Audio Review: The Duke’s Deceit by Sherrill Bodine

Sherrill Bodine duke deceitHero: Richard, the Duke of Avalon, knows he’s made a terrible mistake. His fiancé is a horribly vain and self-centered chit, more concerned with appearances than him. When he makes a decision to travel right before the wedding to visit a philosophy professor in Scotland, she informs him that if he does not return with plenty of time for the wedding, she will call it off. He’s eager to skirt the deadline in hopes she will actually follow-through on her threat.

Heroine: Mary Masterton faces a terrible conundrum. Her late father amassed debts trying to realize a stud farm to a local noble. Sir Robert insists she wed him to cancel the debts, but Mary has no interest in the creep. When a heroic stranger is knocked unconscious by a falling timber while aiding her in rescuing horses from a fire, she claims him as her fiancé. When he wakes, he has no memory at all. He recovers and sticks around fulfilling all the desperate longings of Mary’s heart… but can she keep a man she loves in the dark?

Reviews: What Mary doesn’t know about the barn fire is that it was staged. Readers will realize right away who is behind the attack, or do they? There’s more going on then what is happening on the surface. It’s a little convoluted – involving a late grandmother, a cousin, a fortune, America, and blackmail.

Mary is a kind and tenderhearted heroine. She wants to tell the truth but is convinced by many parties that to reveal her deception to Richard would cause him irrefutable harm in his condition. He might die! So she holds her tongue, falls in love with him, and then the tables are turned. He regains his memories (not unusual) and pretends otherwise to get at the truth Mary hid. I liked Richard the man when was suffering under amnesia, he’s less likeable as the Duke in his initial dealings with Mary.

Narrator: Susan Duerden is a likeable narrator. I would describe her voice a bit like a stage whisper. It does not sound like how she might usually talk and is pitched a little low and a little husky.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Duke’s Deceit, The Duke’s Deceit (Audiobook)

Audio Review: The Wicked Wallflower (Bad Boys and Wallflowers, Book 1) by Maya Rodale

wicked wallflowerHeroine: Lady Emma Avery is a respectable wallflower with the nickname the Buxom Bluestocking from finishing school. She is one of London’s Least Likely (to Misbehave) and in her own opinion least likely to be married by the next finishing school graduate ball, which marks the end of her fourth Season. Her long-time “beau” has yet to come up to scratch. Her friends, Olivia and Prudence, propose a wild idea of announcing their engagement. It was risky, but surely a gentleman could not refuse once it was so publically announced. While composing the letter, one of them said if Emma was going to risk scandal then they should go big or go home.

It’s all fun and games until someone actually sends the letter to the newspaper. Then it’s too late — and instead of a financially strapped second son of a viscount, the most eligible bachelor is declared the groom-to-be, and not just any bachelor, but a duke! Emma just knows she is ruined!

Hero: Blake, the Duke of Ashbrooke, is about to find out his past behavior can and will catch up to him. His charmed life of being the toast of a party, London’s most desirable rake and duke, and participating wild dares are not going to help him now. His backers desert him on his difference engine project and stress that it’s because of the man leading the project not the idea. They can’t trust him. Suddenly he needs a respectable wife… or at least the appearance of one until the financing is secure.

When the London Weekly posts his engagement announcement to a women he’s never met, he has the solution to his problem. He arrives at her drawing room to make it official – or failing that official long enough for them to try their hand at winning his aunt’s fortune in this year’s annual Fortune Games. Ashbrooke always likes a challenge so when the lady says no – he takes matters into his own hands.

Review: I loved this book from the main characters to the side characters to the romance. It checked all my boxes. My favorite parts were the love-letter writing on Emma’s bed and then Blake’s fulfillment of their fake courtship. He created a rundown gazebo, built a trellis, and said some of the prettiest proposals. Le sigh. He kind of goofs it all up at the end and could have come around a little quicker, but overall he’s one dreamy duke. The story ends as it begins with a potential scandal in the making. I wholly recommend to anyone looking for a fun and silly romp.

Narrator: I very much enjoyed listening to Carolyn Morris narrate. She pronounced clearly, naturally, and was easy to understand. I loved her portrayal of the hero and heroine and her accent and acting really pulled the story together cohesively. She had a very good presence and gave the story life. I’d listen to her again.

Rating: ★★★★½

The Wicked Wallflower (Wallflower Trilogy Book 1), Wicked Wallflower (Audiobook)

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Audio Review: The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides, Book 1) by Valerie Bowman

unexpected duchessHero: Newly appointed by the crown, Lord Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon, made a promise to his friend Julian, who is dying. His moniker among the ton is the Duke of Decisive for he makes quick decisions and sticks to them – winning many battles and honors because of it, including his dukedom. He will wed Lady Cassandra because it not in his nature to be indecisive or to change his mind. But a kink quickly appears in his plan when a friend of the lady in question insists Cassandra is not interested.

Heroine: Lady Lucy Upton will not let her dear friend be coerced into a courtship with the dashing duke. Cassandra is in love with another and waits for his return from the war. If the duke and Cassandra’s mother had their way, Cass would be wed before the fortnight was out. When Cass asks for help, Lucy does what she does best – interfere and deliver cutting set-downs. But it doesn’t scare Claringdon off. Instead he comes back for more again and again and Lucy’s traitorous heart hopes it’s because of her and not Cass.

Review: One of my favorite scenes is the verbal wit challenge between Derek and Lucy. He asks her to dance and she says “no.” He must then come up with 20 cleverer ways to turn a gentleman down for a dance. I won’t share my particular favorites, because they’re just too good to give away. I also enjoyed Derek wooing Lucy by writing letters to her appearing to be from another suitor. She sees the differences between the letters and the person and can’t quite make them fit, but doesn’t suspect Derek is writing to her.  The friendship between the ladies is strong, which is nice to see. The story itself is silly and very humorous. I would only change the timing of Derek’s change of heart and the start of his pursuit of Lucy sooner. For somebody decisive, he was too hesitant to break a promise that needed breaking.

Narrator: Alison Larkin could deliver on Lady Lucy Upton. She brought much life to the heroine and brought out her personality and wit. She delivered Lucy’s set-downs with a flourish!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Unexpected Duchess, The Unexpected Duchess (Audiobook)

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Audio Review: The Duke Next Door (Heiress Brides, Book 2) by Celeste Bradley

thedukenextdoorHeroine: One of three girl cousins, gorgeous Deirdre Cantor is in the running to inherit her grandfather’s fortune. In order to be the heiress though, she needs to wed a duke and she knows just the future-duke to wed! He’s a man she’s admired from afar. Originally, he was engaged to one of her cousins, but then was jilted for the younger brother prior to the wedding. This gives her the perfect opportunity to propose the match to him.

Hero: Calder Marbrook, the Marquis of Brookhaven and future Duke of Brookmoor, needs a wife… but mostly because he needs a permanent mother figure for his young woefully misbehaved daughter. (The child comes as a shock to the heroine after they wed… even though she saved news clippings on him for years.)

Review: This book did not work well for me as an audiobook. The narrator, Susan Ericksen, was fine, but the problems with the book are exasperated in audio format. The hero treats the heroine like a misbehaving child within seconds of reaching his country estate. If she doesn’t become the wife/governess he needs her to be for his daughter, he’ll not pay for dresses and won’t let her attend parties or go to London for the society… Apparently, he’s too distracted by his wife’s breasts to take his foot out of his mouth. How can this autocratic alpha bully not handle the nurses and governesses taking care of his child… or even his willful child? The secondary character romance and the setup for the next book’s romance were distracting, and for me, unwanted. Also, how can Diedre think that the best revenge on her husband is to actually do as he says and take his daughter in hand? That doesn’t make sense. Although, I did like the stepmother/stepdaughter relationship.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

The Duke Next Door (Heiress Brides), Audible Audiobook

Audio Review: The Tattooed Duke (The Writing Girls, Book 3) by Maya Rodale

tattoed dukeHero: Sebastian Digby, the Duke of Wycliff, is in need of a wealthy bride. His newly inherited dukedom is full of responsibilities and short on cash. All he wants to do is travel and discover Timbuktu. Unfortunately for him, all his dirty laundry is being aired by The London Weekly negating any chance he has at finding a suitable bride. He can’t prove who it is, but he suspects either his cousin or an employee.

Heroine: Eliza Fielding hasn’t had much to write about for her boss at The London Weekly. She’s about to be fired unless she can produce some scandalously meaty prose. Her undercover disguise as a housemaid in the duke’s household is perfect for getting close to the duke… in more ways than one. But as she gets to know this tattooed duke, Eliza has to wonder if getting her own dream – a column of her very own — is worth more than helping Sebastian obtain his dreams.

Review: This historical romance has a very modern edge. It worked for me where it might not work for others. I bought this book as an audiobook and I enjoyed the narrator, Carolyn Morris, immensely. Her accent work really placed me in the story and gave a sense of sophistication and Regency glamor. Sebastian Digby (whose last name, I must have missed… ha!) is a different duke than you’re used to meeting. He doesn’t want the duchy if it means curtailing his own desires for adventure, but it’s not exactly something you can just pretend isn’t yours. The scene where Eliza sees his tattoos for the first time was deliciously steamy (pun intended.) Eliza is a feisty heroine, who because she’s not gentry, can do things most well-bred young ladies can’t… like hide in plain sight of the hero she’s covering for her newspaper. Sebestian thinks the leak in his household is Eliza, but refuses to really give it credence because he doesn’t want it to be true. Overall a great listen!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Tattooed Duke

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Review: The Love List by Deb Marlowe

love listHero: The Duke of Aldmere knows his brother’s style of writing anywhere. He cannot believe his younger brother would get mixed up in writing the salacious Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies. He’s determined to stop this nonsense at once, even if he’s reluctant to help Miss Brynne Wilmott.

Heroine: Brynne Wilmott escaped the monstrous Marstoke once, with the inadvertent aide of Nathan Russell, the Duke of Aldmere, and the incredible generosity of Hestia Wright, the former courtesan pledged to help any woman in trouble. But now Marstoke’s Love List is threatening her new future–and making her into a weapon forged to destroy her friend.

Review: The corrupt Marquis of Marstoke is determined to humiliate his runaway fiancé (Brynne) and an old enemy (not who you think) in one fell stroke and uses the rewrite of the Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies to do it. If he can damage others in the process, that makes it even better for him. He really is quite fiendish.

Hestia Wright was once a famous courtesan, now she is simply famous, and uses her fame to protect women who don’t have any other options. When Brynne runs to her, she accepts the girl with open arms. Now the List is threatening to ruin everything Hestia (and Brynne) has built.

Brynne is pretty kick-butt. She’s got spunk and she’s willing to be a social outcast rather than live her life in the shadow of a cruel man, just because society says that’s better for her. The Duke takes some warming-up, but he’s not such a bad sort (like Brynne first thinks.)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Love List (Half Moon House Series)

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Review: Bite Me Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann

Bite Me Your GraceReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This story takes place in 1821, London.

Angelica Winthrop’s mother threw away her favorite book. If you’re interested, the book actually exists and you can find information at A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She’s an independent woman during a period in time where most women did not act like Angelica. As I get to know Angelica, I have to wonder what she would think about today’s women.

Our hunky hero’s name is Ian Ashton. He’s the Duke of Burnrath and he’s different from other men. Ian is a man with lots of responsibilities but then he meets Angelica. He also has an archenemy named Ben Flannigan. He’s a character that could have overtaken the storyline but Brooklyn does a great job of having him appear at just the right time.

Angelica and Ian seem to be the perfect couple. But all good romances have roadblocks that pop up for the “happy” couple. These roadblocks keep me turning the page. I need to find out how they handle life’s little challenges. They rise above these challenges and become stronger as a couple. Brooklyn also shows her readers what Angelica and Ian are willing to do for each other.

This is a book that gives you a great regency romance along with a paranormal twist. I also wanted to know if Brooklyn was going to have another book. I went to her web site, http://brooklynann.blogspot.com/, and found that there will indeed be a book two of this series titled One Bite Per Night coming out in November. The only thing I couldn’t find out was who the book was going to be about. So in the meantime, make sure to read Bite Me, Your Grace.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Bite Me, Your Grace

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Review: A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry

meganmulryroyalpainHeroine: Bronte Talbott unashamedly follows the tabloids chronicling the lives of British royals. Just because Prince Charming would be nice, doesn’t mean Bronte shuts the door on other hopefuls. Unfortunately for her, she gets burned when her Texan sweetie dumps her flat after she moves from NYC to Chicago. Ouch. Pride keeps her from returning to NYC, which just may be a good thing because Bronte trips over a royal in disguise at a local bookstore.

Hero: Max Heyworth is a Duke, but he’s come to America to get away from that and also to study for his Masters. Max takes Bronte up on her scintillating offer of sex without strings. Of course, what Bronte doesn’t know is that Max isn’t looking for just sex… though the sex is steamy! Can he woo her well enough to convince her marrying royalty is worth the pain?

Review: You have it all – the near miss meetings, the fated romance, British royalty, a sexy smart Duke, a career-forward heroine, family illness, sex without strings, secrets, the mutual friends, and a dash of realism. Bronte is a bit too potty mouth for me, but overall the language is used for humor. I love how free Bronte is with Max for the most part considering her recent slump with the Texan. Part of it is because she thinks Max is a rebound guy and only there for a short period. She opens up and talks more and shares her true self instead of her dating-resume-self. What’s fun is that she is going by the motto “brutal honesty” while the hero hides a large secret about his lifestyle. Can we say trouble? One of my favorite books this year!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: A Royal Pain

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