Aug 202014
 

How To Marry A Marquis: Number 2 in series (Agents for the Crown) Take a woman who needs to marry for money, a Marquis in disguise, a “rule-book”  for landing a man and an interfering old lady, mix it with Julia Quinn’s distinctive writing style and you get a fantastic story full of humour, romance and of course a happy ending.

Elizabeth Hotchkiss has three siblings to support and decides she must marry for money. Finding ‘How to marry a Marquis’ in her employer’s library seems to be a sign and, against her better judgement, she allows her sister to talk her into reading it.

James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale has been summoned by his aunt to search for a blackmailer but he must go incognito as her estate manager. His primary suspect is his aunt’s companion Elizabeth, but he soon finds himself intrigued and distracted by her – particularly when he finds her with that ridiculous rule-book.

I love Julia Quinn’s writing style which is quite different from a lot of other writers of historical romance, her sarcasm and wit simply fly off the pages. I love the interaction and banter between the characters and really feel for James who at times is bursting to tell Elizabeth who he really is, particularly when she says “Don’t say any more”, she said laughing. “Really James, one shouldn’t strut like an aristocrat if one cannot carry it off”.  This just after he had used his best aristocratic voice and stare on her.

The aunt in question here is Lady Danbury and those of you familiar with Ms Quinn’s work will recognize her from previous books. She is a fantastic character and really comes into her own in this story. Elizabeth has been with Lady Danbury long enough to give as good as she gets which makes for some funny conversations

The story definitely has some flaws and Elizabeth in particular is a bit of a martyr at times which I can imagine would annoy some readers, but for me, I absolutely loved it so have given it 5 stars. Not because it is perfect, but because for me it is one of those books that just clicked – not entirely sure why but there it is.

If you have read other books by this author you will definitely enjoy this one.

Book Information
  • Author: Julia Quinn
  • Series: Agents for the Crown (2)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

 

Jul 232014
 

Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair: Number 3 in series (From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair) Miraculously spared from death, Malcolm Sinclair erases the notorious man he once was. Reinventing himself as Thomas Glendower, he strives to make amends for his past, yet he never imagines penance might come via a secretive lady he discovers living in his secluded manor. Rose has a plausible explanation for why she and her children are residing in Thomas’s house, but she quickly realises he’s far too intelligent to fool.

After the disappointment of the previous book in this series, Ms. Laurens has returned to form with this one. The only thing I didn’t like was the confusion over Thomas Glendower/Malcolm Sinclair. I gathered he had appeared as a villain in a previous Cynster book (I later discovered it was the ‘Taste of Innocence’), but as it was not one I’d read I found it a bit confusing over what he had done that was so bad. I therefore started the book feeling like I was missing half the story. It would have been useful if the book blurb had stated where we first met him, so readers could go back to that book if they chose.

Once I put that aside though, it didn’t take me long to get into the story and I really enjoyed it. The first half of the book is very much about Thomas and Rose, their developing relationship and the secrets they both hold. Rose is guarded and unwilling to trust but finds it difficult to resist Thomas, particularly with how he is with the children. Thomas is also surprised at how quickly he feels protective towards them, and seeing his younger self in Homer, he seeks to guide him as he himself never was.  Once Rose trusts Thomas with her problems they move to London, and that is when Barnaby Adair and his (growing) team get involved to solve the mystery. For me this book is a perfect blend of intrigue and romance, and focuses very clearly on the protagonists whereas the previous one didn’t.

Ms. Laurens does not disappoint with her bedroom scenes – steamy as always! But at least this time they focused on the characters that matter.

Overall a great book and having prepared myself for this one to be another thriller with little romance as in The Masterful Mr Montague, I was very pleased to find that was not the case.

Book Information
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Series: Casebook of Barnaby Adair (3)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★½ 

May 222014
 

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (Bridgerton Family Book 9) The Bridgerton family stories are told in a series of eight books, all humorous, emotional and above all romantic. They are some of my favourite historical romances ever, and I highly recommend you read them. Once you start you won’t want to stop until they are all done!

The great thing about these books is that every one has an epilogue looking into the future but I always want more. I want to know how the children grew up, and if everything is still going well in Bridgerton land. That is why I was thrilled to discover this collection of ‘second epilogues’, an opportunity to look  further down the line and see what has happened since we last met.

This collection of stories does not disappoint, from the pall mall game (even better than the original scene in The Viscount Who Loved Me) to the elusive jewels and so much more. There is even a short story about the great matriarch of the family Violet. The author has a little note at the beginning of each story to jog your memory, so if you had not read the original books for a while it would not matter.

I would definitely recommend reading the rest of the series first, as it is intended as a follow up and you cannot truly appreciate the characters without that background knowledge. Having said that, you could get away with not having read every single one, as long as you were acquainted with this unconventional and powerful family.

I loved this collection, love the Bridgertons and love Ms. Quinn for writing the stories that I, and I’m sure so many of her readers, were desperate for. Thank you!

The Bridgerton Series in Order :

The Duke and I
The Viscount Who Loved Me
An Offer From a Gentleman
Romancing Mr Bridgerton
To Sir Philip, With Love
When He Was Wicked
It’s In His Kiss
On The Way To The Wedding
The Bridgertons: Happy Ever After

Book Information
  • Author: Julia Quinn
  • Series: Bridgertons (9)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

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)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

 

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)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jul 112013
 

An Offer From A Gentleman: Number 3 in series (Bridgerton Family) Sophie Beckett is the illegitimate daughter of an Earl. While she was accepted into his household, her stepmother never let her forget she was a bastard. When her father died suddenly she was made to work as an unpaid servant, dreaming of what her life could be like. When the servants conspire to send her to the Bridgerton masquerade ball, her life changes forever.

Benedict Bridgerton is still single and avoiding the matchmakers as best he can. At his mother’s ball he is captivated by a stranger, falls head over heels in love, only for her to disappear at midnight leaving only her glove. Sophie is forced to leave her home the next day and Benedict searches high and low for the mystery woman to no avail. Two years on, no-one has stirred him like the mysterious woman until the day he rescues a servant from a fate worse than death.

Well what can I say, my favourite fairytale ever – Cinderella given a new twist. This book is the best yet in the Bridgerton saga and I loved it. Benedict is much more self assured and does not have the inner demons of his elder brother, the advantage of being the second son. Good job too because Sophie has enough secrets for both of them.

I felt like weeping for Sophie at times and at other times I wanted to knock some sense into both her and Benedict! I know they are only characters in a story but I find myself thinking about them as real people rather than characters. I became completely immersed in the story and the Bridgerton family. Towards the end when Benedict’s mother (Violet) gets the opportunity to speak her mind very frankly, I felt like shouting “you go girl” – totally inappropriate in Regency England of course!

This is pure escapism and of course the end result is a given, but as always, the journey there is never easy and the showdown in the jail towards the end is definitely worth waiting for.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Julia Quinn
  • Series: Bridgertons (3)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

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)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

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)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Apr 012013
 

TraceyTracey

This week I found myself unable to let go of the Cynsters quite yet, so started with another couple of books which I enjoyed immensely.  The Perfect Lover and The Ideal Bride both get 4 stars from me.

I then decided to move on from the Cynsters but stayed with the historical romance genre and picked up The Devil’s Web by Mary Balogh. Usually I absolutely love Ms. Balogh’s books, but for some reason I found myself not liking the protagonists very much and as a result my enjoyment of the book was affected. I felt James was totally self-centred and selfish rather than as tortured as I think he was meant to come across, and Madeleine was just not likeable. The story however was okay and I would give it 2.5 stars. It was a much darker romance than I am used to so if you are not really into the hearts and flowers type romances, you may enjoy this one more. There were some very intense and emotional scenes especially towards the end when they accept their love for each other.

A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan was my next pick, a solid romance designed to make you feel warm and fuzzy (which of course it did). Sarah Morgan is probably my favourite Mills and Boon author, I always feel happy after reading her books even though she usually manages to make me cry at some point, and this book was no exception! 4 stars.

Then what should pop through my door except Lover at Last – well no prizes for guessing what my next book was.  I very quickly finished it and loved it, this series is showing no sign of fading. Watch out for a joint review later this week.

Until next time!

P1030285Grete

Yes, it’s time I finally joined in on this weekly blog post and while I’m not the demon speed reader Tracey is, I have been getting through some of the books I have badly wanted to.  My week has also been weirdly spaced out with my husband being on holiday although he has been enjoying some quality time with the xbox which has left me free to read.  I do confess I was caught up in some games too so it’s not ALL been reading *blush*.

With the final book of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson) being released at the start of the year, I really wanted to catch up on the last four or five books, finish the series and find out how it all ended.  My memory for books just isn’t what it used to be so that means it’s re-read time!  I finished Book One, The Eye of the World, and was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I remember it being good but as I first read it in 1992 and a lifetime ago I wondered if it would stand up to today’s fantasy.  I will do a review for it soon as older books need love too.

A Graphic Novel came next – Dragon Age: Those Who Speak by David Gaider, Alexander Freed and Chad Hardin.  This is the collected sequel to Dragon Age: The Silent Grove and continues the story of Alistair, Isabella and Varric.  Just as good as the first one and a solid 4 stars.

Lover At Last by J.R. Ward arrived and I was so excited to read it!  I have been waiting for Blay and Qhuinn’s story for ages and it did not disappoint.  I couldn’t put it down and loved it SO much!  As Tracey said, our joint review will be up this week :)

I’m now reading The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan, Book Two of The Wheel of Time and it is pretty good so far.

That’s it from me, see you next week!


Our Week in Books is a regular blog post from Tracey and Grete, catching up on everything they’ve read recently.

Mar 272013
 

And Then She Fell (Cynster Sisters) Henrietta Cynster is known throughout the ton as ‘The Matchbreaker’ for her uncanny ability to advise women on whether or not potential suitors are truly in love with them.

James Glossup finds his potential bride scared off by Henrietta, and having a deadline by which to marry, seeks her out to explain his problem. Henrietta feels honour bound to help James find a bride of convenience and proceeds to escort and advise him throughout the ton

It doesn’t take long for James to realise he no longer wants a marriage of convenience but does Henrietta feel the same, and why do accidents seem to befall Henrietta with remarkable frequency?

I love the Cynsters, love the strong women and love the men who are good enough to eat! This is book nineteen and the series is showing no signs of waning – in my mind anyway. There are lots of references to previous stories, but you do not need to read them in order to know what is going on. While there were a couple of occasions where I was not completely sure about the reference, it didn’t spoil it for me at all.

Henrietta is a typical Cynster woman and at the grand old age of twenty-nine she is permitted many freedoms not allowed to younger women. This also allows her and James to take liberties they might not otherwise have managed – if you get my drift! Also being a bit older she is not one to hang about when she decides she wants something and as a result the ‘will they, won’t they’ was resolved by the middle of the book, leaving the latter half focused on a murder mystery plot.

While James is not a Cynster, he does of course have many of the traits I have come to expect – sexy eyes, sexy body (sexy everything really), as well as the urge to protect Henrietta against a dangerous killer. He also is not afraid to speak his mind and tell Henrietta exactly what he wants.

Someone has been trying to kill Henrietta and there are no clues as to who it could be. Poor James is out of his mind with worry but thankfully Henrietta is sensible enough to realise she needs protection. Enter pretty much the entire Cynster clan (women included) who work together to try and identify the killer, all those fine male specimens in one place – heaven!

The mystery in the latter half of the book kept going at a good pace and I did not guess the killer at all, in fact I thought it was someone completely different! The killer really was an evil sadist, a very well written villain.

As with all Cynster novels, And Then She Fell was a wonderful read, definitely another keeper to be re-read at leisure and I cannot wait for the next one involving Henrietta’s sister Mary.

Book Information
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Series: Cynsters (19)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★½