Audio Review: How to Marry a Duke (How To, Book 1) by Vicky Dreiling

how to marry a dukeHero: Some think the Duke of Shelbourne is too picky. He wants to find the perfect wife – someone who is a darling in the ballroom and a temptress in bed. He’s perfectly bored with the ladies he’s met so far and is sure he doesn’t want to court a girl just out of the schoolroom. When he stumbles into a matchmaker he believes he’s found the perfect solution. Have her find him a bride and then he’ll court for a day or two, maybe a week, propose, marry, and that will be it. Back to life as normal.

Heroine: Normal? What man could marry without knowing his bride first? Tessa Mansfield can not believe what she’s hearing from the Duke. She knows his plan is abysmal so she goes ahead with her own. He doesn’t want word to get out? She ensures two dozen ladies and their mamas attend the first round of his courtship. He wants each candidate to have the full list of charms he says are important to him? She’s positive each girl lacks one or two. She and the duke bicker and flirt the whole time and somewhere along the way she wishes she’d placed herself on his candidate list.

Review: It’s like a dating reality TV show! I liked that aspect immensely. I wish some of the dating schemes in the beginning were longer, but understand that going into detail on two dozen candidates would be a bit heavy handed. I might be one of the few who really liked the play of a contemporary theme in a historical setting. So, if you don’t think a dating contest is even remotely legit in a Regency historical setting don’t pick up the book. Otherwise if you’re looking for something light, sweet, and sexy go right on ahead.

“We must talk.”

An arrested expression crossed her face. “I do not think that is a good idea.”

“Tess, we’ve no time to argue now.”

She inhaled sharply. “I am deeply sorry for seducing you. It did not occur to me that you would become so distraught.”

“What?” Had she forgotten to pack her brains?

“You must not worry, for I will still respect you tomorrow.” She paused. “But…”

Tristan gaped at her.He must have pleasured her senseless. A knock sounded at the door. They both turned to stare at it.

Then she glanced at him and said in a rush, “I hope you will forgive me, but I cannot make an honest man out of you.”

Narrator: Elizabeth Jasicki has a nice voice. She narrates convincingly for both sexes. I chose to listen to her at a slightly faster than normal rate of reading. Overall I would listen to her again. She did a good job!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: How to Marry a Duke, How to Marry a Duke (Audio Book)

Review: How to Lose a Lord in 10 Days or Less (Tricks of the Ton, Book 3) by Elizabeth Michels

how to lose a lord in 10 days or lessHero: Andrew Clifton is Lord Amberstall. On his return to London society, he realizes he is being followed and takes measures to evade his pursuers. At first it seems like a successful attempt to escape… but then his horse nearly lands on a young woman and he gets thrown.

Heroine: Katie Moore used to love horses until she had a bad fall off of one that left her with a permanent limp. Her retreat to the countryside was a decision she took knowing she would never be on the marriage mart again. Terrified to be near horses, Katie is still determined to save Lord Andrew’s horse.

Review: First of all, I love this book title. How fantastic is it? I think it’s great. I also love the series title. The hero and heroine couldn’t be more opposite. The hero is pragmatic while the heroine is overly sentimental. Katie is determined to put her foot down on Andrew’s decision to shoot his injured horse. He says it’s a fatal injury. She claims it is not. Who is right? What is humane? If the horse can be rehabilitated it won’t be able to walk or run like normal. Katie is not impressed. She wins the first round by refusing to lend Andrew a replacement horse and invites him to stay on her father’s estate while the horse mends. I’m sad to say, that both characters were kind of flat for me and I was never really involved in the story despite the intrigue around Lord Andrew.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: How to Lose a Lord in 10 Days or Less (Tricks of the Ton)

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Review: A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh

temporary wifeHero: Sir Peregrine “Perry” Lampman is a good guy and effortlessly charming. He’s the toast wherever he goes. He has many male friends and many female admirers. He’s the toast of most parties as everyone adores him and respects him. He’s a beta hero and is kind in a way more romance novel heroes are not depicted. He stands apart for that kindness and his gentleness. He’s unflappable, sturdy, and trustworthy.

Heroine: Grace Howard is a spinster living with her vicar brother, who is dead at the start of the novel. When Perry offers for her hand in marriage to save her from destitution she confesses that she is not a virgin and once had a child (now dead). She implies the father of the child is dead. He still wishes to marry her because of his friendship with her brother.

Review: The sex scenes in this book are very mild. Perry is invested in them, but Grace is absent. It’s the only word I can think of to describe it. She lies there and holds him but doesn’t actively participate in their intercourse. It made perfect sense in the beginning because of both character’s pasts and personalities. That said, it bugged me that she never allowed herself to be coaxed into a more active role. Was she really so broken? Could Perry’s love not heal her? The inner monologue for both characters was stuck on repeat. All could have changed if they overcame an unwillingness to voice their wants, needs, and desires either because they felt lacking or were too embarrassed or both. In short, this is a slow romance with a focus on renewal and reconciliation. It gets credit for being a different storyline than the usual fanfare.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring

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Review: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine (Sydney Dovedale, Book 1) by Jayne Fresina

most improper miss sophie valentine

Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentlemen with other attachments need not apply.

Herione: Sophie Valentine is a spinster by choice. She had an offer once but when she saw him make googly eyes at a maid after their indiscretion in the billiard room, well she knew she couldn’t accept. Sophie wanted someone to look at her the way her ex-lover looked at that maid. Could she ever find that? Impossible now that she is ruined! Scarred from the night, literally, her sister-in-law takes every opportunity to let her know that even if she wasn’t turning 30, was free from scandal, her scar would make her non-marriageable.

Hero: Lazarus Kane has been looking for Sophie since the night she jumped from the balcony and caught herself on his ladder, leaving her scarred. When he overhears someone discussing her ad, he knows where to find her and he makes haste to be the first applicant. Will she accept him? To further his suit he takes up residence down the driveway from her brother’s place and spends much time outdoors, shirtless (very scandalous, but the ladies loved it!) Time is ticking and Lazarus only has so much.

Review: Sophie was very immature for a thirty year old spinster. She climbed trees, read naughty books inside books on sermons, swapped kisses with a stranger, etc. (All this makes her very improper, but not very spinsterish.) She claims to want a solemn upright marriage but the girl is clearly looking for someone willing to break rules with her. Lazarus is the man for the job. He wants to break rules because he is socially beneath her in terms of class and education and has a time bomb over his head which could kill him or imprison him, whichever comes first.

I never really got why Sophie wasn’t jumping at the chance to be with Lazarus, considering her terrible home life with her sister-in-law and controlling pompous brother. The whole bait and switch with the ad seemed wrong. She’s not picky until the guy shows up at her doorstep. Me? I’d be relieved it is not some old guy, but apparently that was what Sophie was hoping to get.

Then Hartley shows up, the man that ruined her and then went on to have an affair with a maid, and he wants to marry her too. I was aggravated with Sophie for entertaining it. Why should she be okay with Hartley now when she wasn’t then?

My favorite scene was inside the schoolhouse when Lazarus gives Sophie his lessons in passion. Hot.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine

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Review: The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter by Mary Ellen Dennis

Reviewed by Hannah

For all those girls who love bad boys, this is the book for you. A cavalier thief (aka “highwayman”) not only works to steal your heart, but also your baubles and pocketbook.

Hero: Rand is tall, dark and handsome. And if that already isn’t enough, he’s got the Robin Hood persona down pat. His cool, reserved demeanor can be trying for the reader to get into, but if aloft is hot for you- then this is the romance hero for you.

Heroine: Elizabeth is a curvy girl who’s far before her time. She’s feminine and independent (petticoats with career goals and aspirations)… it makes me happy. Elizabeth, a top selling romance novel writer in the Regency era, finds herself falling in love with the protagonist from her own work. At first glance, she knew she wanted to meet him.

She approaches him from all the way across the dance floor, and introduces herself – completely shocking herself with her brashness. It was very fun to see the heroine put herself out there time and time again. Her infatuation grows with him, as his surface-deep indifference increases (which seems a bit backwards to me, but makes for some interesting situations.)

Dislikes: Right from the first sexual encounter between Elizabeth and Rand… which was hot and feverish, Rand disappears. He might as well have been the invisible man, how fast he fled the scene. Seriously, then he goes on to tell her she should be with an alternative suitor (who also happens to be the “Right Arm of the Law” type guy and a beta male).

If that hadn’t been horrifying enough to read, Elizabeth happily accepts his fleeing without complaint. Yeah… that is unacceptable in my book. You don’t say “I love you” and run. Talk about mixed signals.

Likes: I loved the sex scenes, so hot. Rand plays a very controlled counterpart in those scenes. I had to wipe the sweat off my face, I got so hot.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the main character’s ardor, she was very capable of handling any all situations that arose, especially in reference to the sticky situations featured around the criminal acts of her bad boy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter

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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: Miss Foster’s Folly by Alice Gaines

This Victorian romance is the very opposite of sexual restraint. If you’re in the mood for something hot and spicy with a wide streak of naughtiness you’ll want to read this book! You’ll love it from the very first page.

Miss Juliet Foster upon her father’s death is given all of his wealth while her brother gets the businesses, and her sister the real estate.  Suddenly Juliet isn’t just a virginal American spinster. She’s also an heiress and the leeches are popping out the woodwork to try to force her into marriage so they can get control of it.

Determined not to get caught but to still enjoy her life, Juliet decides the best thing to do is seduce her way through the Continent. First she’ll go to Britain, find a nice staid man to start. Then she’ll hit France to turn herself into a more sophisticated lover. Next Spain, for a little passion. All because, if she’s going to end up with a man he’s going to be Italian – the most perfect of lovers to be found anywhere! There’s just one flaw – somebody has to take her virginity first.

David Winslow, the Marquess of Derrington, Derry to his friends, suffers from the Winslow curse which skips between generations. If he’s ever going to be happy and successful he needs to find a woman more wild than he is because in taming her he’ll tame himself. It’s his ‘dying’ grandmother’s wish that he marry soon and so he goes to America to find himself the perfect bride, one who meets all his grandmother’s requirements and cares not a fig for his wealth or title. When Juliet Foster asks him to take her maidenhead he’s both flabbergasted and excited because he knows she is his perfect match. When she runs away he knows he has to chase after her.

It’s a fun romp of cat and mouse and hot hot sex. Really, it’s decadently delicious in every way.

My one complaint is how often the heroine runs off. The very last time she does was one time too many for me. I felt the angst moment could have been satisfied a little sooner with better results if the North & South type moment had been seized upon with vigor.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy: Miss Foster’s Folly

Review: One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare

Prepare yourself to be dazzled. One Dance with a Duke is one of those exceptional romances that immediately found its way to my top favorites (ten of which I sent to Jane at Dear Author… if I had finished this book before sending off the list you would most assuredly have found it with the rest.)

The sexual tension is through the roof. The foreplay is salivating. The sex is piping hot.

The hero is scrumptious. The heroine plucky. With dialogue to die sigh for.

In short: fabulous.

Lady Amelia d’Orsay is a plump spinster and a bit of a wallflower with a fondness for embroidery, planning meals, and her stupid foolish halfwit brother Jack. When she discovers Jack owes the Duke of Midnight 400 pounds she confronts the man, stealing his hand with an impetuousness that surprises even her and leads him out on the dance floor.

Spencer Dumarque, 4th Duke of Morland, notoriously known as the Duke of Midnight, is socially inept on many fronts. He gets disoriented and dizzy at inopportune moments, is impossibly rude, and has a fondness for horses so deep he’ll go to any lengths; pay any price to own one retired champion horse, including bankrupting idiotic boys.

This book is the first in the Stud Club trilogy.

The Trilogy Arc: Discover who murdered the leader and founder of the Stud Club: Leopold Chatwick.

Loved the change of pace: A quick marriage – but not marriage of convenience.

The Slightly Illogical: Amelia accepting Spencer’s proposal, signing the register with defiance and surety when he’s accused of murder, and then recanting her trust by bedtime. This strange turn of events allows for some very hot flirting and petting so I was more than okay with it. Of course, she wasn’t really afraid of him and didn’t truly believe him capable of murder; though that’s the excuse she gave him. She was afraid she couldn’t protect her heart from certain heartbreak.

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy: One Dance with a Duke

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