Audio Review: Her Secondhand Groom (The Grooms, Book 3) by Rose Gordon

secondhand groomHero: Patrick Ramsey, needs a woman. She must like children, be good with children, and able to teach children. And Viscount Drakely will get what he needs – a motherness – or a mother and a governess for his three girls (Celia, Helena and Kate), all rolled up into one female. He knows the perfect woman to fill the position – Juliet Hughes, because her family borrowed money to send her to school and to give her a London Season and are indebted to him.

Heroine: Miss Juliet Hughes, was educated at London’s finishing school for young ladies. She’s plain. She’s common. Not at all like her sister, Henrietta, who Patrick thinks is her and the one he wants. He doesn’t bargain for Juliet to be confident, determined, and strong-willed. She is his match and equal in every way and she won’t let him look down on her.

Review: If you like mistaken identities and big misunderstandings, you’ll love Her Secondhand Groom. Juliet tries to tell Patrick he’s wrong but he won’t listen now that he has a plan to put in motion. I liked Juliet’s nickname for Patrick – Lord Presumptuous. She’s a heroine who can call her hero out on his idiocy and pigheadedness. She does it so charmingly too. I liked her relationship with the girls and how they all interacted. About the only thing that doesn’t work is Patrick’s devotion to his dead wife who he later calls manipulative.

Narrator: Louisa Murray has a very nice voice and I enjoyed listening to her narrate the story. She was very lively in her recitations between Juliet and Patrick. I would listen to Louisa again.
Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Her Secondhand Groom (Groom Series Book 3), Her Secondhand Groom (Audio Book)

Review: Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society, Book 1) by Jayne Fresina

once upon a kissHero: Darius Wainright doesn’t know it, but the ladies of the local book society of Hawcombe Prior have labeled him a real-life Mr. Darcy. He doesn’t have plans for matrimony, he just wants to sort his uncle’s things, sell the house, and leave for society as quickly as possible, but all that changes when he realizes who is in town — that young lady who jumped on him in his bed one year ago in Bath.

Heroine: Not only does Justina Penny not understand her friend’s fascination with Darius Wainright, but she doesn’t understand the appeal of the priggish brute Mr. Darcy. Clearly Mr. Wickham is the hero of Pride and Prejudice. So while she has her sights set on a certain local captain, Jussy plans to help her sister snag Darius… only things don’t quite go as planned as Darius Wainright is the WRONG MAN she encountered a year ago.

Review: Jussy is a fun heroine to read due to her misadventures. She loves a good romp, a fast dash, and a delicious escapade here and there. Her parents have no hope for her to get married and rely on their other daughter to make a great catch. Justina is virtually overlooked when compared to her sister – that is until her scrapes call attention to her unladylike ways. Darius catches her in two scrapes involving his property and decides to teach her a lesson which leads to quite a lot of fun and misadventure. Darius draws on Mr. Darcy in a number of ways, but is still a unique character. Like Justina, he grew up under the shadow of his sibling, but whereas Jussy’s sister is kind, his brother was not. Darius has never been comfortable around women and had to go to great lengths to overcome a strong stutter. Around Jussy, he gets tongue-tied and that my dear readers makes him all the more adorable. I fully recommend this book and consider it one of the best reads of the year.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society)

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Review: Her Prodigal Passion (Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 4) by Grace Callaway

her prodigal passionHero: Paul Fines would love to reclaim his fortune through prizefighting. He’s good at boxing and thinks he could make it work. But everybody remembers his disgrace through gambling and drinking over the loss of a girl. His family and friends doubt his skill and ability to stay out of trouble… all except Charity, his sister’s best friend.

Heroine: Charity Sparkler, the daughter of a jeweler, has loved her best friend’s brother for a long while. At his worst, she visited him in a dangerous part of London and provided some creature comforts… not that he noticed as drunk as he was. He thought she was someone else which hurt dreadfully.

A marriage of convenience: Paul is a ladies man and at the start of the novel slept with two married twin sisters. It bites him in the butt later when one tries to sneak into his bed again to publically humiliate her husband. Paul can’t kick her out so he climbs out a window and across the building… only to collapse on Charity in the drawing room and compromise her at a house party. The only proper thing to do is wed.

Never gild a lily: Charity’s father has led her to believe all her life that she is an ugly duckling. She might be a little plain, but she’s not ugly. Is his intention to be unkind or cruel? Whatever his intentions, Charity is meek and bookish and incline to home and shop.

Review: Charity was and will be Paul’s biggest supporter. He needs someone like that in his life. Paul finds Charity very pretty now that she is out of her spots stage. He can’t imagine a marriage with anyone else – but isn’t very good as assuaging Charity on this. Their marriage will be more than either can hope for… but not for Charity’s father who is heavily indebted to another man. How will the young couple be able to handle the heavy weight of a bitter man’s debt? I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Grace Callaway is a remarkable writer. I loved the scene in the prologue where Paul seduces Charity. Very sexy!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Her Prodigal Passion (Mayhem in Mayfair)

Review: The Sherbrooke Bride (Bride Series, Book 1) by Catherine Coulter

sherbrooke brideHero: Douglas Sherbrooke, Earl of Northcliffe, needs an heir and a bride. He secures the beautiful Melissande’s hand in marriage. Before they can wed he’s called away to attend delicate matters and sends his cousin to marry for him by proxy. Bad idea! When he returns he finds his cousin stole his bride and married him to the wrong sister.

Heroine: Alexandra Chambers, youngest daughter of the Duke of Beresford, is not beautiful like her sister Melissande. But she has loved Douglas since she was fifteen. When Douglas’s cousin proposes the scheme she is eager to do it. because she knows she will make Douglas a better wife than her high-strung sister. Now she must convince him of it too.

Review: Douglas is furious at the turn of events and takes it out on Alexandra and his cousin Tony. He’s one of those brawny alpha males who does many a pigheaded thing until he gives in and confesses his heart. You either love him or loathe him. Tony was a great side character who for some unknown reason liked an empty-headed vain woman with mush for brains. Melli was very annoying. What’s weird and disturbing is that Tony is training her like a dog to be a better person. Ick. I like Alex as a heroine and the writing was engrossing despite the story’s flaws. On a personal note, the Virgin Bride ghost was an unnecessary supernatural element that detracted more than aided the writing.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Sherbrooke Bride (Bride Series)

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Review: Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda CheeverHeroine: Miranda Cheever has loved Nigel Bevelstoke since she was 10 years old when he kissed her hand. As a young girl, his words of wisdom (that she would be a beautiful as she was smart when she was older) sang in her young heart. She was used to being bullied by her peers for her looks and Nigel’s kind act was like rain in a drought.

Hero: Nigel is Viscount Turner, and goes by his title. He is the older brother of Miranda’s best friend Olivia. As a young man he was kind as he was handsome to his sister’s friend. While Turner is still handsome, life has turned him bitter… (his faithless wife died on her way to meet her lover). When Olivia plays matchmaker to bring their younger brother, Winston, into Miranda’s sphere… Turner doesn’t like it and does something about it.

Review: Prologue-Nigel is the kind of white knight every girl needs. He plays knight again and accompanies Olivia and Miranda on their first London Season. Being around Miranda in a more adult setting opens his eyes to her charms… even if his heart isn’t ready. When passion leads to an unexpected confession, a confused Nigel runs… but finds he can’t run forever and doesn’t want to… but will he be too late to claim Miranda for himself?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

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Review: The Beauty Within by Marguerite Kaye

 Beauty Within by Marguerite KayeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Considering he thought he was only as good as the subjects he painted, prominent artist, Giovanni di Matteo is a modest man and often wonders why women of a certain age throw themselves at him, and although others who have commissioned paintings from him think him as an amazing artist, he is unsure of his talents. Giovanni has been at the top of his profession for many years since he had come to England, but his enthusiasm for painting as waned, his muse, his subject matter, not piquing his interest.

Although Giovanni is supposed to be commissioned to paint Lord Armstrong’s sons, he has a yearning to paint his daughter Cressida once he sets eyes on her, even if she is forbidden to him. Cressida, like Giovanni is intelligent and accomplished in scientific matters. She lives and breathes it and isn’t one to consider men, let alone marrying one that her father arranges. He does not regard his daughter as anything other than marriage material, while his sons are those he holds in much higher regard; so much that he wants him to paint his sons rather than her. For him this is annoying as all he wants to do is paint the elusive and attractive Cressida. When they talk in her father’s absence, she points out his dissatisfaction at his own work. He believes it only relies on the rules and principles of mathematics to appear brilliant. His work wasn’t always like that, earlier, he painted from the heart, full of enthusiasm and vigour, and even if he got harsh criticism for being at one with his art, he at least was true to himself back then.

Marguerite gives readers a first hand account of what Giovanni is like as a person. They get to see his whole personality in this volume, his thoughts that his painting hasn’t inspired him until he meets Cressida, the woman who fires his heart and gives him the drive to paint again. Giovanni finds her a beautiful woman who is overlooked by her family, mainly her father who is more concerned with his precious sons. It is easy to get into the story and the characters are made real by their backgrounds and personalities. Readers can be sure they will be entertained by this story, and it will be one to introduce them to future novels by this author. This is steamy and romantic, and one that if you don’t already, you will have an interest in art by they end of it! This is well worth a 5 star rating.

Likes:

  • Marguerite Kaye has an excellent grasp of the technical process of art, and the reader can feel she has researched it in full to make her character of Giovanni Di Matteo believable.
  • Cressida plays the role of the ‘ugly duckling sister’ very well, yet doesn’t realise how beautiful she is inside as well as out.
  • There is the contrast of Cressida’s cruel stepmother and father to her natural niceness.

Dislikes:

What’s not to like?

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Beauty Within (Harlequin Historical)

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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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Review: The Rake by Mary Jo Putney

rake mary jo putneyHero: Reginald Davenport is the disinherited rake turned poor relation wastrel to his cousin the Duke, which is why Reggie is thrown for a loop when his cousin gifts him his childhood home, the most prosperous property the new Duke owns. Strickland brings back many ghosts for Reggie, but he is not prepared to meet with Weston, his steward… and a female!

Heroine: Alys Weston came to Strickland with a secret and a grim determination to succeed, reform, and raise a parcel of children not her own. It wasn’t in her plans to like the new owner of Strickland, a woebegone and restless rake, but she admits he does have his own charm.

Review: A heroine with a career and a hero who wants to keep her in the position? Very unlikely! Reggie keeps Alys on as his steward despite how unlikely it is for a (unmarried!!!) woman to hold the position.

What’s more is that Reggie is predictable as an unrespectable and indolent rake. Like other heroes of similar ilk in romance he is tired of the lifestyle and is looking for something to bring the joy of life back into his life. He also is willing to work hard and do jobs meant for menial labor, thus giving him a heart of gold underneath that tarnish.

Unlike the other rakes in romance who drink socially and never to often in books, Reggie is a functioning drunk. He’s an alcoholic and recognizes that his blackouts are a bad sign. But he can’t go cold turkey and he’s not sure he wants too, and really wants to stock his new home with all sorts of alcohol. Of course, Reggie must not stay a drunk, so much of the story is focused on changing that, but it takes up too much focus and pulls from the romance. It’s hard for me to buy the romance because of this.

Many people rank this book as one of the best romances written and on their favorite shelf. Are you one?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: The Rake

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