Audio Review: The Naked Earl (Naked Nobility, Book 4) by Sally Mackenzie

naked earlHero: The Earl of Westbrooke, Robert “Robbie” Hamilton, has no trouble getting “it” up. No, the problem lies in keeping “it” up. This road block is tied to a humiliating moment in his youth and he’s unable to let the incident go. Just when things begin to heat up — like seeing the inebriated and naked Lizzie in her room — the memory will crop up and the excitement turns to frustration.

Heroine: Lady Elizabeth “Lizzie” Runyon, is the younger sister of Robbie’s best friend, James. She has been in love with Robbie most of her life and would like nothing better than to marry him. When he falls through her window (escaping across the rooftop from a calculating marriage-minded spinster), during a house party, she takes advantage of his naked state and her own, by stealing innocently passionate kisses.

Review: When the guests come running to her door, he begs her for silence and so while she could have kept him all to herself, she does as he asks, which I think takes guts. Of course, Lizzie feels Robbie will come around properly to ask for her hand and is flummoxed when he does not. There was a lot of potential with the book and where it fell flat for me was the passion fizzled at its highest points (and I don’t mean when it fizzled for Robbie as those were some of the better moments in the book because you could really feel his anxiety and frustration over his reactions or lack thereof). Robbie really wanted to be the man he felt Lizzie deserved and needed/wanted. The best-friend’s-sister or brother’s-best-friend trope is a tough one for me to warm up to, but I found myself rooting for the two quite early in the novel. The momentum just didn’t keep up with my expectations.

Narrator: The narrator was exceptional and one of the reasons it was so easy for me to get involved in the romance. I would recommend listening to Terry Donnelly if you get the chance. She’s very good at the intimate moments and keeping characters straight and reads very lively and with emotion. (4.5 of 5 Stars)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Sally MacKenzie Bundle: The Naked Earl, The Naked Gentleman, The Naked Marquis, The Naked Baron, The Naked Duke, The Naked Viscount, The Naked King

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Review: The Secrets of a Lady (The Jordans, Book 1) by Jenna Petersen

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

In Regency times women never shined, or did anything out of the ordinary in society, but Audrey Jordan does, and she isn’t in the slightest bit ashamed. In fact, she loves her new life as a spy, even though it can get her in a lot of trouble. Her reason for her turning to a life of investigating and espionage is her love for Griffin Berenger, her brother’s best friend.

She comes to find out later that he is an unhappy man after losing his wife. It doesn’t help that she has teamed up with her brother to investigate his neighbour; a man who they think might be involved in a plot to assassinate the Prince. While she is a guest at Griffin’s residence, she has the time to relive the feelings she had for him, and the way she felt about him just by being in his presence.

The question is will Griffin feel the same way about her as she does him?

Also can she stay alive with her continued investigation of the potential assassin?

The reader can really get into the feelings Audrey has, when she was at Griffin’s wedding to Luci. She felt the waves of despair come over her, the pining for him, although she was reminded by her mother that it was useless, she still had for him. Griffin isn’t to blame for how she feels, though. He has no idea that she pines for him, even loves him. He has never known it since he has been around her as a friend before. Audrey finds it more annoying and heart-rending that he has found love from someone like Luci, as they both have an equal loathing of each other. She wonders if he can see the sort of person she is, but the reader might guess that her hatred of Luci is jealousy burning within her.

The tables are turned later when Griffin and Audrey share a drunken kiss, and Luci finds out, much to her distress, and ever since vows to hurt her in the worst way possible, but after her death and his brother’s revelation about her, he feels nothing but sadness of how he disappointed Audrey from the very beginning. He has only known the lovely and charming Luci, but found once they had married that she was nothing like the woman he originally wed. She was scornful and full of wrath, spreading harsh rumours about Audrey so that it meant no man would want to marry her. The utter humiliation of this, plus the fact he had married without her was too much and she had to leave for home, after her season had passed. Griffin has only one chance to make peace with her and tell her how he feels, but as his brother reminds him, he can’t mess it up, or it will hurt her all over again.

I liked the situations Jenna put the characters into. She has a great way with words and knows how to spin the most intriguing tale and make it into a best seller. The way she had her kissing Ellison in the hansom cab made Griffin fume with jealousy, but even when they argue, I would have to say in a way he had it coming, after all she was just playing the role of spy, and the kiss had meant nothing to her. Even better though is what Griffin is thinking:

Griffin downed a second drink and stared at the fire crackling in his bedroom. Rage and jealousy coursed through him and he hated himself for both. Once again he had been knocked from his orderly existence by a woman.

Audrey in the arms of another man was just too much to contemplate. It was bad enough with Ellison, but he could console himself with the knowledge that her relationship with his neighbour was only part of her job. But the man who had been holding her in Griffin’s sitting room was something very different.

Something personal.

The reader finds out more than enough, as Griffin is reminded of how his former wife Luci had acted one day:

He had found her curled up on the settee in the lap of a young merchant. They’d broken their kiss the instant he entered, the young man apologizing as he tried to find the nearest exit. Griffin had let him escape with only a well blackened-eye and a promise never to return or tell stories.

His wife had watched it all with a bemused smile. She’d never risen in fear or tried to explain her actions. Even after the man was gone and Griffin towered over her, demanding an explanation, she had only laughed. She’d actually laughed.

“What I do is my business, Griffin.”

From that remark, Griffin knows his wife is no longer his alone, and this is only the start of his despair, so when she is gone, and he is left with Audrey, the one he spurned before, he can no longer see her in the arms of another man, as it sends him so mad with jealousy – whether she did it as a spy or not, for him it doesn’t matter.

This novel shows how Regency women could be if they tried, but at the risk of their own reputations with men. It is well worth reading as it is different from the normal Regency titles out there. The characters are believable, and can be incensed at the drop of a top hat!

This novel is the first in a series of Regency romances. There will be other volumes following in the coming months such as; The Temptation of a Gentleman (The Jordans Book 2) in October, and The Desires of a Countess (The Jordans Book 3) in November.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Secrets of a Lady (The Jordans), The Secrets of a Lady (UK)