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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Review: Doukakis’s Apprentice by Sarah Morgan

The title and blurb for this book are misleading because Polly Prince isn’t Damon Doukakis’s apprentice, though he is the boss and she winds up working for him. Polly’s more like a thorn in his side that he’s got to manage until he can expose where his sister and Polly’s father are hiding.

Hero: Damon is an arrogant fellow, determined to do right by his sister, even if that means sticking close to Polly, a woman he has no respect for and blames for his sister’s expulsion from an elite private high school. (He was always overprotective.) Polly he finds dresses unprofessional, doesn’t have any credentials, and is a leech on her father’s (now his) business. He’ll make her earn her pay… so why can’t he think of anything but those hot pink tights she wears?

Heroine: Polly has been embarrassed by her father’s behavior before, but when he was discovered having an affair with her best friend, well, that’s the worst. Or maybe the worst is when the brother, Damon, shows up and takes over the company, threatening to fire everyone that works there. Why did she find him beyond sexy then? He didn’t like her wild ways when she was younger. It would never work, even if it were an option.

Review: Damon is a very anal retentive person, controlling all aspects of the businesses he runs, including which desks people sit at each morning. He doesn’t understand Polly’s highly creative way of managing her father’s advertising company at all. He thinks it’s unprofessional, instead of just a different form of management. The story is fun and very entertaining. I always love a falsely accused heroine, showing the hero what’s what. I love that her blasé attitude about their relationship has him spluttering for commitment. It was a refreshing change from the usual scenario of the girl wanting more and the guy being a commitment phobe!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Doukakis’s Apprentice (Harlequin Presents)

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Review: The Highest Stakes of All by Sara Craven

Heroine: Joanna Veron is somewhere around 19. In her father’s world she plays at being a high maintenance vapid beauty, but inside she’s really just a sweetheart looking for a way out of her father’s lifestyle (without having to go to her perfectly nice uncle) ever since a particularly bad incident when they were living in Australia where they swindled a youngish man named Peter out of a lot of money. She extracts a promise from her father to never use her in such a manner again, but of course Denys doesn’t hold to it for long.

Hero: Vassos Gordanis (I see his name and think vaseline) is somewhere in his 30s. He’s out for revenge against Denys and Joanna (though of course she’s clueless.) When he wins Joanna in a high stakes poker game he believes he has the chance to accomplish both punishments as he believes Joanna is Denys mistress. Obviously he’s not buying the “she’s my niece” they both claimed ever since Joanna joined her father on his jaunts around the gambling dens of the world. (Why does Joanna allow this? Gross.)

Favorite Moment: The first and second time they make love when he learns of her innocence (read virginity surprise!) and then tries to teach her about lovemaking which she tries so hard to hate … There’s flavors of Stockholm Syndrome in this, but honestly it worked for me because there’s also the play on the Persephone myth.

Missed Opportunity:
If I remember right they were talking about her real relationship to Denys, but it could also have easily alluded to her virgin state.

Vassos: Why didn’t you tell me?
Joanna’s answer should have been: Would you have believed me?

It seems like a perfectly standard response, but it never came up.

TSTL Ending: Why did the HEA have to include a flowery all is forgiven resolution between Joanna and Denys? What a crappy way to tie it off. Sometimes splitting family units is okay and in this case her dad is such a scumbag there’s really no way I’d buy his remorse and sudden “Oh shut up” speech to his new wife (whom he married right after Joanna was taken by Vassos to avoid his debts and to get the hell out of dodge, the bastard didn’t even look for her to get her back.)

Rating: ★★★★☆ – I know the rating seems incongruent with the story’s flaws, but I’m also factoring in the *guilty pleasure* I got out of it, because what worked, worked really well for me.

Buy: The Highest Stakes of All (Harlequin Presents)

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Review: Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid (Kellington Book One) by Maureen Driscoll

Story: Nurse Jane Wetherby and Lord Edward Kellington have a very brief and hot affair behind enemy lines at the Battle of Waterloo. Jane convinces Edward (Ned) of her widowhood when in fact she’s an unmarried virgin – talk about your virginity surprise! Of course the dunderhead ruins it all by proposing they continue the illicit affair instead of proposing marriage. Jane disappears and because he doesn’t know her real name he can’t find her when he comes to his senses.

They meet again seven years later when Ned shows up in Marston Vale to do his duty and pay to the family, which as we all know means he’s got to get hitched whether he likes it or not and trust me he does not. The bride-to-be in question was loosely arranged between the parents and is an unkind scheming woman Ned has no interest in – though he’s quite interested in the kind surgeon he meets riding in – very interested. Now he’s just got to convince her to marry him!

Review: This is a stunning and beautiful romance. I couldn’t put it down, which I feel is a good indicator of how fabulous it is! :) There’s quite a lot going on in this novel: a second son of a duke turned soldier/spy, mistaken identity, virginity surprise, a bastard secret baby from the union, another woman/arranged marriage, a wicked grandfather, a murder, several attempted kidnappings, one real one, the heroine’s a surgeon, and at least one more thing to tie it all together. I was swept up in the adventure and rooted for the characters from the first paragraph and I think you will be too. Be sure to pick this book up if you like Regency romances and anything else I’ve mentioned to this point. I can’t wait to see what else Maureen Driscoll turns out next! I’m particularly looking forward to Lynwood’s romance.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid (Kellington Book One)