Valentin Sokorvsky is not your typical English lord. As a child he was captured and sold to a Turkish brothel where he was kept as a sex slave. To all outward acquaintances, the intervening years since his rescue have healed him, though he possesses a rather insatiable appetite for sex. When Valentin discovers that the man who rescued him is in need of financial help, he offers to solve John Harrison’s financial problems and marry one of his daughters. Though Charlotte, the youngest, would be the perfect, biddable wife, it’s Sara, the eldest, who Valentin can’t get off his mind.
Sara is beautiful, intelligent, and, to Valentin’s delight, incredibly passionate. Their marriage brings both to unexplored levels of passion, but Valentin soon discovers someone is out to destroy his newfound happiness. An unknown enemy is determined to ruin Valentin’s marriage, business, and social standing, while spreading rumors of what transpired during his enslavement. As Valentin works to uncover his foe’s identity, he must decide if he can trust Sara, trust his own feelings enough to reveal the secrets of his past, or if he should close the door on love and keep his marriage simply sexual.
Sensuality reaches exquisite new heights in this phenomenal story by Kate Pearce. Simply Sexual raises the bar for eroticism mixed with romance in the first book of the sure-to-be-fantastic House of Pleasure series.
Valentin is an intriguing hero. He’s stunningly gorgeous, seemingly carefree, and, though titled, is also successful businessman. His easy manner covers the scars of his past. Though Valentin can trick even himself into believing his time as a pleasure slave doesn’t have an impact on who he is now, it is clear he self-medicates with avoidance and sex. I loved watching Sara break through his barriers to prove to him that he can trust her and her love for him. As for Sara herself, she immediately won me over. She’s smart, giving, honest, and a perfect fit for her husband, both in bed and out. I enjoyed watching her find the freedom to be who she truly is over the course of the story. Both Sara and Valentin grow and change over the course of the story. I delighted in this aspect of the story every bit as much as I did their heated encounters, which are hot enough to make you sweat.
I cannot write about Simply Sexual without mentioning Peter Howard, Valentin’s best friend. Having been captured and kept as a sex slave alongside Valentin, the two have an unbreakable bond which manifests itself in a variety of ways and is key to the tale. Ms. Pearce continues to amaze me with her talent for creating fascinating, complex characters and situations. I finished Simply Sexual eager for a whole host of characters to get their own stories, and Peter definitely topped the list. Luckily for me, I was able to read his story, Simply Sinful, as soon as I finished Valentin and Sara’s romance.
Captivating, tender, and divinely sensual, Simply Sexual entertains from the very first page to the very last. Simply marvelous!(less)
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the Duke of Villiers, a single man in possession of a good fortune (not to mention six illegitimate children), must be desperately in want of a wife. But Leopold Dautry, the duke in question, knows that not just any woman will fit the bill. So that his children may be launched into society when they come of age, Leopold needs to marry the daughter of a duke, for only such a woman would hold enough clout in the eyes of London’s elite to have his children be accepted by the ton. Luckily for Villiers, only two women meet his criteria. Eleanor, the daughter of the Duke of Montague, is sensible, intelligent, and irresistibly sensual. Lisette, the Duke of Gilner’s daughter, is vivacious, creative, stunningly beautiful, and as far as most people are concerned, a bit mad. Torn between his instinct and his heart, Villiers must decide which woman will be the duchess he can call his own.
Eloisa James has ended her fantastic Desperate Duchess series on a high note with this engrossing story. A Duke of Her Own is an enchanting mix of romance and fun and I could not put it down.
The Duke of Villiers has grown into a fascinating character over the course of this series. I’ll admit I wasn’t his biggest fan when the series began, but while he grew on me throughout the books, I feel deeply in love with him in A Duke of Her Own. His transformation has been one of the finest Ms. James has ever written. As to which woman claims the heart of the worldly duke…what fun would it be if I revealed who she is? I will say that Villiers’s heroine is among my favorite of Ms. James’s characters. She’s everything I could wish for in a protagonist and she matches Villiers perfectly; I simply adored her.
A Duke of Her Own is the sixth book in the Desperate Duchess series, but the story stands on its own. I admit that I finished A Duke of Her Own a bit sad that the series has ended and that – barring re-reads – I have to leave the Desperate Duchess heroes and heroines behind. Given the liveliness of these characters, it is my hope that Ms. James writes stories for their children one day, some of whom Ms. James has already revealed to be quite intriguing. Until that wish comes true, I’m content to hop over to the Readers’ Pages on Ms. James’s site and enjoy a bonus chapter for A Duke of Her Own before I curl up and lose myself in Villiers’s story once more.(less)
Hugh Dunne, Earl of Briarly, has decided to take a wife. The problem is, Hugh spends more time in the stables than society, so he hasn’t a clue who to pick. Luckily, he’s come up with a perfect solution: he’ll have his sister, Carolyn, come up with a list of prospective wives. Carolyn takes things a step further and plans a house party at which all of the women will be present, along with a gentleman or two to entice her widowed friend Georgiana, who swears she will never remarry.
Which lady is most likely to capture Hugh’s heart? Is it the most beautiful girl of the season, Gwendolyn Passmore? How about the lively Miss Katherine Peyton? Or even Georgina, a woman Hugh’s known since childhood? There’s only one way to tell…
Oh, what fun it would be to be a guest at a house party which Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway, and Eloisa James created! The Lady Most Likely… is one of the most charming romances I’ve read in a while. Had I not already been a fan of the authors, I would be intruiged by the format alone. The Lady Most Likely… is a novel in three parts, not an anthology. The sections written by each author are bookended with chapters that bridge one romance to the next. The result is a smoothly-flowing story that makes you feel as if you’re actually at Carolyn’s house party.
It’s fairly easy to figure out what the romantic pairings will be once the book starts, but I don’t want to ruin the fun. I will say that all three romances in The Lady Most Likely… were absolutely lovely and each couple was simply made for each other. As I don’t want to spoil which lady captures which hero’s heart, I’ll stick with talking about each of the six protagonists. Gwen is my absolute favorite character of the lot. She’s absolutely gorgeous and men flock to her. The only problem is, she hates all the attention and crowds make her uneasy. She’s intelligent and witty, but also shy. She endeared herself to me immediately and just for her alone I would adore The Lady Most Likely… But Gwen’s joined by two other strong, likeable protagonists. Kate is bold, forthright, and only can be knocked off her feet by her hero which, of course, made her journey so much fun to read. Georgie is a widow who didn’t have a fantastic marriage, but neither was it traumatic. She doesn’t want to marry again and her reasoning is understandable. She makes mistakes when it comes to the man she falls in love with, but those mistakes serve to humanize her.
With three such wonderful heroines, not to mention talented authors, how can there be anything but three sexy heroes? Hugh, the man whose quest for a wife is the basis of the book, is horse-mad and socially oblivious. He spends more time in the stables than anywhere else and I admit, I worried at first that his heroine wouldn’t be able to compete for his attention. Happily, I was wrong; Hugh does put the people he cares about first and the fact that he is so devoted to the few people he lets in his heart makes his love for them all the more special. But while Hugh is looking for a wife, his friend, Alec Darlington, Earl of Charters, has no plans on searching for a bride any time soon. That changes, of course, when he meets the woman of his dreams. Alec is the definitely the earl most likely to make this woman swoon. He’s funny and kind, handsome and wickedly tempting – in other words, perfect hero material. I’d unequivocally say he’s my favorite hero of the lot, were it not for the fact that Captain Neill Oakes fairly stole the show for me. Neill has a reckless reputation he earned and deserved in his youth, but he’s a far more responsible grown man than anyone gives him credit for. Neill has the bad boy appeal to blend which his honorable nature. Add in a dash of vulnerability when it comes to the woman that owns his heart and what a combination that is!
One novel, three romances, and six protagonists that you’re sure to adore makes The Lady Most Likely… a surefire hit. Mses. Quinn, Brockway, and James are each amazing authors in their own right. As a team? They’re unstoppable. The Lady Most Likely… is the novel most likely to capture readers’ hearts.(less)
I fell in love with this book back in '98. It's one of those stories that I can't even explain why I love it so much, only that I do. The original mas...moreI fell in love with this book back in '98. It's one of those stories that I can't even explain why I love it so much, only that I do. The original mass market paperback is out of print, but the story has been re-issued on Kindle (same title, but under Heather Graham instead of Shannon Drake - The King's Pleasure)(less)
The term “rake” is far too tame a descriptor for a man like the Duke of Castleford. The hedonistic duke with a Midas touch spends six days a week drinking, whoring, and other pleasurable pursuits, leaving anything of importance to be dealt with on Tuesdays. However, now that his friends have made the abominable decision to fall in love and marry, Castleford finds himself bored to tears. That is, until a relative bequeaths him several properties of seemingly no importance. Castleford is resigned to taking a closer look at what is so special about the lands in question. He’s surprised, however, that one of the properties houses The Rarest Blooms, a place where all of his friends’ wives once lived. What really breaks Castleford out of his ennui, however, is Daphne Joyes, owner of The Rarest Blooms. The exquisite widow temps Castleford like no woman has before. Unfortunately, she has an uncanny ability to resist his charms. Castleford can’t resist the challenge Daphne presents and it’s not long before the pair finds themselves in a dance of seduction that could lead to the most unlikely of outcomes – love.
There is a danger, I suppose, in highly anticipating a novel. Ever since the first Rarest Blooms book, Ravishing in Red, I have wanted to read the dissolute Duke of Castleford’s story. From Ravishing in Red to Provocative in Pearls to Sinful in Satin, Castleford stole every scene he was in, charming the hell out of me, even with his profligate ways. I absolutely loved him and couldn’t wait to see him fall in love. With such high expectations going in, I felt all the more strongly my disappointment in Dangerous in Diamonds. Up until his own book, Castleford has such life, such personality that he fairly exploded off the page. In Dangerous in Diamonds, Castleford is pretty subdued. He has some flashes of brightness, but overall he was a surprisingly lackluster hero. Daphne, in turn, is the same woman we’ve known all throughout the series: beautiful, honorable, and protective. Admittedly, she was never very interesting to me, so I was not let down by her blankness. As a couple, Daphne and Castleford do have some spark and that helped to carry Dangerous in Diamonds.
Despite my criticisms, Dangerous in Diamonds isn’t a bad book. Madeline Hunter’s writing is solid and the story moves along at a reasonable pace. Fans of The Rarest Blooms will delight in seeing all the prior heroes and heroines play a role in Daphne and Castleford’s story. The conclusion of Dangerous in Diamonds will likely satisfy the majority of readers. I will say that there is, for some reason, a curveball thrown in in the last ten pages of the story that was never really dealt with to my satisfaction. I don’t want to spoil what it was, but it felt like a pointless addition (I’m not a fan of obstacles slapped on at the very end of a book). Overall, Dangerous in Diamonds was a letdown for me, but readers who either haven’t read the previous Rarest Blooms books or didn’t adore Castleford’s personality will likely enjoy the book quite a bit more.(less)
“Charming” Mickey O’Connor has fought and thieved his way to the top, making himself the most feared river pirate in St. Giles. He lives in a fortress of silks and gold, but there’s one thing Mick wants that money can’t buy: Silence Hollingbrook.
Once, Mick made a bargain with Silence that saved her husband’s life and ruined the woman’s reputation, even though Mick never laid a hand on her. Since then, Silence has become a widow and has moved to St. Giles to help run her family’s foundling home, but she still remains out of Mick’s reach. Mick’s determined to have Silence in his castle, so he leaves his child on her doorstep, knowing Silence will fall in love with the babe. Then a merciless villain out to destroy Mick sets his sights on Silence and Mick will do anything to protect her. However, having Silence in his home brings about unexpected complications. She’s unlike any woman Mick has ever known and she challenges him, troubles him in ways he never expected. It’s not long before Mick finds himself ensnared by emotions he never wanted, ones he fear could destroy him. Yet, in opening his heart, Mick discovers that the love he thinks will weaken him just might be what saves him.
The master of unique historical romances has done it again! Elizabeth Hoyt has delivered another amazing book with Scandalous Desires. I was so delighted by Mickey and Silence’s story that I was almost left without the words to write this review.
I suppose I should disclose the fact that, before starting Scandalous Desires I was unsure if I would love Mickey and Silence. True, Mick had interested me in the first two Maiden Lane books (Wicked Intentions and Notorious Pleasures), and I had a lot of respect for Silence, but I wasn’t sure if they could hold my interest as main characters.
I shouldn’t have doubted Ms. Hoyt.
Silence comes into her own in Scandalous Desires. After being put in an untenable position by Mick in Wicked Intentions, her perfect life fell to pieces. Strangely (or perhaps not), when forced into the company of the man she blames for ruining her life, Silence finds her own inner strength. She doesn’t back down from Mick and she doesn’t silence herself. For the first time, she sees both her past and present life for what it truly was, and as her illusions fade, she finds the courage to go after what she wants. And what she finds herself wanting, is Mick. Who could blame her? Mick might be a cad, but in Scandalous Desires the real Mick comes through, and that changed everything for me. He’s done bad things, and he’ll be the first one to admit to them. He’s fought his way to become the most feared man in St. Giles, and that’s impossible to do by keeping your hands clean. My heart broke through some of the things he suffered, but what really won me over is how he treats Silence. While at first there’s a “Beauty and the Beast” element to their relationship, it quickly develops into something more. I practically swooned over Mick. He treats Silence as something precious, but not something that’s breakable. He sees her. He talks to her. He believes in her. And, most importantly, he listens to her, when even those who claim to love her best merely hear her. The combination of cleverness, ruthlessness, tenderness, and that indefinable spark Ms. Hoyt gives him puts Mick on my personal list of Greatest Heroes of All Time.
I’ve long held Ms. Hoyt’s writing in high regard, but she’s reached new heights in entertainment with her Maiden Lane series. Scandalous Desires has everything I love in a great romance: memorable, unique characters, love, desire, longing, character growth, intrigue, danger, excitement, and even a few surprises. Scandalous Desires even managed to bump Wicked Intentions from its top spot on my list of favorite books by Ms. Hoyt, and I didn’t think any book could do that.
Scandalous Desires is the third book in Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, but it can be read as a standalone. However, I wouldn’t recommend it, as part of my joy in reading this story stems from the fact that I’ve been following Silence and Mickey’s storyline from the beginning of the series. Also, anyone who’s read the series knows that the mysterious Ghost of St. Giles is a major plotline; one that Ms. Hoyt takes for a turn in Scandalous Desires. The Ghost’s subplot is something that also delivers more of an impact if you’ve read Wicked Intentions and Notorious Pleasures.
I can’t say enough how much I loved Silence and Mick’s book. Scandalous Desires was everything I wanted and, at the same time, more than I could have dreamed of, and I loved it. Mick alone would be enough to make me Joyfully Recommend Scandalous Desires, but with Silence at his side, I can say that Scandalous Desires is one of the best books I’ve read this year!(less)
James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, loves to gamble. The risk, the thrill, the ability to beat the od...moreBlue Ribbon Rating: 4 out of 5 Original Review Link
James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, loves to gamble. The risk, the thrill, the ability to beat the odds…there is nothing better. He and his four equally scandalous friends are known as the Hellraisers. Nothing is ever exciting enough for them. That is, until one of their adventures takes a dark turn. The Hellraisers release the devil himself and in return each is given a power to make their deepest desires come true.
What Whit doesn’t realize is that the devil’s gifts aren’t all they appear to be. It will take the help of Zora Grey – a Romani woman who tempts Whit more than the devil ever could – to save Whit’s soul before it’s too late.
Author Zoë Archer brings the decadence of Georgian England to life in the sensual, dark and engaging DEVIL’S KISS. The first HELLRAISERS book is filled with twists, turns and plenty of action, all the while keeping the focus on Whit and Zora. These two strong protagonists carry the book, and I give high marks to Ms. Archer for creating yet another unusual historical romance heroine in Zora. She’s a Romani who doesn’t believe in the supernatural – at least, not until confronted with the devil – and she isn’t content to sit quietly on the sidelines while Whit faces the must cunning of evils. I respected her, and I held no small amount of affection for Whit, whose lust for adventure comes back to bite him in the worst way. Ms. Archer made it easy for me to like Zora and Whit, making their race to outwit the devil and free Whit of his pact all the more compelling.
It’s impossible to say too much about DEVIL’S KISS without ruining some of the fun of reading the book. I will say that there are a number of richly drawn characters and settings in DEVIL’S KISS which enrich the plot of the book, making DEVIL’S KISS a ‘full’ book. While DEVIL’S KISS is a satisfying read in its own right, I am on edge wanting to know what will happen next in the overarching storyline of the five Hellraisers’ pacts with the devil. Bring on the next HELLRAISERS book, DEMON’S BRIDE!
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies.(less)
Lachlan MacRuairi is a sword for hire, loyal only to those who can pay him. The latest bargain he ha...moreBlue Ribbon Rating: 4 out of 5 Original Review Link
Lachlan MacRuairi is a sword for hire, loyal only to those who can pay him. The latest bargain he has made is with Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s new king. Because of Lachlan’s talent for stealth and his warrior prowess, he is now part of an elite special forces unit for Bruce. But few members of the Highland Guard like Lachlan, and fewer still trust him, the man known as “Viper.” Lachlan doesn’t care what the others think of him. No one matters to him; not anymore. Then he’s sent to protect and escort Bella MacDuff to Bruce’s coronation…and everything changes.
It’s tradition for a MacDuff to crown Scotland’s king, and Bella risks everything by defying her husband to crown Bruce. She doesn’t know if she can trust Lachlan, but she can’t deny her attraction to the dark warrior.
Then everything goes wrong, and Bella is taken captive by the king’s enemies. Imprisoned and cut off from her daughter, Bella’s only hope to be rescued and reunited with her is Lachlan MacRuairi, the man she believes betrayed her.
Author Monica McCarty is a master of blending fact and fiction, and that talent is showcased in THE VIPER. Lachlan and Bella’s story is a spectacularly entertaining romance, and the intrigue and danger that stem from the battle for Robert the Bruce’s kingship make THE VIPER come alive.
I love that Lachlan MacRuairi and Bella MacDuff are based on their real life counterparts. THE VIPER’s Lachlan and Bella are characters you have to love. Bella risks everything for what she believes in, and the cost is enormously painful. She can be a bit short-sighted at times, but her flaws ultimately add to her character. As for Lachlan…for the majority of the book, he is a hero worth drooling over. I love watching the rough “bad boy” of the Highland Guard struggle with his feelings for Bella. The contrast between his stone-like outer shell and the red-hot emotions inside is hot as hell.
There is a wealth of passion in THE VIPER, making it an emotionally fulfilling read. I got caught up not only in Bella and Lachlan’s romance, but in the war for Scotland’s sovereignty. I haven’t yet read the first three HIGHLAND GUARD books – THE CHIEF, THE HAWK and THE RANGER – but I cannot wait to do so. Bring on more of Ms. McCarty’s sexy-as-sin warriors!
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies.(less)
By day, Winter Makepeace is the staid headmaster of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children in St. Giles. By night, he dons a mask and harlequin’s motley and roams the streets as the Ghost of St. Giles, protecting London’s poor from those who seek to prey on the weak. But Winter’s secret life is fraught with danger and his luck cannot last forever…
Lady Isabel Beckinhall isn’t quite sure how she was chosen to represent her fellow benefactresses when it comes time to inspect the newly built orphanage in St. Giles. She does know there is something about the orphanage’s headmaster that makes her want to needle the oh-so-proper man. Then Winter fails to show for their appointed meeting, and as Isabel makes her way out of St. Giles she comes across the notorious Ghost lying beaten and unconscious in the road. She cannot leave the man to be killed, so she rescues the Ghost and heals him, not knowing that the tempting fugitive and the frustrating headmaster are one and the same. But when Isabel volunteers to tutor Winter on how to navigate society and impress potential benefactors, she begins to see that beneath the rigid façade of Winter lies a man who is so much more than what he seems.
Drawn together by desire, Winter and Isabel must overcome their own stubbornness, class differences, and more if they have a hope of being together. Even then, their burgeoning relationship may come to a swift end. Someone is kidnapping little girls in St. Giles and Winter will risk everything — even his life — to save them.
Elizabeth Hoyt takes readers from the dazzling ballrooms of London society to the darkest corners of the city’s slums in Thief of Shadows. The contrast between the two — mirrored by the contrast between Winter and Isabel — makes Thief of Shadows a fascinating story. Only an author like Ms. Hoyt could successfully pull two so seemingly disparate elements together into one engaging book.
Winter is a man at war with himself. He sees his identity as the Ghost as a “beast” he lets out, not realizing that it’s truly a part of himself he needs to accept if he ever hopes to be whole. He’s neither as coldly good or as ragingly dark as he believes, and I enjoyed watching him find himself in Thief of Shadows. The catalyst for his change is, of course, Isabel. She’s a delightful heroine who seems slightly shallow and is society’s version of perfect…until one looks beneath the surface. Like Winter, Isabel isn’t all that she seems. Yes, Isabel is strong, witty, and charming, and those aspects of her are delightful. But she also has a generous heart that’s been scarred by past wounds and there’s a vulnerability to her that touched me. Together, Winter and Isabel are an intriguing pair. Over the course of the story, they become the best versions of themselves when together. Not to mention the heat. Like his siblings, Winter was cunningly misnamed — he isn’t cold at all. The sexual tension in Thief of Shadows is deliciously hot, and when fulfilled… Well, I’ll leave what happens then for readers to discover.
Thief of Shadows is the fourth book in Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, but it can be read as a standalone. In fact, Winter and Isabel’s book seems to be the beginning of a trilogy within the Maiden Lane series. The identity of the Ghost of St. Giles has long been a mystery, so it’s no surprise that Thief of Shadows contains spoilers for the first three books. That being said, even if you read Thief of Shadows first, don’t miss out on the fabulously entertaining Wicked Intentions, Notorious Pleasures, and Scandalous Desires; they’re just too good to pass up.
I’ve been following Ms. Hoyt’s work since her debut, and to me she just gets better and better. My only problem with Thief of Shadows is that it ends with a cliffhanger that has me on edge for the next Maiden Lane book. Oh, how I want Godric St. John’s book! But until Lord of Darkness is released, I’ll have to content myself with re-reading the Maiden Lane series. And when it comes to books by Elizabeth Hoyt, re-reading is never, ever a hardship ;)(less)
“Winter Heat” by Dawn Halliday Maggie MacDonald’s mother always told her that her clan brooch would lead a MacDonald woman to her soul mate. Maggie doesn’t believe the legend, but she does find the brooch helpful in her last-ditch attempt to flee a brutish suitor. Her escape sends Maggie into a blizzard…and then into the arms of warrior Logan Douglas. Attraction flares, but in order for their holiday romance to last, Logan must find a way to free Maggie of the villain who wishes to possess her.
The protagonists in this enjoyable story by Dawn Halliday could melt snow with the kind of heat they generate. “Winter Heat” is a sexy story about finding love where you least expect it. Both Maggie and Logan are likeable characters, each with strengths and weaknesses that complement one another. The villain is suitably despicable, making the reader cheer all the more for Maggie and Logan. This is the first story I’ve ever read by Ms. Halliday and I look forward to reading more of her work.
“Yuletide Enchantment” by Sophie Renwick All her life, Isobel MacDonald has felt a connection to the white hart in the woods. She doesn’t put much stock in the ancient tales of Annwyn or the Sidhe said to inhabit the woods, but Isobel can’t put her finger on why she is repeatedly drawn to the forest. At least not until she loses her clan pin. It’s then that she meets Daegan, the Sidhe prince, and also the white hart Isobel has seen since she was a child. But love between a Sidhe and a mortal is forbidden, so when Daegan and Isobel fall for one another, what are they to do?
Something sensual lurks in the woods in the magic-filled “Yuletide Enchantment.” Sophie Renwick creates two likeable protagonists and sets the stage for some interesting scenes as Isobel and Daegan fall in love. However, I was left with many questions at the end of the story which kept me from liking “Yuletide Enchantment” as much as I wanted to. However, I am excited to read Ms. Renwick’s book for Daegan’s nephew Bran.
“A Christmas Spirit” by Cindy Miles Paige MacDonald doesn’t know what possessed her to book a self-driving tour of the North West Highlands in December. When her car breaks down in the middle of a snowstorm, Paige takes refuge at the Gorloch B&B, a castle inhabited by the most unusual of Highlanders.
Gabriel Munro can’t believe the innkeepers left him alone for the holidays. He was sure the weather would keep visitors away, but he can’t very well turn out a woman in the middle of a blizzard. Especially not a woman as tempting as Paige. But what will Paige say when she learns that the man she is trapped in the castle with is a ghost?
Spirits have never been so sexy as in this enchanting story by Cindy Miles. “A Christmas Spirit” is my favorite story in this anthology; it’s both charming and unique. I liked Paige immensely. She’s intelligent, hardworking, and not used to a man practically falling all over himself for her. As for Gabriel, he’s a Highland ghost worth sighing over (and I admit I did).
“A Christmas Spirit” is the first story I’ve read by Ms. Miles, but it won’t be the last. Characters from Ms. Miles’s Highland Knight appear in this tale and I liked them so much I want to go back and their story.
A Highlander Christmas features stories that span over nearly three hundred years. The only connection between each tale is the heroines’ pin. I enjoyed the concept and the progression through time and each story featured its protagonists overcoming seemingly impossible odds to be together. A Highlander Christmas was a satisfying anthology, perfect for curling up with on a cold winter’s night.(less)
After spending three years abroad due to the repercussions of a youthful mistake, Daniel Smythe-Smith is finally able to return home to England. Having arrived at his home the night of his family’s famous – or is it infamous? – musicale, Daniel decides to watch from the wings…and spies a lady at the piano who is most definitely not one of his cousins. Anne Wynter, governess to three of Daniel’s cousins, has been called in at the last minute to play in the annual musicale. The attraction Daniel feels for her is instantaneous, and Daniel knows he must learn more about the beautiful Anne.
Daniel Smythe-Smith, Earl of Winstead, may not be like the other men Anne has come into contact with, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to risk losing her livelihood for a moment of passion. She’s learned her lesson well, thank you very much. As Anne tries to avoid Daniel, she learns one thing: the Smythe-Smiths are a very persistent lot. How long will Anne be able to hold out against the man she’s slowly falling in love with? She may not get a chance to find out. The ghosts of her past have reemerged, threatening Anne, Daniel, and those they hold dear.
The Smythe-Smiths are back in the enchanting A Night Like This. Julia Quinn’s prose shines in this tale of love, attraction, secrets and, of course, terrible musicales.
Daniel and Anne are two people whose pasts have taken them somewhat off the proverbial path they were born to follow. Though my heart broke for what each has been through, I dare say they are the stronger and wiser for having come out the other end. Both Daniel and Anne are incredibly likeable protagonists and it’s easy to become captivated by A Night Like This for the romance alone. But then, what would a Smythe-Smith novel be without the Smythe-Smith family? The entire extended Smythe-Smith clan delights in A Night Like This, bringing even more humor, vibrancy, and warmth to the novel. I loved watching Daniel and Anne interact with his family almost as much as I adored watching the pair fall for one another.
A healthy dose of danger adds a darker undertone to A Night Like This, making it a well-rounded story. I practically devoured A Night Like This and I’m sure fans of historical romance will be as captivated as I was by Daniel and Anne’s book. I finished A Night Like This a well-satisfied reader and I cannot wait for the next Smythe-Smith book!(less)
Leopold Bailey was born a saddler’s son, but his intelligence, determination and ruthlessness have...moreBlue Ribbon Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Original Review Link
Leopold Bailey was born a saddler’s son, but his intelligence, determination and ruthlessness have made him the Demon of the Exchange. But the lords, who are impressed by his business sense, still shun Leo for his “common” blood. So Leo does the most logical thing and marries the daughter of an impoverished baron. But quiet, ladylike Anne Hartfield isn’t a woman whom Leo can simply marry and forget. She makes him yearn for more than money or power – she makes him want to win her love. There’s just one problem…
Leo and his fellow Hellraisers have sold their souls to the devil in exchange for power. Leo doesn’t want to give up his power to see the future, not when he can use the magic to ruin those who would look down on him and not when he can use his wealth to give Anne everything she deserves. Leo’s determined to keep his pact with the devil a secret from his wife, but there are others who seek to help the Hellraisers, and they won’t let Anne stay in the dark for long. It’s only a matter of time before Leo will have to choose between unimaginable power and the bride who has stolen his heart.
The stakes that author Zoë Archer set in her first HELLRAISERS book, DEVIL’S KISS, are raised in DEMON’S BRIDE. The effect of the Hellraisers’ pact with the devil is spreading across London, which means DEMON’S BRIDE is packed with adrenaline-filled scenes.
At the heart of the story, however, are Leo and Anne. Of all the Hellraisers’ bargains, Leo’s is the one that I understand the most. He’s brilliant and hard working, but society seems to spit on him more often than not. Making a pact with the devil was obviously not the best idea Leo’s ever had, but Ms. Archer made his motives – and Leo himself – sympathetic. Anne, in turn, is a very different heroine from Zora, the heroine of DEVIL’S KISS. Anne is a gently bred young lady who doesn’t really believe in the devil or demons, and thus seems ill-equipped to handle a high-stakes battle of good versus evil. But Anne rises to the challenge, showing so much courage, love and strength that you can’t help but admire her.
The action in DEMON’S BRIDE is plentiful, and some of the twists and turns that Ms. Archer delivers managed to shock me. There was actually a scene that had me yelling “Noooooo!” at the book. And I definitely finished DEMON’S BRIDE with a number of questions, which isn’t a bad thing, except for the fact that I have to wait for the third HELLRAISERS book to see if my questions will be answered.
As I’ve said above, DEMON’S BRIDE is the second HELLRAISERS book, but for those who haven’t read the delightful DEVIL’S KISS, Ms. Archer provides enough information in DEMON’S BRIDE that readers new to the series can easily follow along, though the small, but significant, parts Whit and Zora play will definitely make you want to read DEVIL’S KISS. That being said, for the best reading experience, the series should be read in order. The influence the devil’s “gifts” has had on the Hellraisers is definitely more marked in DEMON’S BRIDE and thus the danger the men are in is made all the more clear.
I finished DEMON’S BRIDE with mixed emotions, and I won’t spoil the book by revealing why. However, I will say that Leo and Anne are two strong, endearing protagonists that readers will fall for and their romance was incredibly satisfying. Like its predecessor in the HELLRAISERS series, DEMON’S BRIDE is a unique, engaging read. Now, when can I get my hands on SINNER’S HEART?
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies.(less)
David Barrett, Earl of Dunreith, is the image of propriety. Though the earl is rich, handsome and young, he is also the very last person on earth anyone could imagine seducing an innocent lady. Yet, after years of hiding his love for best friend and neighbor, Victoria Caldwell, David stops resisting. With a touch of magic, he suddenly possesses the one woman he’s longed for all his life.
Victoria has known David since childhood and finds herself bewildered when she suddenly starts seeing him in a new light. Swept away by passion, Victoria discovers that there’s more to David than she ever knew. But as friendship turns into love, David and Victoria find that his simple spell has unlocked a chain of events that has consequences neither could have dreamed.
Get ready for a wickedly delightful trip back in time. One for Love is a luscious Regency romp that will leave you begging for more.
There is just something incredibly sexy about a reserved, utterly respectable male breaking the rules by caving into the potent mix of eroticism and lust, isn’t there? The seeming conflict between two sides always generates a fascinating hero and Emma Wildes has certainly dished up an incredibly delicious hero in David. As for Victoria, she is utterly charming and very likeable, the perfect match for David. I enjoyed watching the two take the step from friendship to love and was cheering for them to overcome whatever obstacles life, or the villain, threw at them. One for Love was both scintillating and sweet, with endearing characters and a scheming villain I am sure we haven’t seen the last of. I can’t wait to read the next installment of the Wicked Warlock Society series.(less)