This book is for fans of scintillating dialogue and stimulating back and forth between the hero and heroine. It brings to mind "Taming of the Shrew" i...moreThis book is for fans of scintillating dialogue and stimulating back and forth between the hero and heroine. It brings to mind "Taming of the Shrew" in the best ways. The chemistry is excellent, and while this is on the lighter side for a historical romance, it's a fun ride to watch Lucy and Derek go at it, and fall deeper in love with each encounter. It has a love scene that made me fan myself!
I wanted to like this a little more than I did, but I did find it a pleasant and enjoyable read. Readers who enjoy spinster/rogue romance, tortured he...moreI wanted to like this a little more than I did, but I did find it a pleasant and enjoyable read. Readers who enjoy spinster/rogue romance, tortured heroes with a bad reputation, and heroines who finally get their day in the sun, along with the fairy tale theme, will probably like this book.
I really liked this book. The dynamic between Griffin and Justine was so appealing. I liked that Griffin was a bit of a pursuer and I felt the chemist...moreI really liked this book. The dynamic between Griffin and Justine was so appealing. I liked that Griffin was a bit of a pursuer and I felt the chemistry between Griffin and Justine was well done. Readers who have a weakness for Spinster/Rogue historical romance should pick this one up!
Crystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the conce...moreCrystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the concept of 'psychical energies.' Both Evangeline and Lucas have paranormal abilities, and they are drawn to Crystal Gardens, Lucas' deceased uncle's estate by no accident. In the case of Lucas, he comes to investigate his uncle's murder. Evangeline comes to soak up the atmosphere and work on her series of serial novels, and also to investigate the place that her father (a man who studied psychical energies and invented machines that ran on these energies) was obsessed with. Evangeline is also fleeing a murderer and ends up running right into Lucas' arms, which is a very good thing! Lucas is just the knight in tarnished armor to keep her safe.
I enjoyed listening to this book on audio but it did fall short overall. The narrator has a very dramatic way of reading it. Sometimes, her voice sounded a little odd (especially when she narrated the male characters), but I loved her British accent, and that each character sounded distinctive. I think that Quick's books lend themselves very well to audiobooks. Her style is very focused on the mystery components, and the romance seems to take a bit of a back seat at times. This would probably bother me more if I was reading than when I listen to books. That is not to say that the romance wasn't good. It was. I just could have used more than I got. I do feel that she emphasized the paranormal elements too much. She used the term 'psychical' excessively. I think that the reader gets the point about the paranormal energies and she could have spent time on building up the story in other ways. I do think Quick excelled in her descriptions of the Gardens and its otherworldly atmosphere. I felt like I was there in the Gardens, which might be a very strange experience indeed.
Unfortunately, the characters didn't feel as well-developed as I would have liked. I found Evangeline and Lucas likable and intriguing, but I don't feel that I knew them as well as I wanted. I feel that Quick did more telling about them than showing. Maybe she could have caused their characterization come to light more organically if she had spent more time on revealing who they were than explaining about the paranormal elements of the Crystal Gardens. At the end of the story, I could feel their attraction and feelings for each other, but I didn't get to explore this powerful love that supposedly had developed between them. Since this is a romance, that is crucial. I found the love scenes well written and passionate, and I really liked this about the book. I did feel the attraction between Evangeline and Lucas, although Quick sort of stole its impact by implying it was related to the psychical energies. Lucas is the kind of hero I love, strong, intelligent, compelling, and dangerous in an appealing way, but something was missing from his portrayal. Evangeline was a good person, a sweet woman who is independent and intelligent, and I wanted things to work out for her, but she wasn't distinctive as a character. The secondary character were barely fleshed out. I did like Evangeline's friends Clarissa and Beatrice, as well as Lucas' siblings, Beth and Tony. I also like Molly, Evangeline's maid, and Stone, Lucas' manservant, but they weren't as vivid as I would have liked. Judith, Lucas' stepmother seemed more lively in her characterization, especially with her feelings of antipathy towards Lucas and the reasons for them. The way Lucas treated Judith endeared me to him. He was respectful and he took his responsibilities for her very seriously even though she had never treated him well. The villain was quite cardboard, and his motivations were shallow. He shows up just in time for a thrilling climax, but he spends very little time in this book overall.
I guess it's clear I wanted to like this book more than I did. I liked it, but I think that this author is capable of writing a better book than this. I say that with all respect for her. I hope that the next books in the Ladies of Mystery have the spark that this book was lacking, because I think this series really has potential. And I am a sucker for the Victorian Gothic romance! (less)
A quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. C...moreA quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. Captain Caine Morleigh is an heir to an earldom who was badly scarred in the Napoleonic Wars. His fiancee' repudiated him after the bandages came off. She even screamed and fainted. That was enough for Caine to know he wouldn't be marrying her. Now Caine needs to find a new bride. This time around, he will choose an unattractive bride, a wallflower desperate for marriage, one who won't mind his unpleasant visage and make few demands on him, happy to be married. His eyes fall on Lady Grace, and he decides she's the one. She's very thin and unprepossessing in appearance. But she has spirit, which he finds out when he asks her to dance and then to marry him. Grace says yes, only to get away from her uncle, who has been mistreating and threatening her. But she is going to make sure that her marriage is to her benefit as well. She wants a real marriage in which her husband respects her and allows her to be true to herself and in which he demands no less than they both deserve in a marriage. Caine comes to realize that his wallflower bride will require a lot more of him than he expected, and give a lot more in return. And that he loves her for it.
I've missed reading Lyn Stone's historical romance books. I'm glad she's writing them again. This book has a trad regency feel, with authentic characters and actions that take me back to that period. Although not G-rated, it is not very explicit in sensuality, but the chemistry, attraction and bond between Caine and Grace is apparent and appealing. I loved Grace's spunk. She wasn't passive or willing to allow herself to be treated as less than she deserved. Her situation with her uncle put her in the position of being a victim but that wasn't natural for her. When she accepts Caine's proposal, she blooms with the freedom and safety he offers, and her real personality comes back to life, and in the process, Caine falls head over heels for her. I was glad that he came to appreciate his bride for the pearl that she was. I liked Caine a lot too. Although his initial plan seemed cold-hearted, he treated Grace kindly and respectfully from the beginning. There was never a question that he was a good guy. He just had some wrong idea about controlling his life by marrying the kind of woman who wouldn't demand too much from him. Fortunately, something in him choose the right woman in the end, and she was exactly what he needed, if not the convenient wife he expected.
Not a ground-breaking book or a foundation-shaker, but a good read. A pleasant love story that kept me reading. Write more please, Ms. Stone. 4 stars!(less)
This book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-no...moreThis book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-nonsense demeanor but still getting under his skin. I have to say I was very satisfied by this book. Deb Marlowe is going on my reading list now for sure. Her sense of time and place is excellent, but so much life and feeling in her writing, her characters.
Chloe found her way into my heart. I liked everything about her. I can see a little of myself in her, that determination to fix herself so that she could handle anything that comes her way. Her situation in this book called to me deeply. Her fear and loneliness. Her loving heart, and her keen mind to match. Her struggle to face and defeat her fears and climb out of that box she had created for safety, but had grown too big for, so that it was just constricting her overall growth as a person. I really loved her, cheering her strengths and feeling for her vulnerabilities. I wanted her to get her man, and I love that her strategy did exactly that. Not only did she get her man, she let him realize for himself that she was the right woman for him. What a savvy, lovable heroine!
I found Braedon absolutely lickable, warts and all. Big, vital, strong-minded, wounded, afraid to love. What a complex mix that made for a hero I fell head over heels for. Even when he frustrated me with his stubborn determination to cling to old thought patterns that no longer would keep him safe and certainly didn't bring happiness. I felt for him and understood why. His family would make anyone afraid to love and open one's heart. Deep down though, he was a man truly worthy of loving. Even if he didn't think so. Like us all, he faced some real challenges that he had to overcome in his relationships with others, including a young boy who enters his life and raises some old demons. But like a well-made sword, he comes out of the fire even stronger as the impurities are burned away.
As I said earlier, I loved the main storylines, but also the plot threads about Braedon being a collecter of ancient weaponry. It made sense on a deep, symbolic level that a man with his emotional wounds would build himself a citadel of safety full of sharp, protective weapons. In the process, he realizes that when a man walls himself in, he builds a prison as well as a fortress. Whereas, if he allows himself to trust and to love those who prove worthy, he is much more safe in the long run, even if that requires a step of faith and going out into the danger zone of the unknown frontiers of emotion. What a beautiful, meaning-filled message. I am trying to be more strict about five star reviews, but when a book touches me this way, I have to give it the highest rating.
People regularly put down Harlequin books. To each their own. For myself, some of the best and most meaningful books I have read have been written by authors in the Harlequin imprints. They might not be long or have the dubious honor of freedom from the "Harlequin title stigma", but they are hidden treasures all the same. This is one of those books. Definitely recommend it!(less)
This book is a storyline about two people who end up starting a marriage under less than ideal circumstances. Arabella is pregnant by a man who lied t...moreThis book is a storyline about two people who end up starting a marriage under less than ideal circumstances. Arabella is pregnant by a man who lied to her, used her, and abandoned her. Leaving her pregnant. She tracks him down to find he has died, and gains an audience with his younger brother. Elliot has fought to find his own path instead of living in his brother's shadow. And he's done a spectacular job. While Rafe lived a dissolute, selfish life, Elliot sought a productive one, full of physical activity and meaning. When a bedraggled, plain young woman comes to his home and claims to be pregnant by his brother, he knows it's upon his honor to do the right thing and marry her, even she did not demand this of him. He is determined to do right by her, and in the process cultivate a decent marriage, raising his brother's child as his own. Haha, the great plans we make! Soon, both Arabella and Elliott realize a comfortable marriage is not enough for either of them.
What I liked:
* I found Elliott to be a good hero, but also quite realistic. I liked that he was troubled by the fact that his wife wasn't carrying his own child, and insecure enough to resent the fact that his brother's child might inherit his title. It was only to be expected, since he's a normal human being, not a saint. I couldn't blame him. We don't always have the most unselfish feelings about things, and I would expect no less of him to struggle with this, in light of the fact that he had never been close to his brother, nor had his brother treated him well as an adult, despite his overtures. In the end, he realizes how much he cares for the child Arabella has, more than he even though possible. I liked how he was there for Arabella, despite his misgivings. I liked that he never even considered betraying his marriage vows, despite the fact that Arabella wasn't his chosen bride. Elliott was a very admirable man and I liked him a lot as a hero. * Arabella came a long way in this book. I could understand her insecurities, uncertainties and misgivings. Going from an overbearing, unloving father, being mistreated by a man who pretended to love her only to get laid, and then dealing with the guilt of a pregnancy out of wedlock and a marriage to that man's brother in order to give her child a family. She had to come to realize she was worthy of love, and that she had the right to demand more. She bloomed beautifully with some security of a good marriage, and that's a good thing. * I liked the development of love between Arabella and Elliott. It made sense that they had to work through a lot of the issues they faced to find love. I could see their feelings change to something more over time in the way they treated and interacted with each other.
What could have been better:
* I felt a bit emotionally detached from this story. I would have liked more of a sizzle in the story, and I'm not talking loving scenes. The love scenes actually were nicely sensuous, but I didn't feel as drawn into this story overall as I would hope. I merely felt an affection for the characters, not a strong pull towards them.
This was a good romance novel. I liked the handling of the theme of the heroine carrying another man's child, specifically the hero's brother. The fact that Arabella had been intimate and taken advantage of by Elliott's brother wasn't minimized as an issue, but neither was it handled in such a way where I felt like I couldn't get past that to believe in them as a couple. Instead, I felt as though Rafe (the dead brother)'s actions might have resulted in something good in the end, two people finding true love together. At least something worthwhile came out of his selfishness, other than his child. Overall, I was satisfied with this story.(less)
This book was a pleasant surprise. I picked it up off my shelf because I needed a 'Q' book for my A to Z challenge. The blurb didn't really call my na...moreThis book was a pleasant surprise. I picked it up off my shelf because I needed a 'Q' book for my A to Z challenge. The blurb didn't really call my name at all. However, I started reading and sunk deep into this story, leaving Texas and finding myself in Regency England. The writing flows naturally and smoothly, and the characters meant something to me. I could see where Diana was coming from with her very real issues. What happened to her was awful! And Brett wasn't the cad I expected him to be. He actually had some scruples, and was motivated by more than just his own pleasure. I started to realize that Diana really did need to come out of her self-imposed shell, because it wasn't healthy. She had let her dead fiance' steal away most of who she was as a person. Brett did have a way about him that definitely translated an irresistible vibe, and I enjoyed their flirtation and deepening relationship. I also liked the way the author turned things around. Brett was somewhat hoisted by his own petard, but in this case, it wasn't the best thing for either Brett or Diana. I was glad that he's a persistent fellow, and not one to settle. As far as any obvious flaws, I can only think of one--some parts got a little confusing as far as character motivation, but not so much that it ruined the book.
For a quick, enjoyable Regency read, I think this book will suit very well. It was nicely sensual, and the period aspects rang true. I liked both the hero and the heroine, and I wanted them to end up together. That adds up to a successful read for me. I'm glad that I have several of this author's books since I have a subscription to the Harlequin Historicals. (less)
The cover and the blurb drew me in when I got this one with my monthly Harlequin Historical books. I knew I'd be reading it soon. It didn't disappoint...moreThe cover and the blurb drew me in when I got this one with my monthly Harlequin Historical books. I knew I'd be reading it soon. It didn't disappoint.
I don't want to give away too many plot details, because that is the fun in reading this book. It was interesting how deeply Imogen and Monty's lives intertwine. When they met, they seemed to be adversaries, but a blistering attraction makes that unlikely. They don't seem to be what each other wants at first glance, but they need to look deeper to see that they are meant for each other.
Imogen/Midge and Monty both have emotional baggage that they are dealing with. Imogen is a very loveable heroine, although she's way too hard on herself. But, I could see why, never having felt loved and appreciated. She finds it hard to believe that her husband could love her and want to be faithful to her. She takes his every action as a rejection. But, Monty is dealing with this difficult father and trying to play catch-up since he was a soldier for most of his young life, and now he's the heir to an earldom that has been mismanaged by his older brother before his death. He's got a lot on his plate, and that governs his actions quite a bit.
In the first book I read by Annie Burrows, The Earl's Untouched Bride, I felt that the misunderstandings between the couple went on too long. I was worried that this would be the same, but thankfully she didn't belabor those. I liked that Monty reasoned through some of Midge's actions towards the end, and came to the correct conclusion, instead of believing the poison his woman-hating father had spouted about her. I like how protective he was of her. For once, she had someone looking out for her needs.
My one issue, and sort of a big one, was the love scenes. Ms. Burrows does such an excellent job of building tension, you think you are in for some nicely steamy love scenes, but they so quick and very non-descriptive. I was quite disappointed. I don't mind at all if the author chooses not to include love scenes; but I don't like when the story is written so steamy with great chemistry and buildup, and then there are no good love scenes to show the culmination of that tension. That was the case with this story. There were passionate kisses and caresses, and the love scene would go by with no details (practically fade to black), and I felt like I had missed something. I think Midge and Monty deserved some good love scenes. Monty is pretty hot for his bride, and Midge feels so passionate towards him that she worries that she's being improper (after being condemned for being her wild/immodest parents' daughter for so many years). They really connect on that level, and their private moments are when the walls come down between them. It just doesn't fit to have these short, non-descriptive love scenes. That's why I can't really give this book five stars. It's a shame, because I loved this book. It would have been five stars if I hadn't felt cheated of some passion.
This is part of a Harlequin Historical series called Silk and Scandal. This is book five. I haven't read the first four books, although I plan to do so. It didn't hurt me to read this book out of order, although there is a larger continuity involved that relates to Midge's parents. There was a good secondary story with Midge's half-brother Stephen who is the illegitimate offspring of her father and a Gypsy woman. He's very embittered by the way he was abandoned, and wants revenge against his family, who he believes rejected him. It added another emotional layer to this story.
I'd definitely recommend this to fans of shorter regency romances. If you like the plain jane/spinster motif and married couple romances, I think you'll enjoy this. Although Monty comes off as arrogant and rude initially (reminding me a little of Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, although more passionate), he's really a nice guy. I liked him a lot. Midge and Monty were a great couple.
Books like The Viscount's Betrothal validate my decision to subscribe to the Harlequin Historical line. I love that I can find hidden gemlike books by...moreBooks like The Viscount's Betrothal validate my decision to subscribe to the Harlequin Historical line. I love that I can find hidden gemlike books by newer authors in my monthly shipment that are up my reading alley. This was a nice, shorter, but satisfying love story. Readers who enjoy the spinster motif likely will be well-pleased with this book. Decima is a character who is likeable and textured. She has valid insecurities that she struggles with, being very tall (5'10"), very freckled, and on-the-shelf for several years at the age of twenty-six. She failed to catch her first season, and lost confidence. It didn't help that her brother is over-bearing and controlling. Yet, finally, Decima is going to make her bid for freedom. She's tired of matchmaking attempts that go awry when the male object fails to fall for her due to her abundant attributes. She plots her escape and ends up snowed in with a delicious Viscount. From the beginning, Adam seems to find her attractive, and she fears it's just the 'port in the storm' phenomenon. But their mutual chemistry is strong and seemingly undeniable. I liked how Ms. Allen kept me on the razor's edge here. There were plenty of nicely sensual moments that didn't end in consummation, which was appropriate considering that Adam is a gentleman, and Decima a lady, and he couldn't at that time marry or make her his mistress. I like that they both struggled with their desire for each other, and the powerful connection that formed between them. I liked the interactions between them that consisted of playing in the snow, bonding over their mutual appreciation of horses, and putting together makeshift meals when they are snowed in. I appreciated how they nursed their respective employees (who were sick and had a broken leg). And they also did some matchmaking for them after they realized that Pru and Bates were in love. I also found the wit and the dialogue to be well done. This is the kind of Regency book I like when I reach for a lighter read. Very period, with nuances that keep the story moving and appeal to me in their portrayal of the lives of members of the ton, especially those who are on the fringes for their perceived lack of what is fashionable.
I like that Decima was realistic. She had moments where she doubted her attractions after having it reinforced for so long that she wasn't in society's mode of beauty. But, at the same time, she took charge of her life and was determined to be happy. I like how she interacted with others--showing a kind, loving personality, but finding the courage to stand up for herself against her bossy brother. Decima was a good heroine.
I also liked Adam. He was honorable, but manly. Although he had a mistress when the story started (and has some discreet assignations with widows that was mentioned), he was not an out and out rake, and he took his responsibilities seriously. He was a very likeable, decent guy, and very attractive and sexy. He saw the appeal in Decima pretty early on the story, and wanted to figure out how they could be together. Things get complicated when he gets trapped into a betrothal, but Adam is determined to find a way for Decima to be his own. I liked his solution to the problem, also playing matchmaker to his fiancee', Olivia (who is afraid of him and not at all attracted to him, only marrying him because her mother demands it), and Decima's gorgeous but diminutive best friend, Henry, when he realizes they are in love. I thought it was a pretty good idea, and the fact that he wasn't going to give up on winning Decima's hand endeared him to me.
It took me a while to read this book because I've been busy with other things, but I certainly looked forward to reading it when I obtained an opportunity. I'd recommend it to fans of lighter, but not fluffy regencies in the traditional mode, but with a nice dose of sensuality (fueled by the well-written chemistry between Decima and Adam).(less)
Allie’s Moon is a love story with two lonely people who carry heavy weights on their hearts from the past. Althea Ford had been told for most of her l...moreAllie’s Moon is a love story with two lonely people who carry heavy weights on their hearts from the past. Althea Ford had been told for most of her life that she was responsible for her mother’s death. She focused her existence on making amends for her lapse by taking care of her father through his long illness, and her sister who has emotional problems and ‘fits’. She sees no other life for herself other than the narrow, lonely one she inhabits.
For the past two years, Jeff Hicks has drowned his past anguish in whiskey, becoming a homeless alcoholic, when he was once sheriff. He doesn’t think of the future, only the present. When he’s arrested for stealing an egg, his friend Will, who took over as sheriff, arranges for Jeff to work on Althea’s farm for a month, doing odd jobs that she needs a handyman for. Jeff doesn’t want to spend a month in jail, so he agrees to working on Althea’s farm.
The best part of this story was how these two sad people find peace and solace in each other. It was good to see Jeff stop drinking and heal from the pain of knowing he killed a boy. Even though it was in self-defense, he could never forgive himself. Although not as much time was spent on dealing with Jeff’s alcoholism, I believe Ms. Harrington made an effort for that to be realistic. Allie, as he starts to call Althea, gives him a reason to get through the day, purpose, and joy in anticipating every moment with her. In essence, she is a very good and positive substitute for alcohol, giving him the succor he needed, and helping him get his life back on track. That made his ability to kick his alcohol dependence so smoothly feel more realistic for me. Allie felt as though she deserved nothing more than to be a dogsbody to her sister to pay her penance for her mother’s suicide. But Ben sees the sweet, beautiful, loving woman she is under all her starch and propriety, and he wishes he was good enough for her, wanting to share the heart he thought was dead and incapable of feeling with her. At first glance, Allie does feel that the downtrodden, dirty alcoholic had something about him that draws her eye. When she sees the man he is after he gets cleaned up and finds purpose and peace working on her farm, it doesn’t take very long for her to become attracted to and to fall in love with Jeff. She realizes that he is an honorable, gentle, loving man, and wishes that he could be her happy ending, although she can’t see a future outside of her duty to her sister.
The worst part of this book was Allie’s horrible sister. She was such a mean, self-absorbed, evil person. She treated her sister terribly, manipulating and taking advantage of the kind woman that Allie was. I think the depths of her ugliness kept this from being a higher rated book for me. Olivia’s antics were too much for me, I think. I didn’t feel fully satisfied with the book after what she put Jeff and Allie through before it was over. I feel like she worked them over a little too easily, even though Jeff was onto her early on in the book. (view spoiler)[ The fact that she was willing to let a man hang for something he was innocent of put a bad taste in my mouth (hide spoiler)]. I do regret that this was enough to knock this book from five stars to four, but it just affected my enjoyment too much.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. I read it in one day, which says a lot. Allie and Jeff are two characters that I wanted to find peace and happiness. They both deserved to be loved. I appreciate that Ms. Harrington gave us characters who had a lot of anguish and issues to deal with, giving them a happy ending together. Those are my favorite kinds of romance stories. I haven’t been reading many western romances lately, which is a shame, since they are favorites of mine. This is my third book that I’ve read by her, and I can say that Alexis Harrington is one to reach for when a western romance fan wants a emotional read. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ms. Milan has lived up to the promise I saw in her writing in the short story I read in The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\ The Season for Suit...moreMs. Milan has lived up to the promise I saw in her writing in the short story I read in The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\ The Season for Suitors\ This Wicked Gift. I loved the way she wrote her hero and heroine, and knew she was a writer I wanted to follow. I'm glad that she had written another story that I felt that way about. Her characters are very well-crafted, deep, complex, and textured. I found myself continually evaluating things from each one's perspective, and it was difficult to 'choose sides', which is a good thing. In real life, no person is all good and bad (at least for the most part). We are a complex mix of both, and we often make decisions out of our human drives, sometimes good and sometimes bad. In the case of Ash and Margaret, I could see what drove them, and I felt for them both. Family is very important to me as well, and even though I don't always like everything my family does, I love them, and I'd do anything for them. That's why I couldn't get mad either at Ash or Margaret at the choices they made. Even though their brothers didn't always understand the sacrifices they made for them, it was both characters' choices to give up so much for the love of their siblings. In the end, I was glad that they found each other, and realized that someone saw them truly and loved them honestly. I was glad they found their other halves, because I think that this kind of love is so valuable to humans, and they both needed it. It takes a writer of considerable skill to create such real, lovable characters, and Ms. Milan shows it.
I loved the intensity of her writing, and the strength of the story here, a romance, and a good one, but something more. I liked how she integrated the sensual moments into this love story, making them intrinsic to the development of the relationship between Ash and Margaret. I liked that Ash saw Margaret and knew she was what he wanted and needed. I liked that even though it was a seemingly bad idea to fall for Ash, Margaret did anyway. I know that she had some tough choices to make, and I was glad that she was able to make a choice that was right for her, down deep, and that that choice included Ash. I was glad their feelings for each other, that trust and understanding of each other stayed true, even in the face of what seemed insurmountable. I also loved the authenticity of the Victorian setting, drawn in subtle strokes, but very evident. I could tell that the author knows her subject, and she managed to convey that without overwhelming the narrative with facts about Victorian England and inheritance law.
Giving this book five stars is a foregone conclusion, based on its many strengths, and how much I enjoyed reading it. It was deep, rich, fascinating, sensual, intense, and rewarding. All the things I love about historical romance. Highly recommended.(less)
I enjoyed reading this book. I think the writing style probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it has a trad regency feel that I like in a regency ro...moreI enjoyed reading this book. I think the writing style probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it has a trad regency feel that I like in a regency romance.
Unfortunately, the title and blurb are a bit misleading. The hero, Ben, really isn't that much of a rake. He's illegitimate, and that has affected him so that he doesn't 'spread his seed' liberally. He has affairs, but he is discreet about it and careful to take precautions. Charlotte is a virgin, but she's not as young and naive as the title conveys. She's five and twenty, very intelligent, and tough-minded, and she holds her own.
I thought the chemistry between Ben and Charlotte was a big plus in this story. They do a lot of verbal sparring. Charlotte has been attracted to Ben since they first met, but she doesn't want to be. Ben feels the same way, much to her surprise. She had determined that she would stay a spinster and devote her life to educating young women. She had no desire to marry. And Ben isn't a marrying man anyway. The last thing she'd do is be any man's mistress. If you're like me and you hate the whole mistress angle, don't worry. Actually, Ben doesn't hold any dishonorable intentions seriously. He knows better. He actually turns out to be quite honorable. For many reasons, I just didn't see him as a rake, which is a good thing for me.
There is a bit of suspense, but it's not the major part of the storyline. However, there were things that occurred in the previous books that were discussed and alluded to that left me in the dark regarding the suspense angle. Not enough to frustrate me or spoil the read though. I'm not real big on suspense being too prominent in a romance book, so I was happy that the focus is on the sparring/chase/advance/retreat between Ben and Charlotte. There are some passionate kisses and a well-done love scene, and the author shows very clearly that they are both crazy about each other. I believe the author did a good job in keeping this story period. There was enough sexual tension to make this a lively romance, but the characters acted as people of their times in how they conducted themselves (very important for this reader).
I think that the narrative relies a bit too heavily on internal dialogue, and less on actual conversation and action, and that would be a negative for some readers. I would have liked more of both, but overall, I thought this was a good read. I enjoyed it, and I had a smile on my face as I finished the epilogue, which was very sweet.
I've give this book a 3.75/5.0 stars because I thought it was good entertainment, and I really liked both Ben and Elizabeth. And I am a sucker for a good spinster/bachelor sparring and fighting their feelings for each other romance. I'd recommend it with reservations as expressed above.(less)
I loved this story. Yes it was short, but it was also sweet and very well done. I'm a sucker for the plain, aging spinster meets the rake storyline, a...moreI loved this story. Yes it was short, but it was also sweet and very well done. I'm a sucker for the plain, aging spinster meets the rake storyline, and I think Ms. Stuart always does great with it. I don't know...Not too many writers do rakes as well as I like. But, Ms. Stuart, she definitely does. A rake is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. But the best part about a rakish hero is seeing him fall in love with the one woman who makes him want to give up his debauched, profligate ways. Hard to do in such a short format, but she managed here, in my opinion. I love her use of language, and how she built the tension so well for a short story. I'm not sure what to expect about the Heavenly Host, except they are far from heavenly. I can't say too much without spoiling the story, but it met any expectations I have for Anne Stuart's writing. I'm glad to see her writing more historicals, although I love her contemporaries too. What can I say? I love her writing, period. She writes a killer short story, says Danielle, with a happy smile on her face.(less)