Audio Review: Thunder and Roses (Fallen Angels, Book 1) by Mary Jo Putney

thunder and rosesHeroine: Methodist schoolteacher Clare Morgan is not noble, but she has noble ideals. Her village is in trouble and she’s determined to do her late father’s memory proud and find a solution. The one that comes to her is to petition the Demon Earl. She remembers him as a young boy when he would meet with her father and she can’t believe the stories the villagers say about him. But when he places a lucrative and impossible price on his aid, she’s not so sure anymore. What kind of man demands a respectable woman give up her reputation and live with him for three months, knowing the villagers will think the worse?

Hero: Nicholas Davies, the Demon Earl, is the legitimate son of a nobleman and a gypsy. His mother gave him to his cruel grandfather, for a bag of gold. His grandfather would have happily seen the estate go to someone else, and worked to ruin it. The betrayal of his youth coupled with his traumatic childhood growing up in his grandfather’s home has made Nicholas the man he is today. So when the little schoolteacher, Clare, comes to him for aid, he puts a devilish price on his intervention and support. He never expects her to agree to it, so while he must care again and fight alongside her to save the community that rejected him in the past, he’s looking forward to stealing his daily kisses… and if Clare can be persuaded, more.

Review: I loved the bet, the stolen kisses, and the chemistry between Nicholas and Clare. The narrator, Peter Bishop, did a good job. It’s always a treat to be read to by a male narrator in this genre.

This book was on a fast track to a 4.5 or 5 Star rating, with great scenes like a summertime dip in the pond with imported penguins. Then, midway through it fell apart for me and if you want to know why, you should note that spoilers and personal opinions lie ahead.

What didn’t work for me was finding out along the way that Clare felt like an impostor in her own skin. Her faith falls short of the face she gives to it around others and that bothered me. I like when a character is true to their faith and I don’t particularly enjoy reading about doubts of God’s existence and if we’re a good Christian if we don’t feel like connect with Him. Clare’s doubts about her faith are the excuse for why she can be with Nicholas, because she never really felt like she belonged and that’s crap. I would have much preferred a line of thought that went more like this… Nicholas is not the Demon Earl he’s been made out to be, I find that each day I am falling more in love with him, and because of this I am willing to be with him. I felt the line of reasoning given in the book, cheapened Clare’s character and the romance between her and Nicholas.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Thunder & Roses

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Review: Secrets of an Accidental Duchess (A Donovan Novel) by Jennifer Haymore

Reviewed by Carla F.

Summary: When Maxwell Buchanan, the Marquis of Hasley, first sees Olivia Donovan across the ballroom, he is struck by her beauty and cannot stop staring at her. Unfortunately, this is noticed by the Marquis of Fenwicke, a man who has always been a competitor of Max’s. Fenwicke knows who Olivia is and has tried to get her into his bed. He doesn’t think that Max will have any success with her either, and he is willing to bet money on it. Max is disgusted by Fenwicke, but he accepts the bet.

Olivia grew up in the West Indies and has been treated with kid gloves by the rest of her family since she contracted malaria years ago. It is wonderful that the visiting Max treats her like he would any desirable woman.

Review: I have enjoyed some of Haymore’s other books (particularly A Hint of Wicked) so I decided to read this one even though it has a trope that I don’t care for: the stupid bet. It is sometimes difficult to keep reading when you know what is going to cause disaster down the line for a relationship. However, the fact that Max never takes the bet seriously makes it bearable.

The relationship between Max and Olivia was a wonderful read. You can see the hope building in Olivia that she doesn’t have to live the rest of her life in her sister’s home. She can experience love.

This is the second book in the Donovan Sisters series, but the reader should be able to enjoy it without reading books 1 and 1.5.

Recommended: For readers who like to see a damaged heroine gain control of her life and find love.

ARC provided by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Secrets of An Accidental Duchess (A Donovan Novel)

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Review: Bride Enchanted by Edith Layton

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When London’s best catch of the season – nay the decade – singles you out from across a crowded ballroom you would probably look over your shoulder for the season’s beauty. This is exactly was Eve Faraday does, because there is no way on earth any man would ever single her out. She wasn’t ugly, in fact she knew she was pretty, but she was not a beauty. She was too short to be in style and not short enough to be a “pocket Venus.” Her curly brown locks and brown eyes were lovely but not enchanting. She was not titled and did not possess any great fortune so why was Aubrey Ashford asking her to dance?

Deeply mistrusting, Eve begs him to let her in on the joke. Has he lost a bet? Worse still, had he lost such a bet to her brother? Aubrey is delighted with her skepticism. He begs another dance and at the end of the second tells her he will come calling the next day to get permission from her father to court her… aghast, Eve wonders again what is the punch line? Why would the most handsome, rich, charming, and sought after man practically announce his intention to become engaged to her when he didn’t even know her?

Eve is befuddled by Aubrey and thoroughly bespelled by his good looks and smooth manners. She struggles against it, tries to retain her train of thought and her wits to ask him the right questions. She thinks she has learned enough if not all and agrees to marry Aubrey, making him truly ecstatic.

Aubrey has promised to be faithful to her, love her as he can, and to tell her only truth to her, but at the same time he is determined also not to reveal too much because that could prove disastrous. Unfortunately for him, his spiteful sister is eager to ruin him in his new bride’s eyes. She feeds Eve three questions to ask of him. Three questions and the life he was hoping to build could be ruined for he promised not to lie outright. Is Eve strong enough for the truth? Is he strong enough to bear the consequences?

This was a very sweet romance, as the male lead never thought he contained any capacity to love. When he fully realizes he’s been moved, that he has a heart, that he has given it to her without knowing is truly touching.

Rating: 4 Stars

Buy: Bride Enchanted

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Review: Some Like it Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

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Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros is truly an exceptional read. She’s done it again creating characters that I love and a story line that makes me laugh and close the book with a happy sigh. The sex was tantalizing, decadent, and sizzling hot. The end has a bit of a cliff hanger as this is the first story of a sibling set.

Catriona Kincaid first met Simon when she was sixteen years old. He was seducing her prickly older cousin in the barn at the time. Of course she was discovered and her cousin throws a tantrum, but Simon intervenes between the two cousins with an easy charm and a devilish smile. His heroic actions placed stars in young Cariona’s eyes and she gave her heart in that moment.

Simon Wescott, bastard son of an earl, became the heir to that earldom when the legitimate son died. However, he wants nothing from his father, the man was too hard to impress and Simon was through being a disappointment. When Catriona storms his cell in debtor’s prison with an outrageous bargain, he calls her bluff with one of his own and is beaten at his own game.

He finds himself out of prison and chained into a marriage to the beguiling and bewitching Highland princess. Now if only he could break the trust she held in him and prove to her that he was nobody’s hero, Simon might be free of the spell she was throwing over him. After all, love doesn’t last and it’s the riskiest bet in the business to make and Simon is no one’s fool.

Also based on the dates mentioned in the book this novel falls under Georgian Romance.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Some Like It Wicked

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Review: Cindy, Tread Lightly by Karin Mutch

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This romance takes place in New Zealand. Our young 20 year old heroine is striking out on her own in the Queen City far away from the one horse town she grew up in Manawatu. She’s looking for adventure and excitement and finds more than she bargains for in Stuart Newman.

Their first meeting is a chance encounter when he whips by her on the street drenching her in ice cold puddle water. In apology he takes her to his place to freshen up before dropping her home. Using information he learned that night about her he manages to place an ad in the paper and lures her to his office. She becomes his secretary despite the plethora of warnings about Stuart Newman.

Stuart Newman is drawn into a bet by his friend Paul to make Cindy fall head over heels in love with him within a month. He accepts. His only saving grace is that he warned Cindy twice in conversation about “his own personal interest and a bet” when it came to them. She was simply too naive to put two and two together.

Stuart is a hard man, jaded, cynical, and above all scornful of women, love, and finer emotions. He simple doesn’t believe in them. His issues arise from his mother and from one crash and burn relationship, the last time he’d ever open himself willingly to a woman.

It’s a jazzy little category. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The ending has a tangy bittersweet feel to it. I wish though that it had another ten pages to really tie it off. It felt a tad rushed, and a bit jerky, but oh well.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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Review: Never Resist Temptation by Miranda Neville

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Cross-dressing and false identities comprise Jacobin de Chastelux life since her uncle tried to use her as his marker in a bet with Lord Storrington. Now she’s a cook in the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and is quite happy. She is saving her money to open her own pastry shop as soon as she can. But then the unthinkable happens! Her dish is accused of poisoning a man the next day when leftovers were purchased. And not just any man—oh no, the man is her hated uncle.

Lord Storrington does not know who Jacob Leon is, but knows that this chef could be the very thing he needs to lure Lord Candover back to the tables. Anthony is determined to ruin Candover for having an affair with his mother that led to her death. He thought he had the man three months ago when his niece eloped with the man’s pastry chef but somehow the bastard managed to get a hold of twenty thousand pounds.

This story was deliciously fun. When Anthony first feels attraction to the heroine she is disguised as a man and his mental Olympics is hilarious. I really enjoyed the mystery to the tale behind Candover’s poisoning and watching Anthony and ‘Jane’ figure it out. I also loved Jane’s lesson of French pet names. How weird they were! Also I had fun reading her reaction to the verbal slip Anthony says right after ‘finding out’ she was a virgin. She starts throwing things and cursing him in French.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Never Resist Temptation

Review: Taken by the Highest Bidder by Jane Porter (no spoilers)

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By: Cara Lynn, guest reviewer

This one had a few twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and it was more believable. The background of the leading characters unfolds throughout the book, and some of it you don’t find out until mid-point.

Samantha van Bergen is in a disastrous marriage, mothering a step-daughter that she dearly loves. This little girl is bright and precocious, and knows more than anyone realizes she does. Her mother died, and Samantha had been her nanny.

The book begins with a bang. Samantha’s husband, Johann, is a compulsive gambler, who has gambled away a family fortune. He loses it all to Cristiano. And come to find out, he has tossed in Samantha to sweeten the pot, but only after he offers his daughter first (nice guy, right?!) but Cristiano rejects this.

Of course, Cristiano has fallen in love with Samantha at first sight. He knows that the little girl will come with her stepmother.

The question is why is he going to this trouble? And what other unfoldments might we find along the way that unlock the puzzle?

Sam takes Gabriella and goes to England from Monte Carlo. When she is there, we learn more about her early life. She is definitely worthy of the best.

Lucky for her, Cristiano agrees with this. He wants to settle a fortune on her in a pre-nup, but she isn’t interested in his money. They marry without a pre-nup, and when a divorce seems imminent, he wants her to use an attorney to guarantee her rights.

Instead, she decides to fight her fears, and she is successful.

She is a plucky heroine and you root for her when she comes out on top. There’s very little fighting or whining; there is a strong, wealthy and scarred hero.

I give it a 3. Have you read it?

If you’d like to submit a review on a novel you’ve read, check out LRP’s guidelines for submission.

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