I've read everything written by Eloisa James and, for my money, ONCE UPON A TOWER ranks as one of her best. With humor, heart and exquisite prose, Ms.I've read everything written by Eloisa James and, for my money, ONCE UPON A TOWER ranks as one of her best. With humor, heart and exquisite prose, Ms. James takes the reader along on the journey of a young couple who meet, marry and begin to fall in love without really knowing one another. It will take growth, compromise and understanding on both their parts to overcome the inevitable obstacles, as well as put the past to rest, before they can move forward as a couple and achieve their happy ever after. I found the characters to be well-defined and believable, capturing my interest and eventually my heart, especially in the wonderful epilogue. This one is going to my keeper shelf!...more
Miss Juliet Shelby lives on the fringes of the ballroom, a wallflower who does her best to go unnoticed. She wasn't always that way. As a young girl,Miss Juliet Shelby lives on the fringes of the ballroom, a wallflower who does her best to go unnoticed. She wasn't always that way. As a young girl, she was the most animated of the three cousins who have been dubbed the Ugly Ducklings by a spiteful young woman of the ton. But, as a young teen, while living in Vienna with her parents, Juliet was critically injured in an accident, resulting in amputation of her left foot - an injury that left her self-absorbed mother horrified and embarrassed by her now "crippled" daughter. Juliet returned to London two years later a changed person; quieter, more subdued, telling no one of the severity of her injury, not even Maddie and Cecily, her cousins and two best friends.
Juliet isn't the only one who has grown up with a less than perfect parent. Lord Alec Deveril has spent the past several years trying to undo the damage done to his family name by his reprobate of a father in order to insure a good future for his younger sisters. A gorgeous man, he is a leader of the ton's young fashionable set but, as of late, as grown weary of it and knows it's time to find a wife and settle down. His criteria is simple: find someone likable but for whom he feels not one iota of passion. His late parents offered him a front row seat to the devastating consequences of a passion filled marriage. He briefly considers Maddie as a potential candidate but it's the quiet, self-possessed Juliet who continues to draw his eye.
When Mrs. Turner, Juliet's beloved music teacher, a woman who, over the years, has been more a mother to her than her own mother goes missing, it's Alec who offers his help in the search. As Juliet and Alec spend more time together, they forge a friendship and gradually a fondness for one another that then blooms into desire and, finally, love. But there are many obstacles to a happy ending for these two. Juliet's mother is determined to marry her off to a slimy older man Juliet has good reason to fear, her mother has done her best to convince Juliet that no man will ever find her desirable once he knows of her amputation and Alec fears the reprehensible actions of both his father and his uncle will make it impossible for him to love a woman passionately and bring her happiness. Then there's the mystery of Mrs. Turner's disappearance with twists and turns aplenty and a lurking danger that could put both Juliet and Alec in harm's way.
I loved this story so much. I've read it three times and have no doubt I will read it many more times in the future. I applaud Manda Collins for creating Juliet, a physically imperfect heroine who is absolutely perfect in the eyes of her hero. Collins knows the subject well and brings to her character the realistic physical and emotional challenges as well as the quiet strength and determination that make Juliet one of my favorite heroines ever. Watching her grow throughout her journey and finally come into her own was wonderful. I cheered for her, hurt for her, feared for her and wanted to do unspeakable things to her witch of a mother for her but not once did I ever pity her.
I usually prefer my heroes dark but Alec just may have won me over to the blond side. He's a wonderful man with a kind heart who champions Juliet, protects her, desires her and, ultimately, loves her with every breath of his being. The scene when they first make love is so exquisitely beautiful it brought tears to my eyes and the declaration he makes about Juliet after the villain is vanquished shows how much he respects and understands her and made me want to stand and cheer.
The passion sizzles in this book and while Collins delves into deeply emotional issues she also infuses her stories with plenty of humor along with a terrific secondary cast. One of my favorite scenes is between Alec and Maddie while they wait for Juliet to be fitted for new gowns at the dressmaker's. I won't give away any spoilers other than to say it gives the reader a peek into the inner workings of Maddie's mind, something that has Alec pondering how useful she would have been to Wellington during the war, and has me anticipating her book even more. I have the feeling she's going to lead Monteith a very merry chase!
If you haven't read Manda Collins yet, now's the perfect time to start. How to Romance a Rake is going straight to my keeper shelf. I highly recommend it!
Haunted by the wartime secrets that have hardened his soul, Luke Ripton has vowed never to return to Spain but he left something behind when he came hHaunted by the wartime secrets that have hardened his soul, Luke Ripton has vowed never to return to Spain but he left something behind when he came home to England following the war: the young girl he rescued and married to keep her safe from her unscrupulous cousin. Leaving her with her aunt in a secure mountain convent, they agreed that Luke would obtain an annulment when it was safe but eight years later a letter arrives that makes it clear that he has no choice but to travel to Spain to claim his secret bride. At least he has the consolation of knowing that, after being raised in a convent, Isabella will be a sweet, biddable wife with no objection to leaving Spain immediately for Luke can't bear to be there any longer than necessary.
Smart and courageous, Isabella secretly kept the residents of the convent from starving during the war. But bored to tears with the other aspects of convent life, this tomboy who despairs of ever being a desirable woman romanticizes her young girl's memories of the handsome, carefree English lieutenant who rescued her and dreams of the day he will return to claim her hand and vow his undying love. Reality comes calling when her "prince" turns out to be an autocratic ex-soldier, resigned to keeping the wife he never really wanted. To make matters worse, Luke announces they will be leaving immediately for England but Isabella has a mission to complete; one that will take them deep into the region of Spain that Luke never wants to visit again, and she's determined to go - with or without her husband.
Bride by Mistake is the fifth book in Gracie's Devil Riders series. I've waited a long time for Luke's story and I wasn't disappointed. Gracie takes Luke and Isabella on a fast paced journey across Spain where they both confront the ghosts of their pasts and gradually begin to see themselves through the eyes of the other, opening their hearts to hope, happiness and love.
Christina Brooke continues to shine with the second book in her Ministry of Marriage series, Mad About the Earl, an absolute delight of a Beauty and tChristina Brooke continues to shine with the second book in her Ministry of Marriage series, Mad About the Earl, an absolute delight of a Beauty and the Beast tale.
When Lady Rosamund Westruther travels to the country to meet the man to whom she has been betrothed, she quickly discovers three things: he's huge, he's rude and, with one passionate kiss, he (unknowingly) claims her heart for his own. Returning to London after the betrothal papers are signed, Rosamund patiently waits for Griffin to come for her. And waits...and waits...and waits...until patience disappears and a stubborn resolve takes its place.
Growing up in an all-male household with an abusive grandfather, Griffin deVere, Earl of Tregarth knows little to nothing about romancing a lady. To make matters worse, he's been told his entire life that he's ugly, clumsy and completely undeserving of love. He's sure that a petite, exquisite beauty like Rosamund, a lady to her core, could never be happy with a man like him yet, when his beloved sister's happiness is at stake, he has no choice but to travel to London and seal the deal by marrying the lovely lady. Imagine his surprise when the lady turns out to have a spine of steel and a few conditions of her own before she'll consent to become his bride; conditions that require Griffin, a man more at home in the stables than the ballroom to publicly court her before claiming her. For Rosamund has a higher goal in mind than a mere wedding. The beauty who has lost her heart to the beast is determined to show him that he is a man worthy of love and a man who has love to give.
I read this book in one day and enjoyed every delicious bit of it. Griffin and Rosamund are a wonderful couple and Brooke has surrounded them with a fascinating cast of secondary characters. We get to know the male cousins better which has me even more excited about reading their stories and the excerpt from Cecily's book, A Duchess to Remember, has me wanting her story now!
Mad About the Earl stands well on its own but if you enjoy it as much as I did, you'll probably want to pick up a copy of the first book in the series, Heiress in Love too.
The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae is a fast-paced, adventurous road romance that is Stephanie Laurens at her very best. From the glittering London bThe Capture of the Earl of Glencrae is a fast-paced, adventurous road romance that is Stephanie Laurens at her very best. From the glittering London ballrooms in the very heart of the Cynster family to the remote wilds of Scotland and a woman who lives to make one particular Cynster matriarch suffer, you won't want to miss a minute of this journey!
Dominic, the Earl of Glencrae is an honest, loyal and honorable man. He does not want to kidnap and ruin a Cynster sister but he has no choice. To save his clan from ruin at the hands of his cruel and devious mother, Dominic must do as he's been instructed. The people he hired to kidnap the two older sisters bungled the job, though it ended happily for them as they fell in love with good men and are both now engaged and safe, thanks to Dominic's efforts. After all, he hadn't intended to actually ruin them but to obtain their help in thwarting his mother's plan while offering marriage in return. But with them out of the picture, the only sister left is Angelica, the baby of the family. The one sister Dominic did not want to have to deal with as he can only imagine how spoiled and pampered the youngest daughter of a Cynster family must be. Oh, Dominic, are you in for a surprise!
Angelica Cynster is a hellion. There's just no better word for it. Headstrong, stubborn, intelligent and loyal to the core, she's the first to jump into adventure and the best one to get you out of a scrape. Like her older sisters, she is confident she'll recognize her hero when she sees him and when she spies the Earl of Glencrae across a crowded ballroom, her heart immediately recognizes its mate. She maneuvers an introduction and a walk in the garden but imagine her surprise when the romantic stroll ends with her being bound and stuffed into a carriage! It doesn't take long for her to realize that her hero is none other than the mysterious Highland Laird who has been plaguing her family but don't despair, dear readers. Our industrious Angelica quickly figures out there must be a good reason for his actions and joins forces with Dominic and his small corps of servants as they attempt to keep her family at bay while saving the Earl's clan. Plenty of twists and turns keep things interesting along the way as well as long-held family secrets that reveal the root of the hatred Dominic's mother holds for the Cynsters. There are also heart stopping moments, plenty of laughter and a truly sigh worthy ending.
You don't have to have read the previous two books before reading this one but, for a better understand of the Earl's motives, I strongly recommend reading them in order: Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue, In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster and The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae.
Englishwoman Maddie Wallace had high hopes when she married dashing Scottish cavalry officer, Angus Wallace but after only two letters and one visit dEnglishwoman Maddie Wallace had high hopes when she married dashing Scottish cavalry officer, Angus Wallace but after only two letters and one visit during their six-year marriage, Maddie has had enough. Tired of being looked down upon by the Wallace family for being English, virtually abandoned by her husband and feeling alone in the world, when Maddie returns to England to settle her parents' affairs following their sudden deaths she decides to follow her passion for photography and embark upon a new life. Posing as a widow, she accepts an assignment from a London paper to photograph the American West, leaving her absent husband and her old life far behind.
All Angus (Ash) Wallace has ever wanted is to be a soldier but when a serious injury forces him out of the military after a long career he returns home to Scotland to discover that everything he left behind has changed. He's now heir to an earldom he never wanted and the sweet wife he expected to welcome him home with open arms has decamped to another continent. Determined to reclaim her, Ash sails to America then tracks his wife to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado, confident in his ability to bring Maddie home to Scotland and set about siring some heirs. After all, he's commanded military troops for years. How much trouble can one wife be? As we come to discover in this story, quite a bit! What he finds is an independent woman, surrounded by a "family" of her own making while pursuing the career that gives her life meaning in a wild, challenging, soul-inspiring land. His quest to reclaim his wife is suddenly fraught with complications Ash could never have envisioned.
As the two spend time together, sharing thoughts and dreams that they never had time to talk about before and revealing secrets that change each of their perspectives on the early years of their marriage they gradually come to realize that the feelings they held for one another have not gone away. In fact, they've grown stronger but the issues that keep them apart still remain. Will Ash be able to earn Maddie's trust that he won't abandon her again? Will they be able to reconcile Maddie's bone-deep need for her photography with Ash's duty to the earldom? Once Ash sees for himself how much Maddie's photography means to her and feels the emotions conveyed through her unique talent, will he be able to bring himself to take that away from her by insisting they return to Scotland even though duty to his family demands just that?
Set against the ruggedly majestic backdrop of the Colorado Rockies, Kaki Warner has written a stellar addition to her Runaway Brides historical western series. Filled with passion, adventure, heartbreak and humor, Colorado Dawn is a story that had me sighing, crying, holding my breath and laughing out loud. Warner has the ability to pull me into her stories, making me care for her characters; investing my emotions in their happiness. I adored Ash and Maddie! Ash is a wonderfully complex hero; one of my recent favorites. As a military man of many years, his "take charge" personality and black/white point of view are firmly ingrained yet he has gentle, nurturing layers and a well-hidden vulnerability that are gradually revealed as well as a terrific sense of humor. After existing in the shadow of Ash's family for so many years, it's immensely satisfying to watch Maddie grow and find her place in the world. I was so proud of her, applauding her courage and the woman she had become yet my heart ached for how she was torn between her love for Ash and the new life she had carved out of the Colorado wilderness. I honestly didn't know how Warner was going to work out the issue between Ash and Maddie but I should have had faith for work it out she did and to my immense satisfaction.
Characters from Heartbreak Creek (first in this series) are seamlessly woven into the fabric of Colorado Dawn, figuring prominently in Ash and Maddie's relationship and setting the stage for the next book in the series. As in the first book, the friendship among the four women (Edwina, Prudence, Maddie and Lucinda) continues to have a prominent role in their lives. Declan and Thomas have been good friends for years and have a protective interest in all four women which makes the entry of Ash, a new and unknown entity thrown into the middle of their "manly midst", especially fun to read. Prudence and Thomas's relationship also progresses in this book and has me anxiously awaiting the rest of their story (which began in Heartbreak Creek).
If you love sweeping, character-driven stories set in the American West that are filled with adventure, humor and deeply satisfying emotion then any book by Kaki Warner is the book for you. ...more
The product of an unconventional country upbringing, twenty-two year old Lady Alexa Hendrie, more comfortable with agriculture, mathematics and card pThe product of an unconventional country upbringing, twenty-two year old Lady Alexa Hendrie, more comfortable with agriculture, mathematics and card playing than London society, doesn't give a thought to the risk in which she places her reputation by bearding the notorious Irish Wolfhound in his brothel and gambling den in her desperate search for her brother. Four months later, Alexa is doing plenty of second guessing as she returns to London for a season, finding herself a fish out of water amidst the silly young debutantes, bored by the bland gentlemen of the ton and unable to get a life-altering kiss with a wicked Wolfhound out of her mind.
Connor Linsley, Earl of Killingworth, secret owner of The Wolf's Lair and known throughout London as the Irish Wolfhound knew Alexa Hendrie would be trouble the minute she opened her mouth. The kiss he demanded in exchange for information about her brother was meant to send the much-too-clever miss running back to her family's country estate. It was never meant to linger in Connor's mind for months after the fact. Now she's back in London, just as Connor's world seems to be falling apart. Someone is playing a deadly game, with Connor and The Wolf's Lair in their sights. He doesn't have time for Alexa, with her clever mind and saucy mouth yet circumstances keep bringing them together with sparks flying each time they meet.
Connor is determined to steer clear of this woman he can't stop thinking about but fate has other ideas. Now they're both involved in the danger threatening The Wolf's Lair with their very lives hanging in the balance but, if they can manage to outwit his unknown enemy, Connor and Alexa just may end up with everything their hearts desire but never thought they could have.
I like Cara Elliott's writing more with each book she publishes. Her characters in Too Wicked to Wed are engaging and the story moves along quickly, holding my attention from beginning to end - and keeping me reading late into the night. Secondary characters, in particular Connor's two friends (future heroes of the next two books), are not just window dressing but vital elements of the story and have me eagerly anticipating their own stories. Alexa is an intelligent, independent, but vulnerable, heroine who I liked immensely and who more than holds her own with the man who steals her heart and Connor... What can I say about Connor? He's a man who is much more than his reputation would have you believe and I thoroughly enjoyed traveling his journey to unexpected love with him. ...more