Review: Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, Book 2) by Sherry Thomas

ravishing an heiressHero: Fitzhugh is an impoverished Earl, who recently inherited his earldom. If he doesn’t wed for money he and his family will be doomed to live in poverty forever. The idea of a loveless marriage does not appeal to him in the slightest as he is in love with a beautiful woman… but he can’t provide her with the life she deserves and she isn’t as wealthy as he needs. So, for the love of duty and England, he will marry Millie instead.

Heroine: Millicent (Millie) is a sardine-canning heiress. She’s not gentry, she’s not beautiful… and she isn’t Isabelle. She agrees to marry Fitz knowing that he doesn’t love her. She proposes that they abstain from consummating the marriage for a few years and then get together long enough for them to beget an heir. Fitz thinks that is a great idea because he can’t imagine wanting to sleep with his wife and proposes an extension of the abstinence plan.

So, of course, the beautiful Isabelle returns freshly widowed and ready to start an illicit affair with Fitz just when the married couple plans to consummate the marriage.

Review: My big issue with this book is the flaunting of adultery as the hero cheats and screws his way around London. He’s even willing to abandon his wife publically for a calculating harpy, just because his younger self thought he was in love with the woman. Ugh. I did however, like Millie, even if she took the role of doormat. I got her as a character. She loved Fitz at first site, is a young teenage girl, and believes she’s causing him more harm than good by being married to him. Sure it is a bit delusional, seeing as she’s bringing way more to the marriage with successful businesses and wealth while he’s only bringing a title and some land… but… that’s Millie. The hero has very few redeemable qualities and uses his broken heart as an excuse to behave awfully. What I didn’t understand was why Isabelle wasn’t given the cut-direct several times over? She’s clearly not “high society” even if she married well because she relentless pursues a scandal broth that would consume her, Fitz, and her children. In short, if Millie got a very determined admirer who honestly made her feel special and gave her the idea to run away from her loveless marriage, I might have enjoyed the story better.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Ravishing the Heiress

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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: 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: Secrets of Seduction (Legendary Lovers, Book 3) by Nicole Jordan

secrets of seductionHero: The Earl of Hawkhurst loved and lost his first wife and child in a fire that also left him scarred. He buried his grief by working for the government in an elite group known as Guardians of the Sword. Hawk has returned to England to fulfill the honor-pact required by the group’s charter in order to lead Guardians. To do this he must wed his mentor’s niece… a woman he’s never met.

Heroine: Skye believes in her cousin’s idea about legendary lovers. In fact, she’s knows just which fairy tale hers is going to be… Beauty and the Beast. When she finds out the man she’s loved since childhood is back in England, but looking for a bride elsewhere, she brazenly enters his life under the threatening clouds of a convenient storm. If he’s going to be beastly about it, well… she’d prepared with a clever rouse to get his help solving a mystery of her uncle’s lost love.

Review: Secrets of Seduction is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved it. Skye is a brilliant heroine – not only clever and determined to win the heart of a man she’s loved from afar, but patient enough to see his pain and understand him. You’ll be rooting for her before she’s through uttering her greetings to the hero for the first time. Hawk is very funny – first knowing she’s a virgin, then convincing himself otherwise. Skye’s aunt is very talkative about these things and has prepared Skye for what to expect. It leads to a very sexy scene with some sponges. A classic feel good romance, you’ll love to read!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Secrets of Seduction (Legendary Lovers)

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Audio Review: The Naked Earl (Naked Nobility, Book 4) by Sally Mackenzie

naked earlHero: The Earl of Westbrooke, Robert “Robbie” Hamilton, has no trouble getting “it” up. No, the problem lies in keeping “it” up. This road block is tied to a humiliating moment in his youth and he’s unable to let the incident go. Just when things begin to heat up — like seeing the inebriated and naked Lizzie in her room — the memory will crop up and the excitement turns to frustration.

Heroine: Lady Elizabeth “Lizzie” Runyon, is the younger sister of Robbie’s best friend, James. She has been in love with Robbie most of her life and would like nothing better than to marry him. When he falls through her window (escaping across the rooftop from a calculating marriage-minded spinster), during a house party, she takes advantage of his naked state and her own, by stealing innocently passionate kisses.

Review: When the guests come running to her door, he begs her for silence and so while she could have kept him all to herself, she does as he asks, which I think takes guts. Of course, Lizzie feels Robbie will come around properly to ask for her hand and is flummoxed when he does not. There was a lot of potential with the book and where it fell flat for me was the passion fizzled at its highest points (and I don’t mean when it fizzled for Robbie as those were some of the better moments in the book because you could really feel his anxiety and frustration over his reactions or lack thereof). Robbie really wanted to be the man he felt Lizzie deserved and needed/wanted. The best-friend’s-sister or brother’s-best-friend trope is a tough one for me to warm up to, but I found myself rooting for the two quite early in the novel. The momentum just didn’t keep up with my expectations.

Narrator: The narrator was exceptional and one of the reasons it was so easy for me to get involved in the romance. I would recommend listening to Terry Donnelly if you get the chance. She’s very good at the intimate moments and keeping characters straight and reads very lively and with emotion. (4.5 of 5 Stars)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Sally MacKenzie Bundle: The Naked Earl, The Naked Gentleman, The Naked Marquis, The Naked Baron, The Naked Duke, The Naked Viscount, The Naked King

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Audio Review: The Husband Hunt (Madison Sisters, Book 3) by Lynsay Sands

husband huntHeroine: Lisa Madison wants to get married and she wants to be married to Robert Langley, her best friend’s older brother. However he’s clueless. He does not see her as a woman. She’s about to get his attention!

Hero: Robert Langley rescues Lisa from near ruination at a madam’s establishment. Somebody wants to compromise her beyond repair – and the madam says the fellow is a gentlemen. This villain is possibly one of the many suitors surrounding Lisa. He’s going to have to keep an eye on her. No telling what trouble she’ll land herself in if he doesn’t.

Review: Lisa is a TSTL heroine. She can be a real featherbrain and does stupid things in the name of stubbornness and naiveté. She needs a lot of people to explain to her how things work and why she shouldn’t do certain things. Was she asleep in the schoolroom the entire time? Seriously. However, as someone who generally doesn’t like to read the unrequited-I’m-in-love-with-my-friend’s-brother (or brother’s friend) it read well to me. Robert is slowly dragged out of his shell and into the full light of his feelings. I liked that aspect a lot.

Narrator: Jaime Birch was a great narrator. I enjoyed listening very much and would listen to another by her.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Husband Hunt

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Review: The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

The Secret of Ella and MichaReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Ella and Michel have always been the best of friends since childhood, but one night changes everything and Ella leaves Micha for a new life at college. There she wants to forget those past events with her former boyfriend, but when summer break comes, Ella has to think about where she can stay, and finds she has only one place to go, her own home, and with Micha living next door, she fears the horrible memories of what happened in the past may come back to haunt her all over again. Micha, on the other hand is determined to win her heart, and doesn’t care what it takes to do so.

The Secret of Ella and Micha was originally self-published in October of 2012, selling 84,000 copies during the first month of sales and over 200,000 copies since. It got to number 2 on the New York Times ebook bestseller list and number 2 on Amazon.

The Secret of Ella and Micha is a dual viewpoint story set out in small chapters using their first names so the reader can tell who they are reading about. Jessica Sorensen also uses popular music most of the way through the story to give readers a track listing they can listen to while reading. This can give them a better understanding of the book’s characters and the way they think. This novel is designed for readers who like an upbeat romance novel set in modern day, and deals with modern issues among older teenagers.

Micha admires Ella’s personality, the way she stood up for others when they were kids and her fiery nature – she has often been able to arouse him, and although he would never admit it to anyone, she is the only woman who can do that. When she returns to her home for the summer holidays, he is shocked to see her and even more amazed when she refuses to talk to him even though he has waited eight months to ask her why. For Micha, Ella was his first love, and as far as he is concerned, his only love. He can never feel this way with any other woman. Ella still loves him, but has to realise it, and what better way to rekindle their love than to be his next door neighbour – again.

I admired the honesty that the author put into this story, and the realism the characters had. I could actually believe that there were characters like Ella and Micha out there, as these acted as though they were living and breathing. This is definitely one for the keeper shelf. Also in the same series are The Forever of Ella and Micha and The Temptation of Lila and Ethan.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Secret of Ella and Micha

Review: Mockingjay (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins

Brief Overview: 13 Districts rebelled against the Capitol. 1 was supposedly destroyed while 12 suffered under a harsh treaty for 75 years. Now we’re back at the beginning and once more 13 Districts are rebelling. This time is different though, because this time the rebels have a cause and a face of the revolution: Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire. The Capitol has Peeta, captured from the Quarter Quell, and they wield him like a weapon against Katniss. Can she survive a broken heart?

WTF? No seriously, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…???

“Are you, are you coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here.
No stranger would let it be if we met up
At midnight in the hanging tree.”

Wishlist: Katniss needs to sing to Peeta, like a lot and happy songs or songs about hope. Her singing made an impression on him at 5, she should sing that song again! Break down all those shiny memories in one fell swoop. 😀

My 10 Favorite Scenes:

Not in order of preference or sequence in book.

  1. Katniss figuring out how Snow is really using Peeta. Angst! Angst! Angst!
  2. Brainwashed Peeta (attacking Katniss). Well, until I realized there’s wasn’t a cure-all for it. Stupid shiny memories.
  3. Real or Not Real. This was a good one…

    “You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real,” he whispers.

    “Real,” I answer. “Because that’s what you and I do, protect each other.”

  4. Peeta figuring Katniss out. Not that she tries to help him sort it all out. She runs a bit too often for my tastes.

    “Ally.” Peeta says the words slowly, tasting it. “Friend. Lover. Victor. Enemy. Fiancee. Target. Mutt. Neighbor. Hunter. Tribute. Ally. I’ll add it to the list of words I use to try to figure you out. The problem is, I can’t tell what’s real anymore, and what’s made up.”

  5. Peeta trying to remember the truth about them. Can we say ouch? So freaking awesome… the angst!!!

    “I must have loved you a lot.”

  6. Declaration of Love. Such as it was… (who else wanted more to this scene? I did!)

    “You love me. Real or not real?”

    I tell him, “Real.”

  7. Who is Peeta? The most telling sentence Katniss ever said…

    “You’re a painter. You’re a baker. You like to sleep with the windows open. You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces.”

    He also likes the color orange.

  8. Peeta remembers? It looks like it with these sentences but he still comes off as damaged beyond repair in the epilogue. Sniff.

    “Katniss. I remember about the bread.”

    and

    “Let me go!” I snarl at him, trying to wrest my arm from his grasp.

    “I can’t,” he says.

  9. Katniss killing President Coin. Needed. Though, I won’t lie the aftermath of that is pretty confusing. Being trapped in Katniss’ head did not give a big picture view of what was going on outside her impromptu prison/isolation. I bet the movie will do it better.
  10. Katniss and Gale parting. Gale is bitter, but he was not a good match for Katniss. She’d lose herself completely in his hatred. In broken Peeta, perhaps our equally broken Katniss can heal?

Conclusion: The Hunger Games Trilogy is not a romance. It’s a dystopian warfare driven trilogy with romantic elements. If it was a romance, the ending would have been sweeter, Peeta wouldn’t have been brainwashed and his character mutated (I once did this to a fanfic character, oomph, cheated the whole story, so I know what I’m talking about here). He should have been fixed more than he was at the end.

Peeta was the driving force of the romance in the story, because Katniss never truly confessed in a declaration of love (to herself or to Peeta, though she does tap dance around it several times). At least not like how we know them in the romance genre. At best it was halfhearted, and while “Real or Not Real” was good, it could have been better. For example something like, “Real. I love you Peeta and here’s why…” With Katniss blind and resistant from the beginning to her feelings she needed to really open up at some point to Peeta.

“All those months of taking it for granted that Peeta thought I was wonderful are over. Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it.” – Katniss

So in effect, warping Peeta warped the romance. He had all the best lines too between them, which you can see when you check out my favorite scenes between the books.

Also, I get that PTSD would have been prevalent, but romances as we define them in the genre mean a real HEA, where the characters heal each other and not merely survive together (and watch their kids play on top of mass graves… shudder).

“Oh, that I do know…Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without.” – Gale

Additionally, I don’t buy that Katniss would have had children with Peeta. That was a no-go from the get-go.

I feel all this could have been fixed with an additional chapter or longer epilogue. I doubt I am alone in this.

What really needed to be addressed and was never addressed, was Katniss’ statement to Peeta revealing that Haymitch orchestrated the romance on her part during the first Hunger Games. She implied most of it was Haymitch, but not all of it was Haymitch. If Peeta had latched onto that semantic like a pitbull we could have gotten somewhere with her. 😛

Final thoughts: So yes, I was disappointed with the romance, but the trilogy is a good one. Peeta makes the series for me, no question. I would reread it for him alone.

Bonus: 74 Books to Read if You Love the Hunger Games

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set, The Hunger Games Trilogy (digital)

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