Favorite Quote: “I’d rather leave you then have you taken from me.”
As chief surgeon for the Wardens, Evelyn Stone fears her own life is on the line when she is kidnapped by a band of pirates—only to discover that the airship captain is Gavin “Mac” MacRae—her former lover. The man whose life she once saved. The man she abandoned.
Since Evelyn left, Mac made his mark as both a pirate and a pilot. But his true allegiance isn’t known. So when he asks Evie for help with a wounded woman onboard, he tells Evie that the woman is his wife—even if his feelings for Evie have never waned…
As the days pass, however, the unease between Evie and Mac gives way to the old comfort they used to have. Yet, their newly ignited romance is complicated by conflicting loyalties and desires, and a betrayal that may cost them both their love and their lives. (Goodreads)
Breath Of Iron, the third in Ms. Cross’s dark and intriguing Clockwork Agents series, submerges us back into the wonderful world of Victorian sediments and steampunk adventures. Riveting action, dangerous spies, steamy romance, and an all-star cast keep us on our toes. Lush world building continues to evolve as we divulge deeper into the mechanics behind the Wardens of the Realm and their arch enemies, The Company. The Wardens are a secret government group who work behind the scenes to protect the monarchy and it’s hierarchy, while The Company seeks to destroy it. In this installment, Cross crosses the continent and brings us the Wardens and The Companys Russian counterparts.
Our story begins with the kidnapping of Dr. Evie Stone, the Warden’s English doctor. Evie knows her kidnappers but is shocked when she is drugged and wakes upon The Queen V; her ex lover’s ship. Evie left Mac three years ago after she saved his life once again. She couldn’t stand his being a pirate nor his propensity for getting hurt. She feared for the day she would not being able to save him and so she left. Mac, a previous Warden who left the agency for calmer waters, has never forgiven Evie for leaving him while he recuperated in the hospital, but he needs her skills as a surgeon to save a very important life. In order to keep Evie safe and his heart protected, he lies about the young woman he needs Evie to save.
Evie knows something is wrong with the entire situation but believes Mac has moved on from her and reluctantly accepts his marriage. When Mac is attacked and a crew member is killed, all evidence points towards a traitor on board. Evie’s investigation reveals the whole story behind Mac’s marriage and the real reasons he’s back in England and consorting with Wardens.
Both Mac and Evie are interesting protagonists and I enjoyed learning their backstory. Evie’s fear of commitment and distrust of love stems from her parent’s relationship and her father’s desertion of her and her mother. Mac has a hero complex that places his life in continuous danger. Both are extremely brave and stubborn. There were times I felt neither really listened to what the other was saying. Pages of dialogue show them bickering back and forth; both still hurt by their failed affair. It slows the story line down. Though they seemed at times unable to get past that day three years ago, they did have a delightful banter between one another that is both sensual and amusing. Witty dialogue and little digs will have you smiling as their two square off against each other. Their strong chemistry singes the pages as the main conflict unfurls amongst suspicion and distrust. I did feel that the romance overshadowed the story and didn’t blend as well with the storyline as it did in the other two installments. Everything happens fast and there are some situations that do not fully reveal, leaving me at a lost to what exactly happened.
Ms. Cross’s continues to write well developed and personable secondary characters whose individual storylines spike your curiosity. Ned, Mac’s sister, is a jovial character whom I forsee has having some further conflict with the Wardens. We get an interesting look at the director of the Warden’s personal life that was shocking. Ms. Cross allows us time with Lucas and Arden and Clair and Alister; giving us intimate glimpses into their lives. What I normally enjoyed about this series is that everyone has hidden agendas; making for a more exciting story filled with many twists and turns. In this installment I felt we didn’t get that as much. The story lines revolves almost singularly around Evie and Mac’s romance. I missed the cutting action and suspense from the previous two installments. I also missed the usually strong Warden presence.
Regardless of my qualms, Cross continues to pen an engaging steampunk romance that is sure to appeal to fantasy and romance fans alike.
Favorite Quote: “I wish you didn’t hate me for it, but if the price of keeping you free is hatred, so be it.”
I’m a sucker for romance, highlanders, and stubborn men so this series is nothing but a win-win for me. We have all been impatiently waiting to see what would happen with Lady Louisa Scranton and Inspector Lloyd Fellows after their shared kisses. Louisa needs to secure a proper marriage to counteract the damage her father did when he defrauded his friends. But her heart belongs to Inspector Fellows. Fellows loves Louisa too but knows they have no future due to their class differences. It makes no difference he is an Earl’s son, he feels his illegitimate status and lack of wealth can only harm Louisa.
When Louisa finds herself accused of poisoning a high ranking bishop, Fellows is called to the scene and immediately begins to plot the best way to prove her innocence. No matter what the outcome of their association he will never allow her to face a magistrate. Even to the point of corrupting the scene. As Fellows investigation deepens, he finds quite a few suspects, all having reason to want the bishop dead. Including a childhood friend of Louisa’s who is close to offering her his good name in marriage. When Fellows’s captain tries to pull him off the case at the request of the dead bishop’s family, Fellows threatens to quit, resulting in an ultimatum from his captain. Find the killer in two days or Louisa will be arrested and brought before the court.
The Untamed Mackenzie is a delightful novella that mixes romance and mystery with a dash of humor only those mischievous and wicked Mackenzie’s can bring to the table. We see plenty of Isabella and Mac along with Eleanor, Hart, Ian, Beth, and of course, Daniel. Daniel plays an enthusiastic cupid as he not only helps with the investigation but also tries to facilitate Louisa and Fellows feelings. I enjoyed that Ms. Ashley doesn’t make it easy for Louisa and Fellows. She keeps them in character and allows then to slowly open up as the story progresses. They do have some issues to resolve before they are able to take the step they, and we, want them to take. Fellows is a deliciously growly alpha man whose orders even made ME swoon. Though Louisa seemed a bit Mary Sue in the beginning, I found her gradual awakening made her more then able to handle Fellows.
I enjoyed watching the mystery evolve and seeing Fellows (and Daniel and Louisa) detect their way to the villain but some aspects I wish had been more visible. Most of the actual investigative work was behind the scenes. The ending was in true Mackenzie fashion with drama, laughter, and some surprises. I will admit, the real villain came as a complete surprise to me.
All in all, this was an enjoyable and engaging addition to Ashley’s Highland Pleasures series. Daniel’s story is next and I for one can not wait. The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie will release October 1, 2013.
Favorite Quote: “You are always safe by my side, my lady.”
Lilia is a novelty. She is a female gladiator and her skill and prowess has made her one of the most feared woman in Rome. When a former champion is sold to her ludris, she fears not only for her status…but also her heart.
Christus’s owner has died and he is sold to a new ludris. When he first meets Lilia, he defends her honor, not knowing his interest will only make her life harder. Lilia fascinates him and brings forth his long buried protective and sexual interests. In his pursuit of Lilia, they capture the attention of a very important and dangerous man. A man who will do anything to process possess Lilia, even if it destroys them all.
Lilia and Christus find themselves forced to participate in a to the death match between all the strongest gladiators in Rome. Only one gladiator can walk out of the arena alive. They will have to use all their skills if they want win their freedom to live and love.
Seduced by the Gladiator is a dark historical erotic romance. Fast pacing with engaging characters and a seductive action packed storyline makes this short 100 page novella fly by. It takes place after the events in My Wicked Gladiators. It is not necessary to read My Wicked Gladiators to enjoy or understand this story, but there are some characters that bleed over.
Lilia and Christus are both damaged individuals. Lilia was sold as a young girl to a slaver by her father and has never known any other life. Christus was a freeman until a jealous man took it all from him and forced him into slavery. Hawkeye does a good job of painting us a desolate and somewhat heartbreaking picture of what life was like for those caught under the crush of Roman rule. Slaves had no rights and were often used with cruel apathy both physically and sexually. Gladiators only had it a little better because they were considered a valuable commodity.
Character definition is crisp and clear. For all of Lilia’s problems, she doesn’t give up. I enjoyed watching her skirt the edges of propriety with her owner and other’s who could kill her on a whim. Her inner dialogue goes far in explaining her thoughts, opinions, and actions. We don’t hear much from Christus’s POV as this is told from Lilia’s POV I would have liked to have seen what it was about her that made him risk everything now. I have my own opinions but they were neither confirmed nor denied in the story. I enjoyed that we see the main protagonists from My Wicked Gladiators and what happened to them.
The chemistry between Lilia and Christus is extremely hot and well written though a little emotionally bereft. Graphic scenes leave nothing to the imagination yet they aren’t gratuitous. This star crossed couple burns up the pages with each stolen encounter. My only contention was that I never quite bought into the love aspect. I’m not big on instant love and the author failed to adequately explain what catapulted their attraction to love, for me. Lilia especially all her sexual experiences, until Christus, had been forced. The only reason I can come up with is the seriousness and utter despair of their situation. They could die at anytime, be in the arena or at the whim of their owner. I think that facilitated the speed in which the relationship went from sexual to emotional. I think if we had heard some of Christus’s thoughts about Lilia, maybe I would have felt it more.
The plot was well defined in the steps that lead up to the famed games, but the actual games were only touched upon as all energies were expanded on Lilia and Christus. I would have enjoyed actually seeing Lilia in action. The ending is a climatic affair as we learn exactly why the games were held and the reasons for certain scenes that took place early. All in all a pleasing historical erotic with some steamy, hot gladiator loving. I do feel certain storylines could have fleshed out better, but enjoyable all the same.
Favorite Quote: “I exist here in this moment. I exist for her.“
I love retellings of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. Especially when we are presented with such a deliciously naughty beast and a curious heroine who is more than able to tame him.
Miss Calliope Worthington is travelling with her parents and brother when their carriage overturns during a rainstorm and they are all forced into an abandoned mansion. Calliope’s search for food and dry clothing takes her throughout the mansion until she finds a dusty trunk filled with jewels. When the master of the home catches her with a long string of pearls, he accuses her of being a thief and demands payment…with her body. For each pearl she has “stolen”, she owes him a night of passion and obedience. Before things can go too far, her brother finds them and demands satisfaction for Calliope’s supposed compromising. Calliope is shocked by the feelings the man has invoked in her and seeks to rework their bargain before her brother kills him. She will marry him and repay him for the necklace, as long as she is able to go home once the last pearl is ‘repaid”. They come to an agreement and Calliope finds herself married to the beast.
I love historical romances that make me laugh and this one definitely did that. Callie and Ren are so wonderfully different yet they are perfectly matched. Callie is a delightful heroine with a delicious snarky attitude and some extremely naughty thoughts.
“Heavens. How brazen of me. Oh, look, I’m doing it again.”
She is not a milksop though. She is very intelligent, astute, vivacious, and quite stubborn when she puts her mind to something. She absolutely drives Ren insane. She listens to him, nodding as if in agreement, and then goes off and does what she wants. There is one scene where she challenges him to a sword fight and he is pleasantly surprised to find she is not only good, but her playfulness calls to him as she begins to “strip him” one swipe at a time. She constantly keeps him on his toes.
Ren Porter (whom we see in Bradley’s The Liars Club and The Royal Four series) is quite the curmudgeon. A real beast. A former spy for the crown, he was double crossed on his last mission. Beaten and left for dead, he is scarred both on the inside and out. When his fiance abandons him, due to his injuries, He isolates himself in his mansion, slowly waiting to die.
Watching Ren fight his attraction for Callie is heartbreaking, especially when you realize the reasons he is doing it. His past has left him cold and unable to completely trust anyone and he honestly believes that should she ever see the real him she will run screaming. He also has a strong sense of honor that berates him for trapping Callie into marriage with him.
Their physical attraction is apparent from the beginning-lots of luscious sensual scenes that leaves no doubt these two are sexually attracted to one another. I loved that Callie got impatient and angry with Ren for sexually teasing her and not committing to the deed.
“He treated her like the untried virgin she was. Bastard.”
The story does touch on the erotic. Our hero blindfolds our heroine and demands obedience in making her kneel and giving her commands to not move. Their bartering games are both funny and sexy.
Interesting and intricate subplots makes the story much more than a simple romance. When I started reading this, I hadn’t read anything by Celeste Bradley. I have since learned that she has another series called The Liars Club to which this spins off of. Characters from that series do bleed over into this one but you are not required to read the other series in order to understand this one. Vivacious secondary characters keep the story fresh and moving along at a steady pace. Callie’s family are basically pains in the butt but Callie loves them, warts and all. They are narcissistic, self absorbed, and cause mayhem wherever they go. There is a small clue towards the end though that makes you think that maybe they aren’t are useless as you think. Our villain(s)who seeks to drive our couple apart isn’t so much evil as selfish though the lengths they will go to are pretty extreme. Various characters from The Liars Club appear, intent on helping Ren re enter the land of the living and showing him that his isolation is of his own making. Plenty of humor intertwines within the story, balancing nicely with the emotional journey of our couple. I especially liked that our hero isn’t a jerk. Not to say he isn’t an ass at times, because he is, and he jumps to conclusions a lot. But he soon learns his lesson when dealing with his bride and repents in a proper manner that leaves no doubts to his feelings for her.
As with most romances, our hero and heroine have to run a pretty rough gauntlet in order to overcome any objections to their being together. The uniqueness here is the obstacles are almost entirely of Ren’s making. Bradley uses an age old trope to make Ren admit his love and we are granted our happily ever after.
Ah l’amour. I adored this story and the wonderful hero and heroine who shed all their inhibitions and fears in order to go on the most powerful journey they ever embarked on…falling in love.
Favorite Quote: “My reputation has no importance when it comes to you…”
Sarah Osborne is the daughter of the Hawkins family gardener. Having been raised and educated with the Hawkins children, she straddles a very fine line in the family. Not their equal as head chambermaid, but held in higher regards than the average servant. She has loved Simon since she was a child. He rescued her from a mishap with a blackberry bush and he became her knight in shining armor. Sarah had no idea Simon felt the same until they shared a passionate kiss but then Simon fled to London the next day and she has not seen him since.
Simon Hawkins has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Having held the title of Duke since a young man, he has weathered scandals, rumors, and innuendos concerning his family for years. His main goal now is to bring respectability to the House of Trent. Summoned home when his mother suddenly disappears, he is unsure whether she let of her own accord or through nefarious means. This brings him back into Sarah’s life and he is unhappy to see that his feelings for her have not faded. He stayed away from the family estate for years, ashamed for what he saw as taking advantage of Sarah. He knows he and Sarah have no real chance at a true relationship but his heart doesn’t care.
With his mother’s disappearance in mind, Simon decides to move his sister, Lady Esme and Sarah to London for safety reasons. The move puts Simon and Sarah into closer contact and their passion for one another only burns brighter. Their already doomed love affair is further tested by a very determined debutante and papa who sees Simon as her way to become a Duchess and uses any means necessary to achieve their goals. As Simon struggles to maintain status quo and do the right thing by his family and Sarah, the choice is suddenly taken from him and he finds himself hurting them all.
The Duchess Hunt is a Cinderella-esque story that tells of the forbidden love story between a duke and a servant. As these two destined soulmates navigate the shark filled waters of the ton and its social rules, I was astounded by the poise and depth of emotion Ms. Haymore is able to impart into their story. I admit to being wary to how Ms. Haymore would pull this off. Dukes do not marry servants. Dally, maybe, but never marry. Complex and seductive, Haymore gently peels apart the layers of their feelings, expectations, social obligations to being us the true hearts of Sarah and Simon.
Sarah and Simon are honorable strong individuals who despite their respective stations in life, truly love one another. Sarah’s strength is especially noticeable as we watch her very realistic mannerisms and emotions. Though Sarah is well aware of her station in life, she is not one to settle on what is expected of her. She knows who and what she wants and while she may never get it, she won’t accept second place from or for anyone. She has a quiet boldness to her that made her a heroine worthy of a Duke.
Simon is just as wonderful as we get an intimate look at his true emotions and the agonizing choices forced on him. His wants and needs war with his unbending honor, yet he’s not so embroiled in society’s rules that he isn’t willing to bend or break a few when needed-especially when it comes to the woman he loves. His love for his family is heartwarming as are the sacrifices he makes for their happiness.
I loved how Ms Haymore didn’t allow Sarah and Simon an easy HEA; it’s quite dramatic in its unfolding. The sexual and emotional tension keep you on edge and becomes almost unbearable as Haymore introduces even more angst and hard decisions that test our protagonists and their resolves. The mystery behind the Duchess’s disappearance is ripe with intrigue and speculation. It blends seamlessly with the romance and brings us a deeper understanding of the House of Trent and it’s inhabitants. I did wish we would have gone little more deeper into the mystery and the reasons behind it as I felt we really didn’t learn much once the book ended.
The secondary cast of characters add delightful depth and balance to the story. Ms. Hayward crafts them each with such vivid individuality that each begs have their very own story told. The Hawkins family is delightful in their love and camaraderie. We learn so much about them as a family unit and as individuals. Luke’s story is next and I am anxious to divulge deeper into his secrets.
The ending brings us a predictable outcome but the journey there was anything but. The mystery is ongoing so don’t expect a resolution in that storyline. I suspect it will continue to the end of the series; each book giving us more clues and insights into the Duchess, her deceased husband, and the problems festering in the House of Trent. I look forward to more of the series and will continue to keep Ms. Haymore on my list of must read historical romance authors.
Favorite Quote: “Life had not shown her a string of honorable men.”
When Annalise Hadley marries the man of her dreams, she never imagines he would attempt to kill her on their honeymoon. Tossed overboard and left for dead, Annalise manages to make it to shore before collapsing. Rescue comes in the form of a recluse hero whose secrets bind him tightly to the shadows.
Owen Crawford, The Earl of McDowell, home from the war, doesn’t want any responsibility in his life but Annalise intrigues him with her incredible courage and strength. He agrees to help her heal and teach her never to be a victim again…then he will send her away before she discovers just how unheroic he really is.
Loss and regret are a powerful mixture but sometimes when the right man and woman meet…the past can be forgiven and the future explored if they are both willing to take the chance.
How To Lose A Bride In One Night is the final installment of Sophie Jordan’s Forgotten Princesses series. More emotionally weighted and melancholy than the first two of the series, this story focuses on the marriage of the last daughter, Annalise Hadley. The illegitimate daughter of the infamous gambling den owner, Jack Hadley, Annalise agrees to marry the man her estranged father has chosen for her. With her physical deformity, Annalise is considered lucky to even be marrying, much less a handsome Duke. As Annalise prepares for her wedding night aboard the barge her and her husband are honeymooning on, she is shocked when her husband attacks her, attempting to choke the life from her. She falls unconsciousness and awakens when he tosses her overboard. Struggling against the rivers raging currents, Annalise is injured and falls unconscious again, only to awaken in the arms of a stunningly handsome man.
Owen Crawford has just returned from war. The traumatic memories combined with discovering the woman he loved has married his brother, he buries himself in the countryside, effectively divorcing society. Unsure what to do with the injured woman he finds, he takes her to a gypsy caravan and bargains for healing. Unable to get any information from Annalise concerning her name or reasons she was in the river, Owen decides to take her to his estate to complete her healing.
I wish I could say this story blew me away me, but I cannot. An interesting premise and intriguing plot elements never seemed to quite gain a foothold and expand. A deliciously decorated package that when opened, lacks substance. I found the energy and exuberance that ran through the first two books in this series was missing here. This story moves slow and steady; focusing singularly on our protagonists and their respective journeys. A familiar often told story that revolves around a tortured hero and heroine. Both are rather mild mannered in their outward appearance, only giving in to their turbulent emotions in their own thoughts and internal dialogue. If that energy and emotion had released into the open earlier, I would have enjoyed the story more. It was if I was reading two stories-one for each character-that just happened to exist in the same book. It was just all so…polite. I never connected to either of them and found them both boring at times.
Both Annalise and Owen have strong emotional barriers that not only kept them at arms length with each other but also from the reader. Annalise has known nothing but heartbreak from men-starting with her absent father. Her trust is extremely limited. Owen has scars from his time in the war and hurt from losing the woman he thought he loved. It’s compounded by the fact his brother married her and now they are expecting a child. Annalise seeks to be more than just a victim in life while Owen seeks forgiveness and redemption.
A majority of the book is spent with Owen and Annalise in seclusion, fighting their attraction for one another and keeping close hold to their secrets. I could understand Annalise’s fears, in the beginning, that kept her from confiding in Owen. Her husband just tried to kill her. Should Owen know the truth, he could legitimately return her, as she is legally her husband’s property. I did feel that with the time they spent together, she should have realized that had she told him the truth of the matter, he would never had returned her to her husband. What I didn’t understand is why she never attempted to contact her sisters or her father for protection. I was hard pressed to believe that they would have forced her return to her husband after she told her story, even if she had only known them for a year. The romance develops slowly, a tedious tug of war as Owen and Annalise admit to attraction and then run from the attraction. It’s only towards the end that they open up to one another and the chemistry is finally felt. I enjoyed the love scenes; tasteful yet steamy.
The climax of the story, Annalise’s confrontation of her murderous husband, is resolved in a chapter and fell into the unbelieveable realm.There were just too many non sequiturs. Even though she has only been missing a few months, her husband isn’t in mourning and is already pressing suit to another woman. How is that possible? Even as a Duke, society would have frowned upon that. The woman in question would have been gossiped about terribly. I was shocked she and her father had no qualms about it. They were both actually upset that Annalise returned from the dead and ruined their plans. I was also somewhat put out we don’t really get any scenes with her family after she returned from the dead. A few lines is all. Of course we get our happily ever after but even then, we are only given a sliver of the emotional scene.
Overall, I felt the story was weak, poorly executed, and I couldn’t relate well to the hero and heroine.
Favorite Quote: Jason stood mesmerized as her breasts moved up and down. All that creamy skin covering those enticing globes had reduced him to a randy youth. He placed her hand on his arm. Just before they reached the others, he murmured. “Do not take any more deep breathes tonight.”
When Jason Coventry, The Earl of Coventry, discovers his father is still trying to ruin his life from the grave by arranging his marriage and demanding he either go through with it or he loses his title; Jason rebels and arrives at his ceremony foxed and incoherent. After the ceremony, where he manages to make a complete arse of himself and humiliate his bride, he passes out and wakes up only to take the coward’s way out by running back to London without ever speaking a word to his bride. He knows he behaved terribly but he consoles himself that it wasn’t what he wanted and he will give his bride time to calm down, then head back to their country estate to talk to her.
Lady Olivia Jane Grant was also blindsided by the arranged marriage but managed to hold herself to a higher standard than Jason. She is devastated by his treatment of her and decides to travel to London to visit a friend. Once Lady Olivia arrives in London, she is dismayed that no one knows she and Jason are married and he is carrying on as though he is still a single man. Olivia decides enough is enough and proceeds, with the help of her best friend, to have the season she was denied by this marriage. Getting to send all the bills to Jason is just an added bonus.
Jason isn’t quite done with his humiliation of Olivia though. When she and Jason finally come upon each other at an event, she realises he has no idea who she is. He doesn’t even remember what she looks like and now he is flirting with her, trying to arrange an annulment. Olivia decides to repay him for his treatment of her and spends her nights flirting with him, leading him on with no intention of ever letting him know who she really is. When fate intervenes and Jason discovers Olivia is actually his wife, he floored by how much he actually likes her. He tries to entice her into accepting the marriage and him, however, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Olivia has no intentions of ever accepting Jason…no matter how much her heart wants him.
The Elusive Wife is a cute, romantic, and humorous Regency romance that centers around a clueless Earl whose realizes, a little too late, his mistake in callously disregarding his wife right after the ceremony and his wife who’s not going to be placated easily. Well written with a smooth storyline, engaging characters, and witty dialogue that will have you giggling as you watch these two go in a non violent version of War of the Roses.
I adored Olivia and Jason. Both are lively individuals with a quick wit and strong convictions who are well matched despite their tremulous beginnings. I loved how Olivia choose not to become a watering pot and wring her hands over her fate. She took her life into her own hands and her actions are cause for lots of laughs and fist pumping. Watching her spar with Jason is hilarious. She is no simpering miss. Jason, though a total arse in the beginning, does grow on you as you learn his back story which explains why he acted like he did. It doesn’t excuse his actions and neither does he, but is does soothe your anger towards him. What I really enjoyed with this couple is Jason could have easily made Olivia accept being his wife by force and he choose not to. He swallowed his pride and did what he should have done from the beginning. He wooed her. Courted her. Got to know her better. Once he realized what a beautiful, exciting, and intelligent wife he had, the battle to win her heart was on. Watching his jealously rear it’s head as he discovers others find his wife as attractive as he does is quite amusing.
“Are you feeling a bit chilled tonight, Lady Coventry?” “Indeed not my Lord, why would you ask?” “Because a great deal of your skin is showing, and I tremble to think you may catch a lung fever.” “I assure you my lord, my gown is the height of fashion, and the neckline is no lower than any other women here tonight. “Every other women is not my wife and I take exception to Carstairs practically falling into your bosom.”
The lack of “insta-love” was also well done. Neither of them knew each other well and Hutton takes great pains in allowing them to each come to terms with their feelings at their own rate. Though there is a bit of a conflict towards the end that felt out of place in the story, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment in the least. The Elusive Wife is an enjoyable historical romance about a marriage of convenience and the rocky, laughter filled journey our heroine and hero take as they struggle to find their way to love and their happily ever after.
Tessa Dare's return to Spindle Cove in her latest release, Any Duchess Will Do, is an emotional, heart lifting, funny, earthy romance where laughter aTessa Dare's return to Spindle Cove in her latest release, Any Duchess Will Do, is an emotional, heart lifting, funny, earthy romance where laughter and heartbreak go hand in hand when a Duke and a serving girl find love.
Favorite Quote: “If you think I’m going to be the first female in my family to go to the altar a virgin, you’re mistaken.”
The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh is a romance story in the truest form and provides us with a wrap up to the original Cynster series. We witness the last Cynster (of age) to marry-Miss Mary Cynster. I have been a huge fan of this series since reading the first book-Devil’s Bride. Mary is first seen in Devil’s Bride as a young child who holds vigil with the rest of the family when her brother Tolly is killed. That being the catalyst to bringing Honoria and Devil together. I am astounded that it’s been fifteen years since the first book published .
Mary Cynster is thrilled when her sister, Henrietta, finally finds her true love and the family necklace comes to her. This talisman is supposed to direct the wearer to her hero. Unfortunately for Mary, it seems to be directing her towards someone she is positive is not the one for her-Ryder Cavanaugh, the Marquess of Raventhorne. Mary doesn’t want a man whose temperament and willpower rivals hers. She wants a man that she can direct; as to retain her independence. Mary knows deep down that Ryder is not a man who will ever dance to her tune. Besides, she is convinced it is his half brother, Randolph, who is her perfect match.
Ryder Cavanaugh has never been particularly interested in marriage, but from his first meeting with Mary and her seemingly lack of interest in him, he finds himself taken with this woman and the challenge she presents. Everyone knows the quickest way to send Ryder running the other way is to lavish him with attention; her lack is her undoing. Once Ryder learns she has her eye on his younger brother, he proceeds to shadow her, showing up at various functions and striving to prove to her that Randolph is definitely not the one for her. Ryder decides she is to be his future marchioness and proceeds to set the stage for her conquest. Mary has other plans, though .
“I’m not going to allow you to seduce me.” A reckless challenge. He was curious as to how she thought she might stop him, but all he said was, “Just don’t try to avoid me-trust me, that won’t work.” He wouldn’t allow it.
When Ryder is attacked by footpads and suffers a potentially fatal wound, Mary finds him and uses her formidable skills to rally the troops and saves his life. She decides to stay at his home to oversee his recovery. Ryder’s stepmother swoops down on them with two gossipy friends in tow, effectively catching Mary and Ryder together alone. She seals their matrimonial fate and Ryder finds himself getting exactly what he wanted.
Though still not as action packed as earlier novels, The Taming Of Ryder Cavanaugh did have the dry humor and a steamy romance that are trademark to Ms. Lauren’s novels; it just lacked the intrigue and suspense. You discover early on who the villain is and the reasons behind their criminal activities. A smooth plot line that delicately reveals itself along a steady paced story, I found it was the characters who completely dominate this story. Mary and Ryder are perfect for each other. Both are intelligent, sensuous, natural born leaders who complete each other-like two halves of a puzzle. While Mary have never seriously contemplated marriage to Ryder, she realizes once he proposes that she has already begin to fall for him. He effectively wooed her all those weeks as she was chasing his brother. Mary decides that she will tame her “lion” and her plays of seduction leave him both confused and enchanted. He has met his match in Mary and he, unlike some alpha heroes, chooses to nurture and uphold her spirit rather than attempt to crush it. Ryder doesn’t want or need to dominate her, though he is fiercely protective of her. He doesn’t ask she surrender all her control to him. They are equals and that in itself further wins Mary’s heart.
Ryder is quite the gentleman though when his growly side comes out, you understand just why Mary went willingly into marriage with him. Seductive, playful, and experienced; he uses all his tricks to bind Mary to him both in and out of bed, but only ends up trapping himself. A place he is very happy to be. This is not to say he is a pushover. Not at all. He is just like Devil (Devil’s Bride-book one) in alpha-ness, but he realizes that his happiness is dependent on Mary’s so he does everything possible to make sure she never regrets marrying him. Their love scenes are more tell then show (Laurens has always had a bit of a heavy hand with the lyrical prose in her love making scenes) but their smoking hot chemistry leaps from the pages. I love that while Ryder may be the more experienced, he has no qualms about letting Mary take control in the bedroom. And when he realizes she likes to watch him undress…the gloves, err, I mean, the waistcoats, come off slowly. Plenty of humor in their relationship makes for some hilarious scenes and dialogue.
Ryder cast his eyes assessingly over the mare, then lifted Mary to her saddle. He watched as she settled and accepted the reins from the groom. “I take it she’s from Demon’s stables?” “Yes.” She looped the reins through her gloved fingers with casual expertise. “He provides all the family’s horses.” “I’ve heard he’s careful about matching horses to riders.” Clearly recognizing the question behind his statement, she smiled and nodded. “Indeed—he refuses to let us ride any beast we can’t control.” Leaning forward, she smoothed a palm over the mare’s glossy neck. Arched a brow as she met his eyes. “So we all learn to control the animals we ride.”
The majority of the book is watching Mary and Ryder dance, spar, fall in love, and settle into marriage. No real conflict between them at all. That surprised me. I expected a bit more coercing on Ryder’s part. Maybe a past lover putting up a fight to keep Ryder in her bed or resistance from the Cynster circle as to Ryder’s age or past escapades.. Their journey to marriage and even beyond is all very easy and tame. The action doesn’t pick up until the last quarter as our villain goes to extreme lengths to destroy this couple. I would have liked some explanation as to some of the accidents that happened. We never learn exactly HOW they were accomplished and it bears reasoning that in some instances, they should have never been able to happen. I did enjoy the various Cynsters that were woven in throughout the story. It isn’t often we get so many of them in one book and with such stage time. The main conflict is climatic in that all is explained (though, as I stated earlier, it’s very easy to figure out) and the ending wraps everything up nice and neat. We even get a wonderful long epilogue showing all the Cynsters, what they have been up to, and their plans for the future.
All in all, I enjoyed this installment though I would venture to say that unless you are a faithful reader of this series, this one may be a tame historical in comparison to what’s available and also very confusing in relation to all the characters involved.
Lady Nell Daughtry has arrived with her family to help get her sister down the aisle and safely married to Prince Frederick of Lautenberg. It’s not that her sister doesn’t want to marry Frederick, she adores him and wants to be his wife one hundred percent. Unfortunately, her family suffers from a family phobia certain ailment that causes them to undermine themselves before their big day. Basically, they freak out and run away. Nell is there to make sure this does not happen. She, however, never expected to be faced with her own failed engagement.
Nine years ago, Robert Knightley was convinced Nell loved him as much as he loved her but when she began to grow distant and pull away from him, he decided to cut his losses and walked away from her. Now the diplomatic envoy to Lautenberg, Robert is shocked to see Nell appear with the wedding party but soon decides that they can behave as adults. His job is to oversee everything in the wedding goes smoothly.
Nell tries to hide her sister’s increasing panic attacks, but Robert notices and confronts her, demanding the truth. She tells him everything and soon they make a pact that places them in close quarters for the rest of the week. As Nell and Robert reconnect, confidences are shared and both realize that they have been given a second chance to correct the mistakes they made ten years ago.
A Return Engagement was previously released in the anthology, Royal Bridesmaids. Now, released on its own as a novella, Stephanie Laurens brings us a sweet story about true love and second chances. Nell never understood why Robert just walked away from her and their relationship. She was expecting a proposal and instead was left with a broken heart. I enjoyed meeting Nell and Robert. I liked we were dealing with two older, more mature characters. Their romance flourishes beautiful amidst the main storyline in a slow manner, giving us and them time to realise their mistakes and unfounded assumptions. The ending gives us our happily ever after in a cute and delightfully sweet manner.
Jacob's Return is an emotionally powerful love story that sets up beautifully and takes you on a heartbreaking journey of love, loss, and redemption.Jacob's Return is an emotionally powerful love story that sets up beautifully and takes you on a heartbreaking journey of love, loss, and redemption. Though set among the Amish, this is not a religious story....more