Nemesis, Unlimited is back with Wicked Temptation! This time it’s sexy Italian-English super spy Marco who’s front and center, and this case isn’t the kind he’d normally choose. Marco has no use for entitled aristocrats and he has even less interest in helping a society widow recover her fortune. As his fellow agents don’t share his bias, Marco finds himself helping Bronwyn Parrish. Bronwyn is nothing like Marco expects her to be. She’s lived her life according to the rules society has laid down, but she’s not spoiled or snobbish. Her “reward” for being all that a lady should be is to find herself homeless and penniless, yet she doesn’t let that knock her down. She’s ready to take charge of her life, and with Nemesis’ help, she’s finally able to do so. But her path to independence isn’t an easy one, as the hunt to recover her money puts Bronwyn and Marco in the crosshairs of a French crime syndicate.
For me, the best part of Wicked Temptation was watching Marco reevaluate his initial opinions of Bronwyn and of her finding her true self outside the mold society has fit her into. Each of them has expectations of what their life will be and their attraction to one another turns that on its head. Their romance is filled with tension, but ultimately author Zoë Archer makes it satisfying.
The action in Wicked Temptation is as central to the story as the romance. Marco and Bronwyn must outmaneuver and outwit deadly French criminals, and the danger adds some adrenaline-filled scenes to the story. That being said, for the most part the story seemed to move at a slower pace than other books of Ms. Archer’s. There’s a lot of back and forth and quite a bit of waiting. While this adds a sense of realism, it didn’t particularly make the story compelling.
Wicked Temptation is a well-written, solid story. While it isn’t my favorite book of Ms. Archer’s, I still appreciate it for its uniqueness. Ms. Archer always creates strong, intelligent characters and puts them in unconventional (for historical romance) settings, which is why I keep coming back to her work. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Archer comes up with next – I’m hoping it’s a story for the rather colorful Nemesis acquaintance Charlie :)
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.(less)
Magic and mayhem go hand in hand in Grim Shadows. There’s no sophomore slump for the Roaring Twenties series – Jenn Bennett knows how to keep the thrills coming and Grim Shadows lives up to the promise of its smart, sensual predecessor, Bitter Spirits.
Lowe Magnusson is a smooth-talking archaeologist with an easy smile and a penchant for spinning tales. Hadley Bacall is a curator trying to make a name for herself in a male-dominated field. She’s also got a curse hanging over her head and has to keep her emotions tightly bottled for fear of disaster. On the surface, the two are like night and day, but they just click. The banter between Lowe and Hadley – when balanced by the emotional revelations each makes – made them a truly captivating couple to read about. Both are supremely intelligent and are more than what most people see them to be; traits that come in handy as they become semi-reluctant allies on a quest to find the missing pieces of a supernatural artifact. Their action-packed treasure hunt through the streets of Prohibition-era San Francisco had me avidly turning the pages of Grim Shadows. Ms. Bennett has some wonderful twists and turns in store for readers (even the ones you can see coming are exciting to watch play out).
As she did with the first Roaring Twenties book, Ms. Bennett brings 1920s San Francisco to vivid life, then gives it her own unique spin by adding in the paranormal and placing events in less posh areas than those generally showcased in historical romance. I flat-out loved delving into Ms. Bennett’s world once again, though the mysteries uncovered in Grim Shadows are decidedly different from those in Bitter Spirits. Ms. Bennett has a way of writing that draws you into the story and doesn’t let go. I look forward to getting lost in Lowe and Hadley’s adventure-filled romance many, many times while I impatiently wait for the next Roaring Twenties book!
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.(less)
Crown Princess Luisa of Holstein-Schweinwald-Huhnhof watched as the entire life she was raised to lead got turned upside down by the revolutionaries who murdered her father and her husband. Now disguised as a man and living in England while her uncle works to regain her crown, Luisa has gone from princess to personal secretary of the most dangerous man in England. The Earl of Somerton is dark, lethal, and extremely bitter. His wife is in love with another man and his focus has devolved into a quest for vengeance. Only Luisa seems able to reach him. But can she tell the man who trusts almost no one that she’s been keeping secrets from him? Even if he forgives her deception and promises to help her cause, Luisa isn’t so sure Somerton will ever be able to open his heart to her…and she’s very afraid she’s already lost hers to him.
The fate of a small German principality is decided in How to School Your Scoundrel. In the third Princess in Hiding book, Juliana Gray has penned a story filled with action, disguises, deception, redemption, and love.
Somerton is not an easy hero to like, but I grew to care about him fairly quickly, thanks to Ms. Gray’s talent. Somerton has never known love or genuine kindness, and each time he’s opened his heart he’s been slapped in the face in return. His marriage comes across as a twisted Beauty and the Beast story, one where Beauty would never give the beast a chance because he wasn’t the Adonis of her dreams. Somerton has become someone extremely bitter and hurt and it takes Luisa to bring him from the darkness to the light. Luisa is smart, capable, and just a bit cheeky. She doesn’t back down from Somerton and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. The two of them are a great pair and their relationship – both before it turned into a romance and after – gives How to School Your Scoundrel life.
How to School Your Scoundrel is a fast-paced read for the most part. The overarching series plot of the revolutionaries in Luisa’s country adds action to the story. Though I won’t spoil what happens, I will say that Ms. Gray resolves this plotline in a satisfying manner. Where How to School Your Scoundrel dragged was the plot involving Somerton’s wife. There seemed to be good chunks of the story missing, likely because Elizabeth and her lover are the hero and heroine of another book (A Gentleman Never Tells) and Somerton is presumably the villain in that story. Not having read A Gentleman Never Tells I only got Somerton’s point of view and thus many of the events in his book that paralleled Elizabeth’s story seemed out of place when they were only part of a larger story.
All in all, How to School Your Scoundrel is an enjoyable read and an excellent conclusion to the Princess in Hiding trilogy. I adored Luisa and Somerton together and their stellar chemistry had me turning the pages of their book late into the night.(less)
Beauty and the Beast lands in Regency England in the latest Wilde family adventure. Secrets of Seduction is a sensual, fast-paced story that blends author Nicole Jordan’s Legendary Lovers and Paradise series. Liking both series as much as I do, I had high hopes for Skye and Hawk’s story. Yet while I did enjoy Secrets of Seduction, the story was missing Ms. Jordan’s usual spark.
Skye Wilde has always been the least brazen member of her family, but in Secrets of Seduction she sets out to seduce the man she’s had a crush on since she was thirteen. Hawk is a widower, scarred inside and out thanks to the fire that claimed the life of his wife and child. After years of being an agent for the Guardians of the Sword, he has returned to England in order to marry the niece of the Guardians’ leader so that he may become the head of the league. What he doesn’t count on is Skye bursting into his home in the middle of a storm and turning his life upside down. Sparks fly between Skye and Hawk almost immediately, but he’s determined to do his duty and pushes her away, even though he desires her. Skye is equally determined to make him fall in love with her, and urges Hawk to help her find her uncle’s lost true love as a way for them to spend time together (while helping her uncle, of course). Ms. Jordan’s signature heat is well at play in this story, and on one level, Skye and Hawk work. Their explosive desire for one another and developing romance kept me engaged in Secrets of Seduction. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed in the story. I never connected with either Skye or Hawk and the Skye Wilde of this story isn’t the same Skye Wilde I had adored in the first two Legendary Lovers books. She was a bit selfish and even slightly calculating, and neither of those traits appealed to me. There could be an argument that her actions and planning were for the greater good, but ultimately Skye simply wasn’t my favorite kind of heroine.
Secrets of Seduction is the third book in the Legendary Lovers series and the fifth book in her Paradise series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. That being said, I loved getting closure on the Paradise series, and my favorite moments of the book were when Skye’s family members showed up. I truly adore the Legendary Lovers series – Princess Charming and Lover Be Mine charmed the heck out of me – so even though I was a bit let down by Secrets of Seduction, I’m still incredibly eager to read the next Legendary Lovers book!
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.(less)
Tobias “Thorn” Dautry is the eldest illegitimate child of the Duke of Villiers. Having made his fortune, Thorn is determined to marry a certain kind of woman, one whose reputation and lineage will seal his place in society. But if he hopes to wed his chosen lady, Laetitia Rainsford, he’ll have to essentially woo her fastidious mother as well. Thorn’s never been one to put on a civilized front, but he has to do so now. Which is why his stepmother recommends he hire Lady Xenobia India St. Claire.
The daughter of a deceased marquess largely perceived to be mad, India is ready to settle down herself. She’s secured her fortune working as an interior designer and professional organizer and is ready to retire. The only reason she agrees to help Thorn is that she’s friends with his stepmother. But when she meets Thorn, India is determined to give this diamond in the rough some polish. What she doesn’t expect is to desire the man. Thorn is determined to marry another and he’ll only break her heart. She really mustn’t fall for him…
Three Weeks With Lady X sparkles with wit and simmers with sensuality. I absolutely adored India and Thorn. Their verbal sparring had me laughing out loud even as I eagerly turned the pages, waiting for their mutual attraction to deepen into something more.
Thorn had a hard life growing up until his father found him. His time as a mudlark has shaped him into the man he is today, and he’s determined to find a sweet, caring wife who will never abandon their future children. Thorn sells himself short by choosing Laetitia; she’s perfectly likeable and dim like people believe, but is definitely not the woman for him. India is Thorn’s match on every level. She too had a harsh childhood, one that has left her scarred and very much in need of love. I just loved India – she’s intelligent, practical, and kind. Thorn’s resistance to risking his heart causes him to make mistakes with her, but Eloisa James makes their sometimes rocky road to happily ever after well worth any bumps on the journey.
Though Three Weeks With Lady X is the seventh book in the Desperate Duchesses series, it can easily be read as a standalone. The book’s only connection to the previous books is that Villiers and Eleanor (the hero and heroine of A Duke of Her Own) are Thorn’s father and stepmother. That being said, if you loved those two it’ll be a treat to revisit them. Ms. James also introduces a new character, Thorn’s friend Vander, in this book and I desperately hope he gets his own story.
There’s a reason Eloisa James is one of my favorite romance authors – her books are always fun, steamy, and deliciously entertaining. Three Weeks With Lady X is all of these things and more. Historical romance fans, don’t miss this one!(less)
Magic meets mechanization in Lynn Viehl’s wonderfully inventive The Clockwork Wolf. The fast-paced, engaging second installment of the Disenchanted & Co. series lives up to its predecessor as readers follow Kit on a new investigation, one that takes readers deeper into the world of Toriana, delves further into Aramanthan mythology, and introduces us to “native magic.”
The Clockwork Wolf picks up not long after the first book in the series, Disenchanted & Co., left off. Kit, a dispeller who didn’t believe in magic until very recently, is adjusting to her changing world view while still making her living solving crimes and avoiding the occasional attack on her person. I love Kit. She’s an independent woman in a time and place where said independence is frowned upon. While she isn’t perfect, Kit is loyal, honorable, clever, and overall simply a character who commands respect from readers, if not from the society she lives in.
And speaking of that society, Toriana (The Provincial Union of Victoriana) is an alternate-history version of America, one where the Revolutionary War was lost. Kit lives in Rumsen (roughly equivalent to San Francisco) and from the nobs on the Hill to the prostitutes on the street, people are being terrorized by the Wolfmen, supernatural steampunk predators created by a mysterious force. It’s up to Kit to discover who is making the Wolfmen, how they’re doing it, and why…all while managing to stay alive and out of police custody. I won’t spoil what happens, but suffice it to say Kit’s case takes readers on an exciting journey. I was fascinated by the Wolfmen and the intricacies of the steampunk elements Ms. Viehl threads into the story, and I was on the edge of my proverbial seat for much of the book as Kit faced danger time and again.
Though The Clockwork Wolf isn’t a romance, there definitely are strong romantic elements. Deathmage Lucien Dredmore once again joins forces with Kit on her case (whether she wants his help or not) and he continues to pursue her romantically. I flat-out love Lucien and Kit together. They complement each other in terms of skills, and when it comes to their budding relationship their personalities both mesh and clash in the most entertaining ways. Every scene they’re in together ratchets up the energy level of the book. That being said, Ms. Viehl does introduce a love triangle element, as Chief Inspector Tom Doyle steps up to become a major player for Kit’s affections. I hate to say it, but what happens between Tom and Kit near the end of the story cast a slight pall over my enjoyment of the book. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not overly fond of love triangles, and that should be noted, seeing as my aversion is not one universally shared. But though Ms. Viehl makes it clear why Kit is drawn to her childhood friend, the all-too-perfect Tommy Doyle simply doesn’t carry the same charismatic appeal as the utterly compelling Lucien Dredmore. Lucien emanates power, but has a hint of vulnerability which breaks your heart at unexpected moments. And, as previously mentioned, there’s no duplicating the chemistry he and Kit have; the banter between them is a big part of why I enjoy the Disenchanted & Co. stories so much.
The Clockwork Wolf is a novel that defies strict characterization. It’s steampunk, alternate history, urban fantasy, and romance all woven together to create one engrossing book. If you haven’t read Disenchanted & Co., I recommend doing so before beginning The Clockwork Wolf, or at least reading the glossary. There’s a lot to take in as far as world-building goes, but Ms. Viehl does it so expertly that you don’t really notice, as you’re immersed in Kit’s world. I highly recommend The Clockwork Wolf – it’s an exciting adventure penned by a phenomenally talented author, and I cannot wait to see where Ms. Viehl takes Kit next!
Note: I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.(less)
Cara Elliott saves the best for last with Passionately Yours! The youngest Sloane sister’s book is bright, fun, romantic, and dramatic – everything you’d expect for a hellion poet heroine.
Sparks first flew between Caro Sloane and Scottish noble Alec McClellan in the previous Hellions of High Street book, Sinfully Yours. I had high expectations for Caro and Alec coming into Passionately Yours, and fortunately these two met every one of them. Caro is a bright, intelligent, passionate young woman who finds herself a bit at loose ends now that her sisters have gotten married and are off traveling with their husbands. Luckily for Caro, her new friend Isobel happens to be the sister of the man Caro loves to loathe. Alec is a serious, gruff, politically-minded man who seems to be Caro’s opposite. “Seems” is the operative word, for the two have a lot more in common than either could have imagined. I loved watching the back and forth between Alec and Caro as they reluctantly fall in love with one another. It’s not an easy fall, for Alec’s first marriage has left him wary of trusting another woman, but Ms. Elliott gives these two a satisfying happily ever after.
Passionately Yours follows a bit of a predictable path – there’s the requisite kidnapping, a vaguely Wickham-type villain, and a love-shy hero – but Ms. Elliott makes the comfortably familiar journey an entertaining one. Strains of Northanger Abbey filter through the book as well, which added to my enjoyment of the story. Add in a dash of political intrigue, threats to Caro and Isobel’s lives, and an utterly charming secondary romance for Isobel, and there’s truly nothing not to like about Passionately Yours.
Passionately Yours is a fast-paced, engaging read that’s sure to leave you with a smile on your face. I highly recommend Caro and Alec’s story to anyone who’d enjoy a delightful historical romance.
Note:I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.(less)
The oh-so-proper Sloane sister lets her hellion side out in Sinfully Yours. Once again author Cara Elliott takes a popular romance trope – this time an outwardly proper heroine with a secret falling for a wastrel aristocrat who is more than he seems – and manages to keep if from feeling like a retread. I liked watching Devlin and Anna uncover each other’s secrets, for beneath the masks each shows society the two are quite a bit alike. “The Devil” has a passion for automata, while Anna writes scandalous popular novels. It was fun watching Anna battle her bad case of writer’s block, and I only wish we’d seen a bit more of Devlin the inventor. Still, Devlin and Anna had solid chemistry, even though the sparks that flew between them in the first Hellions of High Street book, Scandalously Yours, seemed a bit dimmer in their own story.
Overall I enjoyed Devlin and Anna together and the pacing of their romance and the mystery revolving around who’s trying to assassinate a German prince kept Sinfully Yours moving at a quick clip. What did pull me out of the story off and on was Ms. Elliott’s writing style. Whether by accident or design, there were an astonishing number of adjectives and a truly alarming amount of alliteration in Sinfully Yours. This may not bother everyone, but it was so noticeable that I had to mention it as it impacted my reading experience. That being said, I liked Sinfully Yours and I’m very much looking forward to reading Caro Sloane’s book, Passionately Yours.
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.(less)
The agents of Nemesis, Unlimited are the people others turn to when villains escape justice. Ada reached out to them for help when a fellow maid was mistreated and was grateful for their help. Now it’s Nemesis who needs Ada. They want her to put her experience as a maid to good use, sending her undercover to gather evidence against an aristocratic couple who managed to slither out of the law’s grasp. Ada’s more than happy to help Nemesis, but she’s not so sure about the agent they’ve assigned to work with her. Six months ago Michael broke her heart when he left her without a word. Now they’re working side-by-side to balance the scales of justice and her resolve to keep Michael at arm’s length is crumbling. Can Ada keep her focus on the job at hand? Or will her attraction to Michael raise the stakes of the dangerous game they play?
Robin Hood meets Downton Abbey in the sultry Winter’s Heat. Zoë Archer eschews the posh world of the upper-class in favor of the “downstairs” folk in this delightful holiday novella. Michael and Ada are both likeable, hardworking characters with a strong sense of justice. Each also comes from the world of service but wants to do more with their life than simply clean chambers and polish the silver. They want to fight for the underdogs, for the people who haven’t the means to seek justice for themselves. It’s Michael and Ada’s passion for doing what’s right that initially brought them together. It’s also what tore them apart. Michael, a Nemesis agent, was forced to abandon Ada after he helped her friend so that he could go undercover on another mission. Though Ada is understandably wary of him when he pops back up in her life months later, Michael is determined to win her heart. Romance against the backdrop of an undercover assignment? Yes, please. Ms. Archer knows how to blend action into a love story and that ability shows in Winter’s Heat.
As a fan of both Ms. Archer’s work and Downton Abbey, I was simply charmed by Winter’s Heat. For readers who haven’t read Ms. Archer’s Nemesis, Unlimted books, Winter’s Heat is a good introduction to the world. All in all, I found Winter’s Heat to be a great story to curl up with on a chilly afternoon.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.(less)
Aida Palmer makes her living as a spirit medium performing in speakeasies, but unlike many others, her performance is genuine. When her boss asks for her assistance freeing bootlegger Winter Magnusson from a haunting, Aida has no idea that the simple task will ultimately change her world forever. For the hex put on Winter is just the beginning, and he needs Aida’s help banishing the ghosts an unknown enemy keeps sending after him. Even the chilling presence of spirits can’t dampen the heat between Winter and Aida. Soon the two are throwing caution to the wind and embarking on an affair that could cost them everything if they don’t exorcise the ghosts of their own pasts and defeat the enemy now targeting them both.
Bitter Spirits is a wildly original paranormal adventure through Prohibition-era San Francisco. Jenn Bennett brings sizzle to her first Roaring Twenties romance, but what really makes Bitter Spirits stand out is the unusual setting, well-crafted mystery, and sly humor.
Aida and Winter are lively, spirited (no pun intended) protagonists who’ll grab your attention from the start and not let go. Each is unusual in their own way, and both are incredibly independent and wary of letting others in. Sparks and delightful banter fly as they circle one another, and when they do give into their desire for each other…get ready for some serious steam. Ms. Bennett doesn’t make their romance uncomplicated, however. Winter and Aida have both been hurt badly in the past and it’s left them reticent to risk their hearts. It was easy to become invested in their love story, and the two of them alone could have made me devour Bitter Spirits.
While Winter and Aida are undeniably the heart of Bitter Spirits, Ms. Bennett’s richly-drawn version of 1927 San Francisco gives the book body and further substance. I loved delving into Chinatown and the surrounding areas and found the setting incredibly unique for a historical romance. As for the mystery of who is targeting Winter…well, let’s just say that I love being kept guessing and Ms. Bennett managed it. I have to give Ms. Bennett high marks for how perfectly that storyline was orchestrated.
I highly recommend Bitter Spirits. It’s impossible not to be charmed by Ms. Bennett’s wry humor and her ability to bring not just Winter and Aida, but the supporting characters to vivid life. The spellbinding setting further added to my enjoyment of Winter and Aida’s book, for it’s wonderfully different. Consider me a Jenn Bennett convert, as I’ll be glomming up her backlist while I wait for the next Roaring Twenties novel, Grim Shadows!(less)
John, the Earl of Wrexham is in need of a wife. Preferably a demure, conventional, well-behaved woman who will raise his son, Scottie, while John focuses on Parliamentary matters. He’s not looking for grand passion and thus he settles on the first woman who meets all his requirements. The only problem is, Scottie can’t stand the “Steel Corset” John’s all but engaged to, and John’s interfering sister seems to agree with her nephew.
Olivia Sloane is everything Scottie’s looking for in a mother and nothing that John wants in a wife. She’s bold, opinionated, and doesn’t give a fig for what well-bred young ladies are supposed to be obsessing over. She’d much rather be writing political columns for the newspaper than pursing a husband, but when she and John collide, sparks fly.
A proper hero and a bluestocking activist? It’s a match made in High Street ;)
Propriety takes a back seat to passion in Cara Elliott’s Regency romp, Scandalously Yours. Ms. Elliott takes the popular romance trope of pairing a hellion heroine with an outwardly reserved hero and gives it a fresh spin. I absolutely adored the Sleepless in Seattle-like plot of Scandalously Yours and found myself utterly charmed by John’s son, Scottie, and his best friend, Lucy. Indeed, I was more taken with the supporting cast than I was with John and Olivia, which sounds odd but didn’t particularly bother me. John and Olivia are likeable, albeit not too memorable main characters. They’re a like-minded duo who have great sexual chemistry but truly fall for one another on an intellectual level first and foremost, which I enjoyed. But it’s Scottie, Lucy, and future Hellions of High Street protagonists Anna, Caro, and “the Devil Davenport” who truly captured my attention in Scandalously Yours.
The story follows a rather predictable route, but it’s a comfortably familiar journey for fans of historical romance. There were a few things that strained credulity in Scandalously Yours (the ease of which Olivia and John carried out an affair under society’s nose, the manufactured kidnapping plot), but overall I really liked the book. Best of all, I’m excited to read the next Hellions of High Street book, Sinfully Yours, for Anna and “the Devil” are sure to be a fantastic pair!(less)
Shifter Jack Talent has been through hell and has come out broken. The only way he knows how to live is to destroy the demons who tortured him. But his actions haven’t gone unnoticed. The Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals — for whom Jack is a regulator — is determined to uncover who has been killing the demons and they’ve assigned Jack to the case. This wouldn’t be a problem, except they’ve given him a partner…and she’s the last woman on earth he would ever want to be paired with.
Mary Chase is his biggest rival in the SOS, but Jack will never let her know that his disdain for her is a lie. The beautiful GIM has captivated him from the moment they met, but should Mary uncover his secrets, she’ll hate him forever. But the longer he’s around Mary, the harder it is for Jack to maintain his distance. And when their case takes an unexpected turn, Jack will have to face his past and a dangerous new enemy or it’ll be Mary who pays the price.
Shadowdance will leave you breathless! Kristen Callihan’s fourth Darkest London novel is a dark, sensual thrill ride that is sure to captivate readers from the very first page.
Jack has come a long way from the charming shifter he once was. His imprisonment and torture in the last book, Winterblaze, has forever changed him. Jack is tormented by his memories and scarred by what was done to him. My heart broke for him and those who love him the most, particularly Ian, the man who is Jack’s father in all ways but biological. The deeper I delved into Shadowdance, the more I wanted to see the caring, loyal shifter find his way back home. Mary is the catalyst for his recovery. She’s got scars of her own and hides her pain well, but there’s a vulnerability to her which made me desperate to see her happy. Despite everything she’s been through (or perhaps because of it), Mary possesses a core of inner strength you have to admire. Combine said strength with her intelligence and spirit and there’s no question as to why I think Mary’s a phenomenal heroine.
As individuals, Mary and Jack are undeniably appealing. Put them together and the sparks practically fly off the page. The two of them have incredible chemistry and their relationship is filled with witty banter, unexpected heartbreak, sizzling heat, and sigh-worthy romantic moments. Ms. Callihan hits all the right notes with these two, simple as that.
Romance and complex protagonists aside, there’s a richness to Ms. Callihan’s world building in Shadowdance that just delighted me as a reader. I never know where Ms. Callihan will take her characters or the Darkest London universe next, but I can have faith that whatever surprises she has in store will come about organically. In Shadowdance, Jack and Mary face off against new supernatural entities, plus we get to further explore beings we already know a bit about from previous books (such as the GIM). I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling the story, so suffice it to say that there’s never a dull moment in this book. Even if you can guess what’s coming, Ms. Callihan will still manage to knock your socks off.
Shadowdance is the fourth Darkest London book and I highly recommend reading this series in order. If you haven’t read Firelight, Moonglow, and Winterblaze, you can probably still follow along well enough, but the book might not have the emotional resonance it would otherwise have. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be happy to see some of their past favorite heroes and heroines play supporting roles in Mary and Jack’s story. The only downside to Shadowdance is that I finished the book desperately wanting to read the next story, Evernight, because man, oh man, does Ms. Callihan lay some intriguing groundwork for Holly Evernight’s book.
It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite Darkest London book because they’re all fantastic. Shadowdance continues Ms. Callihan’s streak of delivering imaginative, emotional reads that will dazzle old and new fans alike. I loved Shadowdance and I cannot recommend it highly enough!(less)
As an agent for Nemesis, Unlimited, Simon Addison-Shawe has perfected the art of going undercover. B...moreBlue Ribbon Rating: 3 out of 5 Original Review Link
As an agent for Nemesis, Unlimited, Simon Addison-Shawe has perfected the art of going undercover. But his latest mission – to help the miners of a small Cornish village – threatens to throw him off his stride. Or more accurately, outspoken bal-maiden Alyce Carr does. He knows he needs to recruit Alyce to help him bring down the corrupt mine owners who are slowly starving their workers to death, but Simon’s usual charm isn’t going to work on the sharp, suspicious Alyce. And if he does manage to convince her to help him, will their mutual attraction throw a wrench into their plans to save the families of Trewyn?
I can always count on author Zoë Archer to deliver a unique historical romance, and DANGEROUS SEDUCTION is no exception. Rather than an heiress or governess of some sort, the heroine of this second NEMESIS, UNLIMITED novel is a sharp-minded bal-maiden with a thirst for justice. Alyce doesn’t need to be swept off her feet, but that doesn’t mean she’s not left breathless by Simon. Simon’s an aristocrat with no desire to lead a pampered life when he could be of use to the world. It’s easy to admire Simon and Alyce for their intelligence and determination to save the people of Trewyn from the increasingly underhanded, abusive dealings of the mine owners and their bullying lackeys. Alyce and Simon fit one another like a lock and key, and watching them fall in love as they work to make the lives of others better was wonderful.
DANGEROUS SEDUCTION is every bit as much a love letter to equality as it is a romance, and I liked that about this book. Yet, while every single element of the story worked for me, as a whole it was missing that coveted spark to keep me engaged. Normally I practically devour Ms. Archer’s books, but I never quite connected to DANGEROUS SEDUCTION. Still, there’s no denying that this is a well-written, original story with clever characters and a strong moral center.
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies(less)(less)
Lady Julia Chandler is tired of waiting for her fiancé to remember to marry her. She’s known Edmund, Duke of Bedford, all her life and thus has no compunction about tracking down the man in his own home and kissing him until he’s ready to post the banns. Fate seems to be smiling on Julia, for on her way to find the “Damned Duke,” she crosses paths with him. There’s just one thing she doesn’t know…
After years abroad, Lord Daniel Bryant has come home to face his evil twin, find out who tried to kill him ten years ago, and uncover the meaning of a cryptic note from his late father’s solicitor. Of all the surprises that await him, none are more shocking than his brother’s fiancée throwing herself at him. When they were younger, Daniel cared for Julia. His affection for her quickly turns into more upon meeting her again. Daniel knows he cannot let Julia marry Edmund, but if he claims her for her own, she might be caught in the crosshairs when Daniel’s unknown enemy attacks.
A dashing hero, a spirited heroine, and a crazed assailant make The Heart of a Duke a lively tale. Victoria Morgan charms readers with her delightful characters even as the story suffers somewhat from extreme predictability. It’s impossible not to like Daniel and Julia, and their romance is both sweet and quietly sensual. Where The Heart of a Duke falls short for me is in the mystery plotline. The answers Daniel returns to England to seek seemed glaringly obvious to me and every twist the story took was so blatantly choreographed that I was left feeling disappointed. As for the story’s villain, sadly Edmund was a maniacal black-hatted type, and I truly wished there had been some shades of grey to his character.
Julia’s family and Daniel’s friends add sparkle to The Heart of a Duke, particularly handsome American Brett and Julia’s sister, Emily. The chemistry between Brett and Emily left me hungry for more, and I dearly hope that Ms. Morgan plans to write a story for these two. If I hadn’t been able to foresee the book’s climax from the beginning, I think I would have adored The Heart of a Duke. As it stands, I did like romance and the tale’s good guys had me smiling more often than not. If Ms. Morgan writes a book for Emily and Brett, I’ll definitely be first in line to buy it.(less)
While his brother, Aidan, has been looked on with admiration, Eamon Evernight has always frightened people with his massive size, flame-red hair, and rumored supernatural abilities. After their father arranges a marriage for Aidan, it’s Eamon who writes his brother’s betrothed at Aidan’s request. What should have been a simple task turns unbearably complex when Eamon begins to fall for the witty Lady Luella Jane Moran. Eamon would never betray his brother, but how can he stand by and watch the woman he loves marry someone else?
Prepare to be utterly charmed by Kristen Callihan’s Entwined! Eamon and Lu will have you smiling, sighing, and falling wholly in love with both of them from the very first page.
Eamon’s a man who is dismissed by many because of his looks. It’s their loss, for he’s a talented, intelligent, and wonderfully giving man who is sure to make you envy Lu her good fortune in capturing his heart. As for Lu, she’s a sassy, fun heroine who – like Eamon – isn’t quite who she presents herself to be. It was delightful watching the layers be peeled back on both of these characters as they fell in love, first in letters, then in person. Ms. Callihan’s writing simply sparkled in Entwined and the interactions between Eamon and Lu gave me that lovely warm and fuzzy feeling.
Though Entwined takes place a few decades before Ms. Callihan’s Darkest London series, the end of the story does tie into the third book, Winterblaze. Eagle-eyed readers might recognize Eamon and Lu’s granddaughter Holly Evernight from Winterblaze, along with Eamon’s inventions which come up in said book as well. If you haven’t read the Darkest London series, you can still read Entwined without feeling lost.
Ms. Callihan never fails to entertain and Entwined is no exception. I absolutely adored Eamon and Lu and I hope we see much more of their family in future Darkest London books!(less)
Hugh Prentice has no patience for theatrics, which should be enough to turn him off of Lady Sarah Pleinsworth. If it weren’t, the fact that she declares she hates him and that he ruined her life would do it. After all, it’s Hugh’s own life he ruined – and the life of Sarah’s cousin Daniel Smythe-Smith – thanks to a reckless accusation followed by a duel that ruined Hugh’s leg and forced Daniel to flee the country. Now that Hugh’s done his best to make things right with Daniel, he’s found himself a guest at not one, but two Smythe-Smith weddings. That alone wouldn’t be a problem, but the weddings have thrown Hugh together with Sarah. The more time the two spend around one another, the closer they become, to the surprise of both. Fate seems to have a cruel sense of humor, for the one woman Hugh shouldn’t want is fast becoming the one to capture his heart.
A brilliant mathematician, an outspoken heroine, and Julia Quinn’s trademark humor all come together to create a charming read. Despite their initial wariness (on his part) and dislike (on hers), Sarah and Hugh are a great match and their chemistry keeps The Sum of All Kisses afloat, even through the surprisingly slow-paced first half of the story. I’m a bit conflicted about The Sum of All Kisses, for as much as I liked it (and I did), the slowness of the first half of the book and the confrontation with the villain at the story’s climax left me strangely hollow. Some of Ms. Quinn’s usual magic is missing from this book. That being said, once Sarah and Hugh begin to fall in love, The Sum of All Kisses takes off and readers are treated to the sigh-worthy romance Ms. Quinn is famous for.
The Sum of All Kisses is the third book in the Smythe-Smith quartet, but it can easily be read as a standalone. Honoria and Daniel (of Just Like Heaven and A Night Like This) do play strong supporting roles, and it was lovely to see both of their weddings. Speaking of family, Sarah’s sisters definitely threaten to steal the show in The Sum of All Kisses. Ms. Quinn had me laughing out loud at the younger Pleinsworths’ antics, and though this series is supposed to be a quartet, I do hope we get to revisit Harriet, Elizabeth, and especially Frances when they’re older. Whether or not we do, I’m eager to see where Ms. Quinn takes the Smythe-Smith family next.
Note: If you also happen to be a fan of Eloisa James, you’ll be happy to learn that Once Upon a Tower heroine Edith gets a nod in The Sum of All Kisses.(less)
By all outward appearances, Felix Rivendale, Marquess of Wrenworth, is perfection. Little does society know that “The Ideal Gentleman” is little more than a carefully crafted façade born from the ashes of pain and loneliness. Felix is content never to let anyone know the true him, until he crosses paths with Louisa Cantwell. The woman is nothing more than a fortune-hunting female, but for some reason Felix can’t seem to get her out of his mind. And the closer he gets to Louisa, the more Felix’s perfect mask begins to crumble in her presence.
Felix will never allow himself to marry a woman like Louisa – a woman he could all too easily fall in love with – but he could solve her financial problems and cure his obsession with her by making her his mistress. Now all he has to do is tempt the all-too-clever beauty to break all the rules in the name of pleasure…without losing his heart in the process.
The Luckiest Lady in London is a darkly seductive story that will have you reading late into the night. If Sherry Thomas’s gorgeous prose wasn’t enough to put her on my list of autobuy authors, her gift for creating complex characters and gripping yet understated drama would.
Felix is exactly the kind of hero I love. He’s a richly-drawn character who’s not exactly likeable in the beginning, but who is deeply compelling. Like Louisa, I found myself caught in his spell, uncertain of what he would say or do next, but desperately wanting to find out. Beneath the surface, Felix is a man whose life has been shaped by the cruelty of his mother and the heartbreak of his father. His upbringing and desire to protect himself from pain lead him to create the persona of The Ideal Gentleman, but make no mistake, he’s still very much a hurt little boy seeking love. The conflicting emotions his feelings for Louisa bring out are a significant part of what makes The Luckiest Lady in London shine. Because of his internal battle, Felix makes more than one mistake with Louisa, but the way in which he redeems himself had me sighing.
I could go on about Felix, but then I’d be doing the story a great injustice, for Louisa is every bit as fascinating a character as he. She’s incredibly intelligent and practical, and circumstances have forced her to be almost calculating in how she goes about securing her family’s wellbeing. Like Felix, there’s far more to Louisa than meets the eye. She’s a passionate heroine whose recognition and acceptance of her own desires make for some seriously hot scenes. And speaking of heat…Ms. Thomas is a master at delivering eroticism without sex. The sexual tension between Felix and Louisa practically made the pages of my book go up in flames. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, these two are a perfect fit. The scenes where they discussed astronomy were every bit as dazzling as their sensual circling of one another. No matter the scene, Louisa and Felix have such amazing chemistry that I couldn’t put The Luckiest Lady in London down.
A perfectly-matched couple, fantastic dialogue, internal strife, character growth, heartbreak, sensuality, and a happily ever after that’s worth fighting for – can you ask for more? This is the first book of Ms. Thomas’s I’ve read, but you can bet that I’m going to be buying up her backlist. If The Luckiest Lady in London is anything to go by, Sherry Thomas is (or should be) a shining star of the historical romance genre. Trust me, you don’t want to miss The Luckiest Lady in London!(less)
Charmian “Kit” Kittredge makes her living debunking magic, but right about now she’d kill for a spell that would drop Lucien Dredmore like a stone. The darkly handsome deathmage has kidnapped her and imprisoned her in his home. To make matters worse, Kit had just begun to believe that she was falling for the wretch.
But nothing is as it seems, and not long after she escapes Lucien, Kit comes to believe he might have been trying to protect her. Mysterious forces are at work in Rumsen and they’ll do anything to eliminate Kit. If she hopes to survive – and save the people of Rumsen – Kit will have to open her mind to that which she believed was impossible. For magic is not only real, but also deadly.
Nonstop action, compelling characters, and a wonderfully clever world? Sign me up! His Lordship Possessed is the enticing second installment to the Disenchanted & Co. series, and trust me when I say that you’ll want to block out time to read this, because it’s not a book you can put down.
His Lordship Possessed starts right where the first story (Her Ladyship’s Curse) ends, and the two parts should be read in order. In His Lordship Possessed, author Lynn Viehl takes readers deeper into the realm of magic, further developing not only the incredible world she has created, but the history of our spitfire heroine, Kit. Kit’s beliefs are challenged in more ways than one over the course of the story. Almost no one is what they seem, and uncovering the layers to Kit’s character – as well as those she’s closest to – made for one compelling tale.
I can’t deny that, of all the characters in His Lordship Possessed, Lucien Dredmore is my favorite. I, like Kit, fell under Lucien’s spell the more I learned about him. Though I won’t spoil what is told, I have a feeling there’s more to learn about the seductive deathmage and I’m looking forward to finding out alongside Kit. And speaking of Lucien and Kit…the chemistry between them is undeniably hot. Their complex relationship makes the pages of His Lordship Possessed sizzle at times and I’m very hopeful we’ll be seeing more of them together in future Disenchanted & Co. books.
As I mentioned before, you should definitely read Her Ladyship’s Curse before beginning His Lordship Possessed, and I recommend reviewing the books’ glossaries if you don’t read the two back-to-back. I’m afraid I can’t reveal much of anything about the plot of His Lordship Possessed without spoiling both stories, and quite honestly, far too much happens in this book for me to discuss without writing a novel-length review. Suffice it to say that Ms. Viehl weaves spellbinding new information into the world of Rumsen as Kit’s initial case develops into something far larger than she ever could have imagined. The story takes twists and turns that had me on the edge of my seat, rooting for Kit to defeat the enemy and save Rumsen.
Lynn Viehl is a phenomenal writer who has created something special in the Disenchanted & Co. series. I cannot wait to see where she takes Kit and her loved ones in the next book, The Clockwork Wolf.
Note:Her Ladyship’s Curse and His Lordship Possessed will also be sold as one book (Disenchanted & Co.) as of January 28, 2014.(less)
Artemis Greaves has a less-than-pleasant position as lady’s companion to her cousin, Penelope. As befits her employment, Artemis fades into the background. No one ever takes note of her…until she steps out of the shadows in a bid to free her brother from his wrongful imprisonment in an insane asylum. Artemis will do anything to rescue her twin, even if that means she risks everything by attempting to blackmail Maximus Batten, Duke of Wakefield.
Artemis knows the truth no one else would suspect: the cold, autocratic duke spends his nights disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, haunting London’s slums to rid the city of its ruinous gin trade and unmask the fiend who murdered his parents. But Artemis gets more than she bargained for when she sets out to blackmail the duke. Now that she has his attention, a dangerous attraction begins to build between the two. Surrendering to her passion for Maximus could take everything from Artemis; her position, her family, her reputation, and – if Maximus’s enemy has his way – her life.
Elizabeth Hoyt proves that still waters run can run very deep in Duke of Midnight. Maximus and Artemis are two people who are so much more than anyone perceives them to be, and only they can see the truth in one another. Artemis wears her companion’s garb like a mask, covering her free spirit and fiery nature. Her growing feelings for Maximus bring her true character to the forefront in an explosion of emotion that’s pretty reckless given the time period. As for Maximus, he’s haunted by the murder of his parents and has become a fairly Batman-like figure because of it. I liked watching Artemis peel back the layers to his character, but though I understood his quest for vengeance when it came to his parents’ murders, I grew frustrated with Maximus’s determination to sacrifice his heart on the altar of the dukedom when it’s clear that no one in his family – dead or alive – would want him to.
One of the things I love most about Duke of Midnight is the chemistry between Artemis and Maximus. Ms. Hoyt doesn’t back down from raw emotion and break-all-the-rules passion. And break the rules Artemis and Maximus do, almost ruining our intrepid heroine in the eyes of society in the process. A hearty dose of danger and the mystery of who killed Maximus’s parents rounds out Duke of Midnight, making it a compelling book on every level. Ms. Hoyt knows how to perfectly balance action, romance, and family drama, making her books impossible to put down.
Duke of Midnight is the sixth Maiden Lane book and the third in the Ghost of St. Giles sub-trilogy. While this book can be read as a standalone, fans of the series need not fear – past heroes and heroines do make cameos. I admit, Godric St. John (of Lord of Darkness) absolutely stole the show for me with only a few lines. More important than past favorites appearing in Duke of Midnight are the secondary characters Ms. Hoyt brings to the forefront. I’m absolutely dying for Ms. Hoyt to write a book for Maximus’s sister Phoebe, as well as a story for the honorable Captain Trevillion, a hero in his own right who almost seemed like the Robin to Maximus’s Batman. And don’t think I forgot about Apollo, Artemis’s wrongfully declared mad twin. Ms. Hoyt has me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happens next with him. I won’t spoil the story by revealing why I’m so excited, but suffice it to say that the epilogue of Duke of Midnight has put Ms. Hoyt’s Harte’s Folly series at the top of my wish list, whether or not it’s part of the Maiden Lane series.
Elizabeth Hoyt is one of historical romance’s brightest stars, and Duke of Midnight shows why. I devoured Duke of Midnight in less than a day and I’m hungry for whatever Ms. Hoyt serves up next!(less)
Like any woman with a Darcy-loving soul, Leah Ramsey jumps at the chance to travel through time and find her true love. Only her trip to Regency England is nothing like she envisioned. Rather than taking tea with the ladies of the ton, Leah finds herself cleaning fireplaces in her position as maid in the Duke of Granville’s household. Not one to be defeated so easily, Leah is determined to catch the eye of the duke and win him over like any good historical romance heroine would. The problem is, it’s not the duke who makes Leah want to strip down to her shift, but the duke’s oh-so-unsuitable valet.
Former boxer turned valet Avery Russell isn’t quite sure what to do when a beautiful woman comes tumbling through a mirror and claims to be from the future. Leah’s like no other woman he’s ever met and Avery can’t resist helping her; even if that means he has to go out of his way to assist her in capturing his employer’s heart. Yet the longer he’s around Leah, the more Avery wants her for himself. He knows he’s not the right man for her – if he gets too close to her, the all-too-dangerous ghosts of his past might decide to use her as leverage against him.
Can a modern woman convince a pugilist from the past that their love is worth fighting for?
Geek Girls Don’t Date Dukes is a delightful story with energy and charm to spare. Author Gina Lamm made me fall in love with her hero and heroine from the first, and because of that I couldn’t put Geek Girls Don’t Date Dukes down.
I loved Leah’s spunky attitude and willingness to work hard to make her dreams come true…even if that work is less than pleasant. Like Leah, I’m a geek girl and a historical romance novel enthusiast, so I understood her daydreams about travelling to the past. Even though you know life wouldn’t be anything like it is for the heroines of our favorite novels, you can’t help but dream that it’d be easy to go back in time and win the heart of a handsome duke. Because I identified with Leah’s fantasies, I had to grin over some of the trials and tribulations a historical romance lover such as Leah faces when she takes a trip to the “real” Regency England (though admittedly Leah’s trials did eventually being to wear, and thus slow the book down).
The only person who’s anything like the hero of Leah’s dreams is a beaten down valet who yearns to be free of his past. Avery broke my heart and made me swoon at the same time. He’s a sexy-as-hell hero who deserves the love and acceptance Leah can give him. Life hasn’t been kind to Avery and though both he and Leah try to resist each other, Ms. Lamm had me rooting for them to beat the considerable odds stacked against them and find their happily ever after together. While I liked that Avery and Leah did eventually get their happy ending, the one thing that kept me from absolutely loving Geek Girls Don’t Date Dukes is said ending. Though I won’t spoil what happened, the ending of the book felt incredibly rushed and left me with quite a few questions. A few more chapters – even one more chapter – would have brought the book to a more satisfying close.
Geek Girls Don’t Date Dukes is the second book in Ms. Lamm’s Geek Girls series, but since I haven’t read the first book, The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl, I can safely say that Leah and Avery’s story can be read as a standalone. Leah’s best friend Jamie, heroine of The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl, is the inspiration for Leah’s adventure and I will definitely be picking up Jamie’s book. I hope Ms. Lamm has more Geek Girls books planned, because I love a good nerdy heroine and Ms. Lamm’s zippy writing style ensures that there are plenty more adventures to be found for geeky women in fish-out-of-water tales.(less)
It’s no secret that Sir Richard Harmsworth is illegitimate. All of society knows it, and many choose to rub his face in the circumstances of his birth. Determined not to let the ton see how much the whispers and outright mocking bother him, Richard wears a mask of rakish gaiety. But one night it becomes too much and Richard decides to go on a quest. He’ll find the lost Harmsworth Jewel – a piece that legend claims signifies the rightful heir – and he’ll rub society’s nose in it. After tracking stone to a small town in Oxfordshire, Richard dons to guise of Christopher Evans and sets out to seduce the stone from its bookish owner. What Richard doesn’t expect when he sets out to find the Harmsworth Jewel is something far more valuable than any gem…
Hiding one’s true nature from the world is something Genevieve Barrett excels at. No one knows that she’s the brilliant mind behind her father’s scholarly papers. Genevieve is content to bury herself in books and she’s planning on breaking away from her current life and making a name for herself by writing about the Harmsworth Jewel. But when the mysterious Christopher Evans shows up, claiming he wants to her father to tutor him in medieval history, Genevieve learns that desire can be even more alluring than the life she has planned out for herself.
Richard never expected to fall for Genevieve, but now that he has, he has to wonder if she’ll ever forgive him for his deception. Then again, if a madman after the jewel has his way, Richard won’t live long enough to find out.
Secrets, seduction, and sparkling chemistry are the name of the game in A Rake’s Midnight Kiss. Author Anna Campbell has once again delivered a richly entertaining tale, complete with beautifully-drawn characters and a romance that’ll leave you smiling.
Richard is a hero you can’t help but sigh over. He’s handsome, protective, and kind, but he isn’t perfect. People have used his illegitimacy as a weapon against him all his life and my heart broke for how scarred he is because of this. Richard’s need to prove himself to society causes him to make many mistakes, but it also leads him to Genevieve, the woman who helps Richard heal his heart. Genevieve is a brilliant woman who’s out of her depth when it comes to dealing with Richard (or Christopher, as she knows him for much of the book). I loved Genevieve’s intelligence and I admired her determination to make name and a life for herself in a male-dominated field. The banter between Richard and Genevieve is lively and incredibly entertaining. I can’t count the number of times the two of them made me grin.
In addition to the romance, the character arcs, and Richard’s quest for the jewel, Ms. Campbell adds a large dollop of danger in the form of an obsessive collector who’s also after the jewel – and Genevieve. This is the one plotline I wasn’t quite so fond of, mainly because I was frustrated by the Barrett family’s blindness when it came to the villain. That being said, I did actually like the darker undercurrents this storyline added overall.
A Rake’s Midnight Kiss is the second book in the Sons of Sin series, but it can be read as a standalone. Richard’s two best friends do play strong supporting roles, Cam in particular. I give you fair warning, however: if you’re anything like me then this book will leave you more eager than ever for Cam's book. A Rake’s Midnight Kiss is very different from the first Sons of Sin book, the gothic Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed. Indeed, it’s actually quite different from a lot of Ms. Campbell’s books, as it’s more lighthearted. As much as I love Ms. Campbell’s darker books (and I do count them among my favorites), Richard and Genevieve’s story was fun change of pace.
Anna Campbell is a master of historical romance and every book she writes has been a winner to me. A Rake’s Midnight Kiss adds to the treasure trove that is Ms. Campbell’s work and I cannot wait to read the next Sons of sin novel!(less)
In Rumsen, almost everyone believes in magic. Not Charmian Kittredge. As the proprietress of Disenchanted & Co., Kit makes her living by solving crimes others claim to be caused by magic, exposing charlatans and dispelling the supernatural. Though she does her best to avoid the Hill — Rumsen’s closest thing to an aristocracy — Kit finds herself among the blue-blooded once more when she takes Lady Diana Walsh’s case. Someone is carving cruel words into the woman while she sleeps, and it’s not long before Kit learns that the attacks on Lady Walsh are only the tip of the iceberg. A foul plot is afoot in Rumsen, and Kit’s investigation into the Walsh family puts her in more danger than she ever could have imagined. And if that’s not bad enough, the mystery of her ladyship’s curse has put Kit firmly in the path of the one man she desperately tries to avoid: darkly handsome deathmage Lucien Dredmore.
Her Ladyship’s Curse is a stellar beginning to the Disenchanted & Co. series! I devoured Her Ladyship’s Curse in less than a day and was hungry to more, thanks to Lynn Viehl’s top-notch world-building and intriguing characters.
At the heart of Her Ladyship’s Curse is Kit. Our intrepid heroine is loyal, quick-witted, no-nonsense, and not afraid to go against the grain. I adored Kit and found her to be both relatable enough to be a window into the world of Rumsen and different enough to make her an appealing protagonist in and of herself. There’s a lot of Kit’s history that neither she nor readers know, and part of the fun of the story is piecing together the puzzle that is her legacy.
Also a mystery is who’s attacking Lady Diana Walsh and why. What seems to be a simple case at the beginning becomes more complicated than one might expect as Kit delves deeper into her investigation. Her questions and her daily life lead her to cross paths with many interesting characters, chiefly New Scotland Yard Inspector Tommy Doyle and the compelling deathmage Lucien Dredmore. Kit has a past with both men, and man, oh man, does Ms. Viehl leave readers wanting more when it comes to these two very different characters. There’s at least a dozen reasons I’m eager to read the second part of this story, His Lordship Possessed, but learning more about Lucien might just top the list.
The Disenchanted & Co. series is set in Toriana, an alternate-history universe where America lost the Revolutionary War. Geographically speaking, Rumsen (where the action of Her Ladyship’s Curse takes place) is roughly equivalent to San Francisco. Ms. Viehl brings Rumsen to vivid life in this story, giving depth to the world she has created. Toriana isn’t simply America with another name. Socially, economically, technologically, and politically, nineteenth-century Toriana is vastly different from the history we know and the changes Ms. Viehl makes have a huge impact on the story. Add in some magic (which exists, even if Kit doesn’t yet believe), and you’ve got a winning combination for an engaging, original world. I was transported to Toriana by Ms. Viehl’s storytelling and though she infused plenty of her world into the story, I still wanted to learn more because I was utterly fascinated.
Her Ladyship’s Curse is a bit of a difficult book to categorize. The best way I can describe it is to say it’s alternate history, urban fantasy, and steampunk all rolled into one, with a dash of potential romance that provides added intrigue and steam. No matter what you call Her Ladyship’s Curse, it’s a story that’s not to be missed. Fair warning, however, Her Ladyship’s Curse is part one of a book and it does end on a cliffhanger. None of the plot threads are tied up by the end of this story and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be desperate to dive right into part two, His Lordship Possessed (available October 14, 2013).
There’s so much I’d love to say about Her Ladyship’s Curse that I simply can’t for fear of spoiling the story. Suffice it to say that Lynn Viehl takes readers on a spectacularly exciting journey you won’t regret taking.
Note:Her Ladyship’s Curse and His Lordship Possessed will also be sold as one book (Disenchanted & Co.) as of January 28, 2014.(less)
Miss Teresa Finch-Freeworth has no desire to wed the suffocatingly pompous local curate. Unfortunately for her, Teresa’s father has all but promised her to the man! What’s a girl to do? Why, hie herself off to London and propose to the handsome earl of her dreams, of course. Only Duncan Eads isn’t as eager to wed Teresa as she is him — in fact, he’s a widower with no desire to ever get married again. Still, Duncan has seven sisters he needs to marry off and no dowry to give any of them, which leads Teresa to strike a bargain with him. If she can find husbands for all seven sisters in one month, then Duncan will marry her. The wager itself may sound calculating, but the longer Duncan and Teresa are around one another, the more intimate their game becomes. And when love enters the mix, both of them have to wonder who will give in first.
How to Marry a Highlander is bright, bubbly, and a whole lot of fun. Katharine Ashe sweeps readers off their feet with a tale of one determined woman who’s not afraid to risk her heart on the chance of finding happiness with the man of her dreams. I loved the vivaciousness of How to Marry a Highlander. The story simply brims with energy as Teresa takes charge of Duncan’s sisters and sets out to find them their own happily ever afters even as she fights for a fairytale ending of her own with their stubborn brother. The romance between Teresa and Duncan was lovely, though part of me felt like the resolution was a bit rushed.
While I liked Teresa and Duncan, I was charmed as all get-out by Duncan’s sisters, some of whom reminded me of Jane Austen’s Bennet sisters. It’s no spoiler to say that most of the Eads women find love, but I almost wish one particular couple — Una and Teresa’s brother Toby — had gotten a separate story, only because I loved them so much that I could read about them for ages.
How to Marry a Highlander is loosely related to Ms. Ashe’s Falcon Club series. Eagle-eyed readers will remember the moment Teresa first saw Duncan, which was in How a Lady Weds a Rogue. Fans of the series will surely enjoy not only the references to that story, but the brief appearances of How a Lady Weds a Rogue protagonists Diantha and Wyn. That being said, you don’t have to have read any of the Falcon Club novels in order to enjoy How to Marry a Highlander. Still, I hope the Eads family reappears in the series because I absolutely adored all eight siblings and the men and woman who love them.(less)
Michael Shield, Marquess of Hatbrook, has a sweet tooth, which is why Redcake’s Tea Shop and Emporium is his favorite place in London. It doesn’t hurt that Michael’s also captivated by cakie Alys Redcake. Alys has no interest in anything other than decorating cakes and working at her family’s business, but that doesn’t stop Michael from pursuing her. The attraction is mutual and when Michael decides he needs to marry, he can’t picture anyone other than Alys as his bride. Can he convince her to be as passionate about a life with him as she is about the cakes she bakes?
Don’t start The Marquess of Cake when you’re hungry, or Alys’s creations will have you hunting for pastry in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth like Michael, The Marquess of Cake is still delicious thanks to Alys and Michael’s romance.
Alys is a woman who was raised to work hard and her family’s rising fortune has turned her world upside down. Alys is happy being a spinster and decorating cakes, but her father is determined she marry and there’s nothing she can do to change his mind. I appreciated Alys’s passion for her work and it saddened me a bit that conventions of the Victorian era dictated she had to give a lot of that up, even though Michael does come up with a compromise for her. The titular marquess is a handsome hero with a taste for Scotch trifle. What was most interesting about Michael (to me) was that Heather Hiestand made him hypoglycemic. The way Alys came to recognize his health problem (though obviously it was never named or formally diagnosed, given the time period) and how she and Michael ultimately addressed it made The Marquess of Cake unique, in my opinion.
Aside from the romance, The Marquess of Cake has family drama aplenty. I admit, I wasn’t very fond of Alys’s sisters, particularly toward the end of the book, and I really had to question Michael’s judgment given his choice of friends. I was, however, interested in Michael’s sister, Beth, Alys’s twin brother, Gawain, and her cousin, Lewis. All in all I found The Marquess of Cake to be a highly entertaining read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the Redcakes series.(less)
Scandal has long followed Lady Lydia Rothermere’s family, which is why she tries desperately to follow society’s rules to a T. Now engaged to a man perfectly suited to her needs, Lydia can see her life laid out before her. If part of her rebels at the notion of living without passion, well, then she can at least find comfort in the fact that she is upholding her family name. Then a man from her past appears, threatening to derail Lydia’s plans.
Simon Metcalf’s name is synonymous with sin and for ten years Lydia has tried to forget her love for him…and the way their desire for one another had nearly ruined her. Simon’s return to London sends Lydia’s emotions into a tailspin and before long she’s forced to make a choice: stay safe and marry a man who’s all wrong for her or court scandal by risking her heart for the only man she’s ever loved.
True love can’t be denied in Days of Rakes and Roses. Lydia and Simon are a couple whose burgeoning romance was cut short once upon a time by Lydia’s father, and since that fateful day Lydia has tried to be the model of propriety. Needless to say, she’s thrown for a loop when Simon reinserts himself into her life right before her wedding to another man. I love Lydia and Simon together, yet even though it’s clear they’re a far better fit than Lydia and her fiancé, she can’t simply throw caution to the wind and break her engagement. Anna Campbell makes Lydia’s dilemma compelling, and though I won’t spoil the story by revealing the obstacles in Lydia and Simon’s path, I will say that I avidly read Days of Rakes and Roses, wanting to see how things would work out.
Days of Rakes and Roses can be read as a standalone, but it is part of Ms. Campbell’s Sons of Sin series (chronologically it comes before the first book, Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed). Lydia is the sister of future Sons of Sin hero Camden, and eagle-eyed readers might remember Cam briefly mentioning Lydia and her “new husband” in Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed. Cam plays a large supporting role in Days of Rakes and Roses and I loved learning more about his character, though now I want to read his book more than ever. As for the other Sons of Sins heroes, Jonas is briefly mentioned and Richard, hero of the upcoming A Rake’s Midnight Kiss, dazzles whenever he appears on the page.
Anna Campbell is a supremely talented author whose books never fail to entertain. Days of Rakes and Roses is a compelling story fans of historical romance are sure to adore.(less)
When “Diamond” Jack Dalton escapes from prison, he has only one thing on his mind: vengeance. He’s d...moreBlue Ribbon Rating: 4 out of 5 Original Review Link
When “Diamond” Jack Dalton escapes from prison, he has only one thing on his mind: vengeance. He’s determined to kill Lord Rockley, the man who murdered Jack’s sister, but when he steals into the inn where the nobleman is rumored to be staying, Jack finds three strangers instead. The trio is part of Nemesis, Unlimited, a group determined to deliver justice at any cost. They’re after Rockley as well, but to bring the man down they need Jack’s help. Jack has no interest in Nemesis’s mission, but the beautiful Eva Warrick soon manages to change his mind. Eva’s like no other woman Jack’s met before and before long he begins to fall for her, knowing there can be no future for them.
Author Zoë Archer delivers a high-stakes tale of vengeance with SWEET REVENGE. I was captivated from the first page by Jack’s action-packed escape and the Leverage-esque nature of Nemesis, Unlimited. Even when the pulse-pounding action slowed down, I remained engrossed in the story, thanks to Jack, Eva and some very intriguing secondary characters.
Jack is a powerful presence in SWEET REVENGE and I truly enjoyed the fact that he’s rough around the edges and quite different from the hero norm. He’s an escaped convict and a former bodyguard who has been told so often that he’s worth nothing more than his muscles that he believes it. One of the biggest pleasures in reading SWEET REVENGE was seeing Jack come into his own. I loved that Eva saw ALL of Jack, that she believed in him and wouldn’t let him devalue himself. And speaking of Eva, she’s a classic Zoë Archer heroine — smart, strong and dedicated to her cause. The building sexual tension adds a nice sizzle to SWEET REVENGE and the overall love story is wonderful.
The mission to bring down Rockley adds further action to the story, but it’s truly the characters themselves who fascinated me. From Eva’s fellow Nemesis operatives — particularly Simon Addison-Shawe — to Charlie, an acquaintance of Jack’s whom I just adore; Ms. Archer has me hoping for many more NEMESIS, UNLIMITED books. SWEET REVENGE is a highly entertaining book and I can’t wait to read the next NEMESIS, UNLIMITED story, DANGEROUS SEDUCTION.
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here courtesy of Romance Junkies(less)
Princess Emma of Rosewald knows it’s her duty to marry for the betterment of her kingdom, but the thought of marrying a stranger twice her age and settling down to a boring life is almost too much for her to bear. Before she goes through with the marriage, Emma wants just one week of freedom, one week to do everything she’s ever desired. But her impulsive trip to London takes and unexpected turn when she’s rescued by the dashing Earl of Lyndhurst.
Former naval captain and newly minted earl Nick Gregory doesn’t know much about the beautiful woman who crosses his path, but it’s clear the so-called governess needs his help. He only plans to offer her shelter, but soon he’s squiring Emma about town and falling for the headstrong young woman. When Emma disappears from his life, Nick knows that he can’t simply let her go. But what will happen when he discovers that his governess is really a princess in disguise?
The Princess and the Peer is a bit of a difficult book for me to review. On the one hand, I enjoyed the beginning, which had a Roman Holiday-esque flavor. On the other, I simply did not have the ability to suspend disbelief to the extent I would have to to enjoy this tale. Emma is a princess who is understandably self-centered (she is a sheltered princess, after all), but she acts before she thinks constantly, which grated on my nerves. What really bothered me, however, was that she doesn’t act a bit like the governess she’s pretending to be. That Nick didn’t even question her cover story made me doubt his intelligence and the way in which he and Emma behaved all throughout The Princess and the Peer was so contrary to their positions and the time period that I was constantly drawn out of the story. Add in a truly dizzying number of adjectives and the awkwardly manufactured plot and I’m afraid this book just wasn’t the one for me.
There were some bright spots in The Princess and the Peer that kept me reading the story. My favorite character was Emma’s friend and fellow princess Ariadne. Though I’m not sure I’ll be reading the second Princess Brides book (Her Highness and the Highlander), I’ll definitely be picking up the final story in the trilogy, The Trouble with Princesses, for I cannot wait to see what trouble Ariadne gets up to with Emma’s brother, Rupert.(less)