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: A Dash of Scandal by Amelia Grey

(Reissue) Originally published in 2002 by Jove Books, The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., New York

My Dear Readers,

A mind changed against its will is of the same opinion still. Which is why Millicent Blair, heroine, refuses to believe Lord Dunraven’s rakish days are a thing of the past. Chandler Prestwick, hero, may plead his case as he wishes, but Millicent refuses to be swayed. A lady must protect her virtue at all costs!

“Secretly” writing a gossip column while Aunt Beatrice recovers from her fall is proving to be more daunting than she’d realized. Assisting her aunt, lack of sleep, and the countless soirees must be the reason resisting Prestwick is getting harder and harder. Yes, that must be it. Yet one can’t help but wonder, if and when Miss Blair will throw caution to the wind, and succumb to his advances. With any luck, her duplicity should discourage him. But luck has fled like a stallion fleeing a barn fire. Leaving Dunraven more determined and more eager to have her. This leaves us to peruse the scandal sheets while we enjoy our tea and scones.

For surely, no lady can resist, the pull of a titled and dashing… blue-eyed rogue!

by Susan S., guest reviewer

Review: Amelia Grey’s novels are what romance dreams are made of. Simply charming! I’m thrilled this novel was reissued; allowing me the chance to discover its beauty. I’ll admit I’m partial to novels featuring reformed rakes. Knowing the heroine succeeded where hordes of women failed. Yet regardless of your favorite tropes, I believe all romance readers will enjoy A Dash of Scandal.

I’d also like to mention that some authors reveal clues pointing to the mysterious antagonist. Not so with Grey. I never realized who the Mad Ton Thief was until it was revealed at novel’s end. I believed it to be someone else entirely. Apparently, I’m not the sleuth I once was. Romance, mystery, and scandal, intermingle in what’s sure to be…your newest favorite read.

Disclosure: I received this novel free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Favorite scenes:

Number 1: Millicent is writing gossip notes on her dance card when a shadow falls over her card. Guess what the shadow is? Not a what. A who! Lord Dunraven. Ha-ha.

Number 2: Every…time, he blows her a kiss. Yowzah! I know you can’t hear me because I’m wearing my gloves, but I’m clapping wildly.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: A Dash of Scandal, A Dash of Scandal (UK)

Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., Copyright October 2011, Historical Romance, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 315. ISBN# 978-1-4022-3979-3.

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Review: Compromised by Kate Noble

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One word: charming.
Two words: engaging hilarity.
Three words: sparkling/sparking chemistry.

Most decidedly, Compromised, is a great way to kick off your summer reading. Kate Noble engages readers with narrative that is tongue-in-cheek. Part of the narrative reads third person omniscient and part is third person lead-centric as we are use to in romance. It changes without warning sometimes, but after the first time or two you don’t really notice it. I started to look forward to it actually because it was so funny, not that the lead-centric parts were not, but the omniscient portions offered a look into Regency society and how gossip spreads.

Maximillian (Max) St. John, Viscount Fontaine, the future Earl of Longbowe, is in desperate need of a wife. Not because he needs money, not because he particularly wants one, but because his father is determined to wield the very last bit of his power over his son before he dies.

You’re probably wondering why on earth Max would give in to this ridiculously patented scheme.

He gives in because his father threatens to spread gossip that Max is a bastard child from a time when his wife cuckolded him (which is completely false mind you), sell off everything that is not entailed and will all of the money to distant relations leaving Max without a name, without funds, and with land in perpetual need of expensive upkeep. Wow! That is pretty darn harsh.

Max is determined to make the best of it, but he only has three months to accomplish such a feat. He’s attending balls, musicales, and parties meeting women who are tall, short, blond, brunette, intelligent, insipid, but none of them are for him. In fact, all of the ladies he’s been meeting lack something.

Gail Alton is unfashionably tall and unfashionably intelligent and unfashionably irksome. She prefers to spend her time at museums and in a book. She loves history and languages and horses. Her sister, Evangeline, is petite, blond and practically perfect in every way. They share a loving relationship and neither one begrudge the other anything. However, compared to Evangeline, Gail is basically invisible, which works for her because she doesn’t find conversations about ribbons to be particularly interesting.

What follows is a regular comedy of manners as Max stumbles into a compromising situation with both ladies. Once with Gail while riding through Hyde’s Park and once with Evangeline including a stolen kiss in a conservatory. He ends up engaged to one girl and falling in love with the other. How will this tangled mess unravel?

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy: Compromised

Review: Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi

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First off, thank you to Katiebabs for recommending this book in her post, Those Wonderful Comfort Reads. It’s taken me a while to acquire my own copy, but boy oh boy was it worth the wait. This novel is definitely one of those where you wonder why you never heard of it sooner!

The biggest gossip in town is that spinster Hattie Colfax is going to be courted for the very first time by widower Ancil Drayton. He even has special permission from the preacher due to the fact that his wife hasn’t been dead very long, but the Lord will understand his need for a new woman. He has seven kids after all and a farm to maintain.

The minute the news reaches Reed Tyler’s ears he’s annoyed. That man is the worst farmer in the county and Hattie deserves better. Hattie on the other hand is very excited by what appears to be a man for the first time looking past her face and interested in her. This just annoys Reed even more.

Hattie goes to Reed, her ‘Plowboy’, for help. She doesn’t want to appear completely pathetic to Ancil by having him be her first kiss. She’s afraid it will put her on unequal ground; that Ancil will always look down on her and think she should be grateful he wanted to marry her. Reed agrees to teach her. There are three kinds of kissing that he teaches her that night, and that MhoFho and D.D. will teach you tomorrow, plus a fourth he teaches her later in the novel. Very hot and sexy scenes!

Really this was just a fantastic novel, though it would have benefited from less smoochy-smooches and Ancil. The man was made for a sexual harassment suit and he’s just plain unlikable and cruel. I felt bad for two of his seven children. I wanted Hattie to adopt them.

Rating: 4 Stars

Buy: Courting Miss Hattie

Find and Buy More Pamela Morsi Books.

Review: Too Wicked To Kiss by Erica Ridley

by Susan S., Guest Reviewer

“Huzzah” for this Kensington Zebra debut author! Erica Ridley’s Too Wicked To Kiss is a titillating whodunit set in a London castle. There’s unlit corridors, secret passageways, stolen kisses, and a hero in cravats and breeches, “Oh my!” I may not wield powers of clairvoyance like (Evangeline) Ridley’s heroine, but I’m predicting this author will receive many calling cards from readers.

Are you going to like this historical romance? Ooo…yeah! I received the eARC for review and pre-ordered the paperback from B&N. I simply must procure the paperback for my bookshelf! Just picture me for a second, walking on hot coals repeating, “Hot, hot, hot, hot!”

Evangeline Pemberton is no stranger to heartache. Her mother has recently passed, and she’s just ran-away from her physically abusive stepfather (Neal) who aside from hitting her also entertains lascivious thoughts regarding his stepdaughter. Evangeline’s clairvoyant gift has caused her to shun both friends and the touch of others. Any touch brings about visions either past or yet-to-be along with one hellacious headache. Alone and out of options, she turns to Lady Stanton and her daughter Miss Susan Stanton. They offer to take her to Blackberry Manor in London with “one” simple stipulation; entrap Gavin Lioncroft (hero) into a betrothal contract with Susan. Evangeline’s not sure which of these three options terrifies her more: (1) deceiving an innocent bachelor into marriage with a total stranger (2) the fact that Gavin is a presumed murderer and they’re to stay in his manor for two weeks or (3) that Neal will find her.

When a murder is committed in Blackberry Manor everyone’s suspect, with at least 15 suspects and three with a motive to kill, this whodunit will leave you second-guessing the guilty party until the very end.

Evangeline finds her upcoming deception harder and harder to accomplish. Gavin is stirring passions within her both new and wonderful. Will she entrap Gavin for Susan? Or will Evangeline keep this “sinfully handsome” man for herself?

My favorite character was the hero, Gavin. What’s not to love? He’s a wickedly handsome tease. He protects those he loves; he’s passionate and goes after what he wants. Not to mention, here’s a man who knows how to apologize.

My favorite scene: In the dining room Gavin’s gaze slides down Evangeline’s body and retraces the path back up. He stares boldly and lifts an eyebrow to let her know, he likes what he sees. When she does the same to him and looks up at his face, he winks.

Too Wicked To Kiss is funny, sensual, entertaining and has a happily-ever-after. A must read!

Recommendations: If you like romances, this novel is a must read. I’m also recommending it to readers who like Sherlock Holmes, whodunits, Nancy Drew, mystery, romantic suspense, hot reads, Regency, historical and happily ever afters.

The sequel to Too Wicked To Kiss is set to release in the spring of 2011. Too Sinful To Deny is the story of a gossip-hungry heroine Miss Susan Stanton. Susan is Evangeline’s friend in book one. Something tells me there are lots of changes to come for Miss Stanton and some of which include…pirates!

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy: Too Wicked To Kiss

Zebra Books, An Imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp., Historical Romance, Regency, Paranormal, eARC, Copyright March 2, 2010, pages 451. ISBN (10) 142 010 9936. ISBN (13) 978-1420109931.

Review: A Tale of Two Lovers by Maya Rodale

A Tale of Two Lovers is the second Writing Girls novel by Maya Rodale. Don’t you just love the cover?

The Situation: A pair of lovers is caught in a compromising situation. Soon all of London knows. There’s just one problem – it wasn’t quite what it looked like!

The Heroine: Lady Julianna Somerset is a widow and a Writing Girl for the London Weekly. Gossip is her thing and she loves secrets, as long as she knows them. The ton suspects she’s the London Weekly’s Lady of Distinction but they have no proof. When she comes across a piece of gossip so juicy she’s ecstatic because she knows her rival at the other newspaper, the Man About Town, hasn’t a clue, and she’ll be the one to break the scandal.

The Hero: Lord Simon Roxbury is not happy. First his father gives him an ultimatum to get married with a short time limit or he’ll be cut off from his allowance. Then the Lady of Distinction insinuates that he was intimate with a man, ensuring that no respectable woman would talk to him let alone marry him. He’s determined to get the gossipy she-devil to recant and hopefully get his old life back.

Review: The public and private battle for control was predictable but cute. They both do stupid things that kind of make you roll your eyes. The heroine wants to eek out as much juice from her Roxbury scandal as possible and plays every situation in such as way as to continually cast doubt on the man’s sexual preferences. The hero causes such a huge ruckus that the ensuing scandal embroils both that can only be fixed by a marriage of convenience. If you’re looking for a romp this is the book for you. :)

The Writing Girls:

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: A Tale of Two Lovers (Writing Girls)

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Review: Too Sinful to Deny by Erica Ridley

by Susan S., guest reviewer

There are three things guaranteed to bring me pleasure: vanilla-flavored coffees, Godiva, and a great read. This was a great read!

Background: Miss Susan Stanton made her debut as a secondary character in Too Wicked To Kiss; where she befriends Evangeline, the heroine from book one. The sequel stands alone, but reading the earlier installment will explain more about Susan’s downfall from Polite Society, and her failed attempts at marrying a wealthy gentleman.

What to Expect:

You can expect Ridley’s signature humor, a great murder mystery, and a Regency set historical romance with a paranormal twist. There’s also scandalous unladylike behavior from the heroine and temptation-laced kisses from a sexy rakehell.

What Not to Expect:

If you’re looking for a replica of book one, you’ll be doused in ice water; a real shock-to-the-system. Too Sinful To Deny is to Too Wicked To Kiss, as a red fan is to a red apple. It’s not the first time I see a sequel completely dissimilar from the first book, but it’s the first time I felt it’s happened to a successful end.

Recommendations: Recommended for romance readers everywhere.

Summary: Miss Susan Stanton, heroine, drowned in the frigid waters of London’s Thames River; only to regain consciousness with a newfound gift. She sees…and hears…dead people. A most inconvenient gift! Since, most discarnates pop up at the most inopportune moments. Always expecting her to do some task or another.

Her penchant for gossiping forces her parents to send her to the desolate town of Bournemouth. It’s in Bournemouth where she meets a discarnate named Timothy; it’s Timothy who’ll set certain events into motion. One involving a dark and dangerous smuggler named Evan Bothwick, hero.

With missing corpses, disappearing pirate ships, talking ghosts, and jealous rivals, is there any time for romance? Of course! Evan kisses Susan the first time, and she punches him in the ribs. Then, he kisses her a second time, and the blackguard disappears out a window. Will the third kiss be the charm? I know! But, I’m not telling. There’s a discarnate over Miss Stanton’s left shoulder pressing a finger to his very blue, very dead lips. I take that to mean he’s signaling me to remain silent on the matter. And since he’s a pirate, albeit a dead one…I’m going to do what he asks.

Review: Two things I loved about this novel: character development and the opposites attracting aspect of the love story. Just imagine the sole heiress of a wealthy baron associating with a rakehell who happens to be a smuggler. Susan shouldn’t be associating with Evan. As for Bothwick, he should be tumbling around with a wench. Oh, but isn’t something more tempting, if it’s…forbidden?

Regarding the character development, we have an innocent, impulsive young-lady of three and twenty who grows up emotionally. Although change of habit doesn’t alter her nature entirely, she does learn how it feels to be on the receiving end of gossip. An unpleasant experience to be sure! Evan does some growing up of his own, and learns to think of someone besides himself.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Too Sinful To Deny

ARC, Historical Romance, Kensington Publishing Corp., April 2011, Print Pages 344. ISBN-13# 978-1-4201-0994-8.

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Ten Reasons Why Women Love Romance Novels

5 Reasons why the unenlightened think we love romance novels:

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10. We’re bored and have nothing better to do. This explains why a good portion of us read in lines, just before the lights go off in a theater, between meetings, before class, and during our commute… because we have time to spare.

09. We don’t have to think when we read romance! Great! Let’s leave our brains at home because everybody knows romance novels are right up there with gossip, soap operas, and fashion and celebrity magazines.

08. Secretly, we love the trashy cover art. Clinches and clutches and heaving bosoms really appeal to us. Who doesn’t love toting embarrassingly bulging mantitty in her purse?

07. We love romance because it’s petticoat porn. (What and men don’t like watching poorly filmed flicks off the internet? At least ours is intellectual- it’s literature!)

06. Better yet, on top of loving it for porn we also love it because we have no sex life. This is our only way to experience sex… ie vicariously through fictional characters. Right… as if any woman couldn’t go into any bar and ask any man if he wanted to go home with her and he wouldn’t say yes.

Now for 5 real reasons to love romance novels:

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05. Truly, we love romance because it’s emotional porn. Two hanky reads anyone? Passes out tissues.

04. Happily Ever Afters. We love a great ending and knowing that no matter how many troubles and problems seem to mount up eventually they’re solved and go away.

03. Variety. There’s a romance out there for everyone. Many of us develop preferences and seek out stories that cater to them.

02. The heroine. She’s everything we want to be or admire in others with the exception of the Too Stupid to Live Heroines.

And the number one reason women love romance novels is:

01. The hero… because we can fall a little bit in love with him every time we open a book to read.

Photo Credits: left-hand, jonrawlinson