Review: Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandfreth

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading GaolReviewed by Cara Lynn

This is a very dark book, detailing Wilde’s time in Reading Gaol for his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglass. During the time of his incarceration, his wife took their young sons and left the country, but continued to give him an allowance, a pittance, really. Upon her death after a spinal operation, instead of 3 pounds a week he got 150 pounds a year.

How different it is just a little over a century later. Why was not Lord Douglass also incarcerated?

I always liked the cleverness of Oscar Wilde.

It is not clear where history leaves off and fiction begins. The book is meticulously researched.

I believe I would have liked the other books in this series better, because I think they aren’t so dark. The details of prison life are achingly difficult, reminding one of the Count of Monte Cristo.

I rate it 4 stars, because of the book’s strong points, but I did not like it. It is more of a man’s book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol: A Mystery

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Review: A Passion for Pleasure (Daring Hearts, Book 2) by Nina Rowan

passion for pleasureHero: Sebastian Hall, former rake and musician, is a second son with two options available to him regarding his future. The first has been decreed by his father and the second is a favor for his brother. Since Sebastian refuses to marry and become a patent office clerk, he is now in pursuit of a mechanical device that could help in the war.

Heroine: Clara Whitmore was a former student of Sebastian’s and would have loved a flirtation with the man. Now, she is a widow desperately wishing to be reunited with her son. Sebastian just might be the answer to her prayers. She will give him the papers on the device if he will marry her.

Review: I figured out early on in the story why Clara’s father refused to give her access to her son and he wasn’t very kind to his grandson (huge understatement). Both father figures of the main characters were cold, and Seb’s mother was unnecessary. I loved the musical references and the dialogue between Clara and Seb. My favorite scenes include Clara’s proposal to Sebastian and the piano lessons Sebastian gave Andrew.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: A Passion for Pleasure (A Daring Hearts Novel)

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Audio Review: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia, Book 1) by Jennifer Blake

Royal SeductionHero: Prince Rolfe of Ruthenia, is ruthless in his pursuit of clearing his name and tracking down the traitor who murdered his older brother. Though he’s seen his brother’s mistress across ballrooms in Europe, he’s never gotten close enough to get a real good look. When he finds Angeline Fortin at a ball in Louisiana, he mistakes her for her cousin and won’t listen to her when she says otherwise. When she is caught alone, he kidnaps her and her innocence is only proven when he claims her.

Heroine: Angeline Fortin, is a poor relation in her aunt’s home. To protect her cousin from the dashing, but dangerous prince, they engineer a trip through the woods to the convent nearby. On her return to her aunt’s she is caught. Escape proves impossible and with one quick tumble her whole world alters its course. What is in store for her now? Surely she isn’t meant to be the prince’s mistress for the rest of her life?

Review: If you’re not into bodice rippers from the eighties avoid this one, if they are your cup of tea you might give Royal Seduction a try. My greatest dislike of the book was the cousin and her storyline which leads up to her character death. The girl was apparently at turns either a sex-addicted fiend, using sex as a way to manipulate her situation, or a victim who was raped a lot. I can’t say enough how much I disliked this part of the book. What saves the book is that the cousin is not the heroine, and the real heroine and hero are very compelling. Be warned though, because the first sexual encounter between the heroine and hero is a rape, not a forced seduction. That comes later. The prince’s men tell the Angeline at every turn that her life now is to be Rolfe’s mistress, not to expect marriage. Of course she never asks Rolfe and he never says what he’s thinking either. The misconception almost separates them for good.

Narrator: Melissa Reizian Frank has a very southern voice, which totally jarred me upon first beginning the story. Nothing about the blurb indicated it took place in America. I thought it would take place in Europe and I nearly quit right then. I find it very hard to listen to southern accents, when the narrator sounds far older than the age of the heroine. It’s a personal listening preference.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia)

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Review: Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn

Checkmate My LordReviewed by Zarabeth

Spies! This is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, a very tricky genre. Creating intrigue and danger can often often be a fantastic plot point for putting two people together and having them work through conflict to discover their love. But, there are many spy stories out there that are so predictable that they are no longer enjoyable.

I am very pleased to report that Tracey Devlyn has the skill to weave an intriguing, dangerous, enjoyable plot with a great mix of passion and romance!

Our hero is a spymaster, of course, who is put in a very difficult position trying to solve a homicide, keep his spies secret, and protect/investigate the very nosy and determined widow, our heroine. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

It certainly helps that our heroine is the lovely Catherine Ashcroft who could not be more delectable and it has been a very long time since either of them felt this way in the presence of the opposite sex. They are both overcome by passion despite all of the reasons they should not, and there are many, not the least of which being the safety of Catherine’s 7 year old daughter.

Will they be able to trust each other in the midst of danger? Can they solve the mystery before someone else dies? Will the sex always be THIS HOT?

I have my suspicions! But read it and you can be the judge! I give it 4.5 stars. Enjoy!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Checkmate, My Lord

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Audio Review: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club, Book 7) by Stephanie Laurens

edge of desireHeroine: Lady Letitia Randall was in love once, but then the left her high and dry when she needed him most. Now to save her brother, Letitia must ask for aid from the same crusty curmudgeon. She’ll seduce him if she must in order to find her brother before the authorities do and to clear his name of her husband’s murder. This gal is determined.

Hero: Christian Allardyce, sixth Marquess of Dearne, didn’t tell Letitia he joined the ranks of Britain’s secret agents to fight Napoleon. He thought she would wait for him, but it turns out she married somebody else and that it was apparently a love match. It’s a betrayal he’ll never forgive, but when she asks for help he can’t refuse.

Review: Do you like reunion romances? Second chance love stories? A little murder mystery? You’ll like this book then! Just avoid the repeated references to Vaux temperament. The mystery is complex (drags a little at times, but interesting as it progresses) and each layer reveals something else about Letitia’s dearly eagerly departed husband. There’s also a big misunderstanding for our hero and heroine to put a nice bow on it.

Narrator: Steven Crossley has a very deep voice and a wonderful British accent. His voice sounds similar on one level to Sean Connery. He says things very precisely.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club)

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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: The e-Book Murders (Global Crime Prevention, Book 1) by A.D.Vates

The e-Book MurdersReviewed by Karin

Someone is murdering (or will murder) those who leave 1 Star reviews of a particular author. Be careful what you write! Ouch!

Enter the GCPU as they cross the globe to root out evil.

Will, back from the war, is recruited by his sister to join the group. Each of the 4 woman who comprise the group has their own strengths, and there are enough gadgets to satisfy any James Bond aficionado.

The story was clever. I didn’t realize it was a novella or that it is a to-be-continued story. I didn’t like that, though other reviewers have liked it, and one likened it to a TV series. I, however, wanted this particular story line finished, so the next book would be a new story line.

Clever premise, however, and likeable characters.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The E-Book Murders (Global Crime Prevention Unit #1)

Review: Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice

Dead is the New BlackReviewed by Karin

Laura Carnegie is in love with her boss. The only problem is: he is gay.

Or is he?

Laura is a pattern maker; her boss is the designer. Jeremy St. James has been giving off mixed vibes.

When the woman whose purse is backing the line is found dead in the office, St. James is arrested. Laura is the only one who visits him in jail, and he gives her directions for keeping the line on track for the runway on Friday.

She doesn’t believe he is guilty, but how to determine the real killer, if it isn’t him?

To complicate matters there is a counterfeit ring copying his designs – and who’s behind that! There is lots of info on the fashion industry, and if you have any interest in that, this will fill in some details.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Dead Is the New Black (Fashion Avenue Mysteries)