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:2.5]

Buy: Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues)

Review: Her Prodigal Passion (Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 4) by Grace Callaway

her prodigal passionHero: Paul Fines would love to reclaim his fortune through prizefighting. He’s good at boxing and thinks he could make it work. But everybody remembers his disgrace through gambling and drinking over the loss of a girl. His family and friends doubt his skill and ability to stay out of trouble… all except Charity, his sister’s best friend.

Heroine: Charity Sparkler, the daughter of a jeweler, has loved her best friend’s brother for a long while. At his worst, she visited him in a dangerous part of London and provided some creature comforts… not that he noticed as drunk as he was. He thought she was someone else which hurt dreadfully.

A marriage of convenience: Paul is a ladies man and at the start of the novel slept with two married twin sisters. It bites him in the butt later when one tries to sneak into his bed again to publically humiliate her husband. Paul can’t kick her out so he climbs out a window and across the building… only to collapse on Charity in the drawing room and compromise her at a house party. The only proper thing to do is wed.

Never gild a lily: Charity’s father has led her to believe all her life that she is an ugly duckling. She might be a little plain, but she’s not ugly. Is his intention to be unkind or cruel? Whatever his intentions, Charity is meek and bookish and incline to home and shop.

Review: Charity was and will be Paul’s biggest supporter. He needs someone like that in his life. Paul finds Charity very pretty now that she is out of her spots stage. He can’t imagine a marriage with anyone else – but isn’t very good as assuaging Charity on this. Their marriage will be more than either can hope for… but not for Charity’s father who is heavily indebted to another man. How will the young couple be able to handle the heavy weight of a bitter man’s debt? I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Grace Callaway is a remarkable writer. I loved the scene in the prologue where Paul seduces Charity. Very sexy!

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: Her Prodigal Passion (Mayhem in Mayfair)

Review: To Buy a Bride by Roberta Leigh

to buy a bride roberta leighHero: Luke was once the stable boy on Philippa’s family estate, where his mother also worked. Now he’s grown into a powerful and wealthy businessman and he’s got his eye out for a bargain. He also has a secret which has nothing to do with bargains and everything to do with the heart.

Heroine: If Philippa doesn’t marry Luke, her twin brother will be ruined financially and thrown into jail for borrowing funds from the family’s struggling business. Luke can supply them the funds needed to stay afloat and keep the illegalities under wraps… for a price… control of the company and her hand in marriage.

Review: This is one of those stories where the persons involved could have saved themselves a lot of heartache and grief by talking it out. And if the siblings had been willing to sell the family estate, they would have been fine too… so naturally they don’t because the house is a symbol of happiness and family to them both, but especially to Philippa.

With a little time and space to absorb the consequences of the decision to not sell/marry, Philippa would have been better adjusted. She comes off a little bratty (and high-strung) because she wants the house, the money, and not have to give anything in return. Luke could have worked his charm on her a bit more, but then his ex-girlfriends shows up and he gets the brilliant idea to use Rose to make Philippa jealous. It works. She is jealous and is surprised by her emotions.

Overall, not my cup of tea.

[Rating:2]

Buy: To Buy a Bride

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Review: The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh

temporary wifeHero: To say that the Marquess of Staunton does not have a good relationship with his father is an understatement. When summoned to return home after eight years of separation, he decides to thwart his father’s matrimonial plans by finding his own wife first. He wants to embarrass and wound and decides the lowest he is willing to go – a plain biddable working gentlewoman – and advertises to find her. But of course, advertising for a wife is out of the question so he advertises for a governess. After she has served her purpose, Anthony will pension her off and go back to his usual routine.

Heroine: Miss Charity Duncan saw her future spin out before her as a dull and bleak thing. She would be an aunt and a sister, but never a wife or mother. She would always need to support her family in one role or another. Too beautiful to gain work as a governess, she disguises her beauty and answers an ad that will change her life. Mr. Anthony Earheart’s proposal is outrageous and yet… it could be the answer to her family’s debt. She does not expect him to be a Marquess anymore than he expects her to beautiful and vivacious. They’re both in for a surprise.

Review: I hugged this book a couple of times while reading it because it was so good. This is definitely staying on my favorite’s shelf. I can’t believe I picked up The Temporary Wife from a community table at my condo. Mary Balogh’s writing pulled at my heart and reminded me why I loved to read romances. I’d rate six stars, if my rating system went up that high. What I liked best: Staunton discovering that his heart can be touched and transforming into a better man, their first time together at a hotel on the way to his father’s estate, and Charity’s ability to win over everyone determined to look down on her – including Anthony’s ducal father.

[Rating:5]

Buy: The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring

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Review: Chocolicious by Geraldine Solon

by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

Life changing experiences are what make a person, and in Blair Nightingale’s case they can be for the worse. When her husband, Larry dies, she is hurt and distraught by what happened, but it is what occurs after that brings about the change in the story. She finds out what Larry has been doing over the past few years and the debt he was in as a result – now that debt has passed onto her, she has no idea what she is going to do about it.

Blair has had everything she had ever wanted, and more, living the rich Silicon Valley lifestyle, it is all she has ever known, until now when she has to budget for herself and her child Rebecca; she has gone from having it all to having nothing and living on what she brings in herself. This life she has never known before, and it hurts just as much as Larry’s death did.

What will she do about her poor new predicament?

The chocolate in the title refers to what her daughter says at the beginning about having too much chocolate and it not being enough. Her mother has been like that, she’s had the riches, the rich husband and the nice plush house and endless money, but now that it’s stopped, she is a different person because of it. She just hopes that her daughter is unaffected by her problem.

Baking cupcakes was something that always got her out of the blues she felt before, when her grandmother used to bake them for her, and now she does the same thing, bakes them for her and her daughter, but with a difference.

George, a man she doesn’t get on with, but who was Larry’s best friend, she blames him for Larry’s heart attack. She thinks he turned him into a workaholic when it wasn’t good for him. She felt he was already a successful man anyway, so why would he want to jeopardize their relationship by overworking. She loathes him, yet he helped her when her waters broke, before she gave birth to her daughter. She has to wonder if he is such a bad man after all when he wanted to help her. He was about to reveal all about her husband’s mistake with his finances, but never got the chance to tell her.

The fact is she feels resentful at George as he got to see more of Larry than she did, and it hurts her more than ever now that he’s dead. She is trying to get over it, but is finding it hard when George seems to want to come over and treat her – she thinks its guilt, but is she missing something, the way he takes her and her daughter out for dinner and wants to make sure they are alright.

Geraldine’s world of two halves, the rich and the ordinary show what life can be if two people get together under the most awful circumstances. She has managed to create a beautiful story that touches the heart, and stimulates the emotions in a way that is rarely seen.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: Chocolicious, Chocolicious (UK)