Review: The Lady Most Likely (Lady Most, Book 1) by Julia Quinn

ladymostlikelyReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly is in need of a wife and his sister is only too happy to give him a list of all the women she thinks could make him a wonderful wife and invites them plus some gentlemen to her country house for the best event of the year. Hugh has the chance to snatch a lady that is before any of the other gentlemen get to her first.

Guest List:

  • Horse mad and handsome Earl of Briarly
  • Outspoken Miss Katherine Peyton
  • Dashing war hero Captain Neill Oakes
  • Beautiful & shy Miss Gwendolyn Passmore
  • Awfully eligible new Earl of Charters
  • Widowed Lady Georgina Sorrell who doesn’t ever want to marry – ever!

Funny bits:

  • Hugh wants an older woman – not one who is sixteen!
  • Hugh never worrying about anything that’s not equine.

Review: The Lady Most Likely is written by three of the most prominent authors from Avon Historical Romance; Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway. They got together to provide us with a tale of three parts. Julia Quinn is famous for writing Ten Things I Love About You, Eloisa James has When Beauty Tamed the Beast, and Connie Brockway has The Golden Season.

Hugh has finally shown up and wants to wed a woman after his own heart – everyone else is too concerned about the time when his Arab horse kicked him in the head, leaving him in a coma for a week, but Hugh insists he is alright. Hugh has no idea how to talk to women but he is great with horses. In fact, they are all he cares about until he thinks someone else might snatch Gwen, and with all those men around her, she has the pick and choose of the noblemen, but who will she choose?

Gwendolyn Passmore broke her leg before her first season, and was in bed for weeks. Her mother feels distraught that she missed it, and has sent her in for her second season hoping she will find an eligible man, but Gwen doesn’t like the idea of putting herself out there, and isn’t too keen on marriage either.

Summary: The Lady Most Likely is a delightfully comical look at Regency England with all the niceties and decorum parodied to perfection.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Lady Most Likely…: A Novel in Three Parts

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Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

when beauty tamed the beastReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: These days kissing a man isn’t anything to write home about, but back in Regency times, merely touching a man meant ruin for the lady in question? In When Beauty Tamed the Beast: A Regency Tale, Linnet Berry Thrynne has been caught kissing a prince of all things, and the ton thinks she has slept with him – the product of their union in her womb, a royal child. All she can do is agree to marry another man, or be a woman considered the worst marriage material around.

Review: The fleeting kiss she had was with Prince Augustus Frederick, the Duke of Sussex. He had courted her, but not asked for her hand in marriage. Linnet had, without realising it allowed herself to be kissed by a sinful womaniser (who had been married once, but a woman who wasn’t deemed good enough for him). As far as her parents are concerned, what’s done is done, and they order her to marry Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, an ill-tempered hulk of a man nicknamed the “Beast.” As she is to be wedded to him, what can she do to better her situation?

Linnet isn’t as naive as one would expect. She doesn’t know what impotence is, but she does know a beast of a man when she sees one, and she sees that in Piers. She soon finds he isn’t as nasty as she has been led to believe by the ton as he had had an accident when he was younger, it has since left him unable to father a child, something most men take for granted when they have the right working equipment. He has a right to be unhappy, and sad at his own predicament, but acts more grumpy than outright cruel, which isn’t in keeping with the books blurb on him being a “Beast.” By page 72, Piers is already being nice to her, so it is up to the reader whether they think he is going to be a beast or a pushover.

Good bits:

  • Prufrock, Piers’s butler – he always has something funny to say to his angst-ridden master.
  • Piers being unable to perform in bed – not for the want of trying though!
  • Everyone thinks that Linnet is with child, even though she only kissed the prince – hilarious.

Bad bits:

  • Spending too much time on minor characters.
  • Piers’ teaching session when he first meets Linnet.

It is written in a comical way, and still keeps the Regency theme through the story, and has lots of sensual scenes in it as well. Eloisa James is the author of such raucous hits as The Duke is Mine and A Kiss at Midnight, and this one is just as fun.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: When Beauty Tamed the Beast

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Review: The Lady Most Willing (Lady Most, Book 2) by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

lady most willingWhat happened:  Laird Taran Ferguson and some of his clansmen kidnap four ladies, one by mistake, and carry them back to Finovair castle. Along the way the men accidentally kidnap a duke and everybody gets snowed-in. Will there be hell to pay or marriages at the end of this debacle? Whatever the case this is guaranteed to be the most talked about scandal all season!

Why was it done? Taran wanted to provide wealthy matches for his reluctant nephews to wed.

The players:

  • John Shevington, Duke of Bretton – He wasn’t meant to be in the carriage, but since it was his, it shouldn’t have surprised the laird and his men to find him in it.
  • Byron Wotton, Earl of Oakley – A proper gentlemen who’s horrified by his uncle’s actions.
  • Robert (Robin) Parles, Comte de Rocheforte – A rake of the first order whose reputation may or may not be deserved.
  • Lady Cecily Tarleton – She knows who she wants and she refuses to let him get away.
  • Catriona Burns – The lady kidnapped by mistake all because she wore blue. Cat is not an heiress and is therefore out of the running according to Taran for his nephews. Good thing the Duke doesn’t care what Taran thinks.
  • Fiona Chisholm – Bespectacled and respectable heiress usually overlooked when her lively, younger, and prettier sister is around…. But somebody notices her!
  • Marilla Chisholm – A gorgeous female who knows it. This is one hellcat whose claws you don’t want to sink into you!

Favorite match: The Duke and Cat.

Most surprising match: Marilla’s.

Review: I loved the house part games and kind of wish we had house parties like it now! A must read if you love humor, Regency house parties, and love at first sight!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Lady Most Willing

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Audio Review: The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales, Book 4) by Eloisa James

ugly duchessHeroine: Theodora “Daisy” Saxby (am I the only one that thinks sackbut at that last name?) isn’t ugly, but she’s not the standard of beauty. Her features are very foreign but some haters call her features mannish and dub her the Ugly Duchess. Daisy is determined to catch the eye of some buck on the marriage mart, but after James’ lovely proposal, realizes she’s loved him all along. She wants to be his bride and show him how much she loves him.

Hero: Sinfully handsome James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, must marry and soon because his father gambled it all away and he also dipped into Daisy’s funds as her guardian. James can’t imagine marrying his best friend, not because she’s ugly, but because the idea for why he must is so repugnant and deceitful. Then of course he’s not in love with her. So when his father spills the beans and humiliates his new bride, James doesn’t argue with her dictate that he leave and never come back. He’s ashamed to have betrayed his Daisy and realizes too late that he does love her.

Review: This romance features a married couple and is classified as an estranged romance because they are apart for many years before the real wooing begins. James returns to Britain as a bonifide pirate, tattoo and all, just in time to stop the House of Lords from declaring him dead. I like him as a pirate, much better than as a near-virgin hero – he was a beta hero in many respects. I preferred Daisy at the beginning of her marriage, not her new persona she developed after she kicked James out. The chemistry was good at the beginning of the story and peters out quickly. My favorite scene is James’ reappearance in London and Daisy swooning.

Narrator: I did not like Susan Duerden’s voice. It had a nasal quality to it that bugged me from the get-go. She can whip out a crazy evil father voice that sounds like another person is reading though. Wow. Good voice acting there!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: The Ugly Duchess

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Audio Review: The Lady Most Likely (Lady Most, Book 1) by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

ladymostlikelyQuick Synopsis: Horse fanatic, Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, had a recent scare with a horse and decided he needs a wife and heir. To get both, he drafts his sister, Caroline, into throwing a house party and lets her pick the guest list.

Choice 1: Gwendolyn Passmore is the top girl of the season, but she could care less that all the men and their mamas are trying to snag her. She just wants out of London and back to her quiet country life. She is uncomfortable around crowds and people she doesn’t know. Small talk is the worst!

Choice 2: Katherine Peyton has already given her heart to another, but the cad ran off and hasn’t been seen since. Perhaps this outspoken lady is just the ticket to get Hugh out of the stables…

Choice 3: Georgiana Sorrell is a widow. She loved her husband, but he had his flaws. She is not looking to get married again. Georgie is friends with Hugh’s sister and is at the party for moral support… though Caroline might have a match in store for her yet.

Review: Three ladies, three gentlemen, three part story. It’s quick and easy, and different from most anthologies because the three stories are more intricately entwined. It’s important to read in order as events happen and are linked from story to story. My favorite pairing is Gwendolyn and her love match. I like shy heroines and it’s fun to see how that shyness coupled with her popularity in the ton has made one person think her a snob. I also enjoyed the party games, especially the “do you love your neighbor.”

Narrator: Rosalyn Landor is one of my favorite narrators. It’s pretty much a guarantee that if she’s read a romance novel, I’m picking it up.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Lady Most Likely

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Review: Paris in Love by Eloisa James

Reviewed by Karin

I absolutely love this memoir! J’adore! It is a book to be enjoyed and savored — and one I will likely reread either if I am visiting Paris again or only hankering to visit Paris again.

The book is made of little sound bytes — or if you will, word bytes — of the small daily events that occur in a family uprooted to a new city where the teenage boy who is bilingual goes to Italian school and finds it more difficult than his previous school, and where the city sparkles with the Eiffel Tower and pastry shops and little known shops, restaurants, and pastries. Yum!

I love the honest interactions of family, raising an 11 year old daughter and a teenage son. Eloisa James is married to an Italian man who grew up in Florence. That is interesting to read also.

My advice: run out and buy this book. Or get it from Amazon. ( not sure if available for Kindle.)

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Paris in Love: A Memoir

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Review: A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James

duke of her ownReviewed by Carla F.

If asked to list my 10 favorite romance authors, I doubt that I would put Eloisa James on the list. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy her books. It is just that I feel some trepidation before I start reading one because Ms. James writes smart, complex stories with interwoven characters. The love story of a certain couple can (and often does) carry through several books. Her writing style is truly a distinctive one.

One reason for this is the time period that this book (and others) is set. It is the Georgian period where the men (sometimes the hero although not in this book) wear wigs and high-heeled boots. The women wear elaborate hair designs and clothes. The detail is intense. (In real life James is Dr. Mary Bly, a Professor of English, so research is extremely important to her.)

Also the people in her books have habits and customs that can be different from what a reader has come to expect from a romance set during the Regency. The characters remind me of those in Dangerous Liaisons. “The course of true love never runs smooth” is way too a tame phrase for the hero/heroine in one of these. The love lives of all the characters are just downright messy. At times a character’s motives is not only hidden from the reader but often from the character himself/herself.

In A Duke of Her Own, Leopold Dautry, The Duke of Villiers is determined to marry a Duchess. Why? Well it seems that Leo has not one but six illegitimate children. Leo has always supported these children financially, but after almost dying in a duel he decides that he wants to raise the children in his home, and he wants the children to be raised as if they were born of a lawful marriage. He then must find a wife, and he decides that only someone who is the daughter of a Duke would have the necessary pull to get the ton to accept his children.

Duke’s daughters are thin on the ground so there are only two currently available. One is Lisette who everyone thinks is mad and the other is Eleanor who has vowed to only marry a Duke. Eleanor isn’t a snob. She just said that because her true love (and former lover) Gideon, Duke of Astley, was forced into a marriage of convenience, and Eleanor wanted him to know that she would wait for him in case the marriage ended.

Leo and Eleanor are drawn to each other soon after meeting, but of course, Leo has to also check out Lisette as a possible wife and mother, so he heads to her father’s residence. Eleanor’s mother gets wind of this, and she, Eleanor’s sister, and Eleanor also go visit Lisette’s home.

It is fun to read the back-and-forth interplay between Eleanor and Leo as they try to decide who is going to marry whom. This book is recommended for those readers who like flawed characters who are uncertain about love but manage to find it anyway and those who like to read stories of people in tangled relationships. It is also recommended for those who love books set in the Georgian period.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: A Duke of Her Own

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Review: Enchanting Pleasures by Eloisa James

bookreview

Book three of the Pleasures Trilogy staring plump little Gabrielle from India and Erskine (Quill) Dewland soon to be Viscount Dewland. Right off the bat, this was my kind of book and I loved reading every word. I’ll tell you why:

First, the alpha male is one of those wounded and brooding alphas. Quill was hurt from a horse riding accident that left him scarred. He walks with a slight limp most of the time but when tired it is more pronounced. He can’t dance. Repetitive motions cause him intense migraines and this includes riding horses but more importantly intercourse. As alpha males go, Quill is decidedly masculine. He likes women – he just doesn’t know if they’re worth the three day recuperation.

Second, this story also involves one male character basically stealing the bride out from another man’s nose. This doesn’t always go well for me, but in this case it was just icing. Upon learning that his son was practically incapable of siring progeny, the elder Viscount Dewland orders his second son Peter to take the heiress sight unseen as his bride. Peter doesn’t want to marry, positively shrinks back from the idea, but eventually agrees under pressure. To his dismay, Gabrielle is the antitheses of beauty, grace, and lacks the instinct to navigate smoothly with society’s haut ton.

Third, Gabrielle is a completely charming heroine. She is as gabby as her nickname implies and loves to talk. Gabby is protective, open, loving, kind, and sharp. She is smart enough to keep her half-brother safe from harm. She also knows that Peter finds her a great disappointment. Despite knowing from experience with her father in India, is determined to do her best to please Peter so that he will fall in love with her. This makes her equally stubborn.

She makes friends early with the Duchess of Gisle who has just returned from her honeymoon on the continent. They meet at the dressmakers. Peter has brought her there to clothe her properly so she won’t shame him in public and prays the Madam will be able to transform his ugly duckling of a future wife.

Quill of course, thinks his younger brother is nuts. In fact most of the men in the ton that have seen luscious Gabby agree with Quill. They congratulate (quite crudely) Peter on his good fortune to snare such a well endowed beauty who will surely be a hellcat in bed. They think it’s doubly clever of Peter that she is an heiress.

When Gabby laughs her way into one social scandal, Peter is determined to throw her over but doesn’t know how. Quill gladly informs his brother that he will marry Gabby and happily. Of course, he’s worried about what she’ll think of him later, but Quill can hardly bring himself to care about his own problems. He burns for her and is happy around her. This is enough for him. His only true concern is will it be enough for Gabby?

Rating: ★★★★★

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