I picked up The Mysterious Governess out of curiosity. Oakley is a new author for me and I do enjoy a well plumed historical romance suspense. My iDNF
I picked up The Mysterious Governess out of curiosity. Oakley is a new author for me and I do enjoy a well plumed historical romance suspense. My interest was instantly captured by our heroine-an illegitimate child of a viscount who suffered the shame of her birthright and now works as a governess. She essentially blackmails her employer’s son for a chance to attend a ball and see her half sister who parentage is secure. A carriage accident on the way back home sweeps her up into a world of intrigue, espionage, and love.
I had a hard time deciphering if this book was suppose to be serious or humorous. There is a soap opera feel to it with its multiple melodramatic story lines yet it’s syrupy dialogue and characterization stays on the straight and narrow. Though this is 3rd in a series, I don’t believe not reading the first two was the cause for my confusion. The romance is extremely slow in developing and maintains a low profile despite the obviously attraction held by the protagonists. Around 30/40% realized I hadn’t formed a connection to anyone and didn’t care who was doing whom or why....more
Mrs. Edwina Chelton was dismayed to learn her late husband left her and their young child with nothing upon his death. Having spent her marriage keeping the books for her husband’s company, it’s only when the company begins to show a healthy profit does he decide to hand everything over to his debt harassed brother who ends up running the company into the ground. Luckily for her, a dear friend is able to help her secure an interview to be a secretary for a Duke.
Michael Hadlow needs a secretary yesterday. Having spent his valuable time turning away fourteen applicants, he is at his wits end. Your typical aristocrat; he is high-handed, boorish, quick to cut, and suffers fools lightly. Honest to a fault, he expects the same from those around him and does not play the games polite society insists upon. When he meets Edwina, he sees a beautiful woman. When he talks to her, he sees an intelligent woman who intrigues him and hires her on the spot.
The fourth installment of Frampton’s smart and humorous standalone series-Dukes Behaving Badly- introduces us to Michael, the Duke of Hadlow, and Mrs. Edwina Chelton. Two very intelligent and somewhat unconventional people whose personalities and social class differences make for a light-hearted and whimsical boss/secretary romance. Frampton uses “reasons” for why Dukes fall in love as chapter titles that only adds to the light atmosphere of the story.
Edwina and Michael complement each other well. Edwina is not some virginal miss intent on finding herself a husband. Nor is she looking to gain herself another. As a widow, she has already sampled the marriage mart and quickly learned she can only depend on one person-herself. Intelligent and forthright, she uses her brains and skills to obtain a position not offered to women in this day and age in order to not only secure herself a future but one for her daughter. She is not afraid to say what is on her mind and holds her own against Michael’s more intense personality.
Michael is very linear in both his thinking and attitude. Born into a ducal family and always knowing his place in the world affords him a luxury and sense of superiority. He doesn’t seem to realize that not everyone thinks the same way he does so he views them as inferiors for not understanding what he wants. But Edwina understands him. She also gently nudges him towards thinking beyond himself and his needs.
The romance is comfortable, cute, and sexy as we watch Michael and Edwina’s affair smoothly unfolds. Sensual erotic scenes and some rather intriguing dirty talk keeps you firmly engaged. What I enjoyed most was the contrast between their dialogue and their internal thoughts. You watch them fall in love but it takes much longer for them to verbalize it. Especially Michael.
Various secondary characters flow in and out of this couple’s lives, used to further flesh out our protagonists, two important ones being Gertrude, Edwina’s daughter and Chester, Michael’s dog. Both are lively beings who are frankly used as plot devices but amusing enough for you easily forgive the author for using them in such a manner. I am very curious to know Edwina’s friend Carolyn’s story. Her warnings to Edwina against men in general leaves you to wonder who hurt her so badly. I do wish the conflict regarding Edwina’s brother in law had been drawn out more. It all felt rather rushed in its resolution.
Why Do Dukes Fall In Love is lightweight romance that doesn’t divulge too deeply beyond the basic parameters of the trope used. Michael and Edwina aren’t particularly profound or demanding emotionally and their romance isn’t a love story for the ages. It’s a simple and fun feel good story; perfect for a few hours of relaxing escapism.
Layla Starling, toast of the London stage, has come home to rest. She is tired of the endless singing engagements and constant traveling. When her guardian informs her that it is time for her to marry and that her long time crush and childhood friend, St. John Evernight will be acting as her bodyguard, Layla is caught off guard but soon agrees. As Layla dances her way through the ton, seeking her future husband, her thoughts continue to focus on only one person-St. John Evernight-and what it will take to make him hers forever.
St. John (Sin) has pined for Layla from afar for years. Due to his position in the supernatural world and his tangled past, Sin knows he is not good enough for Layla and strives to keep her at arms length. When the SOS reveals that Layla is in grave danger, Sin will put everything on the line to save the only woman who has ever held his heart and soul.
Forevermore is the seventh and final installment in Kristen Callihan’s sensual and action addictive Darkest London series. From the first book, Callihan has taken readers on a fantastical adventure of epic proportions as she slowly built a world within a world as we are given an intimate look into the supernatural entities that live, love, and fight for survival in London, England during the 1800s. One word of warning. This series MUST be read in order. It is ongoing, with intense bleed over from one installment to the net.
As always, taut suspense, delicious deception, and dangerous antagonists combine to create a fascinating read that captured me from page one. Strong layered characters have driven this world, each installment using the exploration of one couple’s romantic journey to love as the key element on which this series is built. Each book flows smoothly into the next, bringing more life and surprises to this already complicated arc without losing the reader to unnecessary static and fillers. Light and dark narrative blends effortless, keeping you firmly engaged as Callihan continues to add to the adventurous spirit of the characters and world.
As this is the final installment, Callihan takes great care to build an emotionally fluid romance with ribbons of angst, fear, and humor running through it while assembling all the remaining puzzles pieces into order to offer up a masterpiece which answers all our questions. Forevermore brings us the most complex and secretive character to date-St. John Evernight. Brother to Poppy, Daisy, and Miranda Evernight, Sin was hidden from his sisters by their mother at birth. When he is finally discovered, his sisters are devastated by their mother’s deception and by what he has become, causing them to turn their backs on him. In Evermore, it is revealed his situation is anything but what it seems but there is still more to be told.
This is his story.
This is his redemption.
This is his forevermore.
Forevermore begins in the past. Augustus has come to Boston at the request of his long time enemy and soul mate, Lena. When he arrives, Lena informs him she has given birth to a child and requests that he take and raise the child. Augustus is angry and hurt that she has chosen to give to another man what he coveted for so long but in the end, his love for her has him agreeing. From here we travel 20 plus years forward into the present; learning who that child was and the reasons Lena abandoned them.
Layla and Sin have a complicated history, made more so by destiny, deception, and betrayal. Layla and Sin spent their childhood together in Ireland but when Augustus takes Layla away, both their hearts were broken. We soon learn that this simple act is the catalyst that starts Sin on his road to perdition through Mab, Queen of the Fairies. Sin’s time spent with Mab has left him a bitter shell whose feeling of worthlessness and despair weigh heavily upon his shoulders. He sees himself as disgusting and dirty, and with his recent ascension to a Vengence Angel, he feels Layla deserves so much better than him.
He tried his best to ward off the finer feelings, to remain numb, detached from life. And yet he could not, for the life of him, remain immune to Layla Starling.
Layla is a strong, intelligent, resourceful woman; like all of Callihan’s heroines. Though she has had a picture perfect life, she has had her own struggles with inadequacy and self doubt. She has loved Sin all her life and refuses to allow him to push her away. She flirts, cajoles, teases, and outright taunts Sin in her quest to make him understand that he is hers and she is his.
Because you, St. John Evernight, are mine. Whether you wil it or not. Your heart and soul have been mine since I climbed up in that bloody tree to drive you mad. Mine to protect.
As Sin battles his desire for Layla, her parentage and birthright comes to light, leaving Sin to decide if he is brave enough to defeat his past in order to battle for a future with her. A series of subplots surround the main conflict, alluding to all previous characters and interestingly enough, focusing on the fate of the one man who it all started with-Archer. We learn the true extent of Augustus’s and Lena’s centuries of meddling and the convoluted nature of the ties that bind all the Evernights and their friends and lovers together. Callihan finally shows us what has been up her sleeves all along and I applaud her ingenuity and skill.
Are we flying or not?
The conclusion is a dramatic, action-packed finale that leaves the reader delighted, relieved, and satisfied. We are left assured that all those we have grown to love have achieved their heart’s desires and will indeed embrace whatever the future holds for them. While I am sad that this is the last we shall see of Callihan’s Darkest London, I am pleased with the solid send off Callihan provides. Forevermore delivers what it promises and fans will be pleased.
The Griffiths end this historical steampunk trilogy on a high note as the final battle for London and the world commences between the Crown & Key Society and Gaios, an insane demigod bent on revenge. Previous open storylines are wrapped up as this fearless crew places their lives on the line in a graphic and climatic finale. Action galore saturates this adventure packed storyline with a perfect blending of romance, humor, strong characterization and dialogue. Even though this was a trilogy, I do hope the Griffins decide to revisit this world soon.
I enjoyed book one of this series, The Warlord’s Wife. A witty antagonistic based romance that pits a strong-willed heroine against an equally strong-willed and grumpy hero. Their journey to happily ever after is filled with bickering, dithering, drama, a few misunderstandings, some very lovely groveling, and steamy make up sex. I fully expected book two to hold a similar appeal for me. Well written, action packed, and expertly revealed as book one, I had high hopes that this installment would also leave me fully satisfied.
Unfortunately, the heroine, Katia, made it very hard for me to enjoy. I’m all for a character experiencing growing pains as they follow their path to their destiny but this heroine never learns from her mistakes. And these are life threatening mistakes. From the beginning to the very end she leaps from pot to fire over and over and over again.
We first met Katia in book one as a child. She is Lida’s daughter from another marriage and was the key factor in Lida agreeing to marry the Jerl. The Jerl grows to love Katia unconditionally and she becomes his princess. Now years later, Katia is all grown up and looking for some adventure of her own. Strong, willful, and resourceful, Katia is fully trained as a shield maiden and wants the same rights as the warriors under her father. When she is denied this, she takes matters into her own hands. Joining in a show of strength at a local fair, she comes close to losing her head when she pits herself against a much stronger opponent.
Her opponent, Baron Lothair, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Saxony, is not amused by Katia’s deception and proceeds to artfully put her in her place. When Katia begins to make cow eyes at him, Lothair knows he’s in trouble. Raised in a household where his birth but not his mother was held high esteem, Lothair has no use for marriage. All he wants is to sail the Baltic Sea and keep it safe from marauders and enemy forces. Katia is a distraction he has no need for.
In the beginning, I enjoyed Katia’s independence and snarky nature. She was given every opportunity any male would have been given (to an extent) so her strength, skill, and intelligence is to be expected. However, as time went on, I grew to loathe her. While I could understand her desires-who doesn’t want to be in charge of their own destiny and strive to become more than an ornament to decorate some man’s arm and bed-her youth and upbringing is a flaw. She runs roughshod over everyone-never thinking of the danger to herself or those tasked with keeping her safe. Her overly privileged life had her truly believing all she had to do was bat her eyes or smile her “special smile” and all would be forgiven. She rebels against her femininity yet at the same time uses it to get her way. She was selfish, manipulative, impulsive, and never learned from her mistakes. Her need to do what she wanted to prove her worth on the battlefield often placed her directly under the blade of the knife and of course she had to be saved by someone. Every. Single. Time.
For example: Katia lies to her family when she takes a detour from a summer vacation to go spy in enemy territory. She is convinced her father has no idea people are plotting war with him. Only SHE can find the enemy’s plans and save her people. She takes her best friend with her and they pose as serving girls-not thinking that in this era, serving girls were almost always viewed as prostitutes and the victims of multiple rapes in less than stellar households. Only when she almost falls victim to an overzealous soldier who refuses to take no for an answer does it hit her that she and her bff could be raped and murdered and no one will ever know what happened to them. Luckily, Lothair and his friends appear and rescue her and her friend but her overzealous actions continue to place them all in danger. Her moment of clarity finally arrives but only at the very end of the story.
The romance has a strong foothold in the story, blending well with the various subplots as Katia and Lothair bicker and exchange barbed quips on their way to true love. Similar to Katia’s parent’s story-except in here the groom is the reluctant one-this couple has to work hard to find any common ground. Easier said than done when one denies their attraction and one keeps running off to “save the world.” I loved that Lothair sees right through her manipulations and called her on them. He tries to teach her the art of listening and compromise but it never seems to take. Political intrigue and deception back the tension fraught action scenes and bloody battles; helping to take my attention from Katia and her increasingly irritating actions.
A familiar set of faces make up a solid secondary cast of characters; along with some new ones. Jerl Marcus and his wife try to reign Katia in, explaining over and over and over just how dangerous her actions are. Katia’s grandmother spout random quotes at odd times while Lothair’s friends offer humor and advice to try to help him deal with her feelings for Katia.
While I enjoy the historical background of this particular series, intriguing arc, and the vibrant characters and subplots that inhabit it; I found this one took heroine too far down the rabbit hole and wasn’t able to redeem her in my eyes.
Harmon Ely had a dream. A dream to establish his own town smack dab in the middle of Texas but first, he had to find the right men and women to help mHarmon Ely had a dream. A dream to establish his own town smack dab in the middle of Texas but first, he had to find the right men and women to help make his dream a reality. Forty acres and a home is his offer to anyone brave enough to come settle in this forsaken land. All they need to bring is their willingness to work… and a wife.
Three men take him up on his offer-Patrick McAllen, Clint Truman, and Gillian Matheson. Patrick McAllen, the youngest son of an abusive religious leader, sneaks out of his father’s home in the middle of the night with his best friend and soon to be wife, Anne Spencer, and heads towards Ely’s trading post. A master carpenter, Patrick has no doubts he can be an asset to the town, but Patrick knows his father will be coming for him and this time escape may not possible.
Clint Truman, a former Texas Ranger, has already buried one family and is slowly following them into an early grave one drink at a time. His best friend, Sheriff Lightstone, knows he has only one chance to save Clint from himself and tells him of Ely’s offer. Clint doesn’t want another wife but when his friend takes him to meet a young mother whose situation in-flames Clint’s protective nature, Clint agrees to marry her and help her raise her newborn son if she is willing to trust him and help build a new life for the three of them.
Captain Gillian Matheson has no idea why his wife Daisy has insisted he come meet her and their sons at Harmon’s Ely’s Trading Post but he fears the worse. Married for five years, Gillian and his wife has spent more time apart then together as he refused to leave the Army and she refused to leave her family and follow him from post to post. Commissioned to take a young girl to safety before heading to meet his wife, Gillian is injured and wakes to find himself at the trading post with a parcel of strangers and a wife with some interesting news.
Jodi Thomas’s small town contemporary romance series, Harmony, just keeps getting better and better with each new installment. A tried and true contemporary with a strong ongoing arc written in an entertaining conversational “soap opera” style. After seven books, I can honestly say my attention hasn’t even begun to falter.
Favorite Quote: “Nothing about you could ever be ugly to me.”
The third and final installment of Joanna Chamber’s historical M/M romance brings a conclusion to this poignant and sensual love story between two men who defy convention and society’s edicts to be together. Lush emotional scenes and heartfelt declarations only serve to remind us that no matter what gender is being presented, love is a gift and should be viewed as such.
Enlightened picks up five months after Beguiled ended. David was badly injured when he helped a friend escape her abusive marriage. His lover, Lord Mundo, takes David to his country estate to recover and they use the time to indulge in their growing passion far away from prying eyes and judgemental tongues. But David knows something is wrong; Mundo seems to be drifting further away with each passing day. When David’s learns his mentor is dying, David and Mundo travel to London and David agrees to perform one last act to ensure his mentor’s daughter will be safe. While in London Mundo’s father pays a surprise visit and delivers some shocking news that makes David question Mundo and their relationship.
David Laureston, an Edinburgh Advocate, has always been ashamed of his love for men. A complicated man whose sexual preferences have cause him pain and confusion in the past. His ethics continuously war with his passions. He knows he should not be attracted to men but is unable to resist. Especially concerning Lord Mundo. Mundo breaks through David’s walls and has him imaging the seemingly impossible-a lifetime together.
The two were linked, quite inextricably, his affection for Mundo exposing him in ways that horrified him. The protective barriers he’d spent a lifetime building up felt like they were crumbling away in the face of the emotions he was helpless to deny.
Lord Mundo Belfour, a Scottish Lord, was a self proclaimed hedonist who did not see his enjoyment of male companionship as a hindrance to his eventual marriage and procreation of a heir. It was merely an itch to be scratched. David is the only man who has ever made Mundo question his actions and feel something beyond physical attraction.
“I thought you were naive, till you made me see that life I’d always wanted [...] didn’t amount to anything at all. I wasn’t going to have it all. I was going to have nothing. You saved me from that.”
The intense and unavoidable chemistry takes a softer note in here, having gone far beyond the initial base attraction. We are shown the intimacies that exist when two people fall in love. The confusion and conflict our two protagonists struggle with strikes a poignant note in your heart as you wonder how this can possibly work. David’s near death brings out a side of Mundo that both enchants and scares David. Seductive and heartfelt dialogue and actions speak of our lovers deep feelings towards one another.
“So very like you to want to put things right,” Murdo murmured. He turned his head till their eyes met, and his dark gaze was warm with affection. His lips sought David’s, and their mouths moved together in a consoling kiss that had nothing to do with passion. “David,” he said, when they broke apart. “David.” He said David’s name like it meant something all on its own. Like a vow. Like a promise.
The continuing arc comes to a head as David sets in motion a plan that will protect his friends once and for all; helped along by a most unexpected source. Events set in motion by David’s plan creates an unintended domino effect that leads to an exciting and well earned conclusion for this trilogy.
Joanna Chambers’ Enlightened trilogy has been a joy to read and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.
An enjoyable NA based on the roaring 20s. Jazz, prohibition, and violence all revolve around a young lady, Tiny, whose small time bootlegging father iAn enjoyable NA based on the roaring 20s. Jazz, prohibition, and violence all revolve around a young lady, Tiny, whose small time bootlegging father is kidnapped by a gangster. Tiny lies, scams, and works all angles as she tries to save her father and resist falling in love with the son of the man who kidnapped her dad. A fast paced with plenty of action and steam. Looking forward to book 2-Speak Low. ...more
Favorite Quote: “You de Piaget have strange and unwholesome ideas of independence.”
Isabelle de Piaget, the last child of Rhys and Gwen de Piaget, is tired of being unnoticed and referred to as “that one” by all the suitors who invade her family’s estate wanting to see if her sister Amanda is indeed married and unavailable. When she received a missive, commanding her to come to France or her grandparents’ lives will be forfeit, Isabelle sees this as a chance to get out from underneath her family’s suffocating protectiveness and become her own person. When her boat to France crashes off the coast, she is rescued by a broody man with no memory to who she is and why she is there.
Gevarse de Seger, Lord of Monsaert, has enough to worry about in his own life then trying to discover who a lost servant boy belongs too. Gervase places the bedraggled urchin he rescues to scrubbing floors until he realises that this boy is none other than Isabelle de Piaget and her family, especially her over zealous brother Nicolas, may not appreciate the humor when learning their beloved sister was scrubbing Gervase’s floors. Gervais knows he needs to get word to her family of her health but her beauty and wit ensnares him while her keen mind shows that she may hold the key to his problems.
Working towards the truth takes Isabelle and Gervase on a merry chase as lies and deception slowly unravel to reveal the viper(s) in their midst. Romance takes root and shows our couple that love can bloom at the most unexpected time and all it takes it is a single look.
I have enjoyed Lynn Kurland’s historical romances for years. Ms. Kurland has a wonderfully lyrical and engaging voice that gently guides her characters through the intricate rituals of courtship and love. What I truly enjoy about her stories is the air of innocence in them. The love affairs her characters embark upon are heartfelt and humorous as the romance unfolds. The physical love scenes are almost always non existence or off scene. One delightful aspect of her stories is you’re never sure if this will be a straightforward historical romance, with both protagonists from the same time period, or if she will engage her time traveling storyline, tossing one of them in the future or dragging one back into the past. Or perhaps both.
Dreams of Lilacs is a sweet love story about two people who feel judged by their looks. In here, we stay firmly in the past. This story, rather like her last few, has a gentler feel to it. The passion and energy that was present in her earlier stories isn’t present though I did see a glimmer of it at times. The focus is more on the couple and their journey to their happily ever after rather than the mystery(s) that surround them. Smooth writing and a steady pace makes for easy reading but the tension and drama wasn’t a strong feature here. The main conflict develops admirably but I was a little dismayed by the easy copulation of the villain(s) and the matter of fact way it is resolved. I think this is why I prefer her time traveling romances over the era fixed ones. They are more rambunctious as past meets present and the protags have to ride the culture shock. In here, the flirting and dialogue is appropriate for the time period but is so subtle and polite, it’s hard to get excited about what’s happening at times.
Heavily character driven, it’s the players in this story that brought it to life for me. The humorous dialogue is a prevalent force and I found myself smiling incisively through out here. Isabelle is a delightful heroine; bold, strong, devious, loyal, beautiful, and charming-like all the di Piagets. She embraces her quest and uses her wits and ingenuity to figure out who’s trying to hurt her family and why. As the baby of the family, she just wants to be noticed as a woman in her own right. She feels no one really sees her.
“I have spent my whole of my life , standing in the shadows, saying nothing at all.”
Gervase is a broody man whose frowns and bad moods masks his physical pain. Once one of the most feared knights in France, he was badly injured in a fire and became the subject of speculation, rumors, and pity. He now stays at his estate, struggling to cope with his disabilities, his six inquisitive brothers, and running his large estate. His entertaining grumpiness, dry wit, and steadfast honor makes him the perfect match for Isabelle.
“I can’t send her home yet.”
“Because, she’s still missing her memories. The shock would be too great. She might return home and find her family nothing but strangers. Ask yourself what kind of man would leave a rare flower of that sort in a spot exposed to too much wind and rain.”
As Gervase and Isabelle spend more time together, their witty banter sparks powerful chemistry; drawing him and his family into Isabelle’s colorful abet crazy orbit.
“Lying is a sin.” “So in grumbling overmuch.” “I don’t grumble. I express my opinions in stately, measured tones.”
She not only enchants Gervase but his entire estate. From his blood thirsty five year old brother to the head groomsman, no one is safe from Isabelle’s charm or gentle manipulation.
The romance is very soft and dreamy in its reveal. As I stated earlier, there is no sex. Light kisses, stolen touches, and lots of scorching looks is about all you’re going to get but it works. Isabelle is a lady of breeding and Gervase is a knight of honor. He wants her as his wife and he’ll do nothing to sully her or his honor. Of course, that isn’t a problem once her brothers, Miles and Robin show up to offer advice, threats, and even more laughter. However, even they cannot not stop Gervase and Isabelle from engaging in some deliciously sweet flirting.
He shot Miles a warning look, then gathered her in his arms. “I will,” he whispered against her ear, “consent to be led about however you will if you’ll simply agree to look at me twice.”
“You will not.” “You might be surprised.” “I might be convinced to look at you more then twice, then.” “We must elude them at our earliest opportunity.”
A Kurland story wouldn’t be a Kurland story if family didn’t get involved. And the de Piagets arrive in force to “rescue” Isabelle from the beast of Monsaert. Their infectious humor and demonstrative swaggering only adds to the overall appeal of the story. Miles and Robin arrive post haste, determined to protect Isabelle. Both decide to join her in her quest and make sure Gervase keeps his naughty hands and lips to himself. Jocelin, one of Gervase’s brother’s, provides much laughter as he protects Gervase’s back all while teasing him about his romantic intentions towards Isabelle.
“Lord Rhy’s is going to murder you.” Jocelin said thoughtfully. “But if I murder Guys at the same time, then I inherit the title. If I’m exceptionally clever, I might convince our lovely guest to look at me instead of you.” He smiled happily. “Life has a way of rewarding lads with good hearts, don’t you think?”
The main conflict is a light undercurrent that flows in and around the romance. Extremely low key, Kurland reveals clues sporadically until we arrive at the point of no return. Everything wraps up rather fast in that aspect. I felt that portion of the storyline failed a bit in it’s undramatic reveal. I had pretty much guessed who it was and the reasons why. There aren’t but a few reasons someone would try and kill a Lord. I did wish the conflict would have balanced better with the romance.
All in all, Kurland pens an enjoyable lightweight historical romance filled with humor, love, and a wee bit of mystery. Perfect reading for a lazy day. Each of her romances in this and her coordinating series can be read as stand alones as each storyline consists of a single couple finding their happily ever after. I believe, but am not one hundred percent sure, this in the 16th book in the de Piaget series and the 20th book in the MacLeod/de Piaget series.
Lovely installment. Lily and Apollo were delightful together and Hoyt does a fabulous job of facilitating their romance without overwhelming the underLovely installment. Lily and Apollo were delightful together and Hoyt does a fabulous job of facilitating their romance without overwhelming the underlying storyline. Dynamic, intense, and funny secondary characters added just the right amount of aplumb to the story. Montgomery was hilarious and I do hope Hoyt gives him his own book. ...more
The Magpie Lord is a dark and humorous M/M PNR that pits a male witch and a newly inherited Earl against a malevolent force that has targeted the EarlThe Magpie Lord is a dark and humorous M/M PNR that pits a male witch and a newly inherited Earl against a malevolent force that has targeted the Earl. The romance is hinted at-both parties are attracted to one another but the mystery is the prevalent force that drives this story. Light sarcastic humor and witty banter balances well against the conflict. Strong protags and secondary characters help o push the story along at an engaging pace.
I’ve always enjoyed Jennifer Haymore’s lush and emotionally plump historical romances. The House of Trent series has been particularly enjoyable as it builds upon the trope of impossible connections forming between unlikely candidates. A seductive and somewhat somber series that divulges into the scandals and secrets of an aristocratic family.
The Scoundrel’s Seduction is the third book in Haymore’s historical romance suspense series-The House Of Trent. Focusing on the first born, Samuel Hawkins, we finally learn the reasons behind his quiet deadly nature and frequent disappearances. Though the first born, his illegitimacy forbid him from inheriting the title when the former Duke passed away. Employed as a spy for the Crown, Sam lives his life where he feels the most comfortable- in the shadows.
Our heroine, Lady Elisa Dunthrope, escaped to England as a child when her family fell victim to the guillotine’s kiss during the French Revolution. Pushed into marriage at a young age by her uncle, she has suffered for her French heritage and her husband’s dreams of grandeur. Dreams that lead him to betray his country. After seeing her husband murdered before her eyes, Elisa is dragged into a deadly game of cat and mouse where everyone wants her dead. Her only hope is a man whose very nature demands he never trust her.
The story starts out with a heavy hand towards action and intrigue when our hero, Samuel Hawkins, is forced to take prisoner the wife of the man he just assassinated. A spy for the Crown, Samuel learned that Lord Dunthrope was selling secrets to the French. The verdict for this treason? Death. However, no one expected Lady Dunthrope to be in residence. As a witness to the murder, Samuel can’t let her go. Now Samuel has to figure out how how involved she is in this conspiracy and what to do with her once he gets his answers.
While I liked it overall, I found it didn’t engage me. The storyline moves extremely slow and the majority is filled with Sam and Elisa getting to know one another and pontificating on the benefits and drawbacks of their growing attraction to one another. Samuel wants her from the beginning but unable to prove or disprove her loyalties leaves him unsure if he should act on it. He’s also put out a little that Elisa doesn’t seem to be grieving for her late husband or even particularly upset that Samuel murdered him. The plotlines are predictable with very little tension or apprehension. I expected more action and conflict because of the spy storyline.
The characters are well developed but I felt like I they were missing something. Both were extremely even natured people. Their back stories are revealed in a matter of fact way; interjected at the appropriate times to ensure the reader understands the reasons behind their actions. It’s acceptable but not inspiring. Even the conflicts between them are low key and easily overcome. The “insta love” aspect is prevalent and while the chemistry between them is believable, I wanted more emotional involvement. I wanted Elisa to rage at being held captive and once more not in control of her life. I want Sam to get angry about his childhood and the seemingly intractable situation he now finds himself in. It was all very ce la vie.
The romance itself is delicious with plenty of whispered promises, steamy touches, and passionate love making. I liked that as both had been married before so no games are played and they are very honest with one another. Elisa isn’t forced to play the blushing virgin and Samuel doesn’t have to hold back his desires. Elisa has no issues with telling Samuel how much she wants him and boldly initiates their love making at times.
Haymore intertwines the main storyline with the ongoing arc concerning the disappearance of Sam’s mother-Duchess of Trent. Fortunately, this is resolved and in all honesty, was the most interesting part of the story. We learn the reasons about why she left and it makes sense though I’m at a loss to understand why certain things were done the way they were. We spend a fair amount of time with the Trent siblings but again, something was missing. I didn’t get the same connection with them as in her previous installments.
For me, the story really picked up in the last 25%. The story moves fast and furious once the Duchess is reintroduced and the villains behind spy ring reveal themselves and make their move. The ending is justifiable though anti climatic as we knew what would happen from the beginning and nothing was really left to the imagination or chance.
Though I will continue to read Ms. Haymore’s romances and am looking forward to Esme’s story, this was not my favorite installment in this series.
Welcome to the roaring twenties. Illegal booze, speakeasies, and sexual/economic freedom made for golden times as the world prospered after Word War One. Gangsters and G-Men battled in the streets as the public turns a blind eye to the law of prohibition.
Aida Palmer, a beautifully freckled hot tempered spirit medium, works at the popular nightclub, the Gris-Gris, where she entertains crowds with her gifts. Aida is not a fraud or charlatan. Her gifts are true and because of this, she finds herself helping one of the top bootleggers in the city, Winter Magnusson. Winter, a handsome giant of a man, has come to see Aida’s boss, Velma Toussaint, a known witch, when he finds himself overrun with ghosts. Velma sends for Aida and between the two of them, they discover he’s been cursed. Aida gets rid of the ghosts while Velma un hexs Winter but it leaves him still with a huge problem. Who wants Winter out of the way?
Winter hires Aida into helping him rid his home of more ghosts and soon they find themselves entangled in more than just a mystery. Attraction sparks between them and the flames only get hotter as this pair of unlikely lovers chase clues from the seedy underbelly of Chinatown to the glittering homes of the Pacific Heights upper crust. As they get closer to discovering the root of Winter’s problems, they discover that they each have their own personal demons to exorcise if they want a relationship in this world.
Bitter Spirits is the first installment in a historical PNR series by Jenn Bennett. Set in the 20’s, Bennett pays homage to the roaring twenties while adding a unique twist by introducing ghosts, zombies, and magic to the era. Luscious world building paints an intriguing portrait of San Francisco’s landscape during the 20’s while strong well defined characters and an intriguing action packed storyline engages the reader to the end. Humorous banter and a sweet sexy romance blends well with the hint of danger that permeates the story. Our protagonists, Aida Palmer and Winter Magnusson, control the story from the start and our journey begins with a bang.
I thoroughly enjoyed Bitter Spirits. A fun book whose pacing and tempo is spot on. The beginning starts out a little slow but the set up of the storyline and arc holds your attention. Though touted as a PNR, I felt the storyline was decidedly stronger on the romance side than the paranormal. The paranormal aspects are used more as plot devices and elevate the story rather than hold equal footing. What makes the story for me are the characters.
Aida, a profitable medium, doesn’t define herself by her gifts. She is independent, modern, and generally content with life. Her life is filled with friends though she keeps herself emotionally distant at times. She has some personal baggage she carries but it doesn’t weigh her down. Orphaned at an early age, she learned along time ago that the only one she can really depend on his herself. Winter is the same as Aida in some ways. His scarred face hints at a dark past which he hides with his gregarious personality and business. Born into a rich family with strong ties to bootlegging, he continues the family legacy, even allowing them to make some decisions for him which weren’t in his best interest. This causes him to harbor guilt and a distrust of people in general; especially women. But Aida intrigues him from the get go and he finds himself having to do something he hasn’t had to do in a while. Chase a woman. Both are opinionated, jealous, stubborn, fanatically loyal, and will give their lives for the right person. Their scarred imperfections only endear them to the reader.
Their romance builds slowly, allowing for a believable journey and resolution. I enjoyed that Winter and Aida get to know one another and enjoy their time together before becoming intimate. Their playful bickering was fun to watch and made for some laugh out loud moments. As they become more intimate, Bennett writes some wonderfully sensuous and subtly erotic scenes that had me wanting a bootlegger for myself.
A cast of viable well defined secondary characters only serve to further endear you to the story. Velma, Aida’s boss and owner of the Gris-Gris is a bit of a mystery with her magical powers. I do hope Bennett has a book planned for her. Winter’s man servant Bo is a wonderful side kick and I look forward to seeing exactly what parts he will play in the future. Meeting the various other crime bosses and bootleggers makes the era seem even more alive, especially the integration of the Chinese tong. The mystery of Winter’s curser resolves fast and furious with some interesting subplots. My only wish was that the villain had been integrated more into the story. As I stated earlier, the romance is heavy in here and maintains a strong presence, regulating everything else to a distinct second place.
Bitter Spirits is a wonderfully entertaining story in bribed with magic, history, and a charming romance. I look forward to the second installment, Grim Shadows, set to release June 3, 2014, which is the story of Winter’s brother, Lowe.
Favorite Quote: “To win a man’s heart, a woman must have the mind of a diplomat, a general, and Cleopatra, all in one.”
Lady Anne-Sophia Duncombe is running from an abusive father whose last scheme almost killed her. He wants her with child and will do anything to accomplish that. Sophia manages to escape her father and hide with the help of a friend. She decides the only way to avoid recapture is to become a commoner. She disguises herself up as a widow and seeks employment at Rougemont, home to the insane Earl of Devon.
Wilhelm Montague, the Earl of Devon, is thought to be insane. A tortured war hero tainted by scandal, he is suffers from savant autism. He remains closeted on his country estate, safe in his routines and composing his beautiful brilliant music; a necessary release of his illness.
When Wilhelm meets the newest member of his household, he is stunned by the chemistry that blazes between them. He knows instinctively she is hiding secrets but finds himself drawn to her beauty and intelligence. When danger comes to Rougemont, Wilhelm and Sophia must push through their fears in order to triumph over the evil that seeks to destroy them both.
Song For Sophia is a delightful historical romance filled with mystery, suspense, sizzling chemistry, and sparkling dialogue. Set in the Victorian era, this strong character driven story features a hero and heroine so supremely built, their characterization catapults this from good to fantastic. Well plotted with a healthy balance between the conflict and romance. Strong dialogue is punctuated with humour and wit, written without flowery prose or overly saturated angst, entrances the reader and draws them into the story. Darkness shadows our protagonists yet their journey to true love is a bright shining thread that intertwines through the storyline.
I loved Sophia and Wilhelm from their first meeting. Both are strong, intelligent, strong willed characters who have been victimized by life but able to rise above it. They each have been alone for so long that it takes awhile for their minds to acknowledged what their souls already know-they are one. Neither of them sees the other as damaged. They are both accepting of who the other one is and that only enhances the joy that occurs when they begin to embrace and accept it. I loved the banter between them. It reflects their personalities and intentions so well we watch their acquaintance turn into friendship, then love.
“Lord Devon,” she greeted dryly in the same tone she might say, “you impish prankster.” He shrugged one shoulder to mean, “So, you finally figured it out. Bravo.” “The only havoc I see here is the dreadful cataloging. For one so meticulous, it strikes me as odd that the alphabet should be beyond you.” He nodded thoughtfully.”Perhaps I had them organized chronologically by genre.” “You have the Bible next to Homer.” “Fiction.”
Sophia is a wonderful mixture of fragility and steel. She had defied incredible odds to survive the horror that is her father and continues to fight her way towards complete freedom, using whatever means are necessary. She hates being deceptive but her staying safe also guarantees the safety of others.
“You said before I may keep my secrets and I shall. I promise, you would like me less without my mystery.”
Wilhelm is fabulous with his patience and steadfast ways towards Sophia. He handles her with care; knowing that she needs to trust herself and him before they can go forward. His complete acceptance of her and her story makes him a true hero in my eyes. He assures her repeatedly that no matter what she does or where she goes, he will always be there for her.
“This is a peaceful place. I vow you have nothing to fear. And you may keep your secrets, Madam.”
The romance evolves at a realistic pace, allowing Wilhelm and Sophia time to get to know one another and deal with their personal issues. Wilhelm's illness causes him great consternation while Sophia remains on constant vigil. The chemistry and sexual tension between Wilhelm and Sophia is so emotionally charged you can feel it leaping off the pages. Their love scenes are deliciously sensual and revealing. The internal and external dialogue between one another is both humorous and heart wrenching. Trust is hard won but once it’s earned, it’s a silken tie that binds them to one another with the strength of steel.
Ms. Densley does a fantastic job of blending the suspense of the story with the romance. Non stop action speeds the story along at an engaging pace as the conflict begins to weave its way into the main conflict. While there is much going on, Ms. Densley clear and concise writing leaves little confusion. With each scene we watch Wilhelm and Sophia face their fears and overcome obstacles. Neither the plot nor romance is sacrificed. They balance and complement each other through the entire book.
Moriah Densley paints a beautiful love affair in her historical romance debut and I for one look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Favorite Quote: “It had felt like forever, and it had felt like no time at all.”
SOME SPOILERS FROM BOOK ONE
In book one, Provoked, we met Junior Advocate David Laurenston whose actions in the Scottish Insurrection landed him onto some very powerful people’s lists. He begins an affair with a hedonistic and influential Scottish Lord, Lord Mundo Balfour. When their affair comes to mean more to them than was intended, harsh words are spoken and they part.
Beguiled picks up two years later. David is now a full fledged advocate and is required to make an appearance during a ball being given for King George IV’s visit to Scotland. A trip to his tailor results in seeing his ex lover, Lord Balfour again. They reconnect and soon David is swept up once again in Balfour’s glittering world of opulence and passion. When the past seeks him out, David finds himself drawn into a chain of events that are out of his control. Helping to correct a wrong will place David in danger and threaten not only the love that is developing between Belfour and himself but his career, and possible his life.
This historical series is told by David Laureston. There is a resolution of the main conflict but the romance remains questionable. David is a complicated man whose sexual preferences have cause him pain and confusion in the past. His ethics continuously war with his passions. He knows he should not be attracted to men but is unable to resist. Especially when he sees Lord Mundo again. Mundo breaks through David’s walls and has him feeling things that speak of romance, love, and a lifetime of pleasure. He makes him think of the future.
Lord Mundo is/was a hedonist who did not see his enjoyment of male companionship as a hindrance in his eventual marriage and procreation of a heir. It was merely an itch to be scratched. David is the only man who has ever made Mundo question his actions and feel something beyond physical attraction. He regretted his harsh words two years ago and in seeing David again, he does everything he can to bring him back to his bed.
Their romance is more passionate and emotionally based in this book. The chemistry remains intense but their dialogue and actions speak of their deepening feelings towards one another. When David walked away two years ago, he was not prepared for the bleakness that enveloped him. It almost crippled him. David fears it will be worse this time around as he knows there is no future for he and Mundo. As the story progresses we learn that David was not the only one feeling the separation and desolate feelings. Mundo also regretted their separation. Sensual love scenes and a well crafted ending gives readers a glimpse of hope that these two men may have a chance at happiness despite their political and social differences.
The main conflict is a tense filled plotline that addresses social injustices towards woman and the working class for this era. Chambers brings back two characters with whom David has strong ties with. A suspected traitor whose brother he defended and failed and a young woman whose unrequited crush on David caused her to make a terrible choice. David’s innate loyalty and sense of justice leads him to create a clandestine plan to save both people from those who seek to do them harm.
The ending is an action packed affair that wraps up the main conflict in an acceptable resolution but leaves David in dire straits. Mundo comes to his rescue and we are left at a pivotal point that will affect both men. I look forward to book three and seeing how Ms. Chambers will bridge the differences between our heroes and what will become of the two people for whom David made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore Emmalee Bullard dropped out of school to begin work at the Tennewa Shirt Factory at age sixteen when her fathThe Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore Emmalee Bullard dropped out of school to begin work at the Tennewa Shirt Factory at age sixteen when her father refused to take her to school anymore and demanded she find a job. She is paired with Leona Lane, a long time employee, whose own life could have mirrored Emmalee’s but for some of the decisions she made. Leona teaches Emmalee everything she knows about sewing and soon a friendship is borne between the older woman and this younger girl. When Emmalee gets pregnant by a local boy three years later, Leona sees Emmalee struggling to be mother and father to her baby all the while having no one to help her. She offers Emmalee the chance to get out from underneath her father’s thumb by asking her to come live with her and her husband. Leona lost her own son years ago and was unable to have anymore. Leona knows Emmalee could be a good wonderful mother if she is just given the chance and the baby would give Leona another chance at love.
When an accident claims Leona and her husband’s life, Emmalee finds herself adrift again with no relief in sight. Her baby’s father is unable and unwilling to help her; a victim of his family’s ambitions. Disappointed by the life she could have had before Leona died, Emmalee wants to honor Leona in the only way she knows how. She wants to make Leona’s funeral dress. While some of the town rebels against the idea, they don’t feel an unmarried mother should have that right, the funeral director gives her the chance. Using some fabric Emmalee finds in Leona’s home, Emmalee begins the dress, pouring her heart and soul into it’s making. Each stitch holds a dream, a prayer, and a hope for a chance to do right in her life for her daughter. When the town divides on whether Emmalee should be allowed to keep her baby, Emmalee finds she has more friends then she knew and a wall of courage that holds true as she begins the fight to keep her daughter.
Set in the hollers of the Tennessee Appalachian Mountains, The Funeral Dresstells the story of a young woman born into poverty and her struggle to rise out of it despite the ties that bind her. Told in an gentle engaging manner, Ms Gilmore paints a compelling portrait of life and poverty in small southern town during the 1970’s. Two female voices tell the story, effectively showcasing the similarities and differences between the women whose lives begin to intertwine from their first meeting. Using sewing as the base to hold the varied storylines together, we see the traditions and comradely that grew between women who worked in the textile factories. They were friends, enemies, confidants, and gossips. They built a family amongst themselves whose ties often went deeper than those they had with their husbands.
Though the story starts out slow, it gradually lulls you with its haunting verse and straightforward telling. Heavily character driven, the alternating points of view offer background information as Emmalee tells her story in the present and Leona tells her story in the past-leading up to to the point of her death. We see the circumstances that led to Emmalee and Leona becoming more than just fellow employees. We see the gifts of strength, courage, and love that Leona leaves with Emmalee after her death. Religion, prejudice, judgment, and compassion all swirl together as the boundaries of family are expanded upon and Emmalee learns that family can be composed of more than just those of her blood.
The ending is introspective when Emmales is offered another chance from an unlikely source to prove to the community and herself that she is more than able to care for her child. Though we aren’t left with any concrete answers to the various unanswered questions that circled throughout the story, we are left with the feeling that Emmalee has the tools and the know how to carve out a life for herself beyond the confines she grew up in. I would have enjoyed seeing more interaction with her child’s father and the grandparents. There was a subtle drawing of lines there that leaves you feeling there is much more to the story to come. Part of me hopes Ms. Gilmore revisits Emmalee’s life and yet another part is satisfied with the way she leaves it, allowing the readers to provide their own ending.
Either way, Ms. Gilmore has penned a lovely tale of small town southern fiction that will stay with you long after you reach the end.
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
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.
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.
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: 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.