Audio Review: How to Marry a Duke (How To, Book 1) by Vicky Dreiling

how to marry a dukeHero: Some think the Duke of Shelbourne is too picky. He wants to find the perfect wife – someone who is a darling in the ballroom and a temptress in bed. He’s perfectly bored with the ladies he’s met so far and is sure he doesn’t want to court a girl just out of the schoolroom. When he stumbles into a matchmaker he believes he’s found the perfect solution. Have her find him a bride and then he’ll court for a day or two, maybe a week, propose, marry, and that will be it. Back to life as normal.

Heroine: Normal? What man could marry without knowing his bride first? Tessa Mansfield can not believe what she’s hearing from the Duke. She knows his plan is abysmal so she goes ahead with her own. He doesn’t want word to get out? She ensures two dozen ladies and their mamas attend the first round of his courtship. He wants each candidate to have the full list of charms he says are important to him? She’s positive each girl lacks one or two. She and the duke bicker and flirt the whole time and somewhere along the way she wishes she’d placed herself on his candidate list.

Review: It’s like a dating reality TV show! I liked that aspect immensely. I wish some of the dating schemes in the beginning were longer, but understand that going into detail on two dozen candidates would be a bit heavy handed. I might be one of the few who really liked the play of a contemporary theme in a historical setting. So, if you don’t think a dating contest is even remotely legit in a Regency historical setting don’t pick up the book. Otherwise if you’re looking for something light, sweet, and sexy go right on ahead.

“We must talk.”

An arrested expression crossed her face. “I do not think that is a good idea.”

“Tess, we’ve no time to argue now.”

She inhaled sharply. “I am deeply sorry for seducing you. It did not occur to me that you would become so distraught.”

“What?” Had she forgotten to pack her brains?

“You must not worry, for I will still respect you tomorrow.” She paused. “But…”

Tristan gaped at her.He must have pleasured her senseless. A knock sounded at the door. They both turned to stare at it.

Then she glanced at him and said in a rush, “I hope you will forgive me, but I cannot make an honest man out of you.”

Narrator: Elizabeth Jasicki has a nice voice. She narrates convincingly for both sexes. I chose to listen to her at a slightly faster than normal rate of reading. Overall I would listen to her again. She did a good job!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: How to Marry a Duke, How to Marry a Duke (Audio Book)

Review: Wicked Designs (League of Rogues, Book 1) by Lauren Smith

wicked designsHeroine: Miss Emily Parr moved into her uncle’s home when her parents died. Her uncle sold everything she had of value because of his debts. His partner is a lecherous creep. She wants to get married and quickly to escape both men. Someone kind who will leave her alone to her books… but then she’s kidnapped.

Hero: The Duke of Essex, Godric St. Laurent, and his four best friends kidnap Miss Emily Parr in order to ruin her reputation or ransom her for the funds he’s owed (her uncle swindled money from Godric to pay his debts not invest.) To his consternation, Godric finds he likes the dauntless Miss Emily… and so do his friends.

Review:  You’ve got to love a heroine who’s unwilling to remained kidnapped. She lets her captors know that the person they ruined was her not her uncle and the ruination was unjust. She expects one of them to marry her. Several of the gentlemen would be willing to do so, Godric more than any other.

But here lies the problem, there’s too many men interested in pursuing her and it leads to many scenes where the gentlemen argue over hurting her feelings and taking undue advantage of her. She became a “magic hoo hoo” without the sex for these gents, which is a phenomenon only meant to effect the hero.

Her spunk faded and the hero’s bristling broodiness turned into puppy love (which let me be clear would have been fine if the heroine was still acting spunky with escape attempts and fighting back.) The gents can all speak Greek and so can she so the private conversations are not so private (convenient). Overall while this book wasn’t for me I would definitely give the author another go because the good parts were good and the author made me laugh.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues)

Review: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (The Rules of Scoundrels, Book 2) by Sarah MacLean

one good earlReviewed by Sandra Scholes

For Lady Philippa Marbury reading books and indulging in science is preferable to parading around at society balls in the latest fashionable gowns. She is intelligent and wise beyond her young years, and knows what she wants from a man, even though she is engaged to Lord Castleton. Philippa isn’t cut out for marriage, she has her life to live, and takes it upon herself to find the perfect man who could take her to the parts of London that no serious lady would ever dare to explore, Cross. He is the man who is tall, dark and devilishly handsome with a quick wit and a rakish manner. He is also the bookkeeper of the Fallen Angel, London’s infamous gambling establishment.

Cross is a legend around London, and also known for his numerous affairs with women, so Philippa could hardly resist asking Cross to ‘ruin’ her as she does not want to go into the marriage bed with her husband unaware of what will happen. Cross, of course thinks she is insane to ask him to do that to her when he could also get into trouble with her brother-in-law. Cross views Lord Castleton as a young dandy with nothing resembling brains between his ears, and thinks Philippa and he would be miss matched. Not that he can do anything about it, even though deep down as lovely a woman as she is, he would like to.

Cross is reluctant to help her with her research into the bedroom arts needed after a marriage, but as it is only research, and she will keep the matter a secret, he might indulge Philippa’s ‘madness.’ She is well aware that she could not ask her mother or her sisters about sex within marriage, but Philippa wants to be prepared for what will happen between the sheets with her and her husband. She liked Cross from the moment she came through and saw him laid on the floor half naked. As a gaming man, he decides to let chance decide on whether he should help her, and in one roll of the dice, if it is in her favour, he will tell her all she needs to know.

As the second Rules of Scoundrels novel it reads as good as the previous one with the added bonus of a strong heroine, and a dashingly rakish, but trying not to be hero. Cross finds it hard not to succumb to Philippa’s advances, and soon finds he is putty in her hands. Sarah MacLean deserves recognition for writing a top notch romp from pre-Victorian times where her heroine is as daring as the hero.

Things I liked about the book:

  • At the beginning of each chapter there is an excerpt from “The Scientific Journal of Lady Philippa Marbury,” which contains some hilarious insights into her psyche.
  • Lady Philippa’s one-liners in response to Cross – they are delightful.
  • Lady Philippa referring to Lord Castleton as being unintelligent and rather dull, which gives the reader a good enough reason why she would want to be with Cross instead.

This is the second novel from the Rule of Scoundrels series, and is also the author of A Rogue by Any Other Name. If you haven’t yet encountered a real page turner, then this will be the perfect introduction into the way a period novel should be written.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover

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Review: The Saint Who Stole My Heart (Regency Rogues, Book 4) by Stefanie Sloane

Summary: He’s a master spy playing the idiot dandy. She’s the bluestocking who can’t stand him. Together they solve a murder mystery involving the “Bishop.”

Hero: Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a member of the Young Corinthians spy league. For years he’s perfected his addle-brained persona to counteract his arresting good looks. More than anything he wants to capture the Bishop and hold him accountable for the multitude of murders he’s responsible for, including that of the mother of one of Dashiell’s best friends.

Heroine: Miss Elena Barnes wants the priceless books in Dash’s collection. When her father tells her that his father willed the collection to them, she packs up and heads to London. She doesn’t expect Dashiell to whom she is very attracted too until he opens his mouth and speaks. When she uncovers his plot to get the Bishop she willingly joins him.

Review: The flashback makes you think the daughter of the murdered woman is the heroine of this story, but she’s not. I could live with that, but then there were the bizarre plot twists that detracted from the overall flow of the story. For instance, Elena’s maid’s abduction and rescue. That would have made more sense at the end of the tale.

The sequence was supposed to show the heroine as a social injustice reformer, but she comes across as stupid; running into a brothel run by evil bad guys to rescue her maid all without proper backup kind of stupid. It also turns out that Rowena, the maid, is like her best friend and practically a sister. Um, what?

I have loved other idiot/genius heroes in the past, but Dashiell was surprisingly bad at keeping the idiot front up around the heroine. He gives up the act too quickly and easily for someone who had to use it nonstop for spying and chose to live his life as the idiot in public to help his position in the Young Corinthians.

Finally, I felt that the romance was pushed a little too far too fast when the hero and heroine had sex in the carriage. The connection wasn’t there. They were missing a scene or two of development for it to translate to the reader.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Review: The Saint Who Stole My Heart: A Regency Rogues Novel

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Review: Too Wicked to Wed (Lords of Midnight, Book 1) by Cara Elliott

too wicked to wedHero: The Earl of Killingworth, Connor Linsley, is not your usual Earl of the Realm. He works for a living earning money from his gambling den and brothel that carters to men of the peerage. He hides this fact from others by pretending to be just any other high roller in the establishment. Like any alpha he keeps his heart guarded, but the fiery Alexa gets to him like no other could – when she lays claim to half of his business and refuses to give it back!

Heroine: Lady Alexa Hendrie is fierce. She tracks her brother to The Wolf’s Lair and demands of Connor his location. The price for that information is a kiss (and it will knock your socks off and Connor’s too). Later unbeknownst to her, Connor is robbed at the gaming tables and from his safe. When his pledge of half the business (which is exchanged for money from a friend) comes across her path–while she’s dressed as a man playing cards–she wins it and uses it to blackmail Connor into helping her locate her wayward brother.

Review: The story really picks up the pace when Connor gets shot and the two of them flee to Linsley Close, Connor’s abandoned estate by the coast. There they pose as newlyweds while Connor convalesces. It’s pretty funny when the housekeeper walks in on them to bring Connor sustenance. These two lovebirds have got some pretty blistering chemistry. There’s lots of kissing – the really hot kind!

I also like the other lords who are Connor’s friends: Gryff and Cam. Gryff is going to have to lay off the booze, it’s not that attractive, but his other qualities make up for it (for now). Cam is seriously hot and a thief. I want to read his book. Yum!

Favorite Quote:

“Why the devil does she feel she must take such awful risks?”

“Is that a rhetorical question,” asked Cameron. “Or do you wish for an honest answer?”

[…]

“Because she loves you. She’s willing to risk anything to win your heart.” Cameron crossed one booted leg over the other. “And you, you ungrateful cur, ought to have your teeth kicked out through your arse if you don’t appreciate what a rare and wondrous gift that is.”

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Too Wicked to Wed (Lords of Midnight)

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More Than Meets the Eye

Guest Blog by Stefanie Sloane, author of The Saint Who Stole My Heart

The first appearance of the phrase “you can’t judge a book by its cover” can be found in “Murder In The East Room,” a mystery published in 1946. I’m guessing that the authors, Edward Rolfe and Lester Fuller, had no idea one line from the thousands contained within their novel would be uttered by literally millions of people over the course of some seven decades–and counting.

Nor that I would steal their delightfully true and ingeniously simple yet complex proverb.

It’s true. Rolfe and Fuller’s words inspired my latest tale, The Saint Who Stole My Heart. From my hero, Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, to the bluestocking Miss Elena Barnes and right down to the leather-bound volumes stacked ceiling high throughout, the writing duo’s urging to look beneath before judging is the current that carries the passionate adventure to its swelling conclusion—and beyond.

Take my heroine, Elena. She is, without a doubt, a bluestocking to the bone. One disastrous season in London, where her intelligence and subtle wit was not only under-appreciated but the source of ridicule, sends Elena quickly returning to the safety of Dorset. Until a bevy of valuable books calls her back to the capitol city, where the viscount awaits. Underneath years of quiet contemplation and the comfort of routine and duty, Elena discovers her heart is meant for thrilling adventure and love.

This is where the viscount comes in. Dash is smart—ridiculously so. With a photographic memory and a natural interest in puzzles, conundrums, and the like, he is the ideal Young Corinthian spy, serving country and king in an effort to one day apprehend the killer who’d long ago murdered someone very close to him. The problem? No one within the ton takes him seriously. He is, in Elena’s words, “a vacuous Adonis.”

What’s a man with hero good looks and a heart afraid of hurt to do? Pretend. Pretend to be simple when he is in fact smart. Pretend his heart is content beating a hollow rhythm when in truth it aches for meaning and sustenance.

Pretend to not be in love with Elena. And by God, he gives it his best. But when the woman reveals the real Dash hiding behind his mask, he’s done for—in more ways than one. And all of them good. Eventually. After all, what is a voyage without a few storms, sea monsters, and near-misses along the way?

Stefanie Sloane

GIVEAWAY: How about you? Tell me about a roadblock in your own road to happily ever after and be entered to win all four of my books, including the April 24th release, The Saint Who Stole My Heart!

Buy: The Saint Who Stole My Heart

Review: Never Miss a Chance (Kellington Series, Book 2) by Maureen Driscoll

Never Miss a ChanceHeroine: Lady Elizabeth Kellington is a bluestocking interested in women’s rights. Not a good idea for a Regency England heroine even if she’s a duke’s daughter. Scandal reaches even the highest nobility of the ton. Her marriage chances dwindle rapidly as those who before it hit courted her favor now gave her snubs and others who never would have approached her before are seeking her out. Ouch. But not everyone is cutting Lizzie from their social circle.

Hero: Marcus Redmond, the Marquess of Riverton, has loved his best friend’s sister for a long time and the scandal puts her in his reach for the very first time. A damaged reputation is the perfect opportunity for a marriage proposal. But Lizzie even now wants a love match… So how does he prove that they’re already a match? Especially when he doesn’t agree with her politics?

The Kellingtons: The first book Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid sets up the family dynamic, but it is not necessary to read it to enjoy the sequel. The three main characters of the first book have cameo appearances in Never Miss a Chance.

Review: Lizzie is a feisty heroine who is a bit too ahead of her time. She is an idealist and on some levels it works, especially when she tells the uppity snide woman from her little club where to shove it. Marcus is a hot, staid, reserved hero and that works for me. I like it when the hero appears to the world as one thing and in his private life as something else (when the change is positive like a passionate nature.) A witty and happy romance.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Never Miss a Chance (Kellington – Book 2)

Audio Review: First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet, Book 1) by Mary Balogh

Narrator: I am on an audio book kick. I loved this narrator. Anne Flosnik is great! She makes the book come alive. It’s like listening to a movie with all of her voices. I wanted to drive more around town just for the opportunity to get further in the book!

Heroine: Vanessa Dew is the widowed second daughter of the Huxtable family. She liked her previous marriage, despite its hardships (a young dying husband from the get-go). To save her sister from a loveless match, and to get back into a marriage bed (which she has little experience with but enjoyed) she proposes to the most eligible bachelor in London. She promises to make him happy in bed and out. Can a man resist such an offer?

Hero: Elliott Wallace, the Darcy-like Viscount Lyngate, accepts the unorthodox proposal from the upstart widow. After all, he’s not looking for a love-match, just a monogamous one. He’s surprised by how much he’s attracted to the little plain thing, but her happy optimistic self is irresistible to a man as staid and reserved as himself. Wedded bliss was more than he expected, and Elliott isn’t about to give it up!

Review: The marriage of convenience premise was a little weak, considering Elliott starts the book with a well-bred mistress. Also for as much regret as he appeared to hold in the beginning about agreeing to wed Vanessa, I find his reasons to remain faithful to the marriage odd – I would have found it more reasonable had he finally got why his own father/grandfather had cheated – but then again, Elliott doesn’t believe in love matches – so perhaps his reasoning isn’t so bad, just unexpected.

Some of my favorite scenes are at the beginning with Vanessa proposing and Elliott catching her at her bragging and also on their honeymoon and the field of flowers! I love how she gets him to pick an entire houseful of them. I love Vanessa’s character, she’s wonderfully drawn and inspires a lot of laughs and smiles as you listen to the story. She’s very forthright and this helps smooth over rough patches and turns potential big misunderstandings into adult conversations fast! If you like reasonableness in your heroes and heroines you’ll like this story!

Rating: ★★★★☆

First Comes Marriage

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