Audio Review: Lady Caroline and the Egotistical Earl by Terry Spear

lady caroline and the egotistical earlHeroine: Lady Caroline has aided her mother in managing the estates after her father’s death. All was well until knights in the earl’s colors started to terrorize the people and kill livestock. When her mother seeks to speak with the earl, a simple request for assistance turns into something else.

Hero: Lord John Talbot is not aware of any rogue knights. He is however very aware of Caroline. He wants to be near her and decides she must be a lady-in-waiting for his mother. Caroline might not be amenable to the idea, but he has ways to persuade her… and if she’s in danger all the more reason to keep her close.

Review: Lady Caroline is one to take charge. She has an excellent memory and plans to investigate the raids if Lord John won’t. After she gets into a few scrapes… the worse getting her chased up a tree by villainous raiders, he keeps her securely within his arm’s reach. You have to agree that Lady Caroline, while she may be a tad too independent, was right because someone had to proactively investigate! Readers will find this a clean romance without sex, but with sexual interest and overtones to liven up any afternoon.

Narrator: Maria Hunter Welles has a very affected voice for Lady Caroline’s character who is 19 years old. It worked, because Caroline is young and impetuous.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Lady Caroline and the Egotistical Earl

Review: The Beauty Within by Marguerite Kaye

 Beauty Within by Marguerite KayeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Considering he thought he was only as good as the subjects he painted, prominent artist, Giovanni di Matteo is a modest man and often wonders why women of a certain age throw themselves at him, and although others who have commissioned paintings from him think him as an amazing artist, he is unsure of his talents. Giovanni has been at the top of his profession for many years since he had come to England, but his enthusiasm for painting as waned, his muse, his subject matter, not piquing his interest.

Although Giovanni is supposed to be commissioned to paint Lord Armstrong’s sons, he has a yearning to paint his daughter Cressida once he sets eyes on her, even if she is forbidden to him. Cressida, like Giovanni is intelligent and accomplished in scientific matters. She lives and breathes it and isn’t one to consider men, let alone marrying one that her father arranges. He does not regard his daughter as anything other than marriage material, while his sons are those he holds in much higher regard; so much that he wants him to paint his sons rather than her. For him this is annoying as all he wants to do is paint the elusive and attractive Cressida. When they talk in her father’s absence, she points out his dissatisfaction at his own work. He believes it only relies on the rules and principles of mathematics to appear brilliant. His work wasn’t always like that, earlier, he painted from the heart, full of enthusiasm and vigour, and even if he got harsh criticism for being at one with his art, he at least was true to himself back then.

Marguerite gives readers a first hand account of what Giovanni is like as a person. They get to see his whole personality in this volume, his thoughts that his painting hasn’t inspired him until he meets Cressida, the woman who fires his heart and gives him the drive to paint again. Giovanni finds her a beautiful woman who is overlooked by her family, mainly her father who is more concerned with his precious sons. It is easy to get into the story and the characters are made real by their backgrounds and personalities. Readers can be sure they will be entertained by this story, and it will be one to introduce them to future novels by this author. This is steamy and romantic, and one that if you don’t already, you will have an interest in art by they end of it! This is well worth a 5 star rating.

Likes:

  • Marguerite Kaye has an excellent grasp of the technical process of art, and the reader can feel she has researched it in full to make her character of Giovanni Di Matteo believable.
  • Cressida plays the role of the ‘ugly duckling sister’ very well, yet doesn’t realise how beautiful she is inside as well as out.
  • There is the contrast of Cressida’s cruel stepmother and father to her natural niceness.

Dislikes:

What’s not to like?

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Beauty Within (Harlequin Historical)

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Review: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island, Book 2) by Susan Mallery

three sistersThis book is not an anthology, but there are three stories intertwined in it. Three Sisters is the nickname for three Victorian houses on a cul-de-sac and with a name like that, it is easy to see that the three women who own it will become as “sisters” in their friendships to one another.

Romantic relationships are at the heart of the novel, but it is not your traditional romance novel. It’s more women’s fiction with romantic elements. I found two of the three stories very depressing for much of their page time and should come with a warning label for some readers. The issues in the novel are not lighthearted ones and could be tough to read emotionally for some women.

One woman deals (or not) with grief over the death of her infant son and it is destroying her marriage. (Her husband isn’t handling it any better and gets drunk to avoid his grief.)

Another woman is struggling in her marriage because she needs order and perfection to counter her childhood abusive relationship with her mother. Her needs, which are silent and never spoken, affect her household and all her children see her as the bad guy. (How could her husband who indicates knowing this tragic past, say/think the things he did and not be more sympathetic or handle his own concerns/needs better/sooner?)

The last woman faces the challenges of new beginnings after her fiancé dumps her at the altar and runs off with his secretary to get hitched in Vegas. I by far, enjoyed her story the most. I liked her, her new fella, and the daughter.

Each of the married women’s struggles is handled with respect, but the story is at times very much a downer. It’s not until over halfway through the book that things start to look up for the two married women on the street, but getting there was painful for me. Their husbands also had to come around and I wasn’t convinced by one of them for a while because it seemed like all the blame was on the wife. Not fair.

The book will tug at your heartstrings, but you have to ask yourself do you want them to be tugged so hard? It ends happy. I give 2 Stars for the married couples’ stories and 4 Stars for the single gal’s story…

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island)

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Review: My Love Eternal by Liz Strange

by Susan S., guest reviewer

This is a captivatingly dark read, for vampire lovers craving a new vampire novel sans the sparklies; with more of the darkies.

My Eternal Confession:

I’ll admit it; I judged this novel by its cover, and what a beautiful cover it is! While I admired the cover art, a preconceived notion slithered its way into my thoughts. My expectations ran along the beautiful, romantic, nicey-nice vampire story. Did the story parallel my assumptions? Not even close. Yes, love plays an integral role in My Love Eternal, but the real core of the plot is embracing vampirism’s true nature, not the romanticized version. This novel is not a run-of-the-mill young adult vampire novel. It will painfully rip off the vampire label you’ve complacently adapted to, and reveal the vampire’s baser desires, their true selves.

Liz Strange will toy with your human curiosity, as a cat would with a mouse. You’ll meet characters without knowing their names, so when it is revealed, you’ll appreciate the timing. This author will also throw events that will come out of left field; one perfect example was its ending. I truly never envisioned an ending such as hers.

My Love Eternal is book one from The Dark Kiss Trilogy. It stands alone being the first of a vampire trilogy.

Rachel (heroine) is a blue eyed, bottle red, 26 year old working the graveyard shift at a hospital. She works in the patient records department. While working one night, she meets a mysterious and beautiful stranger. She’s overcome by feelings fighting for supremacy; fear and passion. The same night of their meeting, four patients die. Not unheard of considering where she works, but the details of their deaths are suspicious. Rachel begins encountering her dark stranger in different locations, coincidence, or is he stalking her? These meetings give rise to retrocognitive visions of his past. His sensual kiss will spiral her down into a violent world full of passion, and fear. Where every step they take is calculated, always vigilant of the Desmarais family and their promise. The Desmarais have a death grip on an old Vendetta. They are relentless in their search, and will let nothing, or no one stand in their way until Giovanni Alejandro Ruiz y Castillo (hero) is no more!

Will Rachel and Giovanni explore their undeniable connection to each other? Or, will his dark kiss be their last?

Favorite character: Giovanni, the vampire hero. He possesses a strong sense of honesty and loyalty. The fact that he happens to be a really hot 300 year old vampire with blue eyes, and shoulder length ebony hair might’ve helped sway my vote. He’s strong, but still has vulnerabilities.

Recommendations: You’ll like this novel if you enjoyed: Annie Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, the character Lestat played by Tom Cruise in the movie Interview with the Vampire, dark paranormal romances, thrillers, vampire lore, or novels for a dark Halloween read.

Warnings: This novel contains strong violence, two rape scenes, and an incestuous scene which I’m still trying to shake off from my memory bank.

No happily ever after in the end, but that’s not deterring me from reading book two. I still have high hopes for that happily “eternally” after! Look for book two, A Second Chance at Forever which releases in May 2010. Book three is named Born of Blood and Retribution, release date to be announced.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: My Love Eternal

Paranormal Romance, Lyrical Press, Inc., eBook, 2010, Novel, Pages 166.

Digital ISBN# 978-1-61650-132-7.

Review: The Mermaid Garden by Santa Montefiore

by Marcia, guest reviewer

The Mermaid Garden is the story of two women who are desperately longing for love and fulfillment told with beautiful, sumptuous prose as well as witty, wry humor and a touch of mystery.

Ten-year-old Floriana is a lonely, lost child, yearning to have something worthwhile and beautiful in her life.  Her mother ran off with a tomato seller, taking her baby brother and leaving Floriana with her worthless alcoholic father.  She is drawn to La Magdalena, an elegant mansion just outside town, and meets eighteen-year-old Dante.  La Magdalena and Dante are everything that is missing in Floriana’s life and she is determined that she will have them both.  Unfortunately, Floriana does not ‘belong’ with either.

Clementine has come home to live with her father and stepmother in a beautifully quaint family run hotel in Devon.  She is angry, bitter, discontented and still carrying the childhood angst leftover from her parent’s divorce. The hotel is buried under a mountain of debt but Clementine is too self-involved to help.  Marina, her stepmother, hires Rafa as a resident artist in an effort to attract new and repeat guests.  Rafa, who is also a gorgeous and charming Argentinean, is happy to help but he has a secret agenda.

Montefiore creates characters that are tangible, real and accessible so that we feel their yearning, hope and joy as they discover how to overcome life’s harsh and beautiful lessons.  She draws her readers into a bittersweet atmosphere with joy and wit, capturing the breathtaking scenery of Devon and Tuscany with such skill that the readers feels that they are there, in each and every scene, as a silent observer.

The deftly interwoven plot and complex characters finely crafted prose make The Mermaid Garden a must read.  This is a book that will stay on readers shelves for years to come, to be reread an appreciated over and over again.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Mermaid Garden

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Review: Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering

by Carla F., guest reviewer

Summary: The owner of the shop that sells Jemima Hutton’s handcrafted jewelry suddenly decides to drop her. Jemima trudges through the streets of York to find another store that will sell her stuff. She doesn’t have any luck until she finds the out-of-the-way music store of Ben Davies. Even though he doesn’t think his type of customers will be interested, he agrees to try to sell the music-themed belt buckle she has with her. If he succeeds, he will consider stocking her other pieces.

Ben is a mysterious figure with a shop that has few customers. Jemima is surprised to find out that he was a in a very popular Indy band, which he left in the middle of an U.S. tour. No one seems to know why. Jemima is curious about him, but she doesn’t want to delve too far into his secrets. After all, she has her own secrets to keep.

Review: It was beautiful music. I loved this one. The high notes:

Ben is not your average looking romance hero. He is skinny, scruffy and dresses weird. (In one of her less charitable moments Jemima describes him as skanky). Not a six-pack is mentioned. It is so refreshing.

The banter between Ben and Jemima is cute.

All of the mysteries are intriguing.

The supporting cast of Jason, Rosie, and 3.5 month old baby Harry are strong. With Harry, Lovering had written one of the most realistic depictions of motherhood during the first months of a baby’s life that I have read in any romance novel. Harry caused me to have many laugh-out-loud moments.

Sweetest song: The point where Ben and Jemima were going at it hot and heavy, and Ben stops them because they are having sex and not making love.

Overall: It has an average looking hero, banter, mysterious pasts, a cute baby, and music. It’s a symphony.

Rating: ★★★★★ and a treble clef!

Buy: Please Don’t Stop The Music

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