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: The French Maid by Sabrina Jeffries

The French MaidHeroine: Lady Eleanor Langston doesn’t know how to get her husband to notice her. He’s always busy with politics and while their live is steady and on the surface both seem content, it lacks passion Eleanor truly craves.

Hero: Henry Langston needed a good hostess when he wedded Eleanor. They make love once a week and he’s never cheated. He is unaware of his wife and her discontent. It’s not until Babette, Eleanor’s maid, gets involved that Henry starts to view his wife in a new light.

Review: The love story fairly unique with a couple already married at the start of the story. On one hand, I didn’t like that the heroine needed to transform to gain her husband’s notice – sexually and companionably. On the other hand, I did like that both parties had to work a little harder and/or differently to turn their marriage from one that was basically roommates sharing their lives to lovers sharing their hearts. I did not like Babette, because it’s a little too convenient to have someone instantly get what was going on between the married couple and fix it. She sort of stood in as a fairy godmother/therapist.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: The French Maid

Review: Twas the Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries

twas night after christmasReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Pierce Waverly is the Earl of Devonmont. And when he was a young man he was very bitter. But that is what happens when you have the upbringing that he had. Maybe this holiday will change him – almost reminds me of a young Scrooge.

Camilla Stuart takes care of Pierce’s mother. They make quite the family unit. Camilla and his mother also have a secret. Parents will do anything to protect their children. That even includes lying to them – it’s for their own good. Children are innocent and don’t understand how some adults can be so evil. Once Camilla’s son Jasper makes his appearance, he will steal every scene.

As I read Sabrina’s book, I find that I want to put on some music. Not any of the new stuff that’s out there but music that Pierce or Camilla may have listened to. You may want to visit your local library and see if you can locate the album titled “A Baroque Christmas from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Concerts”. Or, you may want to just listen to an album that is playing the old Christmas Carols. By putting on the music, you are helping to set the mood.

I have to laugh at what they may have considered sexy back then. You also have to wonder how they would feel about what some people consider sexy today. You may also want to check out the book that Pierce, at one point, asks Camilla to read. It’s a book they thought was scandalous at that time. It may be considered tame compared to the erotica of today.

Sabrina also has included a very old Christmas poem as part of her storyline. It is one of the most popular poems. Even though this poem has been included in the story, I believe that you could read this book at any time of the year. She has you fall in love with her characters and knowing that it is connected with one of her series is just an added bonus. If you stop over to her web site, http://www.sabrinajeffries.com/the-books/the-hellions-of-halstead-hall/, you will be able to check out the titles and see if there are any books to the series that you need to catch up on. And you can’t go wrong in adding this book to your list of holiday books to read this year.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: ‘Twas the Night After Christmas

Review: A Hellion in Her Bed by Sabrina Jeffries

A Hellion in Her Bed is book two of the Hellions of Halstead Hall series by Sabrina Jeffries. The Sharpe family consists of five children raised by their grandmother. Their parents died under mysterious circumstances which set tongues wagging throughout the ton and shadowed their lives growing up. When all the children were grown but exhibited no signs of finding partners and settling into married life and babies, their grandmother decided to do something about it. Her ultimatum dictated that they all had to wed by the end of the year or be disinherited.

Lord Jarret couldn’t be more disgusted that his older brother, Lord Stoneville capitulated so easily to their grandmother and was now honeymooning with his new bride. Determined not to yield to the old broad, Jarret strikes a new bargain with his grandmother. He will manage the Plumtree brewery for a year, without her interference, in exchange for his inheritance which he plans to use to save his other siblings from the unhappy task of following their grandmother’s dictates.

When he meets Annabel Lake, of Lake Ale, a young single woman, he’s immediately suspicious of his grandmother’s involvement. Her proposition of combining forces to brew an October ale to take to the Dutch East India Company was equally ludicrous and foolhardy. If all went well all the brewery’s troubles (and his own) would be taken care of permanently. If not, he would lose everything. Against his gambling nature, he turns her down, but her second proposition based on a wager was too tempting to turn down.

Both are determined, competent, family oriented characters with a passion for brewing. Both have secrets and hidden depths. The true question is, are both willing to gamble for love?

As a complete side note: Some of the cutest paraphernalia came with this book when I got it in the mail. There were interviews in the Parasol Papers for both the hero and heroine, a letter to the editor of the papers from the hero and heroine, a little how-to on beating a gambling rogue at cards, and a deck of playing cards with the book’s cover on them. There were more cute things describing book one of series too. I thought it was excellent marketing and lots of fun to read too.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: A Hellion in Her Bed (Hellions of Halstead Hall)

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Review: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries

Series Background: The grandmother wants to see her grandkids wed before the year is out. If one fails to do so their inheritances go up in smoke.

Series Plot Arc: The Sharpe children have been branded by scandal. It is widely believed that their mother shot their father and then herself in a tragic episode the whole ton delights in gossiping about… but this is not the case. Each book reveals more about the murder mystery plot.

Summary: Minerva plans to outwit her grandmother by placing an ad in a magazine for a husband and picking the worst of the lot in hopes of getting her grandmother to rescind the ultimatum. When family friend and rogue, Giles Masters applies for her hand, she believes he’s the one to fix her dilemma. Just because he’s a friend of the family, doesn’t mean Gran or her brothers want her to be married to him.

Review: When I was reading A Hellion in Her Bed I knew I wanted to read the romance of the independent lady novelist Minerva Sharpe. I loved the idea of a novelist writing a villain spy into her books based on the hero, who is in fact a spy, but not at all evil. What a delicious romp! And it really was. :D

I liked the relationship between Giles and the brothers, especially once they learn of his interest in their Minerva. How hypocritical they were!

One thing I didn’t really get was all Giles’ “angst” over the mishap between his brother and his brother’s second wife. It seemed so unnecessary and convoluted to his whole “love is for fools and suckers” mentality.

Favorite Scene: The first time they had sex was good and pretty funny too because Minerva asks “is that all?” when talking about breaking her hymen. I also liked when they swam together at the pond, and the hanky panky at the first hotel.

Hellions of Halstead Hall:

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

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Review: The Forbidden Lord by Sabrina Jeffries

guestreview

By: Marcia, guest reviewer

Quiet and obedient Emily Fairchild is not expecting an adventure. She is content to care for her father, a country vicar since her mother died after a long illness less than a year before. She is happy to have been invited to the masquerade ball being held by the Marquess of Dryden at his country estate. Her cousin Lawrence was kind enough to escort her.

Emily is unable to dance, still being in mourning, but she is looking forward to visiting with her best friend, Lady Sophia, daughter of her father’s patron, Lord Nesfield. Unfortunately, Lady Sophia is dancing with the notorious Earl of Blackmore. Lord Nesfield takes issue with this and there is an embarrassing confrontation.

When Emily is ready to leave she follows a man that she thinks is her cousin and gets into his carriage. In the dark, it takes little time for Emily to realize that the man in the carriage is not her cousin but the Earl of Blackmore. The Earl is happy to have what he thinks is a widow in his carriage. He has no use for virginal young ladies, as he is not ready for marriage.

Maneuvering herself away from the seductive Earl and back into the ball without anyone seeing her is the first of her adventures. Soon she finds herself accused of murdering her mother and blackmailed into posing as the spirited niece of Lord Nesfield in London and must find out who tried to elope with Lady Sophia.

Since the Earl of Blackmore and his friends are the suspects, Emily must spend time flirting and trying to encourage them to confide in her. In the meantime the Earl of Blackmore has not forgotten the lovely Emily Fairchild whom he recognizes in spite of the fact that the carriage, on that first night, was very dark.

This delightful romp entertains with twists and turns provided by the mystery of who tried to elope with Lady Sophia and the necessity of defeating Lord Nesfied. The personal growth that the characters find on the way to love adds interest and dimension.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Forbidden Lord

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Review: In the Prince’s Bed by Sabrina Jeffries

bookreview

I loved In the Prince’s Bed by Sabrina Jeffries. It was dazzling, sexy, full of wit and great dialog. The characters and their motives were well thought out and spun together to create a wonderfully fantastic tale. This is the first of the Royal Brotherhood trilogy.

Alec Iversley, comes home from abroad at his father’s death to find his inheritance gone and in its place a large debt. His childhood home is a wreck, his finances a wreck, his tenets and servants in terrible shape, and his honor in question because of his father’s misdeeds. He needs an heiress and he needs those funds yesterday if he is going to save Edenmore and all the fortunes of those that depend on him.

Miss Katherine Merivale needs to get married. Her grandfather left her a large sum of money as her inheritance, but it can only be retrieved upon her marriage. Her mother needs the money to pay off her father’s debts from gambling and whoring. Katherine and her childhood friend, Sydney Lovelace, have had a long time understanding that they will wed. So why hasn’t he bucked up the courage to overthrow his mother’s tyranny and declare her his bride?

From a deal struck up with his half-brothers the other byblows of the Prince of Wales, Alec has in his possession the name of his future heiress. At Lady Jenner’s cherry blossom themed party he spies a lovely young miss with flame-red hair and a wildly exotic red dress. When he finds out afterward that this woman is his heiress he thinks to himself, ‘no man can be that lucky.’

But Katherine has defenses Alec can scarcely hope to breach. She believes in the gossip about his past, dislikes rakehells, and defends herself at every turn from seduction. Lucky for him, she’s a passionate woman with a streak of recklessness yearning to be set free and that Sydney is a spineless wet towel. Now all he has to do is prove he’s not the man the gossip paints him, woo her with drugging kisses, and somehow show her that he’s the better man.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: In the Prince’s Bed (Royal Brotherhood)

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Review: The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries and Deborah Martin

by Carla F., guest reviewer

It started out with an interesting premise and it ended OK, but there was so much in the middle that bugged me.

In The Pirate Lord, Sara Willis, a reformer, decides that she is going to try to expose the conditions of convict women who are being transported to New South Wales by getting on a ship and going with a group of them. After convincing her step-brother Jordon, the Earl of Blackmore, that she is of age and that he can’t stop her, she heads off on a ship as a teacher for these women. This ship is soon captured by pirates. What the pirates want is not treasure but the convict women. In attempt to save these women, Sara threatens the pirate Captain with retaliation from her powerful “brother”. Unfortunately for her, Gideon Horn, the Captain hates the nobility and in fact targets ships owned by and/or carrying nobles. This has earned him the name, The Pirate Lord. Once Gideon finds out that Sara’s brother is an earl, he decides to take Sara along with the other women.

Things I didn’t like (possible spoilers):

1. The crew on Gideon’s ship are “cleaner” than the crew of the ship headed for New South Wales. OK I don’t really want to read about dirty, nasty pirates either. Still it made me think of Errol Flynn and his Technicolor crew.

2. These pirates don’t want the women just to have their wicked way with them. They want wives because they are “retiring” and moving to an island paradise. Sara thinks that this is an awful thing to do to these women, and it cannot be allowed to happen. This leads me to #3.

3. Sara was an extremely annoying character who will not open her eyes and actually see what was going on. She has a captain and crew who have promised not to harm any of the women.  Gideon even decides to give the women a week to be courted and will let them choose their husbands. Time and time again Gideon agrees to Sara’s requests/demands and yet Sara continues to believe that what is happening is so horrific and that no compromise is acceptable. At one point Gideon gets “forceful” with Sara to try to teach her the difference between him and a bad man, but that doesn’t last long. Sara doesn’t think that Gideon can be good man because, after all, he is a pirate (said multiple times).

4. There is the snake incident. On the island, while Gideon and Sara are talking, a black mambo appears from the tree over her shoulder. Gideon manages to cut off the snake’s head without any harm to Sara. Naturally, this freaks her out, and she winds up in Gideon’s arms for comfort. This leads to intense kissing and eventually Gideon pushes her up against a tree to continue further. Hello! There is a decapitated snake laying on the ground! A snake that came from a tree! Isn’t she concerned? If this had happened to me, I would have been halfway back to England before the snake hit the ground.

As I said at the beginning, I thought the idea of a reformer heading off in a ship to help convicts was an promising idea, but there were just too many problems with the book. If you really love pirate stories, like other Sabrina Jeffries  or Deborah Martin books, or are not bothered by the same things that I am, you might like this book.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: The Pirate Lord

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