Publisher: Zebra Publish Date: May 1st How I got this book: ARC from the author
HELL TO PAY
Leo Bailey may have been born to poverty, but ruthless business sense and sparkling intelligence have made money worries a thing of his past. It doesn’t hurt that the Devil himself has granted Leo the ability to read the future.
But even infallible predictions are a déclassé commoner’s trick to some members of the ton. They’ll never see Leo as their equal—one good reason to prove himself their better. And a noble marriage is an obvious start.
Bookish Anne Hartfield, daughter of a baron, is hardly the flashiest miss on the marriage market. But her thoughtful reserve complements Leo’s brash boldness in an attraction neither can deny. A whirlwind courtship sweeps Anne and Leo into a smoldering marriage before either can believe their luck. But happiness built on Leo’s dark powers can’t last. Soon, Anne will have to save her husband…or lose her heart… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I was lucky enough to be able to review the first book of Ms Archer’s Hellraisers series Devil’s Kiss last year and I really enjoyed it. As a result when we were offered the opportunity to review Demon’s Bride I leaped at the chance. Once again Ms Archer sucked me in from the very start. You do need to read Devil’s Kiss first because that provides information about The Hellraisers, their goals, how the initial bargain was struck and the potential consequences of that bargain. Demon’s Bride begins shortly after the tumultuous events end in book one.
I have read about arranged marriages, betrothals from birth, and marriages for a price but I have never seen a wedding feast where that was so explicitly known between bride and groom yet the majority of the guests were oblivious. The feast and the night that followed seemed to set the tone for their relationship. He kept his relationship with the other Hellraisers and their common bond a secret but was completely open about his drive for financial success and how he planned to use the wedding feast invitation as a way to soften up some of his potential targets. While Leo could have claimed his rights as Anne’s husband the very first night instead, after noticing her trepidation was growing he decided to seduce her over time and not press until she was ready.
I really enjoyed how both Leo and Anne decided to make the best of what they had and to make something good of it. Their conversations about growing up, their goals and how Anne volunteered to do things she really didn’t enjoy for the purposes of helping her husband were wonderful to see. This was a breath of fresh air compared to the majority of the historical that I have read where the burden of making the marriage work falls mainly on the wife. Yet despite their growing bond the specter of Leo’s bargain with the Devil and his secrets hangs over them. As thoughts of Anne started distracting Leo from causing the financial downfall of other men on the ‘Change, the Devil’s representative started working harder to gain control of Leo’s soul. Ms Archer kept the action going because while Leo was dealing with the Devil, the ‘Change, his plans with the other Hellraisers to hunt down and destroy James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, the hero of Devil’s Kiss Anne was receiving warnings about her husband and his friends by a female ghost and by the selfsame Whitney.
It was really intriguing to watch both Anne and Leo grow and struggle emotionally throughout the book. They dealt with doubts about each other, doubts about the relationship they had been building, and doubts about their individual self-worth. Each had to individually confront their fears and decide which path they were going to take towards their future. Some rather interesting events occurred at the end, which I think will lead to some rather tense times for the remaining Hellraisers.
Ms Archer provided me with action, high stakes, a sweet romance, and some serious curiosity about what happens next.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Feb 5th How I got this book: ARC from the author
He’ll protect her with every vicious bone in his body.
During her ten years at the prestigious Waywroth Academy, Sera Miller clung to a strict code of propriety to shield herself from rumors that she isn’t an orphan at all. She’s a bastard. Now she wishes she had never allowed her friends to talk her into snooping into the mysterious source of her tuition.
Her benefactor isn’t the unknown father she dreamed of one day meeting, but Fletcher Thomas—underworld tycoon, gambling den owner, and a man so dangerously mesmerizing that he could spark the scandal Sera has worked so hard to avoid.
Fletcher is only two steps away from leaving the life of crime he inherited from his father. First he plans to join an aboveboard railroad consortium, then claim the one thing his ill-gotten gains have kept safe all these years—Sera.
With every wicked caress, Sera fights harder to remember society’s rules and reject the painful memories his touch resurrects. Accepting Fletcher’s love means accepting her past—a risk too great for a woman who has always lived in the shadows. No matter how safe she feels in his arms.
Warning: This book contains a do-gooder heroine, an accidentally charming hero with tendencies toward caveman-itis, inappropriate household décor and fabulous sex against a wall.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
According to one version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a trope is a common or overused theme or device. Common or overused they might be most of us have several we enjoy reading or watching. One of mine happens to be that of the unknown benefactor–provided they aren’t a sleaze-ball but the hero. So when I saw the blurb for Wayward One my inner book heart gave a jump for joy. My inner book heart was even happier when I finished reading because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sera and Fletcher had spent most of their lifetimes trying to make up for their past or to change their present so the past would not matter in the future. Sera was hoping that she could find answers to her past which would wipe out the stigma of not knowing who her father was to the girls of polite society. Fletcher wanted to distance himself from his father’s legacy and find legitimacy in polite society, and the final touch would be marrying Sera.
Fletcher was trying to do the right thing. He rescued Sera from a pretty bad life on the streets and set her up to receive an education and polishing fit for any society lady. He also had a plan to become a legitimate member of society but until he could establish a legal base for his income he couldn’t completely separate himself from the underworld. Fletcher was so incredibly patient and loving despite the world he grew up in. He didn’t know how society did things or what a loving relationship looked like but he knew what it should be, and that he would try to get it. Fletcher also tried to keep his part of the underworld as clean as possible but he still had to demonstrate that he was not weak to those around him. Fletcher’s growth was more of understanding the role society’s rules played and how you could be yourself while still appearing to conform. I was most impressed by his dedication to his plan and to Sera. He wanted her in his life but he wanted her happiness even more.
Sera epitomized staunch propriety. The other students at her boarding school were cruel as only girls can be to another girl. In her defense Sera pulled the rules and trapping of society around her so no one could tell from the outside that she did not have a respectable background. After finding out that her unknown benefactor was not her unknown father, and certainly wasn’t a noble man, she was determined to make the best of her education which meant staying away from Fletcher–until she realized that Fletcher was equally determined. I absolutely loved it when Sera turned the tables on him and moved in to uphold her side of their bargain. Sera did have a long way to go emotionally before she was ready to admit that society’s rules didn’t have to go down to her very drops of blood.
Brown did a wonderful job of developing two characters who appeared so very different on the outside and yet fit together so nicely. They both wanted someone to love them unconditionally which, given society at that time, could only come from someone who had a common background. About 80% of the way in, I had to tweet that Brown was trying to rip my heart out. I felt so bad for both Fletcher and Sera as they struggled to deal with what they had, what they thought they should have, and how it should be expressed. Without spoiling anything, I think Brown provided a very satisfactory groveling scene.
Sera and Fletcher were wonderful to read. Their interactions with each other and the supporting characters were very telling about who they were on the inside. They also had some truly lovely chemistry together. It was very enjoyable to have my favorite underused trope, in an historical, with unusual characters and a great groveling scene. I did figure out who the bad guy was rather early on but Brown included some other enjoyable twists that I did not expect. Overall I enjoyed reading Wayward One. I hope that Brown provides stories for Sera’s two girlfriends because they are rather unconventional themselves.
Alexander has a way of ripping my heart out with her writing. I can't read her often because I get so invested in her characters and they experience sAlexander has a way of ripping my heart out with her writing. I can't read her often because I get so invested in her characters and they experience such hardship. Unlike a romance that I know will have a HEA these characters usually don't have a HEA. Some of them live, some of them die and they are all permanently changed from their experiences. The chain that brought this entire book together was that of a friendship/sisterhood so unbreakable that it changed history in more ways then one for the characters. The thought of such a bond and how it is innocent at first but then could become heavy and painful as people change from what they could have become to what they became.
I want to go back and read the first duology I read by her and then dive into her world weavers series but I need some recovery time....more
Where did you get the book: E-arc from author/publisher Publisher: Pocket Star Release Date: Out now
From the author of Flawless and Starlight comes an emotional, sensual romance set during World War II about a female British civilian pilot and the American paratrooper medic who opens her heart—only available as an eBook.
After the War took the lives of Lulu Davies’s parents and her fiancé, she promised herself she would guard her heart carefully and concentrate on her great love—flying the biggest and best airplanes in the sky. Lulu is a pilot in the British civilian air force, ferrying planes around Great Britain and keeping her eye on a coveted spot in a training program for world-class pilots. She’s perfectly content to strive for greatness in the skies, and dance with a few GIs on the way.
Brawny, quiet American medic Joe Weber signed up with the paratroopers to escape his checkered past; he’s hoping that jumping out of planes and patching up soldiers will earn him respect and a hopeful future. Joe’s first real test of medical skill is on a pilot whose plane takes a hard landing in a training field; after rushing to the crash scene, he is stunned to come face-to-face with a gorgeous Rita Hayworth lookalike. And when the two cross paths at a dance hall a couple weeks later, he can’t resist the urge to find out more about this spirited, dark-haired beauty.
Their flirtation breaks all of Lulu’s rules, but dance by dance, week by week, walk by walk, she finds herself falling in love with this honest, vulnerable man on the run from his demons. But as Lulu and Joe’s undeniable attraction gains momentum, World War II steadily intensifies toward D-Day. The lovers only have one night together before Joe is transported to France for the Battle of the Bulge, where his skills and his instinct for survival will be pushed to their limits. Lulu distracts herself with flight school and the friendships of her colleagues, but she can’t get the handsome medic out of her head. Only time and hope will tell if her love will return unharmed from War, and if the two will be able to overcome their pasts to form a beautiful life together in peace-time. *Blurb taken from Goodreads*
Has: When I first heard that this would be set during World War 2 and featuring a pilot heroine and a medic hero, I firmly put this book on I.MUST.WANTZ list. I love unusual or different settings especially for historical romances, which I am finding a bit burned out on the moment. But His Very Own Girl, really helped to immerse me in a world that changed so many people’s lives and made such a huge impact world-wide that still resonates today.
E: I am a sucker for historicals. I am also a sucker for women being able to move outside their traditional roles and not just succeed but excel. I am also a sucker for a happy ending. Lofty’s new release, His Very Own Girl seemed like it could hit all of my soft spots. Throw in the time frame, the almost role reversal, and the location and I was certainly looking forward to reading this. I am very glad to say that I was not disappointed with what I read. Lofty provided me with everything I mentioned above and more. While the romance was real she also did not stint the darker side of life in their time and situation and what effects those events had past the moment.
Has: I agree! I loved the opening scene where Lulu, the heroine first meets Joe during an emergency crash landing, and their subsequent connection between them is established. I also liked they both had jobs that was unusual or rare for the time, while Lulu was a pilot volunteer for the British civilian air force, Joe was restricted to being a medic although he faced frontline fighting his duties was to care and give immediate aid for his fellow soldiers. Carrie Lofty really shines a light on the impact that gender roles and the impact this had on people at the time especially the emotional and physical repercussions of experiencing mid-war. I also didn’t realise how much change and transition happened during the war such as women’s roles and in the case for Joe, racial integration which was illustrated in a scene during a dance which was interesting and shows how much things will change post war. For me, this was such a vibrant, raw and realistic setting and Lofty really brings this to life.
E: That was a wonderful meeting! I loved how “luck” played a role with not just their initial meet cute but their second meeting as well. Both Joe and Lulu had significant events in their pasts that were very important in the shaping of their relationships and their jobs. Joe, from the Mid-west had grown up thinking it was the man’s job to protect, honor, cherish and all that those three things entailed. He paid the price for his beliefs and now finds himself not as a fighting soldier but as a medic soldier not allowed to carry a weapon yet attracted to a woman who was a pilot supporting the war effort. Lulu had lost her family and her fiance in tragic and sudden events so she was determined to do everything she could to support the war effort. That included being a pen-pal and friend to the soldiers she met while holding herself at a distance from them emotionally. Watching the two damaged people fall for each other as well as grow into their jobs and have to deal with all the accompanying baggage was just wonderful. The characterization and world-building that Lofty provided became a rich full image playing in my head.
Has: This is why it was so rich, and full of depth. Watching Lulu and Joe trying to get accustomed from the danger, and instability due to the war and its repercussions, was heartbreaking and emotional and oh so real. I definitely felt that I was sucked in the atmosphere and tone of a besieged Britain facing the big battle of D-Day. And it really added a lot of emphasis and significance to the romance for me, because so many people underwent the same experiences, heartbreak and angst. So it added a lot more poignancy and feelings to Lulu and Joe’s love story. Although I did get frustrated at times, especially in the first half of the book, where they were both so tentative and reluctant. But nonetheless I did understand why, because of their fears of losing each other as well as their stubbornness with each other especially that of Joe’s feelings about Lulu’s love of flying and her profession.
E: There was a very sharp clash between societal expectations, necessities of the time, and the difference between doing your job and seeking to become the best at your job. Joe had to deal with all of those as he struggled with his attraction to Lulu. He also had deep rooted fears based on events in his past that made it very hard for him to trust that the reality of a person could live up to his imagination. Like Has said that emotional conflict made this really hit home for me. I also felt for both of them as they suffered through the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while trying to build and maintain their relationship. It was great to see that both Lulu and Joe had to compromise about their fears regarding the complete person they fell for. The touch about the strain between different races as well as officer and enlisted ranks also provided depth to Lofty’s world.
Has: His Very Own Girl, is a book, filled with rich detail, but it is more than just the historical setting and premise. It really explores what a couple would have gone through at the time, and it wasn’t easy or romanticized as many Hollywood movies would suggest. Both Lulu and Joe go through an emotional and harrowing gauntlet, but as they fight and support on the war-front, they also fight for each other, and that is beyond romantic. Although I did find the first half frustrating and slow at times, it was real and raw and I loved that they both decided to commit to each other. The second half of the book, was my favourite part of the book, because they were mostly separated, this is where they discovered the depth of their feelings for each other, and the letters they share was filled and was conveyed was so much longing, I could really feel it.
I really hope we get more books like this because the romance was so authentic and real, and I was totally sucked into their story. This was a sweeping romance that was filled with rich details and nuance and it was ultimately romantic. Carrie Lofty always delivers on something unique and magical in her historicals, but for me this was a winner.
I give His Very Own Girl a B+
E: How could I forget the letters? They were so wonderful to read and kept their relationship going despite the distance and rough times. I also liked how they found ways to write without having their letters blacked out so they were able to have a complete conversation through writing. The first half was much slower and full of initial discovery. What would it take for Lulu to decide to break her own rules? What would it take for Joe to believe? Even though this is fiction it made me admire the men and women who fought, survived, and then remade their lives during that horrendous time even more. When I finished reading I had the feeling this provided me with the meaty flavor of the historicals I have loved before. I give His Very Own Girl an A...more
So much fun to read! I was slightly worried because Ms all of the other books by Ms Kennedy that I have read were fantasy or paranormal. This one is aSo much fun to read! I was slightly worried because Ms all of the other books by Ms Kennedy that I have read were fantasy or paranormal. This one is a straight historical romance but the same things I loved in her others I loved here. Between the world building, the hilarious characters and situations not to mention the supporting cast I found myself anxiously waiting to see what was going to happen next. The heroine certainly didn't fit the typical mold of rich American girl going to England nor was the hero the rake prowling gambling dens and avoiding marriage minded mothers.
I really hope she continues to write historicals as well as her fantasy and paranormals. ...more
Publisher: Book View Cafe Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: Purchased
“When you have the Gift, your life is not your own.”
I was born to a family that harnessed the winds and could read futures in fire and water. Yet my mother kept her secrets.
Then the werewolf came, sharing his madness.
Now it’s my turn to keep secrets…. ********* Descended from powerful magic-users, but ignorant of her heritage, young Alfreda Sorensson learns magic and wisdom from her extended family in an alternate early 1800s Michigan Territory. This blurb came from Book View Café.
I have been relatively vocal about saying that if an author has a website, they don’t need to have a blog just a place for me to find out what is coming out next, what is out now, what was out in the past and where I can buy them. However, if an author does have a blog one of the things I love is seeing what they have read and enjoyed. I was browsing through Laura Anne Gilman’s blog about five months ago when she had a book recommendation post. She was recommending Night Called and made mention that she felt it belonged on the shelf with The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I you have been following us for a while you know that I absolutely LOVE Robin McKinley and tend to re-read both The Hero and The Crown and The Blue Sword on a regular basis so that statement sent me on a clicking frenzy to get to the blurb. I really don’t know why I bothered to read the blurb because the combination of who recommended it and the recommendation itself I knew I was going to buy it. Life happened to get in my reading way so I didn’t manage to read Night Calls until after the New Year when I was dealing with the post holiday slump. After I finished reading it I knew three different things. First, I really hoped she Kimbriel was writing more Alfreda stories. Second, I HAD to review this and spread the word. And finally Gilman gives good book recs.
Night Calls is like an epic fantasy/alternate historic world coming of age with a heroine as the central character. Alfreda lived in a rather small town and dealt with the usual trials and tribulations of growing up and trying to fit in while being slightly different. Then after the visit by a werewolf Alfreda learned she was part of a world that she didn’t know existed. This was a world well known to her family, but her mother’s fears about the very real dangers kept Alfreda ignorant until it became obvious she was in even more danger with her lack of knowledge. Not only was she in danger, but for some reason her town seemed to attract a growing number of creatures or supernatural entities who thought of humans as prey.
Told from Alfreda’s perspective as she learns about this new aspect to hear world and the role she can play in it I found this story an absolute delight. Alfreda did not have all the answers, nor was she all-powerful but she was determined to learn and do the best she could to help deal with the problems. In addition to learning about her abilities, Alfreda was still dealing with school, first crushes, and adults disregarding her thoughts because of her age. I loved the combination of challenges both in her day-to-day life and in her training/apprenticeship.
Kimbriel also created a very interesting world. The merging of magic and supernatural with rustic historic living and superstition was very deftly done. I enjoyed the hints that not all supernatural was evil and sometimes what appeared evil was created by humanity itself. The supporting cast was also evenly balanced, they weren’t all good, bad, or indifferent but appeared to be fully fleshed out. I also think several other families from Alfreda’s town have secrets of their own I am looking forward to discovering. While the focus of the story is Alfreda, her training came from both men and women, which I loved because it showed gender wasn’t a limitation.
Night Calls was a wonderful reminder of why I read epic coming of age fantasy for years and still hope to find that sense of adventure and wonder. I will also agree with Gilman that Night Calls is one I plan to re-read right along with McKinley’s stories. I am looking forward to Alfreda’s continuing adventures.
*Happy sigh* Goodman's westerns are just so good. Vivid characters and settings. Complex problems that aren't solved easily. Can't wait for the next o*Happy sigh* Goodman's westerns are just so good. Vivid characters and settings. Complex problems that aren't solved easily. Can't wait for the next one....more
Publisher: Book View Cafe Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: Purchased
“…we are all Death’s pupils, we practitioners—students of the great healer.”
When magic broke free in my blood, I chose to follow our ancient family path and become a practitioner. I’m learning to heal, and to protect innocents. I dip into minds, stalk vampires, and set wards by the light of the moon. I can hear the children of the night calling.
But there are other families…and other paths. Families with twisted ambitions and frightening powers. On the frontier, folk whisper that one clan is the most dangerous of all.
Chief among those dark sorcerers is a man known as the Keeper of Souls.
And now he wants to keep mine. This blurb came from Goodreads.
Yesterday I reviewed the first book in this series, Night Calls, and I am very happy to report that Kimbriel made me almost miss my bus stop at work because I had to read just one more page. Alfreda was well on her way learning the arts of a practitioner when she discovered that not all who could see the world’s extras delighted in them for the same reasons. As a result, she learned some very interesting lessons and kept me extremely captivated.
I loved seeing Alfreda back visiting her family and friends for a little while. Just as she had changed, she learned her family had as well. Watching her take on the role of instructor to her younger brothers while ignoring one of the side effects of her growing power was extremely cute. I thought the way she patiently walked the boys through figuring out what they should do and why boded well for her future training others, provided she survived to that point.
Speaking of lessons, Alfreda’s formal training continued to increase in complexity. I had the sense that while there was a particular order to the lessons, life’s circumstances were the ultimate decider once the apprentice achieved a solid foundation. Kimbriel did a great job of showing how every piece of information and lesson was critical. Not just practitioner and woodcraft lessons, but also those about human nature in general. The importance of loyalty, sheer determination, common sense, and a willingness to seek allies all came in handy. I loved how Alfreda was forced to use everything she learned throughout her life if she wished to survive her encounter with the dark sorcerers.
Kimbriel avoided the sophomore slump with Kindred Rites, and if anything, managed to ensnare me deeper in this series. Alfreda’s growth and the slow reveal of things left hidden earlier kept my curiosity peeked. The inclusion of two entities as prominent characters added both a bit of levity, and a sense that nature does have an order and will accept assistance in maintaining that order. I thought the final decisions Alfreda made regarding the survivors of her encounter with black sorcerers both emphasized her basic character knowledge, and set up some very interesting potential situations for future installments.
Ladies and Gentlemen, It is time for another retro romance review. This is one that I read shortly after I discovered The Bride. In fact it was the second adult romance I ever read. I had to be a little more careful when I was reading this one because it wasn’t on the bookcase, it was in a cubby in my parents’ headboard of their bed. This meant one of them, I was sure it was my mother, was reading it. And if you look at the cover, I wasn’t sure I was ready for them to see me reading something like that. So I could only read it when my mom wasn’t home. My reading was further complicated because I had to ensure it looked exactly the same each time I was forced to pause so I couldn’t use a bookmark. Then I had the fear that before I finished reading the book would disappear. Lucky me I was able to finish because it has become one of my favorites. As a funny sidenote I was talking to my mother about romances the other day and she insists that before I started pushing to her she had only read romances by Julie Garwood so I don’t know if she ever finished it or if she was even the one reading it…
Publisher: Avon Books Publish Date: 1982 (Out Now) How I got this book: Borrowed from my mother’s bookshelf, now purchased
Debt-ridden Avery Fleming is determined to find a wealthy husband for his beautiful daughter, Erienne, so he can pay off his mountain of debts. Erienne, however, has refused every one of the old men her father has picked for her consideration. When she meets dashing American merchant Christopher Seton, she cannot deny her attraction to him, despite the fact that he wounded her brother, Farrell, in a duel, crippling him for life. However, when Seton asks for Erienne’s hand in marriage, both she and her father refuse him. Instead, Erienne’s father auctions her off to the highest bidder–the mysterious Lord Saxton, a man whose horrifying scars are hidden by a mask and cloak. Erienne comes to know her husband as a kind and gentle man, but when Christopher Seton returns to town, she cannot fight her attraction to him. She finds herself torn between her duty to the man she has wed and the call of her heart. This blurb came from Goodreads.
I have continued to read and enjoy Ms Woodiwiss’ books but this is one of a couple that I read often. When I was re-reading for this review I realized that Ms Woodiwiss, while writing in the era of “bodice rippers” took some different tactics. Her heroine was rather strong-willed and intelligent. She didn’t sit around waiting to be rescued but tried to rescue herself and make the best of her situation. She was also extremely loyal. Sometimes I thought she was too loyal but her actions made sense given her character. Even when she was married and her husband, Lord Saxton, had a monstrous appearance, Erienne continued to remain faithful. I do not tend to like infidelity so I loved it when then heroine decided that she was going to consummate her marriage despite her fears of his physical deformities. Yes she was encouraged by the behavior of a certain individual but she made the choice to go to her husband. It would have been so easy for Erienne to take the other route so the small snippet below is just one of the many scenes that I love with her.
“Tis Erienne, milord.” She loosed the belt and dropped her robe, then leaned a knee upon the bed. The waiting silence continued, and drawing up her other knee and climbing onto the mattress, she sat back on her heels. Her voice trembled as she spoke her reason for coming. “My lord, I am less afraid of what you are than what I might become I you do not make me your wife in full. ‘Tis my plea that you take me to you so no further questions might be involved in our marriage.”
I didn’t fall in love with the hero, Christopher Seton, for quite some time. First I had my doubts as to how he was going to become the hero. Erienne’s father forbade any interaction between the two since he was the person who wounded Farrell and being a loyal daughter Erienne placed all the blame for her current list of very undesirable suitors on him. Then Erienne was auctioned on the block and married to Lord Saxton so her father could pay his outstanding debts, some directly owed to and others bought by the same Christopher Seton. Prior to the marriage auction, Mr. Seton made a habit of not just pursuing Erienne but also rescuing her from events that might not have happened just yet if he hadn’t been involved. I liked him for all of that but then after the marriage when he continued his attempts to seduce Erienne, which is when I decided that he needed some redemption before becoming a worthwhile hero. Lets just say that Ms Woodiwiss was able to make me believe in Mr. Seton as a hero.
Ms Woodiwiss didn’t just deal with the romance but she also included murder mysteries, revenge, highwaymen, a mysterious black rider, lecherous lords and ladies, missing tax revenues and tally books, brutal deaths, unlikely heroes, and gorgeous sounding clothes and jewelry. All of this is woven throughout the story of the romance and also provides some of the impetus for the actions of a few key individuals. The blending of the different threads still seems seamless as I re-read it mumble years later. It still provides me with hours of entertainment since this was also written when novels were expected to have a much longer word-count then now. When I finished reading once again I regretted the shift away from large books because the authors could have a romance span months or even years without losing the reader due to skipped scenes. The characters and settings could also be fully developed without cheating one or the other. I never thought that the story suffered due to a shorter word count.
A Rose in Winter doesn’t include any of the balls, Almacks, stale lemonade, rakes who are reformed by the heroine that can appear to be overused in today’s historicals. If you haven’t tried Ms Woodiwiss yet and you are looking for something that doesn’t fit the formula I highly recommend this one.
Publisher: Pocket Star Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: Purchased
By the king’s edict, Alec Kincaid, mightiest of the Scottish lairds, must take an English bride. And Jaime the youngest daughter of Baron Jamison, is his choice. From his first glimpse of the proud and beautiful English lady, Alec felt a burning hunger stir within him. This was a woman worthy of his fearless warrior’s spirit. And he aches to touch her, tame her, possess her…forever. But with the wedding vows, Jamie pledges her own secret oath: She will never surrender her love to this Highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned her against — an arrogant, brooding scoundrel whose rough good looks and seductive embrace fire her blood. But when strange accidents begin to threaten Jamie’s life and an old rumor that Alec killed his first wife spreads anew, something far more dangerous than desire threatens to conquer he senses. This blurb came from Goodreads.
The Bride is one of the first two adult romances I ever read and they started me on the path I haven’t left yet. I can still picture seeing the pinkish cover on my parents’ bookshelf with this beautiful girl in the perfect white dress. I was curious so I picked it up and started reading and I couldn’t stop. The start of the book with a funeral and the thoughts of the murderer set it up perfectly. Then jumping straight from that to the rather dysfunctional Jamison family I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. As events continued to unfold I was introduced to what I later found to be trademark Ms Garwood skills. Her heroines had character, they were spunky, determined to get their own way, yet still soft and feminine. They refused to settle for what society dictated they should and in refusing they were able to make a positive change for their family and others around them. They were able to soften the toughest, gruffest, most uncivilized men and yet allow them to still be men, not emasculated former men. They never depended on being rescued by someone else but they never felt threatened by accepting help either. Their heroes knew that they had found a partner who could and would take care of home and hearth while the men-folk were away fighting.
Jamie didn’t fit into any stereotype that I knew of at the time. She could ride a horse, shoot a bow and arrow, was known as a healer and practically held her father’s estate together. She was always willing to help yet when her future husband told her to wear white for their wedding she showed up in black and I died laughing. Along their journey to the Highlands both Jamie and I were introduced to Scottish culture and how beautiful the unspoiled wilderness could be. Yet hidden in that same beauty were roving bands of marauders and deadly feuds between different clans. I thought I could hold a grudge, boy was I wrong. “She started three wars the first week.” The amazing thing was that she, Jamie, did not intend to start any of them, she was just trying to find her place as the wife of the laird. Along the way she had to deal with wild beasts, the murderer, the direct politics of that era, mistrust and a need to feel valued.
Alec and his people also had to make adjustments as Jamie started incorporating some English ways into their well-established life. It was a lot of fun to see Alec deal with realizing that Jamie didn’t fit into what he thought was the typical Englishwoman mold. She kept surprising him with her ideas, resourcefulness and refusal to let anyone walk all over her. Every time Alec thought he had Jamie figured out, she would present him with yet another facet of her personality.
I have found that The Bride is one of those historical romances whose magic continues to live on every time I re-read it. As a result Ms Garwood has provided me with the standard for which I measure all other historical romances.
Publisher: Gallery Books Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: Print ARC from the publisher and digital ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has been estranged from his mother for most of his life. When his mother’s new companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart, writes to tell him that his mother is seriously ill, he goes home. But when he learns that the lovely widow tricked him in order to effect a holiday reconciliation, he refuses to stay—unless she meets his “terms.” Somewhere between trying to seduce the beautiful Camilla and struggling with the cruel memories of his childhood Christmases, Pierce discovers that not only does forgiveness go two ways, but that love can blossom even in the coldest of winters. This blurb came from Goodreads.
E: I have enjoyed reading Jeffries’ previous Hellions of Helstead Hall books and have reviewed a few earlier: Book 4, To Wed a Wild Lord and Book 5, A Lady Never Surrenders. When I found out that she had another book in that same series coming out I was looking forward to reading it. When we were given the opportunity to review ’Twas the Night After Christmas I was really excited. I was hoping that Jeffries would provide more unusual heroines and heroes not to mention amusing interactions between them. I certainly got that from Jeffries along with some poignant moments that had me reaching for a tissue.
Joy: Every year, I look forward to putting a few holiday themed books on the TBR pile. I know we haven’t yet celebrated Halloween, but for me, Christmas can’t come soon enough. This story has all the elements you would expect in a Christmas story: family secrets, hurt feelings, tragic childhoods and underneath the anger and pain, a longing to belong and be accepted. It reads well as a stand-alone novel for those not familiar with the series.
E: Like Joy said this installment works well as a standalone. The characters from the previous five books are only mentioned tangentially so if you decide to give this a read you don’t have to worry about starting at Book 1, The Truth about Lord Stoneville. There were several things I enjoyed about this book. One was exactly how stubborn and determined all of the characters were. Both Camilla and Lady Devonmont each had secrets that they were not going to share. Not out of a desire to hurt anyone but in an attempt to prevent hurt or to protect someone. Even if those secrets could have made life easier for them in certain ways. I also liked how despite Pierce’s anger and negative impression of his mother he came running when he was told she was seriously ill. Despite his later words, his actions in making the trip said a lot about his basic character. The supporting cast also played an important role and while some had limited page time they filled in my mental picture of the area and how things worked away from the bright lights and late nights of London.
Joy: Yes, I liked that about Pierce as well. In fact, I enjoyed all the characters in this story. As we first learn about Pierce as a young boy during what will become a pivotal life event for him, his hurt and anger is completely understandable. We think we know what another person’s motivations are because of the hurt we experience only to learn we know nothing at all of what another person was going through. In the absence of any other information, Pierce comes to the only conclusion he thinks is possible regarding his mother and it certainly seems like he isn’t far off the mark. But people keep secrets for many different reasons even if the keeping of them often causes a different kind of pain then they hope to prevent. Although he tries to inure himself from the rejection of his family, he doesn’t let that stop him from doing right by his mother when he is older.
I really enjoyed Camille’s character. Through her, we are able to see multiple sides to this family and realize that not all is as it seems. I enjoyed the banter between her and Pierce. Some of the dialogue left me giggling:-) Camille’s ability to cut through the surface posturing, get at the heart of a matter and speak plainly about it provided a healing balm to Pierce, even if he didn’t realize it at the time. The development of their relationship felt real to me – even if it happened quickly – and the confines of propriety must certainly have chafed them both.
E: Oh I loved the banter! I think my favorite ones were the conversation when Camilla tries to convince Pierce to stay for one night and then the conversation later that night. I still laugh thinking about it. Those two conversations really set the tone for them I think. Even though Pierce was basically a good person there were times when the person he tried to become in the past would come out and I just wanted to give him a shake or a toss in a watering trough. Thankfully he was able to overcome those lapses and try to fix what he had done wrong. As much as they frustrated me those moments made Pierce a more rounded character and therefore his growth through the novel believable.
Camilla made her mark on me when she refused to give up on the possibility of reconciliation between Pierce and Lady Devonmont despite the number of times both told her to leave it alone. It takes a certain amount of caring and determination to continue to persist. She also had her flaws including being tempted by things that society said she not show any interest in. Despite that temptation and the fact that she did do some things that were not acceptable she refused to take the easy way and sacrifice the chance of a future for her son. As with Pierce, Camilla’s flaws made her likeable as a character.
Joy: Camille and Pierce really did give each other as good as they got! I liked how she would take his asshatery and deflate it. I think the author did a wonderful job of showing the development of each character as the story unfolded. We were given glimpses into each character’s thoughts and psyches which helped to bring the characters to life. I didn’t expect to feel sympathy for his mother, but as we came to know her better I could understand how she made the decisions she did. A woman in the 1800’s really had limited choices.
E: Like usual in Jeffries’ stories they tend to contain at least one twist towards the end sometimes more. ’Twas the Night After Christmas contained two twists that I caught. Don’t worry I will not spoil them for you *grin*. The first one involving Lady Devonmont wasn’t quite what what I expected but I think it fit very nicely and as Joy said I became a lot more sympathetic to her character as the book progressed even before the twist. The second one I think almost seemed like cheating one of the characters out of their individual hard work. To me the book seemed stronger without that. Despite my dislike of that particular twist Jeffries provided me with an entertaining, humerous, not too sappy holiday historical of a different flavor. I enjoy how she uses different settings and characters without relying on what appears to be the standard mix of balls, vouchers, riding in Hyde Park etc. I give ’Twas the Night after Christmas a B
Joy: I see what you mean about that second twist. On the other hand, this is a Christmas story after all and those seem to come with an “all wrapped up in a pretty bow” kind of ending this one being no exception. But, yeah, it was a bit over the top. What did trip me up however were some of the slice-of-life scenes that seemed to slow the pace a bit and left me skimming. Fortunately, there were only a few of those and the sparkling banter, the developing relationships and poignant scenes more than made up for it. Overall, ’Twas the Night after Christmas was a delightful story and an easy pick for the holiday season. I give ’Twas the Night after Christmas a B
Entertaining read. I really liked the drive of the heroine and how she never compromised her standards despite everything the hero offered. The hero wEntertaining read. I really liked the drive of the heroine and how she never compromised her standards despite everything the hero offered. The hero was fun too. He had to change his ways and was forced to learn the hard way that all women can't be bought regardless of how much easier certain aspects of their lives could become.
I hope Young continues writing because I look forward to what she had coming next....more
Publisher: Harper Collins Publish Date: May 29th How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is…
But she’s managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge — in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he’s the first man who has truly tempted her, and it’s getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.
Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger…
But that’s not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family’s annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she’s a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending… We got this blurb from the author’s website here.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
E: Daniel was a pleasant change from the Regency “Rake”. He has spent the last several years of his life paying for an accident and staying away from his home, his family, in fact away from most civilized areas always looking over his shoulder. As a result he never had a chance to develop into a rake. I have to admit that I liked the change. While a beta male, I really enjoyed that he just as determined to gain his goal only using different techniques. His scheming to encounter and spend time with Anne was very sweet to see. He also stepped up to the the hero when the chips were down and Anne needed his support.
Lou: I’m a big fan of the beta males. They bring a completely different dynamic to books, and it does make for a great change compared to the mighty Duke. Daniel was such a tease with Anne, and despite her not wanting to have anything to do with him, he never gives up in his pursuit of her. I did at times think that Daniel was a little selfish in his dogged pursuit because he was in such a higher class of position, I felt that Anne at times was pushed by Daniel and the power balance was unequal.
MinnChica: I adored Daniel. He was so laid back and easy going. He hasn’t lived the best life, and I think that adds to his overall charm. He wasn’t jaded, but he was conscious of what is truly important in life, and despite the time he spent away from his family, he loves them and cares deeply for them. I have to agree with both E and Lou, this story was definitely a change from the typical Regency romance novels. But personally, I thought it was great, and Daniel was a big part of that.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
E: Anne also was living a life not of her choosing due to some events in her past. However, she is certainly making the best of her situation and has found a rather enjoyable job. Or at least her charges keep life from being boring. She managed to maintain contact with her sisters which I thought was wonderful. She also didn’t let her circumstances keep her from enjoying life while maintaining the reputation required for her positions. She was really strong mentally and willing to do whatever she had to protect those she cared about. Anne didn’t let the betrayal of those who should have protected her sour her viewpoint on life. I loved her interactions with Daniel and her Smythe-Smith charges. They were never boring or cruel which I thought was just wonderful.
Lou: Anne is a heroine that survives no matter what has been thrown at her, and the way she made herself a life shows her resilience. Anne’s first introduction to Daniel was classic Julia Quinn, and the banter was fun and romantic. Like E, I loved her relationship with the youngsters. Julia Quinn always makes family a strong vocal point in her book, and little Frances was a doll.
MinnChica: Anne, that poor thing. She really did the best with what life handed her. Poor girl was cast out from her family after making a silly mistake, she was forced to work for a living, and yet she preserved. She made lemonade with the lemons in her life, and she did it with a smile on her face. Had I been in her shoes, I would have been a hot mess. Her relationship with the young girls was so great, and I loved that she really acted as more of an older sister than a governess to the girls. Anne certainly had a heart of gold!
3. Favorite Scene
E: Oh I had several scenes that found me laughing out loud as I was reading them. I think I am going to go with the discussion around the breakfast table that ranged from kippers, mints, math, the Isle of Man, Shakespeare, Smythe-Smith original plays and unicorns. The cross topic conversation with Daniel trying to keep up while also verbally backing Anne into a corner with the unknowing assistance of the three girls was priceless. It reminded me of conversations my sister and I have when my brother is around and he would be left wondering where the conversation went.
Lou: To be honest, I didn’t really have a favorite scene with the book. I did enjoy the humour of the interactions between Anne, Daniel and the little ones. Especially the play and the unicorn.
MinnChica: I’m having a hard time picking my favorite scene. There were some really great moments, the breakfast conversation that E mentioned was hilarious. I loved when they were all re-enacting Harriet’s play. It just went to show how much value Quinn places on families, and that is a big part of why I love her books and writing so much.
4. Dislike about book
E: I wanted something permanent to happen to the villain. I wanted to see Anne reunited with her sisters. I wanted to see Anne’s parents get what was coming to them too. Basically I think I wanted to see Anne get more of her own back along with her HEA.
Lou: Whilst I liked Anne and Daniel, I felt that the story itself seemed quite generic. Whilst the romance was sweet, it also felt predictable and not new and fresh. The villain of the piece also felt like a cartoon character and not particularly scary. I know that a lot of Julia Quinn novels are light hearted, but this one seemed overly so.
MinnChica: I have to agree with both E and Lou on this one. I too wanted Anne to get more. I wanted to see some page time with her sister, I wanted to see how her parents would deal with her marrying into a higher station. I wanted to see the villain go through heck of a lot more than he did, especially after going so bat-sh*t crazy. And while this was a very simple and unique Quinn story, it also seemed as if it just skimmed the surface of what it could have really done.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
E: This was vintage Ms Quinn, humor, meet cutes, strong, spirited but not annoying heroine. This is a feel good book and despite my complaints above, which were really slight niggles, an enjoyable read. I hope that Daniel’s best friend gets his HEA because he has suffered just as much as Daniel and Anne. I know I can always count on Ms Quinn to give me an entertaining read. I give A Night Like This a B.
Lou: This was a nice pleasant read with a sweet romance, but it’s one of my least favourite novels by Quinn. I wanted more depth and impact from the romance, and the overall story seemed quite generic. The charm seemed to be missing from the romance. All in all, I give A Night Like This a C.
MinnChica: All in all Julia Quinn remains my all time favorite Regency romance author. I love her voice, the importance she places on families, and her ability to write engaging characters that pull me into the story and keep me turning the pages. I hope to see more of Daniel’s friends, especially Hugh. I can’t wait for the next Smythe-Smith book. I adore the premise and the girls are all so charming in their own silly way. I give A Night Like This a B ...more
Publisher: Harlequin Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the publisher via Netgalley
Sussex, 1824 Waking up in a stranger’s bed, Henrietta Markham encounters the most darkly sensual man she has ever met. The last thing she remembers is being attacked by a housebreaker—yet being rescued by the notorious Earl of Pentland feels much more dangerous!
Since the cataclysmic failure of his marriage, ice has flowed in Rafe St. Alban’s veins. But meeting impetuous, all-too-distracting governess Henrietta heats his blood to the boiling point. When she’s accused of theft, Rafe finds himself offering to clear her name. Can Henrietta’s innocence bring this hardened rake to his knees? This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I have read and enjoyed several Harlequin Historicals over the past couple of years so when I was browsing on Netgalley and spotted this one I decided to take a look. After reading the blurb and the short snippet provided I went ahead and requested it. Rake With a Frozen Heart gave me an entertaining read that didn’t quite fit the mold of most historicals set during this time period. I found myself looking for and enjoying those differences. I am not a history buff so any possible inaccuracies didn’t bother me at all.
Henrietta’s entire character provoked me into laughing out loud several times as I was reading. She was delightfully blunt and opinionated and had this habit of almost talking while she was thinking so nothing was hidden. Her naiveté was explained rather nicely as we learned about her upbringing so it fit. I didn’t have any real quibbles about how someone could have remained so completely innocent. One of the things I liked is that unlike the typical governess heroine she didn’t encounter her hero at a house party nor did she meet him when he rescued her from the unwanted advances of another nobleman but after their initial meeting she unknowingly stowed away on his phaeton as she tried to escape to London and then their adventure really begins.
Rafe was also something else. I didn’t completely buy his altruism in helping Henrietta discover the truth about the stolen jewels but given his complete desire to avoid his grandmother’s pressure to re-marry I could see that he welcomed a distraction. He was quite a contradiction on one hand bound and determined to do the right thing but refusing without refusing to re-marry and produce an heir. Possessing the reputation of a rake and yet hurt when called one by Henrietta. Ever the fashionable gentleman but heavily involved in activities no proper gentleman should ever contemplate.
Watching the interaction between Rafe and Henrietta was a lot of fun. Their circumstanced in London allowed the slow growth of their relationship with each other and made it believable. The stark contrast between their sexual tension and the innocence with which Henrietta viewed London was enjoyable to read. Rafe did not keep his attraction to her a secret but he also resisted and would stop their physical exploration long before Henrietta considered really stopping.
As enjoyable as reading Rake With a Frozen Heart was I did have a few issues with it. Occasionally Ms Kaye did use a turn of phrase that would pull me from her world as I puzzled over the words trying to create the image I think she was trying to portray in my head. I was also able to predict their reunion scene which did work but like I said earlier I enjoyed the differences from typical historical romances. The other thing that I think detracted is the amount of information covered in the epilogue. I typically enjoy epilogues but this was almost like a solution to keep from going over the word count while still providing closure to the reader. I wish some of it had been integrated in the novel itself. Despite those I did this and recommend it as a different flavor on the 1800’s romance provided you don’t require historical accuracy.
Publisher: Harlequin Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
SPOTTED: LONDON’S FAVORITE FALLEN HEIRESS, TAKING UP WITH THE ROGUE MARQUIS!
Amongst the gossip-hungry ton, no name has become more synonymous with sin than that of Lady Caroline Rider, cast out by her husband and disowned by her family. Rumor has it that the infamous “Caro” is now seeking oblivion in the opium dens of London!
There’s only one man who can save her—notorious rake Sebastian Conway, Marquis of Ardhallow. Soon Caro is installed in his country home, warming his bed, but their passion may not be enough to protect them once news of their scandalous arrangement breaks out…. This blurb came from the author’s website.
It has been a while since I have read a historical by Kaye so when I found this up for review I decided to give it a try. I typically read the Author’s Note, Letter from the Editor, and the dedication that the author or editor includes because it seems to get me in the mood for the story. I found the Author’s Note for this one to be very interesting and focused my attention looking for some of the things Kaye mentioned. I also learned this was part of a series, which I missed when I selected it. I have to admit that I have very mixed feelings about this story because on one hand, the heroine did things I really don’t agree with but on the other hand Kaye was able to make me believe in Caro and her situation.
The story started off with a rather dramatic scene and then proceeded to alternate between significant events in the past that led to the opening scene and events that occurred after that opening scene. I found the flashbacks were very distinct so it was easy to tell the difference between past and present. The scenes in the past were just that, scenes, but they allowed me to get a feeling for who Caro was and a sense of how she ended up in her current position. Let me just say that I am very glad I am not bound by the same particular rules of society that Caro and Sebastian faced. Towards the end of the book I was very glad to see some of the same joy of life return to Caro that she had during a few of the earlier flashbacks.
Sebastian wasn’t without his own issues. He spent most of his life as a disappointment to his father. Not on purpose at first but after a while he started to live up or down to expectations. This reached the point so that even when he was on “his best behavior,” it was only so he could lull the suspicious and then proceed to flaunt society’s rules. As the story starts, he has replaced his dead father as the Marquise of Ardhallow and due to their enmity, the only things he focused on were things his father didn’t seem to value. Yet, unlike any other society man, he rescued Caro, encouraged her to find her strength, and even tried to help her mend some of her fences.
I have to include some spoilers for this book to explain my mixed reaction.
Caro was married to someone other than Sebastian for the entire book. She had separated from her husband, was disowned and kicked out by her father because her husband spread the rumor that she was cheating on him. Caro left because she was finally fed up with her husband’s constant mental, verbal, and physical abuse. She was innocent of sleeping with the particular man her husband said she did but she had slept with someone else during their marriage. END SPOILER
I enjoyed watching Caro and Sebastian come to the realization that they were in love. I also liked watching them decide to face and then deal with the issues of their past. I could also understand a certain choice that was made towards the end of the story given their circumstances and the lesson that Sebastian learns. However, what they did during the middle of the story I had some issues with. Their actions pushed one of my DNF buttons. Having said that, Kaye managed to do such a great job setting up the characters that I was fully invested in my hopes for happiness that I didn’t stop reading. I guess this goes to show that I should stop saying I will never read x, y, or z because sometimes a book comes along that proves me wrong.
As I said in the beginning, this book left me with mixed feelings. I really enjoyed certain aspects and yet I had a hard time accepting other aspects. Caro and Sebastian were likeable, if flawed, characters. It was interesting to see how the pressures of society contributed to those flaws and actions that neither character would normally have taken. I was particularly glad to see that Kaye made the exposure of those flaws cost something but I also felt bad for the suffering that her characters experienced. As Kaye discussed in her Author’s Note, this story had a much darker tone than the others I have read by her. I give Rumors that Ruined a Lady a B-...more
Publisher: Putnam Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the Publisher
Evangeline Ames has rented a country cottage far from the London streets where she was recently attacked. Fascinated by the paranormal energy of nearby Crystal Gardens, she finds pleasure in sneaking past the wall to explore the grounds. And when her life is threatened again, she instinctively goes to the gardens for safety.
Lucas Sebastian has never been one to ignore a lady in danger, even if she is trespassing on his property. Quickly disposing of her would-be assassin, he insists they keep the matter private. There are rumors enough already, about treasure buried under his garden, and occult botanical experiments performed by his uncle — who died of mysterious causes.
With Evangeline’s skill for detection, and Lucas’s sense of the criminal mind, they soon discover that they have a common enemy. And as the energy emanating from Crystal Gardens intensifies, they realize that to survive they must unearth what has been buried for too long… This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I have been an Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle, Jayne Ann Krentz fan since I discovered each name separately and was shocked years later to discover they were the same person (yes she has written under other names too). Each had their own particular writing style and era in which their stories were set. While I enjoy each pseudonym I started with Amanda Quick so opening up a new Quick story is like settling down to chat with an old friend.
I know she will give me a spunky heroine who doesn’t tend to limit her interests to those designated as appropriate for women. I will have a heroine who is intelligent, stubborn, and things a lot of societies trappings are ridiculous. She will have some sort of emotional support whether from family, friends, or servants and she will drive the hero absolutely crazy because she refuses to think and behave in a manner predictable to him. I will get a hero who is usually misunderstood by society in general, possibly emotionally scarred by a woman and as a result avoids anything to do with the women of society. They also tend to have connections with some unsavory or outlandish characters. On top of characters whose interactions I thoroughly enjoy I also know I will get a mystery, adventure and maybe a suspicious death or two or three…
I am happy to say that Ms Quick once again met my expectations. She starts off with a bang as Evangeline, the heroine, awakens to discover someone has invaded her rental cottage and she flees into the night. As that incident continued to unfold the first suspicious death that the reader is aware of occurs. The reader is also introduced to Lucas Sebastian, the hero, and his right hand man Stone. Neither of them fit the typical mold for a well-to-do landowner and his man.
As I continued reading, the relationship between Lucas and Evangeline started unfolding. Both had different expectations once they realized a mutual attraction existed and that expectation really didn’t follow the usual gender split. Even though I understood where their opposing viewpoints came from I found it amusing as they maneuvered through those obstacles. The introduction of Evangeline’s two friends as well as Lucas’ half siblings helped to flesh out the primary characters and also caused me to guess who the books after Crystal Gardens will star as their main characters. The local villagers were also a treat to see as they provided a sense of normalcy and grounding to the story.
While Lucas and Evangeline were struggling with their feelings towards each other they continued working together to determine the reason behind some of the suspicious deaths. From the start of the book it was evident that Lucas suspected a connection between his investigation into his uncle’s death and the event that caused Evangeline to temporarily move to the country. I liked how Ms Quick drew several different people into the investigation and also how she handled the link without taking the easy way out. Any further details on that would result in a major spoiler.
All in all Ms Quick gave me a satisfying comfort type of read. I had romance, mystery, and some paranormal elements all nicely entwined. I am looking forward to the next books in the Ladies of Lantern Street series.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
CAN A COMMON CAUSE
Alyce Carr has no time for the strange man in her little Cornwall village, no matter how breathtakingly handsome he is. Life in Trewyn doesn’t allow for much fun—the managers of the copper mine barely provide the miners and their families with enough food. Outsiders are suspect and flirts are unimaginable, but Simon Sharpe is as keen as his name…and Alyce can’t ignore him for long.
LEAD TO A SHARED PASSION?
As the founder of Nemesis, Unlimited, Simon Addison-Shawe is well accustomed to disguise and deceit. Yet he’s not prepared for Alyce’s dogged defense of her people and the injustices the copper mine has dealt them. With Alyce’s help he can change the fate of an entire town, and convincing her to join him is only part of the thrill. Together, they ignite a desire in each other much too powerful to deny. But at what cost? This blurb came from the author’s website.
If you do a search on The Bookpushers for Zoe Archer’s name you will find that she turns up on a fairly regular basis for a really good reason. She writes entertaining stories set in worlds with a twist. Not only does her settings usually contain a twist of some sort but the individuals who populate her worlds are also rather unusual. Unusual in the sense they don’t exactly fit amongst others of their peers but they provide me with hours of enjoyment. I was aware that Archer had started a new series, and I had the first one, Sweet Revenge on Mount TBR so when I saw we were hosting her (see today’s early post) I was incentivized to move it up to the top of the pile. I did this for a couple of different reasons; first I was expecting it to be good; and second, I wanted to review Dangerous Seduction at the same time as her guest post. I knew from reading other series written by Archer that the stories tend to build on each other, therefore I would catch the subtle nuances in later installments if I started with the first one. After reading and enjoying it I couldn’t wait to get started on Dangerous Seduction.
Set in an impoverished Cornish mining town, Archer explored some of the ugly sides to industrialization. Nemesis, Unlimited received an anonymous letter detailing some of the abuses and pleading for help. In response Simon, born and raised a nobleman, went undercover as a mechanic. During his very first day on the job he saw several examples of abuse. One of which was the use of company script for pay instead of cash. Company script could not be exchanged for cash because it was not backed by a hard currency thus keeping the miners and their families dependent on the company. In addition to the negatives, Simon also noticed Alyce, a villager who managed to maintain her drive for a better life.
Alyce entered the scene arguing with the mine managers as she tried to convince them they needed to dispose of the rotting butter in the company store and replace it with fresh so the miners and their families could eat a wholesome meal. The managers refused but she didn’t let that stop her from continuing to make efforts to benefit the villagers’ lives. She was attracted to Simon but she wasn’t going to jeopardize her livelihood, not with some newcomer who on his very first day caught the attention of the local law enforcement.
I really enjoyed watching Simon gain Alyce’s trust. While she was busy viewing Simon with suspicion he was also looking for an ally, someone who the villagers trusted so he could act for justice. She was so suspicious that she followed him one night because he really wasn’t acting like a typical mine employee. Her conduct that night convinced Simon he might have found the key with which to rally the miners. Alyce discovered that there was a lot more to Simon then she thought and that there might be a chance to make life better. I thought it was great that she didn’t immediately trust/believe him when Simon mentioned why he had come to their village despite his actions. Throughout the story Simon demonstrated that he enjoyed Alyce’s will and independence. He never made it seem as if the was unable to do something because she was a woman. Alyce repaid his trust by doing her part and more during their scheme. She also liked him because of who he was as a person, not because of his birth position.
I knew I was enjoying the story but I did not realize exactly how invested I was in the action portion until I took a deep breath at the end of a particular scene and noticed Archer had steadily built up the tension. Even with that small release, the tension continued to build as the stakes rose higher and higher. I thought it was a sneaky touch when the mine situation reached its climax but I still didn’t know how Simon and Alyce were going to resolve their relationship. By spreading the resolution to the mine conditions and the romance across time, Archer reminded me that while one provided the opportunity for the other they were not completely interdependent.
With Dangerous Seduction Archer has once again created a series whose installments I will continue to enjoy. Her characters are unique and memorable. The world-building in Dangerous Seduction is detailed and varied. She also combines romance with action in just the right amounts so I am invested in the story as a whole, not one particular aspect.
So much fun to read! This was recently re-released as an e-book. The growth between the characters. How hard the heroine worked to obtain her goals. HSo much fun to read! This was recently re-released as an e-book. The growth between the characters. How hard the heroine worked to obtain her goals. How the hero transformed from a cad into hero material. The heart wrenching past both of them suffered and how it intersected. The glimpse into how horrible people can be to each other in pursuit of what they think is the truth. And then the happy ending and how it was actually relatively feasible....more
The third book in this series was released by Samhain a couple of weeks ago. I was unable to find the first two books so I turned to twitter. TwitterThe third book in this series was released by Samhain a couple of weeks ago. I was unable to find the first two books so I turned to twitter. Twitter responded and the author sent me the first two books. Thank you!
When I finished reading this one I immediately picked up the second one. Very interesting set-up. I loved how plucky the heroine was and how she decided to seize the opportunity to experience life. Some of the themes might make people uncomfortable and there are some stereotypes but they fit with other books I have read set in that era.