What a Lady Needs

 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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Lord of Darkness

 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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And Then She Fell

 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)
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Rating: ★★★★½ 

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover

 Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled brilliant daughter of a Marquess cares more for books than balls,  flora than fashion and science than the season. Engaged to Lord Castleton, before she marries she wants to explore the scandalous parts of  London she has never seen. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming quick-witted bookkeeper of the Fallen Angel, London’s most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross.

This is the second book in the Rules of Scoundrels series, and oh my is it a good one. I absolutely love Pippa who is way ahead of her time and continuously flummoxes Cross with the words that came out of her mouth –  in the interests of research of course. As a girl who wears glasses myself it is good to see one triumphing in this era when some other books would have us believe it is all about perfection. Pippa is probably one of my favourite heroines to date – and I do read a lot of historicals!

Cross is sexy, smart and far more honourable than he gives himself credit for. He tries very hard to distance himself from Pippa, aside from the fact her brother in law (Bourne from the first book) would kill him, he thinks the lady herself will be the death of him and the carefully constructed world he has created. It really was very much Pippa doing all the chasing and Cross trying as hard as possible to run in the other direction – without much success I might add. This does not mean Cross is a wuss, oh no far from it, and when he does decide to take control – hot!!

This book returns to the world originally discovered in A Rogue by Any Other Name and we did get glimpses of Bourne and Penelope, the characters from that book, as well as glimpses of the other two gentlemen involved in running the club. I believe Temple gets his story next and I am looking forward to discovering his secrets.

The dialogue between our two protagonists is great and I could not wait to find out what was going to come out of Pippa’s mouth next. Cross has a definite way with words and while Pippa did not really believe the rumours she heard about him removing ladies clothes without using his hands, she soon found out what they were talking about.

This book has passion, humour, romance and at times is pure sensuality – well worth a read. If I had to make a criticism it would be the sub plot involving “Digger” Knight as I felt it was a bit weak, but for me it is always about the romance and this definitely delivers. You do not need to have read the first book at all, this can be read totally stand alone.

Sarah MacLean certainly knows how to get my heart fluttering and I cannot wait to read more in this series and any other she writes. She is definitely on my list of must read authors.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah MacLean
  • Series: The Rules of Scoundrels (2)
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Affair

 Charlotte Arkendale needed a new ‘man of affairs’ and a bodyguard. Into her life comes Baxter St Ives, the bastard son of an Earl, who is investigating Charlotte as a possible blackmailer and murderer. After all no one really knows where her income comes from. Baxter is a chemist not a fighter and believes everything can be worked through by remaining in control and with logic, what he doesn’t anticipate is his loss of control when it comes to Charlotte.

It soon becomes apparent that dark forces are conspiring against the two of them in a deadly game, can they figure out the puzzle before anyone else gets hurt?

I really loved this book from the first page and I was drawn straight into the story and stayed gripped throughout. I am not convinced it was historically accurate but to be honest the story was so good I didn’t care. There were lots of references to science but not in too much depth I am pleased to say – I want a romance not a chemistry lesson.

Baxter had a habit of saying ‘bloody hell’ a lot, even in the presence of ladies – definitely not the done thing. Although I have to say Baxter is really not your typical gentleman, he reminded me a bit of Clark Kent  – mild, unassuming and a bit geeky but when those glasses came off, wham he could really let loose! His tendency to see everything logically made for some interesting conversations with Charlotte, particularly with matters of the heart but I was totally in love with him.

Charlotte seems to have no fear which I found hard to believe at times, particularly as she has a younger sister relying on her. She was bossy and could be irritating at times but underneath it all she is just an insecure woman struggling with unfamiliar feelings.

The story focused a lot on the murder mystery angle and not so much on the romance, but you always know it will end happily ever after. The villain was obvious to the reader from the start but it took our protagonists a while to join the dots, by which time other innocent people had been caught up in his plans. The information about mesmerism was interesting and added another dimension to the story.

This was a great read, enjoyable, witty at times and the nerd triumphs – as a bit of a nerd myself that makes the story even better!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Amanda Quick
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Books we can’t wait for this year!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of releases this year, just ones we are particularly looking forwards to.  I’m sure there are others we’ve forgotten and new authors that we will discover along the way.  As you can see, between Tracey and I, we have a pretty eclectic taste in books 😉

January

 A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time Book #14)
Don’t Want to Miss A Thing by Jill Mansell
Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz (Dark Legacy #2)
Ice Forged by Gail Z Martin (Ascendant Kindoms Saga #1)
Angel’s Flight by Nalini Singh (A Guild Hunter Collection)
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah Maclean (The Rules of Scoundrels #2)
The Zombie Whisperer by Jessie Petersen (Living with the Dead #4)
Ever After by Kim Harrison (The Hollows #11)
Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole (Shadow Ops #2)

February

A French Affair by Katie Fforde
The Daylight War by Peter V Brett (The Demon Cycle #3)
Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #36)
Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner
Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian (Midnight Breed #11)
The Queen is Dead  by Kate Locke (Immortal Empire #2)
Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas
Devil’s Due by Rachel Caine (Red Letter Days #2)
Hellhole Awakening by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert (Hellhole #2)
Forged in Flame by Michael R Hicks (In Her Name: The First Empress #2)
Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #5)
Cloak & Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #5.5, unconfirmed release date)
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #3)
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis (The Milkweed Triptych #2)

March

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb (The Rain Wild Chronicles #4)
And Then She Fell by Stephanie Laurens (Cynster Sisters #4)
 Lover at Last by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #11)
Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau Vampires #18)
Poppet by Mo Hayder (Jack Caffery #6)
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #7)
Shadow of Freedom by David Weber (Honor Harrington #18)
Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh (A Psy/Changeling Collection)
Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #11)
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse #12)
Written in Red by Anne Bishop (A Novel of the Others)

April

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong (Darkness Rising #3)
The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn
Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Chronicles of Nick #4)
Whisky Beach by Nora Roberts
Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis (Milkweed Triptych #3)
Hot Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Jessica McClain #2)

May

Once Upon A Tower By Eloisa James (Happy Ever After #5)
Forever by Jacquelyn Frank (World of Nightwalkers #2)
Fall of Night by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #14)
 Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey (Expanse #3)
Leopard’s Prey by Christine Feehan (Leopard People #6)
Eternal Demon by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #5)
The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham (Dagger and the Coin #3)
Magician’s End by Raymond E. Feist (Riftwar Cycle)

June

The Sum of all Kisses by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith #3)
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London #4)
Darkness Unmasked by Keri Arthur (Dark Angels #5)
The City by Stella Gemmell

July

The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens (Cynster Sisters #5)
 My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley (Inferno Club #6)
Rise of the Gryphon by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love (Belador #4)
Daughter of Blood by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #3)
Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #5)

August

Omens by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville #1)
Terminated by Rachel Caine (Revivalist #3)
Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunter #18)
Posession by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #8)

September

 Chosen by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #4)
Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb (In Death #37)

October

The Arrangement by Mary Balogh (Survivor’s Club #2)
Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance (Cassie Palmer #6)
Bound by Night by Larissa Ione
Cold Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Jessica McClain #3)

November

Daylighters by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #15)
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Eternal Sin by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #6)

December

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #6)

Phew!  It’s going to be a busy and entertaining year 😀

A Wallflower Christmas

 ”It’s Christmas time and Rafe Bowman, an uncivilised American rake, has come to London for an arranged marriage with the perfect aristocratic bride, the very proper and beautiful Natalie Blandford. But before the courtship can begin, Rafe needs to learn the rules of London society. When four former wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen.”

Yet another great story from Lisa Kleypas involving the former wallflowers, it left me with a satisfyingly warm feeling that had nothing to do with the central heating. If I had one criticism it would be that it was too short, if it was longer, some aspects of the story could have been fleshed out a bit. As an example the single page epilogue had lots of updates about everyone, some of which could be incorporated into the story.  Having said that, this is a pure romance novella with no great mystery to solve and some people may get fed up with it if it was longer (not me though!).

I loved Rafe as I love all of Ms Kleypas’ male leads, the glimpses we were given into his past were good, the story about the toy soldier made me want to cry, and that letter – hot! It is clear early on that it is not Natalie Blandford who captures Rafe’s interest, but her companion and cousin Hannah Appleton and we then have the problem with head and heart – what should be and what could be. Hannah is feisty and loyal while Natalie comes across as spoilt and a tease but both of them have each others best interests at heart.

If you have read the wallflower series you definitely need to read this to catch up with our favourite heroines, I am disappointed we did not get to see a bit more of their husbands too – mind you all that hotness together might have caused more than a slight rise in my temperature and this is primarily Rafe and Natalie’s story after all. If you have not read the Wallflower Series you may not appreciate this as much, but if you are a fan of romance you will enjoy it. Read it curled up beneath the Christmas tree and get lost in a world of romance and happy ever afters.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lisa Kleypas
  • Series: Wallflowers (4.5)
  • Format: Kindle
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The Wallflower Series

 The Wallflowers is a romance series set in Victorian England by Lisa Kleypas. The books in order are :

  • Secrets of a Summer Night- Annabelle
  • It happened one Autumn – Lillian
  • The Devil in Winter – Evie
  • Scandal in Spring – Daisy

I loved this series so much I read the books back to back in 3 days, so figured a review of the series as a whole was in order.

 In 1843 four young ladies who have been wallflowers on the edge of the ballrooms for the season start talking and become firm friends. they agree to help each other find suitable husbands using devious means if necessary. As I read the books one after another, similarities in format between the books were obvious but you often find that with books by the same author and it was not a problem for me as the format worked very well.

The young ladies are from different backgrounds and have very different personalities but I loved all of them I was drawn to them immediately and looked forward to everyone’s story. My favourite has to be Evie who was the quietest of them all but hides a secret she cannot even tell her friends, and it is no coincidence her book – The Devil in Winter – is also my favourite.  The heroes were also very different and from very different backgrounds; a self made millionaire who was a butchers son, a staid and  supposedly emotionless Earl, England’s most notorious rake and an American with a secret. They all had one thing in common though, bucket loads of sexiness and when they fall, they fall hard. The great thing about this series is that the four women remain firm friends throughout so we continue to get updates on the couples throughout the series.

It was good not just having English aristocrats as the heroes and heroines (two of the ladies are American), although it was set in aristocratic circles in England. While there is always great pleasure in having a sexy English aristocrat (and in the story too!) it is also nice to see how other people fit in to those tight circles.

 These books were extremely romantic but definitely not full of sap, there is always something else going on besides the romance and there are some dramatic scenes leading up to the declarations of love. Ms Kleypas has the ability to turn a villain from one book into a hero in the next and do so believably leading me from detesting someone to rooting for him.

I wont go into individual books otherwise this would be far too lengthy, suffice to say these are some of the best historical romances I have read and at the end of each one I was left with the warm fuzzies and a deep sense of satisfaction.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lisa Kleypas
  • Series: Wallflowers
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Again The Magic

 McKenna is a stable boy, Lady Aline Marsden is the eldest daughter of the Earl of Westcliffe. They grew up on the estate together and Aline, ignored by her parents, ran wild with him during childhood. They fell in love knowing nothing could ever come of it and on being discovered by the Earl of Westcliffe, McKenna was sent away. Aline knew he would never stay away unless she made him believe she never cared for him at all.

Twelve years later her father is dead and McKenna returns to the estate as a wealthy American businessman with one thing on his mind – revenge against the woman who discarded him as if he was a piece of dirt beneath her feet. Aline has her own secrets however, and knows she can never allow McKenna close to her again.

What a great story this is, I absolutely loved it. As you know from my reviews I am very into romance and that is what this is, a fantastic romance with everything you could wish for.  There are actually two stories for the price of one here as Aline’s sister Olivia has her own romance with Gideon Shaw, the American who accompanies McKenna back to the estate.  Of course they have their own baggage and problems. There is no doubt though, that this is primarily about Aline and McKenna and I think Gideon and Olivia could have had their own book, as I was not so invested in their romance which all seemed a bit rushed.

McKenna is so sexy and I love the fact he comes back to the estate where he was first a stable boy and then a footman but this time as a wealthy man. At the beginning of the story when Aline says those cruel words to him I wanted to cry – in fact I did a little bit! It was a good thing though because nothing would ever have come of a servant and a Lady, no matter how much they loved each other nor how progressive a thinker her brother, the new Earl was.

Aline was a bit annoying at times, particularly when she would not trust McKenna with her secrets despite the fact he clearly loved her, but if she had, the story would have been much shorter and nowhere near as emotional.

One thing I love from the few books I have read by Ms Kleypas is her ability to put such emotion into the story. I really feel emotionally attached to the characters and as a result when the happy ending comes (as they always do of course!) I feel extremely satisfied rather than just happy, as can be the case with many other authors.

There is sex of course and the author writes this very well without going over the top.  I do wonder, do people really go at it four or five times in one go as some authors seem to think?

In summary if you like a historical romance which will leave you feeling very satisfied and happy without being too sappy I cannot recommend this book enough, and based on the few Lisa Kleypas books I have read, she is definitely now one of my favourite historical authors.

My Scandalous Viscount

 A member of the secret Inferno Club and a ‘lady of information’, a spy with secrets to keep and a woman who cannot resist poking her nose into other peoples business. Viscount Beauchamp (Sebastian Walker) and Carissa Portland are an unlikely pairing who end up married because Carissa just cannot mind her own business.

With one of the Inferno Club teams in Germany and an investigation into the Order occurring in England, Beau has his hands full trying to juggle Order business. The last thing he needs is a wife who will not do anything he asks and seems to be keeping secrets of her own.

I absolutely loved this story which takes place during the timeline of the previous book (My Ruthless Prince) but is set in England. If you read that review you may remember I commented on there being more plot and less romance. This story turns that around a bit and while we have a good suspense storyline, the romance element is strong – much to my delight.

Carissa and Beau have been touched upon in previous books and it was great to get their story. If you haven’t read any previous books you could be forgiven for thinking everything was a bit fast and I do recommend reading this series in order as it makes much more sense when loose ends are tied up.

Beau is a romantic at heart and I totally loved him, but as I have said before I am a sucker for romance. There is the obligatory falling out, which I knew was coming practically from the moment they were married, but true love always triumphs. Carissa is, like all of the authors heroines, strong willed and refuses to be ruled by any man, and despite her good intentions she just cannot help but poke around. It is endearing however rather than irritating.

The story arc relating to the Prometheans is all tied up in this novel but we are introduced to two new spies who will have their own stories and I cannot wait.

I’m unsure what the storyline will be for the future books, other than a good romance, with the loose ends being tied up but knowing Ms Foley, there will be an excellent sub plot in there somewhere.

If you love historical romance I really cannot recommend this series highly enough, I absolutely love it – please, please start at the beginning though with My Wicked Marquess.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gaelen Foley
  • Series: The Inferno Club (5)
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