The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh

 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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Once Upon a Tower

 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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As You Wish

 As You Wish contains four novellas – Seduced by a Pirate and With This Kiss Parts 1, 2 and 3.  All I can say is thank god they were all together, as I think I would have died if I’d had to wait between each part, based on where each novella finishes!

Seduced by a Pirate involves Sir Griffin Barry, a character who first appeared in The Ugly Duchess.  Having been given a full pardon by the crown after years of privateering, and sporting a leg injury, Sir Griffin decides to return home to Pheobe, the wife he last saw fourteen years ago after the total failure of a wedding night.  He arrives home to find three children significantly younger than fourteen years old, and a wife who wants nothing to do with him.

I loved this novella, and while I haven’t yet read the Ugly Duchess, I don’t feel I missed out on anything. In fact, the only reason I knew was due to the authors note at the front. Phoebe is strong and takes no crap from Griffin but she does of course find herself physically attracted to him, after all who wouldn’t! Griffin doesn’t do much to help himself, calling her Poppy which he assumed was her name. “He must have misheard during the wedding ceremony. Bloody hell”. Particularly funny since he had not only named his ships after her but he also had a poppy tattooed on his face!

Ms James again manages to produce a wonderfully romantic story and my only disappointment is that it was too short, so everything happened so quickly. Definitely a recommended read if you are in the mood for some romance.

With this Kiss, Part 1 remains with the family but focuses on Colin Barry, the eldest adopted son of Sir Griffin, and Lady Grace Ryburn who is the daughter of his cousin and  fellow ex-pirate, The Duke of Ashbrook.

This is a story that starts in childhood and continues during adolescence and into adulthood. It’s fraught with miscommunication and misunderstandings which ordinarily would annoy me, but With This Kiss is so well written that it didn’t. If I’d had to wait between novellas mind you, I might have said something different!

The first novella in particular was extremely emotional and I wanted to kick Colin up the backside at times. Grace is very much a wallflower, always overshadowed by her younger sister Lily, but surprisingly I did not hate her. Lily is very likeable and naturally effervescent, having no idea how her sister feels. I was close to tears at times and the ending of With This Kiss is not somewhere I ever want a book to finish – thank goodness I had the next one available to read immediately.

In Part 2, both are older and wiser. Grace is certainly much more able to stand up for herself and appreciate her own talents. Colin has returned from sea injured, battle weary and has finally wised up to his feelings, but doesn’t think to tell Grace and in desperation she takes matters into her own hands.

There again follows some very well written emotional scenes which tugged at my heartstrings for both of them, although if they had just communicated properly all would have been well – but then the book would have been shorter and far less interesting! Again this novella ended in a most unsatisfactory place leaving me definitely wanting more, so I swiftly moved onto the next.

Part 3 was all about the happy ever after (and some great sex), and it was definitely worth waiting for! Having followed them through their lives I felt very invested in them. The entire three parts to the story totalled just over two hundred pages but it seemed so much longer and a lot was packed in without compromising the story. The epilogue was hilarious and I do hope we get to see more of Portia – maybe she will have her own story at some point.  I can but hope!

Overall, With This Kiss was wonderful, emotional and very romantic. A perfect book (in its entirety) for a miserable winter afternoon.

Book Information
  • Author: Eloisa James
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Rating: ★★★★★