Review: Cinderella and the Sheikh by Teresa Morgan

cinderella sheikHero: Sheikh Rasyn (Ra-sin) Al Jabar has no interest in becoming the next ruler of his homeland, Abbas in North Africa. He decides a Western wife will surely raise the country’s hackles and get him out of the line for succession. When he spies Libby, he thinks he can fulfill his desire to leave the throne and get pleasure out of the arrangement too. He puts on his most charming face and goes in for the kill.

Heroine: Libby Fay is working as a waitress at Hotel Scheherazade in very posh upscale Manhattan. She earns big tips from the wealthy clientele. Waitressing for Libby allows her to wait on people who need a little tender loving care (TLC). She feels that she makes people’s days easier. Growing up, she and her mom would play restaurant, and that’s when she found her calling. This job is the best job she’s ever had and she’s not about to mess it up for a playboy sheikh… even if he’s devilishly handsome and charming to boot.

Review: Libby is no fool. She doesn’t feel Rasyn’s attentions are genuine. He’s only just met her – how can he be in love with her? When he proposes marriage on the first “date” she’s floored. She doesn’t love him, why would she marry him? She says “yes” to help him save face, but an inch given is a mile taken with Rasyn. Twice in the novel, Libby’s mom provides the push to allow Libby to open up to Rasyn. First, he looks at Libby like her father looked at her mother… and then later when her mom asks if she ever gave her heart a chance to love Rasyn. I liked Rasyn’s line about not marrying a man you love, but marrying a man who loves you. I thought that was great! I also like how his plan to bring in an uncultured Western woman backfires. She’s genuine and kind which draws people to her. So while she makes social gaffs like he expected, their results are anything but catastrophic. Poor Rasyn.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Cinderella and the Sheikh (Hot Contemporary Romance)

Review: To Catch a Princess (Gambling on Love, Book 2) by Caridad Pineiro

to catch a princessReviewed by Sandra Scholes

For the woman who has it all…or so it would seem. Princess Tatiana does have it all, wealth, family and a career, but she has remained unmarried for a while, and to her horror, her parents have decided to arrange a marriage for her to another royal. She sees it as an affront on her modern ways, but her parents see otherwise. A jewel thief is roaming around and threatens to ruin any plans she has for her exhibition.

The story starts with the jewel thief pulling off a Mission Impossible style deal with a top banker. It’s easy for Shea posing as Mr Smith to interact with him, and even gets another job for being so good at getting him what he needs. The next job he does will be high profile with lots of celebrities, rich and royalty attending so it is sure to get in the news if he performs the heist the way he wants it. The reason Shea is doing this job is he wants to settle down and change his ways – even thieves need to live a normal life some time, and with the money he would get from this heist he will be able to retire for good.

The Prince’s Gamble (Gambling on Love #1) was the first book in this series but to be honest it can be read as a stand alone novel rather than a continuation, and this I think is rare considering how much stock is put on sequels to successful novels. In today’s times no girl wants to be married off to a perfect stranger, so I could feel how bad this would be for Tatiana to bear as she only wants an ordinary life where she can live it without any interference from others. In this case who can blame her for having this feeling as it’s not everyone who wants to be a fairytale princess living the high life with endless dinners and knee deep in jewels. Tatiana being an ordinary girl is what is part of the magic of this novel, as she comes across as honest and appreciative of others being around her, but only for the right reasons.

Peter is her assigned body guard, but she longs for a time when her family aren’t meddling in her life, and she can settle down with the man she wants to be with rather than being married off to make them happy.

Caridad is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling paranormal and romantic suspense author who wrote her first novel while in the fifth grade. Since then she has been writing until her first novel was released back in 1999. Over ten years later, she is still writing some of the most fun and engaging novels when she isn’t an attorney and wife and mother, not to mention fashionista.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: To Catch a Princess (Entangled Ignite)

Review: A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry

meganmulryroyalpainHeroine: Bronte Talbott unashamedly follows the tabloids chronicling the lives of British royals. Just because Prince Charming would be nice, doesn’t mean Bronte shuts the door on other hopefuls. Unfortunately for her, she gets burned when her Texan sweetie dumps her flat after she moves from NYC to Chicago. Ouch. Pride keeps her from returning to NYC, which just may be a good thing because Bronte trips over a royal in disguise at a local bookstore.

Hero: Max Heyworth is a Duke, but he’s come to America to get away from that and also to study for his Masters. Max takes Bronte up on her scintillating offer of sex without strings. Of course, what Bronte doesn’t know is that Max isn’t looking for just sex… though the sex is steamy! Can he woo her well enough to convince her marrying royalty is worth the pain?

Review: You have it all – the near miss meetings, the fated romance, British royalty, a sexy smart Duke, a career-forward heroine, family illness, sex without strings, secrets, the mutual friends, and a dash of realism. Bronte is a bit too potty mouth for me, but overall the language is used for humor. I love how free Bronte is with Max for the most part considering her recent slump with the Texan. Part of it is because she thinks Max is a rebound guy and only there for a short period. She opens up and talks more and shares her true self instead of her dating-resume-self. What’s fun is that she is going by the motto “brutal honesty” while the hero hides a large secret about his lifestyle. Can we say trouble? One of my favorite books this year!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: A Royal Pain

[phpbay]royal pain megan mulry, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Gold-Digger or Gravedigger?

MarryingUpGuest blog by Wendy Holden, author of Marrying Up

I’m a big fan of gold-diggers, which is why I’ve got one as the main character in my new novel. Girls who use what they’ve got to get what they want have always had a bad press, but this seems to me unfair. Until the twentieth century anyway, women had restricted access to education and the workplace and therefore no room for manoeuvre. Gold-digging was only a form of self-determination, one of the few fields in which a woman could be an entrepreneur.

Brits make great gold-diggers and I’ve always enjoyed the stories of the women in my native islands who’ve managed to turn their rags to riches. Kate Middleton is, of course, the patron saint of all aspiring marriers-up, having pulled off the astonishing coup of coming from a humble family and ending up on the Buckingham Palace balcony. But she has plenty of precedents. Take Bess of Hardwick, a sixteenth-century landowner who started out on a farm but traded up via four increasingly rich husbands to become the second wealthiest woman in England after Elizabeth I. Way to go, baby! This serial widow was so clever and charming that no-one seemed to question exactly what had happened to all these husbands.

People who are scathing about women who run after money and power don’t always realise just how difficult ‘marrying up’ can be. To successfully snare the rich man of your dreams, you have to plot like a military commander, fend off all the competition and look as hot as hell into the bargain. How many of us are up to that?

The story of the gold-digger has its Cinderella elements, but while Cinderella in the fairytale got her man through sweet innocence and natural goodness, women in the real world know it doesn’t quite work like that. Alexa in my novel is therefore an anti-Cinderella – she ticks the poor and good-looking boxes, but she’s otherwise primed like a cruise missile to bag the first prince in her sights. Her campaign to get one is a sequence of carefully-planned moments, none of which she can afford to go wrong, although they do, which gives me lots of scope for humour.

These breakthrough moments have always fascinated me in real life. Women who have married up always enter the final straight through some particular event. For Princess Diana, it happened on a haybale; she was commiserating with Charles after a member of his family had died and apparently this piqued his interest. For Kate Middleton, it was that famous see-through dress on the university catwalk. ‘Kate’s hot!’ William is supposed to have exclaimed.

Of course, both Kate and Diana had already managed through various other means – family connections in Di’s case, expensive private education in Kate’s – to enter the charmed royal circles, and these are not available to all. But there are other ways of marrying up, the right job, for example. Propinquity is all, so a position close to a rich and powerful male is an obvious starting point. Until quite recently, being an air hostess worked well – Queen Noor of Jordan and Roman Abramovich’s first wife both met their glamorous destinies that way. And it is no coincidence that the famous Carole Middleton, mother of the Duchess of Cambridge, was a trolley dolly herself at one stage.

Alexa in Marrying Up hits the jackpot. She lands a position on a glossy magazine, slap bang in the middle of the rich and glamorous. She gets to work straightaway, switching invitations round at dinner parties so she sits next to eligible males, and purloining invitations to get to society parties. A real-life gold-digger I know did just this on a glossy magazine I used to work on. She used to come in early and open all the post. A lot of the girls on the magazine were shocked, but I rather admired my friend with the letter-knife. Unlike most of the other staff she did not have an independent income, nor grand family connections. She was not even all that good-looking. She was the inspiration for Alexa – and guess what? She got her rich and famous man, although the affair didn’t last all that long. He left her for another gold-digger in the end.

Author Bio: Wendy Holden (UK) was a journalist on the Sunday Times, Tatler, and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full time author. She has now published nine novels, all top 10 bestsellers in the UK. Her novels include Beautiful People, Farm Fatale, Simply Divine, Gossip Hound, The Wives of Bath, The School for Husbands, Azur Like it, and Filthy Rich.

Buy: Marrying Up: A Right Royal Romantic Comedy

Review: The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean

by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

Rebecca Dean in true Philippa Gregory style tells the story of a young prince Edward VIII living a strict early life due to his father the then ruler, King George V, and the young Edward wanted a more interesting life for himself. His life turns around for th4e better when he meets the infamously stunning Houghton sisters, one of which, Lily becomes his favourite; courting her at all the special events they throw. He falls in love with her and discovers for once he feels he is starting to live a little as he had hoped.

His father does not like what his son is becoming though, and young Edward hates the fact he cannot chose her as his wife, as soon he might become king if a series of events happen due to the start of World War 1.

David, Lily’s grandfather mentions a word for what Edward is; Weltschmerz, the sadness of comparing with the state of life with the ideal state at which it should be as Edward is in effect living in a prison as a prince, both as a heir to a grand throne in a confined place, plus his father’s dislike of his choice of woman, and his actually having a life for himself with her. Lily can’t truly understand what he is going through as hers is a life with no responsibilities, and even though she can lighten his mood when she is around him, ultimately, his father can control what he does, and who he sees.

In The Golden Prince, Lily Houghton is the only woman who can save him from a dull life within the palace obeying his father’s every command. With her around he is his own man around his own circle of friends, without constraints. It is a period piece that is interesting only in the use of historical facts within the story rather than the romance angle itself.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Golden Prince

[phpbay]golden prince dean, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Review: Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine

by Mandy Dougherty, guest reviewer

What little girl doesn’t secretly dream of becoming a Princess? For Jerramy those dreams are more real than reality itself and from a very young age she has become acutely aware that she is poised for a royal position.  Feeling as if her ‘average’ upbringing in the suburbs is all a mistake, Jerramy finds herself constantly drawn to the Royal Family of England and one handsome young man in particular, Peter Phillips.

For Jerramy her destiny is mapped as clear as the picture of Peter taped to her bedroom wall. As the years go by the picture remains and the feelings that she has for the ‘Prince’ intensify. As she graduates from high school Jerramy is faced with the decision of a lifetime.  Will she take fate into her own hands and find ‘Prince’ Peter Phillips on her own or will she let the cards fall where they will and continue to wait for her Prince to come?

A whirlwind adventure ensues when Jerramy decides fate has not been kind to her, after all it left her with this perfectly mundane existence for over eighteen years and she is not content with waiting for it to play in her favor. Europe is the ticket and royal love is the final destination as Jerramy jaunts throughout England in an attempt to catch the eye of Peter so that her future as a royal and his wife can begin.

Readers will love the fancy-free tale of author Jerramy Fine’s memoir Someday My Prince Will Come.  Jerramy’s tale of missed encounters and tempting the fates is humorous and at times leaves the reader shaking their hand in disbelief at the extent one would go.

While I enjoyed the book, I did find it difficult to muster through at times as the story, though based on the outlandish adventures of this ‘wanna be princess’, tended to drag.  I have to say I never expected the book to end the way that it did and the epilogue was an added dose of humor.  Jerramy Fine determination in nabbing her Prince plays into every woman’s dream of the castle, the Prince Charming, and the fairytale.  It takes you back to your childhood teaparties and may even have you looking in the mirror at your own crooked crown.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess

[phpbay]someday my prince will come fine, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Review: The Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst by Louise Allen

bookreview2

This was one of those books where I had to slug my way through it. I don’t know why I had to slug but I did. I started and stopped this three times and finally finished it. Woohoo. I feel very accomplished.

One of the parts about this book that bothers me is that it’s first cousin romance. I’m not sure why this had to be the case. They grew up for the most part away from each other – so could they not have been childhood friends or perfect strangers? I suppose it is historically accurate as first cousin marriages took place among royalty of the time so why not the gentry, but it was more than a bit off putting.

Elinor is a dowdy bluestocking spinster. She acts as her mother’s secretary and artist as a way to escape the endless parade of pointless ballroom attendance. On a trip in France to study religious houses Elinor runs into Theo Ravenhurst. At first she doesn’t recognize him as her cousin, but pretty quickly that is sorted out.

As the two fight attraction, Theo is on a mission to recover an artifact that he purchased from a late Duke in the area. Theo manages to get himself, Elinor, and her mother invited to the new Duke’s chateau and conducts midnight searches. A near brush with death and subsequent flight throw the two into a night of wild passion but of course everything between them is so screwed up they only hear the words the other is saying not the meaning.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Buy: The Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst

Buy eHarlequin: The Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst