Review: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue ReturnsHero: Victor Cale just recently learned of his wife’s whereabouts after she abandoned him and said their marriage was a mistake. She left him to face the consequences of the crime she and her family colluded to and executed so effortlessly under his nose. He plans to confront her and seek justice for all the injuries they and she inflicted on him through their perjury. His broken heart is at the top of that list.

Heroine: Isa Cale, hiding under an assumed name, Sofe Franke, is angry and frightened when her husband shows up in Edinburgh ten years after he deserted her. Why is he there? Why now? What does he want? Does he know of their child? Does he want to trick her or force her into illegal activities again? Well, he’s about to find out that Isa is not the timid little mouse he married. She’s got teeth and she’s willing to do what it takes to protect her daughter.

Review: It’s clear from the beginning that the hero and heroine are laboring under a big misunderstanding. A decade spent apart and a series of lies has torn their fledging marriage into two and two hearts are grieving for the loss of a love they both thought was true. Their double-speak when they first meet again is quite entertaining. Victor’s reaction to Isa’s feelings, about the pet name he gave her, is particularly heart-wrenching. He did not realize he’d been so misunderstood! He’s quick to come up with an alternative. Both are unique to the heroine and I love that. What great about this novel is that Sabrina Jeffries knits both hearts, both characters, slowly back together. Trust is a big issue for them both and it’s a delight to see them work through the fabrications and make amends for back judgments in the past. It’s also nice to know that even while they trust, they did both still have doubts and had to fight to overcome them time and again. It made for a realistic read. I also enjoyed that the story took place outside of the usual London setting. Not a book to be missed!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men)

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Review: Bewitching by Jill Barnett

There are a bunch of novels by Jill Barnett that are being released specifically for ebook format this year and Bewitching was one of them. I found out later after accepting a review copy that Bewitching is considered one of the all time best romances written and I can certainly see why.

It’s the story of a rejected Duke and a bumbling witch. Normally a story like this would fall under the heading of paranormal but it’s clearly more fantasy than anything else with the layer of the Cinderella tale winding its way through the novel. There’s even a witch godmother.

Alec, the Duke of Belmore, was told the next woman he met he would marry by an old flower seller. This is something he scoffs at because he’s planning to leave London, and its fickle debutants behind, for his hunting lodge with his friends. Not a female in sight.

Joyous Fiona MacQuarrie (Scottish) is terrible when it comes to controlling her magic. Even with a familiar, and help from her aunt, she still messes things up. Her latest mishap was a traveling spell that would take her to Surrey and instead lands her on top of a Duke.

At a small coaching inn, a gaggle of gossipy ton members arrives and to save face the Duke asks Joy to be his wife. She tries to tell him this is impossible and tries to warn him she’s a witch but he doesn’t heed her and convinces her yes is the only possible acceptable answer.

Let’s just say their wedding night comes as a surprise. *g* :P

When they finally do have sex, Scottish is hilarious when she thanks Alec for wielding his own magic and making himself smaller so they could fit together…

Barnett weaves a story that is both spellbinding and enchanting. It’s tender and sensual and sweeter than dozens of pink rose petals. Her writing is poetic and fun with clever twists and turns of phrase. If you haven’t had a chance to read this story you must as I believe it to be one of the classics.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Bewitching (print), (ebook)

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Review: A Season of Seduction by Jennifer Haymore

by Carla F., guest reviewer

In A Season of Seduction, Jennifer Haymore finishes the saga of the James’ family that she began in A Hint of Wicked and A Touch of Scandal. This time the focus is on Rebecca “Becky” James who is the sister of Garrett, Duke of Carlton whose story was told in A Touch of Scandal. The story of Becky’s first marriage is told in both of these previous books, but it is not necessary to read those to follow the plot for this one.

When this story begins, Becky’s husband has been dead for four years, and she is ready to embark on affair with Jack Fulton, a sailor, who is just return to London after a long time on the sea. She has only known him for a month, but for her this affair will not be about love. She wants to have sex and be close to a man again. There is just one problem. Jack wants…needs…to marry Becky and soon. If he doesn’t, he could wind up dead.

I was very excited to see this book because I had so enjoyed the other two in this series. It was just a little bit of a disappointment to me because I had such high hopes for it. Most of this disappointment is due to the discomfort of knowing that a hero you like (and he is likable even at the beginning of the book) has a secret that is going to blow his marriage/relationship apart. However, Haymore does a good job in showing Jack’s motivations for his actions and showing him slowly falling in love.

Becky is a character that I had already like and had sympathy for since her first marriage was a disaster. It is easy to see why she has put up so many walls, and is frightened as her love for Jack causes each one to slowly fall down.

The story flows and I was pleased to see that Haymore didn’t take the easy way out for the ending. Despite the fact that I like the other two books better, I would still recommend this one.  Those that have read the other books will be happy to be among the James family again. Both those readers and ones unfamiliar with the series will enjoy a well-written story with a hero and heroine that they will love.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: A Season of Seduction

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Review: A Marquis to Marry By Amelia Grey

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by Susan Sigler, guest reviewer

A Marquis to Marry exemplifies the very essence of what a romance novel should be. It was superbly written and I’ve added Amelia Grey to my list of top authors. This is a novel I’ll read time and time again!

I recommend this book to every romance lover, regardless of their favorite sub-genre. This was a happy, witty, feel good romantic tale I know you’ll love.

A Marquis to Marry is book 2 of Grey’s (The Rogues’ Dynasty Trilogy). It completely stands alone, and you do not need to read book 1 A Duke to Die For in order to follow the story.

The Marquis (Alexander Mitchell Raceworth) is absolutely stunned, when a young Dowager Duchess by the name of (Susannah Brookefield ) accuses him of having “her” grandmother’s Talbot pearls. The very pearls “his” grandmother (Lady Elder) left to him in her will.

Susannah travels from Chapel Gate to London, with the misconception that all will be resolved quickly. What she didn’t foresee was that Race would be so stubborn! It seems she’s not the only one after the pearls; there are 3 men who also covet them. When the pearls are stolen, it’s a race against time to find the thief and recover the pearls.

Susannah has a lot to accomplish: retrieve the pearls, resist Race’s handsome good looks, convince him the pearls belong in her family not his, and re-enter London’s Polite Society despite her tarnished reputation of youth.

Every time Race calls the Duchess by her Christian name Susannah, it made my heart skip a beat. Grey has you feel the emotion & want, that emanates from the hero.

Things I enjoyed:

  • Race’s shock when Susannah invites him to her bedchamber
  • The camaraderie between Race, his cousins, and their older friend Gibby
  • How Race pursues Susannah
  • His informal notes to her
  • The way Grey expertly transitions you from reader to character, you’ll feel every emotion as Susannah and Race fall in love

I didn’t grant this book the full 5 stars because of the pugilist (boxing match). It stole time away from the main characters, time I wanted for Susannah and Race.

A Marquis to Marry was absolutely beautiful! I’m eager to read book 3 An Earl To Enchant, which is set to release in April 2010.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: A Marquis to Marry

Regency Romance, ARC, Trilogy, Sourcebooks, Inc., Casablanca, October 2009, Print Pages 359.
ISBN-10: 1402217609 ISBN-13: 978-1402217609.

Review: Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer

Abigail Wendover is a spinster at age twenty-eight. Upon her return from out of town she gets some distressing news… her niece is head over heels with a fortune hunter, a Lord Stacey Calverleigh. He is a clever handsome young gentleman intent on wooing the impressionable Miss Fanny right out of her inheritance.

When she goes to confront him, she winds up yelling at Miles Calverleigh, his estranged uncle. Miles is beguiled by her immediately and she in turn is deeply amused by him, so much so she actually breaks out into giggles, which is so unlike her. He does not see her as a spinster at all and finds her fresh, lively, and entertaining. All she sees however is a lack of interest and a wicked gleam in his eyes.

Miles is the perpetual teaser. He enjoys getting a rise out Abby. The two of them share the same sense of humor. The dialogue is very witty and charming. Heyer imbues the heroines narrative with the same clever engaging style.

The plot and its characters are easily followed, which could be a plus or minus depending on the reader and where they stand on Heyers.

It’s a May/December if you haven’t noticed. The hero is notably older than the heroine but clues make it hard to distinguish where he’s in his 40s or 50s. I doubt he’s in his 30s, but whatever age he is he markets himself like a middle age man.

Spoiler: My favorite scene is the finale where he kidnaps her in his carriage and whisks her off to the altar.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Black Sheep

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Blog Giveaway: Dara England Style!

Who is Dara England?

broughttolifemediumDara England is the author of the paranormal romance novel Brought to Life, scheduled for release in March of 2009 from Lyrical Press. This will be Dara’s first published novel, although you may have seen some of her short fiction around if you’re a frequent reader of fantasy zines like Allegory and Art&Prose.

Whether visiting medieval style fantasy worlds in her short fiction or journeying through her upcoming novel with a mysterious time traveling duke, Dara is fascinated by magical places and situations. Bringing old fashioned magic into the contemporary urban setting that is the backdrop of Brought to Life was one of the greatest challenges of the novel.

On any given day Dara can be found hunched in front of a battered old computer, typing away at her next manuscript. She is an Internet addict and can frequently be found on line at any of the following locations:

The Giveaway:

The prize is 1 medium-to-large screen print tote, capable of holding your necessities and that includes a book; 3 book marks in fun patterns, 2 fairly large magnets to decorate your refrigerator and hold up notes and pictures with, and 3 tins of vanilla flavored lipbalm keychains to keep your lips kissable soft.

How to Enter: Leave a comment with valid email address!

Winner Will Be Announced: January 25th, 2009 through the help of a random integer generator.