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

Review: How to Marry a Marquis (Agents of the Crown, Book 2) by Julia Quinn

how to marry a marquisHero: James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, and agent to the crown, is good at uncovering secrets and finding bad guys. When his aunt informs him of a blackmailer, he is quick to ride to her rescue for she is like a mother to him. At her behest he arrives in disguise as the new estate manager and immediately has suspicions about his aunt’s companion, Elizabeth Hotchkiss.

Heroine: Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of four, is trying with few successes to raise her siblings. The lack of money is a constant worry for her as she’s trying to figure out how to keep the family together and pay for her brother to go to school. In Lady Danbury’s library she finds a silly book about how to marry a marquis. Reading it, she and her sister decide she must practice on a live subject… and the new estate manager would be perfect!

Review: I love when characters become the butt of their own schemes. When James offers to help Elizabeth find herself a husband, little does he know he will want her for his very own. Lady Agatha Danbury is a crafty old woman who shouldn’t be underestimated. She will make you laugh. A couple of characters are introduced, who are probably from the first book in the series, and didn’t add much for me. Overall, an easy read with a fluffy center.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: How to Marry a Marquis (Avon Romantic Treasure)

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Review: Secrets of an Accidental Duchess (A Donovan Novel) by Jennifer Haymore

Reviewed by Carla F.

Summary: When Maxwell Buchanan, the Marquis of Hasley, first sees Olivia Donovan across the ballroom, he is struck by her beauty and cannot stop staring at her. Unfortunately, this is noticed by the Marquis of Fenwicke, a man who has always been a competitor of Max’s. Fenwicke knows who Olivia is and has tried to get her into his bed. He doesn’t think that Max will have any success with her either, and he is willing to bet money on it. Max is disgusted by Fenwicke, but he accepts the bet.

Olivia grew up in the West Indies and has been treated with kid gloves by the rest of her family since she contracted malaria years ago. It is wonderful that the visiting Max treats her like he would any desirable woman.

Review: I have enjoyed some of Haymore’s other books (particularly A Hint of Wicked) so I decided to read this one even though it has a trope that I don’t care for: the stupid bet. It is sometimes difficult to keep reading when you know what is going to cause disaster down the line for a relationship. However, the fact that Max never takes the bet seriously makes it bearable.

The relationship between Max and Olivia was a wonderful read. You can see the hope building in Olivia that she doesn’t have to live the rest of her life in her sister’s home. She can experience love.

This is the second book in the Donovan Sisters series, but the reader should be able to enjoy it without reading books 1 and 1.5.

Recommended: For readers who like to see a damaged heroine gain control of her life and find love.

ARC provided by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Secrets of An Accidental Duchess (A Donovan Novel)

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Review: An Earl to Enchant by Amelia Grey

“A novel must be exceptionally good to live as long as the average cat.” – Lord Chesterfield.

This novel is exceptionally good. –Guest Reviewer: Susan S.

An Earl to Enchant is book three from Grey’s (The Rogues’ Dynasty Trilogy.) This third installment is a stand alone. Despite the fact, that you need not read the first two to enjoy this novel; I’m recommending you do. There are references to the Talbott pearls, Gibby’s previous scandals, mention of Henrietta’s initial meeting with Blake, and Susannah’s with Race. If you read the previous installments, you’ll recognize the characters I mention under cameo appearances.

Cameo Appearances: Blake, Henrietta, Susannah, Race, Constance, Gibby, and ha-ha, I almost forgot the poetry loving, Lord Snellingly. (It’s funny how everyone tries to avoid him.)

Although Race (the Marquis) is still my favorite roguish cousin, An Earl to Enchant is the steamiest novel of the three. Those sensual moments by the coast will have you fanning yourselves with extra vigor. Morgan will capture many a readers’ heart.

Miss Arianna Sweet (heroine) has just fled India with her maid Beabe. Her trip to England was an arduous one. But, well worth the plight, if she can bring recognition to her late father. She hopes his research will be recognized by the Royal Apothecary Scientific Academy for the Study of Herbs, Plants, and Spices.

The hero, Lucas Randolph Morgandale is the (Ninth Earl of Morgandale) and the late Lady Elder’s oldest grandson. This very handsome 30 year old rogue, with long dark hair, and blue eyes is quite breathtaking. Too bad he’s determined to remain unmarried. Sigh!

This novel takes off once Arianna appears at Morgan’s door. She’ll swoon, and not because of his good looks. There’s a case of mistaken identity, and someone’s determined to get their hands on one of her father’s formulas. Even kill for it!

Will Morgan remain an unmarried rogue, or will he succumb to Arianna’s innocent- yet exotic charms?

My favorite scene: It’s raining, they’re by the coast, and Morgan kisses the droplets of rain from Arianna’s lips. Repeat after me, H-O-T!

Recommendations: Read this book if you like: Regencies, romances, happily-ever-afters, sexy Earls in breeches and knee high boots, when Sandy and Danny are at the beach (beginning of Grease,) intrigue, romantic suspense, humor, and books which leave you smiling.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: An Earl to Enchant

Romance, April 2010, Sourcebooks Casablanca, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 344. ISBN# 978-1-4022-1761-6.

Want More? Keep your eyes peeled. Three more men will be joining the Rogues’ Dynasty series: Viscount Brentwood and his twin brothers. To answer your question, yes they’re handsome devils. To answer your second question, to be determined. Release dates not yet available.

In the meantime, Never a Bride originally released in June 2001, will now be reprinted by a different publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc. in Sept. 2010. ISBN-13# 978-1-4022-3978-6.

Review: Frederica by Georgette Heyer

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By: Sasha Muradali, guest reviewer

Frederica is a stylish and witty Regency novel by Georgette Heyer.

The novel centers around a young girl named Frederica who brings her younger sister and the rest of their siblings to London. She is determined to secure a fabulous marriage for her astoundingly beautiful, cherub-faced sister named Charis.

If you are looking for a Jane Austen fix, and are not interested in reading any ‘remakes’ or pseudo-Austen novels, you want to read Frederica.

But be warned, like Austen, Heyer enlists the use of old English to convey the feel of her stories. So prepare yourself with the mindset of Regency dialogue.

Enlisting the help of her cousin, the Marquis of Alverstoke, Frederica embarks on a journey quite distant from the one she initially imagined.

Refreshing, lovely, smart and straight forward, Frederica more than makes a lasting impression on the dashing Marquis.

Quote from chapter 1:

But Alverstoke’s besetting sin was a tendency to become rapidly bored. It had vanquished his sisters; for although neither of them could suppose, reviewing the numerous dazzling barques of frailty who had lived under his protection, that he was impervious to feminine charms, neither was so muttonheaded as to indulge optimism very far when he seemed to be developing a tendre for some diamond of birth, beauty, and fortune, thrust under his nose by one or other of his sisters. He was perfectly capable of making the lady the object of his gallantry for a few weeks, and then of veering off at a tangent, forgetting her very existence.

Agreeing to launch Charis and Frederica into London’s high society, Lord Alverstoke who is normally cautious of his family, finds himself entertained and entranced.

Some of the best scenes in the novel are the interactions between Lord Alverstoke and his two overbearing sisters: two overbearing, shallow women whose sole purpose in life is to manipulate others, especially him, in order to get what they want.

The novel is humorous, light-hearted and smut-free.

It’s really that type of novel, ideally read, on a rainy afternoon with a cup of tea and a scone on the side.

While, Frederica is not Pride and Prejudice, it is a nice, comfortable way to get your Austen-fix.

This book is highly recommended.

Now go watch Lost in Austen and smile.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Frederica

Find and buy more Georgette Heyer novels.

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Review: Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer

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Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer is enchanting and will assuredly transport you to another world. Georgette Heyer, praised to be the new Jane Austen, was born in 1902 and her tales are quite old but hold the same classic feel as any one of Austen’s novels. I can picture the whole novel as a movie and am surprised that I’ve not seen it made into one. Of course I haven’t checked in at IMDB so I could be quite wrong about its silver screen status.

This is my first time reading Heyer and such I found it tough to start (as such it’s affected my rating). The writing while at first difficult to read and to get into because of the level of vocabulary and particular word phrasing which is unusual for today’s standard’s. However it gets easier the more you read. By the end of the book you’re practically flying through the pages trying to get to the end of the story and see the leads get their happily ever after.

In the true spirit of a Regency novel, this novel includes a secondary romance to entertain us. Neither romance goes to the bedroom, in fact the first and only kiss mentioned is at the very end of the tale. My one fault with the story was there was much too much time spent on ditherings going on around the leads and not nearly enough time focused on them. They were more thrown together in the beginning when Dominic kidnapped poor Mary than later.

Mary Challoner is determined to save her sister from scandal and intercepts a letter from Marquis of Vidal to her sister Sophie arranging an illicit tryst. A daring scheme to take her sister’s place and fool Vidal comes to her and Mary rushes through with it, barely thinking out the consequences.

When Vidal finds out he’s most upset and assuming her to be like her untoward and loose sister, Vidal forcibly takes her the rest of the way to France. Once there, Mary is able to make her true nature known and flummoxed Vidal is forced to do the one thing he never thought to do – propose marriage. Imagine his surprise when Mary refuses! What’s a Marquis to do?

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Devil’s Cub

Find and buy more Georgette Heyer novels.

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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.

Regency: Affairs of the Heart

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by Amelia Grey, guest blogger and author of A Marquis to Marry

Do you think love was different between now and during the Regency? The easy answer to this for me is an unequivocal, “no.”  But that said, I do believe most of the trappings that lead to and surrounded love were different than from today.

Historians have called the Regency period a time of over-indulgence, maddening elegance, and wasteful extravagance, and from all I’ve read they were right and then some.  Even with their lavish parties, their luxurious clothing, and their excessive eating and drinking, one could only come to the conclusion that they loved as passionately, as openly, as secretly, as wildly and as tepidly as we do today.

But to me the main difference between today and yesteryear is that affairs of the heart were not as free as they are today.  Society’s rules were much stricter and simply being affectionate in public could open you to ridicule or being completely outcast by Society.  In the Regency marriages were often arranged for political or financial reasons.  Fathers often went against their daughters’ wishes and forced them to marry men they didn’t love and certainly didn’t want to marry.  Today most of us find ourselves shaking our heads over this tradition.

I do think there were probably less intimate love affairs and more pining and loving from a distance because of the rules of Society were so strict concerning women.  It was a lot more difficult to court or to carry on a love affair during the Regency because a young lady was seldom left alone for any length of time.  As an example of this happens in my current book A Marquis To Marry, which is the second book in the Rogues’ Dynasty Series. My heroine is a thirty-year-old widow, yet she can’t go anywhere alone.  She must have a lady companion or a family member with her even if she goes to a park, the dressmakers’ or to a party.  It is sometimes quite challenging as an author to come up with ways for the hero and heroine to be alone so I can show the romance developing and have a romantic scene.

One of the ways I did this in A Marquis To Marry was by making the hero and heroine backdoor neighbors.  Of course, I had to make it a little more difficult for my strong, sexy hero to get to the heroine’s door than simply letting him walk from his house to hers in the black of night.  After a little thought, I decided to have their grounds completely separated by a seven-foot-tall, three-foot-wide yew hedge.  And then I had to determine if he would find a way around it or cut his way through it.  But finding myself with dilemma’s like that are half the fun of writing.

But when the trappings are gone and love comes down to what people felt in their hearts years ago and what people feel in their hearts today there is no difference.

Now, why don’t you tell me if you think there is a difference between love today and yesterday?

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A Marquis to Marry, Book Two in the
Rogues’ Dynasty Trilogy, In Stores October 2009

Alexander Mitchell Raceworth, the dashing fourth Marquis of Raceworth, is shocked when the alluring young Duchess of Brookfield accuses him of stealing priceless pearls belonging to her family. Susannah Brookfield is the most beautiful, enchanting woman he has ever met, but despite his attraction, he’s not about to hand over the pearls.

Though suspicion and mistrust drive them apart when the pearls are stolen, Race suggests they pool their resources to recover them. If they do find them, will they finally be able to give in to love, or will the truth of the elusive necklace tear them apart once and for all?

Buy: A Marquis to Marry: The Rogues’ Dynasty

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About the Author

Amelia Grey’s awards include the Booksellers Best and the Aspen Gold, and as Gloria Dale Skinner, the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the prestigious Maggie Award. Her books have been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. Happily married for twenty-five years, she lives in Panama City Beach, Florida.