Dec 052013
 

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (Rules of Scoundrels) For twelve years ‘Temple’ has been known as the killer Duke. Having no memory of the night his life changed forever, he has accepted the moniker and forged a life as one of the proprietors of the notorious casino ‘The Fallen Angel’.  When his ‘victim’ Mara Lowe turns up offering him the chance for absolution, he is determined revenge will also be his, but the best laid plans and all that…

This is the third book about the men of The Fallen Angel and I love it. These books are about a seedier side of Regency London and Ms. MacLean certainly knows how to bring it to life.

We have been introduced to Temple – in reality William Harrow Duke of Lamont – in the previous books in this series but this is the one where we really find out what makes him tick. I love him as a character, he has so much depth and is just desperate to be loved and have a family of his own… and of course just oozes sex appeal!

I found it hard to warm up to Mara to start with after the really crappy thing she did to Temple, but as the book progressed and we got more of her back story, things started to make sense and I was rooting for their happy ending. I did find it irritating the way she refused to tell Temple about that night, although I guess his words “Nothing you could say would make me forgive” made her feel there was no point. After all, she had to think of what impact telling him the truth all in one go would have on others.

This is definitely a darker book than the previous two and emotions are running high throughout. There were some very tense and dramatic scenes and of course some very romantic ones, and I really enjoyed it. At times you are reminded of how lethal the men of the Fallen Angel are when one of their own is threatened – no matter who the aggressor may be!

Passion and emotion just flew off the pages and once I’d warmed up to Mara I was totally drawn in. Of course you know it will all be okay in the end, but the journey certainly had its ups and downs!

Overall an excellent addition to the Rules of Scoundrels series, full of drama, emotion and of course romance. Only Chase left to go now, and I cannot wait for his story.

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah MacLean
  • Series: Rules of Scoundrels (3)
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Rating: ★★★★☆ 

 

Nov 132013
 

The Sum of All Kisses: Number 3 in series (Smythe-Smith Quartet) Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

This is the third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet and another great book from Ms. Quinn. Something I always love about her work is the way she wraps romance and humour around a great story-line.

The prologue refers to the same event as the prologue in the previous book but it’s told from the other point of view, and the fall out from that comes to a head towards the end of this book in a dramatic fashion.

Sarah is a complete drama queen and does everything in the most dramatic fashion possible, Hugh is a bit of a nerd and the sparks that fly when they interact are anything but boring. Hugh has a damaged leg and emotional scars but an imperfect man is always more loveable!

Of course no book in this series would be complete without the usual references to the annual musicale and it’s hilarious watching Sarah and her cousin Iris trying to dissuade Daisy from performing an impromptu performance.

The minor characters in this book are as great as the protagonists, in particular Sarah’s youngest sister Frances who steals the show at times.

Overall a great book with equal parts humour and romance, a must for fans of Julia Quinn.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Julia Quinn
  • Series: Smythe-Smith Quartet (3)
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Oct 032013
 

The Arrangement: Number 2 in series (Survivors' Club) Blinded by a cannon blast on the Napoleonic battlefields. Vincent Hunt, Lord Darleigh, needs to escape the well-meaning, meddling – and matchmaking – of his family. Luckily, he is saved by a stranger, a lady with a captivating voice. When Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, there seems only one solution…

This is the second book in the Survivors Club series but can easily be read as a stand alone. Vincent is so young compared to the usual heroes from this period yet seems so much older than his years due to what he had to endure. He is very much wounded on the outside and Sophia, in her own way, is wounded on the inside.

Circumstances throw them together and this story is about their developing relationship rather than any major angst, murder or mayhem. It is all about the romance. Yes there are misunderstandings, but nothing that made me throw my hands up in frustration! Ms. Balogh manages to weave a story that holds the attention without the dramatics.

Despite being blind Vincent is confident in himself (well mostly anyway), while Sophia in complete contrast is suffering from a severe lack of self esteem. Together they manage to bring out the best in each other and the character development is a key part of the story. I love the romance of the story and the characters are perfect for each other.

In summary, a very well written story that focuses on the characters and the way they evolve and develop as they heal each other. A great romantic read.

Book Information
  • Author: Mary Balogh
  • Series: Survivor's Club (2)
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Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jul 242013
 

The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh: Number 5 in series (Cynster Sisters) Now that her sister has discarded her spinster ways and become betrothed it’s finally Mary Cynster’s chance for true love. She knows exactly who she wants and it’s not someone as wild, unmanageable and sinfully seductive as Ryder Cavanagh.

Starting a new Cynster novel is like snuggling with a good lover; romantic, sexy, hot and ultimately very satisfying.  This book is no exception.

Mary is the last of the current generation to get married and probably the bossiest of  all the Cynster females, while Ryder reminded me of the earlier Cynsters such as Devil (who is still my favourite by the way!) It was amusing to watch Ryder try to dissuade Mary from her first choice and even more amusing to see the way Mary seemed determined to plough on, almost to spite him.

He is also sensible enough to realise that demanding and ordering Mary about will get him nowhere, while she is smart enough to know just how to deal with men such as him, having been doing it with her family for years.

They get together quite quickly, forced by circumstances, and the plot moves away from sexual tension to the small matter of someone trying to kill one or both of them.

While it’s reasonably obvious who the culprit is, this doesn’t spoil the story and there is plenty of tension to keep it rolling along.

The bedroom scenes were quite different from earlier books in that Mary may have been a virgin but she wasn’t going to take a back seat – no sireee!

I was surprised that the males in the family did not make more of a fuss over her marrying Ryder, given his reputation and past behaviour – maybe age has mellowed them :)

During the book a lot of the family pop up and if you have not read previous books you may find them boring or annoying, but not me.  I love catching glimpses of old favourites which is why for me, the epilogue was wonderful. It brought us completely up to date with the Cynsters and the next generation. I cannot believe Devil and Honoria’s son is 17!

This is clearly the last book for this crop of Cynsters and part of me hopes the next generation get their own stories, the other part of me thinks if that happens it means our originals will get old and some might start to die! I couldn’t cope with losing Devil!

Overall this book did not disappoint but I do recommend you start reading this series at the beginning, you will fall in love with the Cynsters and the family that surrounds them.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Series: Cynster Sisters (5)
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Jun 262013
 

Three Little Secrets: Number 3 in series (MacLachlan Family) Wealthy land owner Merrick MacLachlan is the polar opposite of his polished, ever-so-charming brother. While Sir Alasdair is fair and handsome, Merrick is dark and brooding, both in looks and in temperament. With his penetrating eyes and badly scarred face, Merrick has always made the ton deeply uncomfortable. Professionally, Merrick has attained a level of wealth and power which no one could have imagined when he was a brilliant but starving young architect. Privately, he has no life which is just how he likes it. But his rigid, tightly-controlled existence is about to spin out of control. Because once upon a time, Merrick did have a life. And then, he made a terrible mistake. Her name was Madeleine. And if ever he is tempted to forget her, he has but to look at the scars she left behind…

This is the third in Liz Carlyle’s historical romance trilogy and, in my opinion, by far the best. We didn’t have much information about Merrick in the previous books, so I was intrigued to find out more about him.

Having expected to dislike him in the prologue as I did with the others, I was pleasantly surprised to have my heart go out to him straight away.  He wasn’t very nice at the start of the story though!

The story is based round a misunderstanding, a huge misunderstanding deliberately caused by an evil man. While at the time Merrick didn’t stand around twiddling his thumbs and tried to fight for what he wanted, Maddie was a bit of a wet blanket and seemed to give up very easily. Then I needed to remind myself that this is set in the 19th century and Maddie was 17 years old – a time when women had to accept what their parents told them.

Merrick is outwardly strong and projects a cold, harsh image. Inwardly though he is very vulnerable and I loved him. Maddie is determined to hang on to the truth as she knew it, having been recently widowed, and to believe otherwise would have made her a bigamist. She is very protective of her son and is prepared to do anything in his best interests, even go visit old Granny MacLachlan to help with his “illness”

I loved this story overall, which proves that love will find a way no matter how long it takes.  It’s my favourite book of the three by far and has the most likeable hero of the series. I’m not convinced you need to read the earlier books before this one, but you will be more invested in the characters who appear if you have read their stories.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Liz Carlyle
  • Series: MacLachlan Family (3)
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Jun 132013
 

Two Little Lies: Number 2 in series (MacLachlan Family) At the age of twenty one, Quin Hewitt took opera singer Viviana Alessandri as his mistress. Their brief fling was fiery and passionate but ended abruptly leaving them in different countries with secrets never disclosed.

Nine years later he is now the Earl of Wynwood and she returns to his life as an unexpected guest of his uncle. Can they deal with the anger between them and can Viviana continue to hide the secret she kept all those years ago.

This is the second book in a series which began with One Little Sin. Thankfully this book was much better than the first, and I am glad I decided to continue the series. You don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this however, as the first hundred pages or so basically go over the events at the end of book one. As I had read One Little Sin, I found this a bit unnecessary and it meant that getting to the new story took a while. There were some explanations needed about Quin’s behaviour from book one, but it didn’t need to be as lengthy as it was.

Once I did get into the story though I enjoyed it, the passion and emotion in the characters came through very well in the writing. In the prologue we see both of the characters as their much younger selves and I have to say Quin was extremely hard to like. I feared this book was going to follow the same path as book one with me disliking the hero for most of it. Fortunately, thirty year old Quin soon won me over once he’d accepted his responsibilities as Earl of Wynwood. I suspect that in the prologue of book three, the hero will also come across as unlikeable, as this seems to be a theme!

I liked the fiery passionate Viviana and especially loved the way she kept bursting into Italian – particularly when cursing Quin. Sometimes she did go off the deep end a bit quickly, although this seemed to be the only defense mechanism she could use against Quin.

The children – both Quin’s nephews and nieces and Viviana’s three added another dimension to the story and were quite adorable, particularly Cerelia who also had my heart breaking for her at one point.

Overall a good story with passion, emotion and of course a happy ending.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Liz Carlyle
  • Series: MacLachlan Family (2)
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Jun 052013
 

One Little Sin: Number 1 in series (MacLachlan Family) He was a scoundrel, a scamp, and a hopeless skirt-chaser. So it shouldn’t have been so surprising when Sir Alasdair awoke after a night of debauchery to see a young lass on his doorstep… with a baby in her arms.

She was beautiful, brazen, and utterly bankrupt. So it shouldn’t have been so shocking when Miss Hamilton (Esme) accepted the rogue’s scandalous proposal to move in with him…and become the baby’s governess.

One little sin brought them together. But when one man’s wicked charms are matched by one woman’s fiery spirit, one little sin can lead to another…and another…and another…

This was my first book by Liz Carlyle and overall I enjoyed it, but it is not among my favourite books.

Esme is headstrong but prepared to do whatever is right for her little half sister, Sorcha, and there can be no doubt that her best interests are what matter to Esme the most. It bothered be a little that at times she seems fearless yet at others she turns into a bit of a wuss but I did like the way she decides to take matters into her own hands and hang the consequences at the end.

It is very hard to feel any sympathy for Alasdair in the beginning – if he had been female he would have been called a slut! The child in question is supposedly a result of Alasdair having a quick fumble behind the curtains at a party with Esme’s mother, and worse, he can’t remember all the details. However, as the story progresses he does manage to worm his way into my affections, he grows up and starts taking responsibility for his actions. Thinking about someone other than himself…

The premise I really struggled with was Esme being attracted to someone who had already slept with her mother – eww wrong, just wrong!! There was no end of misunderstandings and miscommunications going on, why do people not talk to each other properly? I did however stick with the story and am glad I did.

At the end of the day I am a romantic at heart and as long as there is a happy ending then I am happy.

The review above does seem negative but overall, Ms. Carlyle’s writing style was witty and easy to read, and I will be looking to read the next two books in the series. The gentlemen involved were introduced here and I look forward to finding out what makes them tick.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Liz Carlyle
  • Series: MacLachlan Family (1)
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May 242013
 

Once Upon a Tower: Number 5 in series (Happy Ever After) Gowan Stoughton, Duke of Kinross is used to having everything he wants, and after meeting Lady Edith Gilchrist, he wants her as his duchess. As with everything else in his life it is sorted quickly and efficiently. While they are very compatible outside the bedroom, inside it just isn’t working, cracks start to appear and communications break down culminating in a locked tower and a stormy night.

Another great book from Eloisa James, she always manages to evoke strong emotions in me. I sobbed in parts during this, and my heart was breaking for Gowan and Edie. At other times Gowan made my heart melt, “You’re my lodestone and my North Star”, how perfect is that?

Both Edie and Gowan have issues relating to their upbringing and are both very young and inexperienced. At 19 and 22 respectively, this leads to a number of misconceptions about marriage. Usually all the crossed wires and misunderstandings annoy me, but for some reason with this story, it didn’t as much as usual.

In the historical romances I tend to read it’s very unusual to find the hero under the age of 30 and usually they have years of sexual experience to bring to the marriage. I liked the fact that they were learning together (or should have been!) and Gowan wasn’t the experienced rake about town.

There is another side story here involving Edie’s father’s marriage to her stepmother, Layla.  Their marriage isn’t running smoothly and again it’s the lack of understanding that marriages need to be worked at and love is not always enough on its own. Layla is a great character and has a large part to play in Edie and Gowan’s marriage – not always providing the best advice!

Chapters 39 and 40 in particular rank among the most heart wrenching, emotional, yet romantic chapters I have ever read and I could not tear myself away.

I love how Eloisa James brings the early 19th century to life and has lots of interesting information – for example, did you know that playing the cello was seen as entirely inappropriate for women due to the leg position required?

If you like your romances with murders to solve or a suspenseful element then you will be disappointed with this, but if you are a true romantic at heart you cannot fail to enjoy this and the roller-coaster of emotions it produces.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Eloisa James
  • Series: Happy Ever After (5)
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Apr 182013
 

What a Lady Needs (Hqn) Lady Katherine Redgrave has one mission –  to find her deceased father’s journals, which may hold the key to a traitorous conspiracy that puts Kate’s family in danger. Kate vows to let no obstacle stand in her way . . . but when she meets Simon Ravenbill, Marquis of Singleton, her attention is diverted as the sinfully handsome nobleman tempts her beyond reason. 

Simon has a mission of his own: to uncover the truth about the secret society he believes murdered his brother. All he needs is to get to the Redgrave journals before Kate does. The solution is simple—he’ll romance the fiery beauty in hopes of distracting her from her quest, all while covertly searching for the diaries himself. Yet what begins as a charade soon becomes an all-consuming desire . . . one that could lead them down the most dangerous path of all.

I really loved this book even though it is the second in the series and does involve quite a complicated conspiracy which began in What an Earl Wants (which I haven’t read). However, while I think I would have been better reading that first, the explanations given were sufficient to grasp what was going on. The Redgraves are clearly a very complicated family with an even more complicated history!

Kate is totally unlike any early 19th century lady I have heard of! Having been bought up by an unusual grandmother and with three brothers, she has no concept of ladylike behaviour. What a great heroine she is; funny, strong but with a bit of softness when needed. Her behaviour is  probably a bit unrealistic to what women were like in those days, but who knows what the titled got up to in the privacy of their own estates!

Simon – well what can I say about Simon? He doesn’t really know what has hit him when he meets Kate and to his credit he does not get all uppity and try to change her behaviour. His reactions are extremely funny when she talks about things she clearly should have no idea of – the cards and talks of poles in moist ground had me laughing out loud. Unlike a lot of men in these novels, Simon has the good sense to realise that excluding Kate from his mission will lead to her finding out anyway, so he may as well give in gracefully.

The main story thread about a group called “The Society” is fascinating and I look forward to it developing in future books, the next one has already been set up nicely and I am very much looking forward to it.

I’m not 100% sure what Adam’s purpose in the book is, but I suspect he will feature in later books in some way and I gather he was involved in the first one. He is extremely irritating and almost too stupid to be true – maybe there is something else going on there…..

The plot moved along really well and I was totally drawn in. Of course there was the romance to keep me happy but it was not long and drawn out, if anything it happened a bit too quickly to be realistic, but hey who wants total realism in a romance book?

Overall I really enjoyed What a Lady Needs and will definitely be looking for more in this series. I can’t recommend it enough if you want a historical romance which does not grace the ballrooms of London, and has an intriguing plot thread strong enough to span several books.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kasey Michaels
  • Series: The Redgraves (2)
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Apr 092013
 

Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane) This is the fifth book in the Maiden Lane series, set in mid 18th Century London. I have really enjoyed all the books so far but cannot stress enough how important it is to read them in order. If you don’t, you may well be wondering what the hell is going on. I have to confess to being slightly confused myself at times and I have read all of them! There are now so many characters I find myself struggling to remember what part they played in previous books and how they relate to the current story.

On to the book itself – not my favourite in the series but still a very good read.  I did feel it started off a bit slow but picked up as the book went on. Lady Margaret Reading and Godric St John have both previously lost their loves, and boy don’t we know it! They manage to remind each other, and us, at every opportunity. While Godric was a character I connected with, I did find Megs a bit irritating at times – for example she had a go at Godric for not  getting over his wife but continued to lament the loss of her own lover.

Having said that Ms. Hoyt always does a wonderful job of bringing our protagonists together and the development of their relationship was definitely worth the wait. As always I enjoy reading about the seedier side of London which Ms. Hoyt manages to bring to vivid life, enabling me to visualize things very clearly. The lassie snatchers were back as was Captain Trevillion with his fixation on capturing the Ghost of St Giles. Either he is improving or our hero  is getting sloppy, either way things became very tense for a while.

Overall the weakest book in the Maiden Lane series but still worth a read, if you haven’t yet read any of the series start with the first one – Wicked Intentions, you will not be disappointed.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
  • Series: Maiden Lane (5)
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