignity and respectability to the Acting-Laird only to be rejected.

Hero: Bowen Montgomery is disgusted with the McHugh clan. The people are cruel and ignorant and not worth the effort to save, which is why he’s so surprised when the person they’ve hurt the most stands up for them. At first he’s led to believe Genevieve is a whore/mistress to the despicable Ian McHugh, but as her story unravels, Bowen is drawn more and more to her. He wants to help her, heal her, and hold her close forever but to do right by her might mean letting her go.

Review: Highlander Most Wanted is an emotional, quite possibly a tear-jerker, story. Bowen and Genevieve jump off the page and sizzle, sizzle, sizzle. Genevieve has a tragic past and soon learns she has strength she didn’t know she had. Bowen is a great hero and I personally enjoyed his actions against a McHugh who tried to take his impotent anger out on Genevieve. I was puzzled by one thing, Genevieve had access to a bow and arrows, can shoot better and more accurately than most men, and never once thought to use them to kill off her captors? I get that Ian was taunting her with the ease of access, trying to make her feel even more impotent in her situation, but the girl came out with arrows blazing as it were at the first opportunity when the Montgomerys were in trouble. Despite that, I say that this is one of the best books out this year!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Highlander Most Wanted: The Montgomerys and Armstrongs

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Audio Review: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia, Book 1) by Jennifer Blake

Royal SeductionHero: Prince Rolfe of Ruthenia, is ruthless in his pursuit of clearing his name and tracking down the traitor who murdered his older brother. Though he’s seen his brother’s mistress across ballrooms in Europe, he’s never gotten close enough to get a real good look. When he finds Angeline Fortin at a ball in Louisiana, he mistakes her for her cousin and won’t listen to her when she says otherwise. When she is caught alone, he kidnaps her and her innocence is only proven when he claims her.

Heroine: Angeline Fortin, is a poor relation in her aunt’s home. To protect her cousin from the dashing, but dangerous prince, they engineer a trip through the woods to the convent nearby. On her return to her aunt’s she is caught. Escape proves impossible and with one quick tumble her whole world alters its course. What is in store for her now? Surely she isn’t meant to be the prince’s mistress for the rest of her life?

Review: If you’re not into bodice rippers from the eighties avoid this one, if they are your cup of tea you might give Royal Seduction a try. My greatest dislike of the book was the cousin and her storyline which leads up to her character death. The girl was apparently at turns either a sex-addicted fiend, using sex as a way to manipulate her situation, or a victim who was raped a lot. I can’t say enough how much I disliked this part of the book. What saves the book is that the cousin is not the heroine, and the real heroine and hero are very compelling. Be warned though, because the first sexual encounter between the heroine and hero is a rape, not a forced seduction. That comes later. The prince’s men tell the Angeline at every turn that her life now is to be Rolfe’s mistress, not to expect marriage. Of course she never asks Rolfe and he never says what he’s thinking either. The misconception almost separates them for good.

Narrator: Melissa Reizian Frank has a very southern voice, which totally jarred me upon first beginning the story. Nothing about the blurb indicated it took place in America. I thought it would take place in Europe and I nearly quit right then. I find it very hard to listen to southern accents, when the narrator sounds far older than the age of the heroine. It’s a personal listening preference.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia)

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Review: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

safe havenReviewed by Sandra Scholes

There haven’t been many novels released for publication on the 14th February, but this is one of them, and a real romantic love story where Kate comes to Southport and in an instant, she causes a storm. She is a real beauty, yet doesn’t want to get into love affairs with men, not when she has been heartbroken before. She does however get embroiled in two different relationships with men she feels she shouldn’t have, so things don’t go to plan for her.

Kate needs to let her hair down and her barriers to true love, but her past keeps coming back to haunt her with a terrible secret that threatens to destroy any chances of happiness.

Kate to everyone around her is an average girl who works at a restaurant, and minds her own business. She doesn’t take much notice of the people around her, and doesn’t want to get to know anyone in particular. She also has a rule she never breaks; she never dates the men she works with, and that unfortunately applies to Alex, the guy who is most interested in her. Alex spends a little time with her at work, and he begins to feel closeness to her he had not felt since his wife had been alive. Alex has a deep past where he remembers his wife as a caring individual who helped bring up their children and when Kate shows affection toward one of them during an accident, it reminds him of a past where he was content.

It doesn’t take long before readers discover that Kate is an independent woman and likes to think she can leave whenever she wants to. She isn’t one who likes to feel caged in, and the reality of her not being able to do what she wants tends to give her a complex. Jo, her friend thinks she should date Alex as she believes he is a stable man who loves his kids and might be able to give her a good life. Kate pretends not to be interested in Alex but Jo knows full well that she wouldn’t be so chatty with him if she didn’t want to date him. No matter how much she claims otherwise, she’s kidding her self.

Alex is still mourning the loss of his wife, but liked the fact he could rely on someone like Kate even if she refuses to accept that she has a fancy for him. The parts that impressed me about this novel:

  • The pacing is right.
  • The characters are believable – it isn’t a sordid bodice-ripper but a heart felt love story between two people.
  • It’s a case of the irresistible force going against the immovable object where Alex and Kate are concerned.
  • Both of them have had to come to terms with sadness in their lives, and have a lot to overcome so that they can live a normal life together.

There are other interesting parts to this story, Alex used to be in the CID and worked with abused women, and sees something similar in Kate as he saw in other women, but he is not altogether sure of his instincts. She does have a troubled past, but readers don’t get to find out until later on in the novel. Nicholas Sparks, the author of The Notebook, The Best of Me, The Rescue, Message in a Bottle, and The Guardians has written a true love story that is believable from the moment you turn the first page.

Nicholas Spark’s new novel is also a new movie due for release in early February. Staring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, the trailer can be watched here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj6i_Z1Srsw

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Safe Haven