Review: The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne (Sydney Dovedale, Book 2) by Jayne Fresina

the wicked wedding of miss ellie vyneHero: James Hartley is tracking down the man who stole a family heirloom right off the neck of his mistress. He knew better than to give her the jewels, she was not the mysterious woman he kissed at a costume ball. The only person he wants to find more than the Count de Bonneville is his Marie Antoinette. If he only knew they were one and the same!

Heroine: Ellie Vyne does what she must to keep her stepfather and half-sisters afloat. If they guessed she did it crossing-dressing and pretending to be a Count while fleecing noble drunkards at the gaming tables nearly every evening, they would all surely have a fit and explode. She’s just deciding to call the charade quits, when James bursts into her room at a hotel and comes to the conclusion she’s the Count’s mistress. Oh boy.

Review: As childhood frenemies, Ellie liked to take James down a size so he and his ego could fit through a door, and it’s much the same now that they are grown. If he won’t get over Sophie (see previous book in series) and notice how much she likes him, then she’ll poke fun at him instead. Grieves is a great side character – adding depth to the hero’s life and supplying endless dry humor for the reader. There were a few things I’d write out of the story, like the bastard child, but overall there are few complaints to be had. The wit, banter, and charm of the story are a home run smash out of the park. In conclusion, if you are looking for a terrific, wonderful, and amusing romp – look no further than Jayne Fresina’s latest release – with characters you like, and a couple to lose your heart too. You will want to run not walk to the bookstore.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne

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Review: Compromising the Marquess (The Forsters, Book 1) by Wendy Soliman

Compromising the Marquess(1)Heroine: Leah Elliot and her sister are near destitution and live by the grace their graceless aunt and well-meaning but easily subdued uncle. They lost everything when their father died in a fire. His precious and expensive book collection went up in smoke. When Leah’s sister got sick, Leah turned to a family friend and started selling ton secrets to his gossip rag to survive. Knowing that their lives are not as stable as they seem, Leah is tempted to sell a few more secrets from their uncle’s country estate. The juiciest ones around seem to center on the Marquess.

Hero: Hal Forster is the Marquess of Denby. He worked for the British government during the reign of Napoleon as a spy. His secrets may be juicy, but they are meant to stay secret. When his French asset is killed, Hal rescues the man’s son and the manservant who helped smuggle the boy to safety. Not fooled by Leah’s disguise as a boy, Hal keeps a close eye on her. When her gossip opens up the possibility of social damage he convinces her to help him undo it.

Review: I love the cross-dressing heroine trope. It’s always fun and quirky. Not that the girl on the cover of the book could ever be mistaken as a boy, but the idea is still cute. I could have done without the sick and fragile sister. A healthy sister over her sickness would have been fine. I loved Hal’s willingness to aid Leah and uncover what really happened with her father. As far as the main mystery goes, I loved who the traitor ended up being. I figured it out two seconds before the big reveal. Wow. I also liked how Leah reveals clues to Hal about her location and what he might encounter when he comes to the rescue.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Compromising the Marquess (The Forsters)

Review: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

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These Old Shades is a mashup of several of my favorite romance plots all rolled into one story. It’s a May/December where the hero is significantly older than the heroine. It’s also a Guardian/Ward pairing as well as Employer/Employee. The heroine even goes half the novel cross-dressing, though the hero is aware of this fact. She’s also a bit of a Cinderella figure going from rags to riches. There’s revenge, kidnapping, and a little cat/mouse too. In short, it’s got it all.

The hero is one of the reasons why I love this story so much. He’s portrayed as a dandy with scented handkerchiefs and heeled shoes. He’s keenly aware of fashion and how he appears to others. But underneath his dandyish appearance, Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, is an alpha male hero to the core. He’s got an agenda with an old foe, Compte de Saint Vire, and with our heroine Léonie. The only thing he isn’t prepared for is love to knock him right off his dainty yet manly heels.

The heroine is a bit of a spitfire. To some she might appear as simply a fawning submissive under Alastair with her constant “Yes, Monseigneur” and “No, Monseigneur” but in actuality she’s very aware of what she’s doing. Léonie is described as a Nonpareil in the book which means there isn’t anyone (i.e. a woman who is) her equal. For the time period, which is pre-revolutionary France, this is definitely true. She cross-dresses, swordfights, becomes the hero’s personal page, wins over a prince, goes the way of Eliza Doolittle and learns to become a lady, and still manages to mangle the English language.

Georgette Heyer really utilized the side characters in These Old Shades in my opinion. One of my favorite passages doesn’t even contain the hero and heroine though it is entirely focused on them. It’s a section of dialogue between two side characters examining what’s going on between the leads.

These Old Shades is my absolute favorite Georgette Heyer romance. I haven’t read them all yet, but I have a pretty good feeling this statement would remain the same even if I had.

I give it a perfect score.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: These Old Shades

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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