I have to be honest. I did not like the hero William, much at all. He was a selfish prick, in my opinion. He did come around slowly. He felt betrayedI have to be honest. I did not like the hero William, much at all. He was a selfish prick, in my opinion. He did come around slowly. He felt betrayed by his wife, but for good reason, but then he becomes a bad husband, visiting brothels and getting drunk, and when he decides to focus on his marriage, his wife has fallen into a depraved lifestyle. I know he was young, but he was old enough to know better. Then he goes into hiding in a small town, Loves Bridge. He sees his old flame, Belle, and decides he deserves to start hitting that again, and says something really mean to her when she says no, before they can do the dead. She had every right to stop things with a married man. Also, I didn't like that he was perfectly okay with cheating on his wife with prostitutes, but not with a respectable woman. I think prostitution is reprehensible. I don't think prostitutes deserve any less respect than any woman (even if they're paid sex workers), and I think less of a hero who believes that. While William does apologize for what he said to Belle, it left a bad taste in my mouth. As well as his double standards about his wife's behavior. She was acting out and he couldn't be a man and love her and commit to his marriage, even if she wasn't what he thought she was.
This novella pushed my buttons in the worst way about male and female relations and societal double standards that still exist today. The woman gets into trouble, and is forced to deal with it alone, and the man skips out blissful and free from responsibility. Young William didn't deserve Young Belle, and I'm not 100% sure that Old William does. She gave him her virginity and he goes off and forgets her, and leaves her to deal with a situation he definitely contributed to. Then when he sees her, he assumes she's going accommodate his horniness despite his wife back in town. Ugh. Belle definitely loved more than he did. I like that Belle is a normal woman with normal needs. I'm so glad that her conscience kicked in and she won't go through with sleeping with him, even if he's in a bad marriage. I think it would have been a dealbreaker if she did sleep with him while he was married. Women do have sex drives, and while she was celibate for many years, she still had those feelings. I hated that she was made to be the fallen woman by her awful father (a vicar of all things) while William goes off and sows plenty of wild oats, before and after his marriage (and going to prostitutes doesn't make it better than his wife's more public, less discrete behavior).
I'm really glad this was a free read. I would have been a lot madder if I hadn't read for free. I normally like this author a lot. I couldn't get past William's behavior and the blase' attitude about prostitution, which I know she's not alone about. It's treated as a casual thing but it's a social ill and it's a terrible life for those women (and often men and children). I would like to see more heroes who realize how wrong that it. Like another reader, the high point was the cat, Poppy, who becomes not just a matchmaker but a protector of the spinsters. I'm crazy in love with cats so that worked for me.
Having said that, if a reader wants to get a prequel for this series, it's free on Kindle. I have the Kindle, but I read this as a bonus novella with How to Manage a Marquess.
I enjoyed this. The humor was good and I liked how both characters are set on their paths, but their paths keep intersecting. The Spinster House cat,I enjoyed this. The humor was good and I liked how both characters are set on their paths, but their paths keep intersecting. The Spinster House cat, Poppy is quite the matchmaker. Haywood was so protective of Anne, and I liked that. I wish he didn't think it was okay to go to prostitutes, although I understand his options were limited because of the vow he made to his mother. Looking forward to Lord Alex and Jane's story.
This was a very romantic book, and Matt is a wonderful hero. I think I would have liked more conflict to round it out. I love the idea of a heroine wiThis was a very romantic book, and Matt is a wonderful hero. I think I would have liked more conflict to round it out. I love the idea of a heroine with a big family (of siblings) ending up with a hero with a big family as well. That was fun. Kind of reminded me of "The Brady Bunch."
This is just what the avowed Scottish highlander historical reader would ask for: a steamy, emotional love story set in a well-researched Scottish hisThis is just what the avowed Scottish highlander historical reader would ask for: a steamy, emotional love story set in a well-researched Scottish historical setting. I enjoyed Alexander and Hannah's journey to love, and Alexander is scrumptious enough to substitute for a nice hot fudge sundae. I look forward to her sister's stories, particularly young and quirky Lana's.
3.5 stars. It was entertaining and a pleasant read, but I did find both characters' stubborn insistence on not listening to their hearts irritating af3.5 stars. It was entertaining and a pleasant read, but I did find both characters' stubborn insistence on not listening to their hearts irritating after a while. I loved the humor, and the cat Poppy steals the show.
I listened to this on audiobook while I made my Christmas cards, and it was an enjoyable read and kept me entertained while I attended to my crafting.I listened to this on audiobook while I made my Christmas cards, and it was an enjoyable read and kept me entertained while I attended to my crafting. The narrator used a voice for Arthur that was a bit stuffy, and not at all brooding and sexy, but otherwise, I can't complain. There was a good balance between mystery and romance in this book. The mystery was quite authentic, and the villain was a fiend. The reveal was suspenseful, and I hadn't figured out who the villain was until the correct time. The storyline was cute, the way that Elenora and Arthur enter each other's lives was a good setup for the building of their relationship. I like that they feel like unique people, even with some of the typical historical romance character traits they have.
Elenora was a very likable heroine. She was intelligent, independent, brave and self-sufficient. But she was also warm and open to love. I liked how she bounced back from some very difficult circumstances in her life, and wasn't going to allow anyone to bully her. She took an active part in solving the mystery, and she was a very good detective.
Arthur was sexy and manly but also gentlemanly and cerebral. That was a very nice combination. While he definitely had a dangerous aura, he was a principled person. I like that he treated Elenora as an equal and it was evident that he really respected her.
The romance was believable and I rooted for their happy ending. Their love scenes were nicely sensual (although it was a bit odd hearing the older, stuffy-sound narrator read the naughty bits).
I think Amanda Quick's book are really good audiobook listens. I feel I enjoy them in this format more than I might in reading them. I think it's because the mystery is so prominent and Quick gets the historical details just right, and her style of romance works really well in this format.
I'd recommend getting this on audio if you can. I realized today that I had a paper copy but I'm glad I did the audio. It's worth the listen....more
Ugh. I hate to give an Anna Campbell book less than four stars. I think I was just underwhelmed. I mean, this is like one of my fave themes, spinsterUgh. I hate to give an Anna Campbell book less than four stars. I think I was just underwhelmed. I mean, this is like one of my fave themes, spinster and rogue. But I didn't get as involved emotionally with this story. It's a pretty good short Christmas romance, that I expected to like this more than I did. Don't get me wrong. Erskine has had a thing for Phillipa since they first met, intrigued by this quiet wallflower. Phillipa looks down her nose at Erskine because he's a notorious rake. Apparently her sister wrote a steamy letter to him, and Phillipa enters the tiger's lair to get it back, but ends up locked in a cupboard with him, leading to a compromising position. Marriage is required, and Erskine is actually looking forward to it. That sounds pretty scrumptious. But it didn't come off as well as I expected.
I think I wasn't in the mood for such a self-deprecating heroine. She wouldn't believe that Erskine was into her! While I can understand the reasons for her low self-esteem, I wish she had made the most of having such a sexy hubby who couldn't get enough of her instead of being so 'woe is me'. That brings me to another area that I was disappointed. Usually Campbell rocks the love scenes. These weren't quite as sizzling as she typically manages. Maybe I just wasn't feeling it when I read this.
I admit it might be my mood right now. I'm still grieving and adjusting to things right now, so that does impact you when you are trying to focus on a book. I will try to read this again when I'm in more of receptive mood. I definitely don't want to miss out on Erskine's reformed rake sexiness.
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" iThis 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 heI 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 chemistI 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 conceCrystal 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! ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is sly, sensual, humorous and firmly ensconced in the period. Even if I wasn't the biggest Anne Stuart fanI thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is sly, sensual, humorous and firmly ensconced in the period. Even if I wasn't the biggest Anne Stuart fan on earth, I will still have found this book utterly enchanting.
I was really nervous with the storyline because I hate adultery with a burning passion. I'm happy with how things unfolded. There was no line crossing in this book that I couldn't live with. While Lord Kilmartyn is supposed to be a sleazy rake, I was completely in love with him quite early on in the book. I found him very seductive and I could see why Bryony fell for him, despite being a very sensible young woman. I liked the importance of his Irish heritage to his persona, and how it had gotten him into a shaky situation of late, but defined him in a way that he couldn't turn his back on. I wish that Ms. Stuart had delved more into where his marriage went wrong, but I got the impression that he wanted to be a good husband to his wife at some point, and he loved her, but now he hated her. In some books with the unrepentant, adulterous rake, I question the character's ability to remain faithful to the heroine, but I have no doubt that Kilmartyn would be capable of that with Bryony. His caring for her when she was in need was very touching and showed more than words.
I also loved Bryony as a character. Her pain in feeling unloved and unattractive because of her smallpox scars made sense. While it scarred her self-esteem, she was still a strong-minded person and no fainting flower in the face of her family's recent change in fortunes. I like her pluck and how her natural personality comes out in her interactions with Kilmartyn. I rooted for her to get him, and win him over in a way that didn't cross the line into adultery or illicit affair territory and I was glad Ms. Stuart gave her that happy ending with no compromise in that area.
The secondary characters are a fun addition to the book, with a little bit of the "Upstairs, Downstairs" vibe as Bryony gets engrossed in the world of the servants and they take her in, especially Mrs. Harkins the kindly chef.
I confess I read the last book before this, so I sort of know how it ends, but it didn't spoil things for me. There is still plenty of mystery in the storyline with what happened to Bryony and her sisters' father to keep the story interesting. That is if steamy romance with a soon-to-be reformed rake isn't enough to keep things exciting.
Never Kiss a Rake is a promising start to this newest historical romance series by Ms. Stuart. She brings all the steamy romance and engaging characters that make her books delicious reads for me. I hope to read Never Trust a Pirate very soon....more
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. CA 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!...more
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-noThis 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!...more
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 tThis 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....more