Review: A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen

Reviewed by Jen

Kelly Bowen is becoming one of my go-to authors for historical romance. I think this one is my favorite from her to date! It’s got an independent heroine and a hero who has pulled himself up from the streets to financial success. August is shrewd, but he has so much to learn. And thankfully, not only is Clara there to teach him, he’s not too stubborn to grow.

These two have a history. Many years ago, he asked her to dance on a dare, but was shocked by how captivating her found her. Now, he finds himself back in her orbit because she has something he wants. And sentimentality won’t stop him from doing what needs to be done.

Clara runs a school for young ladies. She doesn’t know it, but August has purchased the building she uses to teach her classes. Not only that, he has his sights set on buying her family’s shipping company too. Lucky for him, his younger sister enrolled in her summer session in the country, giving him an excuse to ingratiate himself into Clara’s life. [Read more…]

Review: The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy

Reviewed by Jen

I have to say that I was very curious about what kind of heroine Jepp was going to be. One of Queen Ursula’s Hawks, she has been part of the Twelve Kingdoms since the very beginning. The only thing we really knew about her was that she was a great scout out and really, really enjoyed having sex. Unfortunately for her, she jumped into bed with Harlan’s brother, Prince Kral, without understanding the consequences. In the Desnarian culture, there is no such thing as a one night stand. Either you become a man’s wife, his concubine, or his bed slave; Jepp has no interest in being any of those things. Therefore, it was totally awkward when Kral found her in bed with another guy. Even more awkward than that, was when she was tapped to go back to his home country with him to be a spy for Ursula.

All of that is backstory. This book follows Jepp as she and Kral sail into Dasnaria and attempt to navigate this society that oppresses women in ways Jepp has never even imagined. For goodness sake’s, this culture doesn’t even let women wear shoes. And Jepp is this fiercely independent, firecracker of a woman. She is a fish out of water in every way possible. [Read more…]

Review: Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Reviewed by Jen

I had fun with this first installment in Eloisa James’ new Wildes of Lindlow Castle series. It is light and funny with a wide cast of characters and a premise that could’ve gone either way for me.

Lord Alaric Wilde has spent the past several years adventuring. Not only has he traveled far and wide to exotic lands, he has chronicled his journeys in a series of books which have taken society by storm. And if that weren’t enough, his stories coupled with his dashing good looks and noble birth inspired a play about him which sells out every night.

Unbeknownst to him, he has become a celebrity of sorts. Women keep the drawings of him on their walls. They lined up outside of the boat when he returned home. They make a pilgrimages to his childhood home. He was completely unaware that any of it was happening. But now that he is finally home, to celebrate the engagement of his brother Roland, he’s getting a rude awakening. [Read more…]

Review: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Reviewed by Jen

One of my favorite tropes in romance is with a lower class hero/higher class heroine… especially when the lady in question isn’t a snob. That was one of the reasons I was so excited to pick up this first installment in Lorraine Heath’s new Sins for All Seasons series.

Mick Trewlowe is a successful businessman who built his own fortune from the ground up. He’s also a bastard. His father, a duke, gave him to a poor widow at birth, and though Mick knows who the man is, the duke refuses to acknowledge him. So Mick comes up with a plan to ruin Kip, his father’s heir. He’ll force his father to claim him, lest his other son fall into ruin.

The heroine, Aslyn, is a ward of the duke. More importantly, she is supposed to marry Kip. Seducing her is just another facet of Mick’s plan. The only thing he didn’t expect was falling for her himself. [Read more…]

Review: For Crown and Kingdom by Grace Draven and Jeffe Kennedy

Reviewed by Jen

I’ve really enjoyed Jeffe Kennedy’s Twelve Kingdom books, and it was an anthology that led me to it. Imagine how excited I was to see this story nestled in another anthology with one of the same authors who took part in Amid the Winter Snow! I was already a Grace Draven fan, thanks to Wraith King series, so I’m always down to read something else from her.

Let’s start with the Kennedy short. The Crown of the Queen is a novella told from Dafne’s point of view, but be forewarned, this is not a romance. (I think that comes in the next book.) Instead, this is like an extended epilogue to The Talon of the Hawk. It takes place immediately after Ursula took the life of her father, the king. Dafne has been hanging out in Annfwn for the past few weeks, but when she gets to Ordnung, Ursula still has not been crowned High Queen. The entire story follows Dafne’s efforts to guide Ursula through the process of taking the throne. [Read more…]

Review: Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

Reviewed by Jen

I struggled to get into this book. It wasn’t bad, but it was very slow and it took a really long time before I was even remotely interested in either main character, much less a romance between them.

I picked this up because the hero was a vicar and the blurb promised that he and the heroine would “confront their fiery mutual passion.” I mistakenly thought this would be perhaps a forbidden romance, or at a minimum a gentle reserved hero who would be tempted by a passionate woman. Not so much.

This is the third book in Manda Collins’ Studies in Scandal series and I did not read the first two books. Sometimes with historical romance series, that doesn’t matter. Often, they stand alone very well and you barely notice that there may have been stories that came before. Not here. I wasn’t lost, necessarily, but there were plenty of references to the earlier books and with the struggles I already had to care about the main couple, this only made my problem worse. [Read more…]

Review: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

Reviewed by Jen

Oh wow. Jeffe Kennedy really takes it to the next level with this third book in her Twelve Kingdoms series. I didn’t realize that I needed Ursula’s book until I started reading it and I’ve got to tell you, this book is not for the faint of heart.

So far, we’ve only seen Ursula through the eyes of her younger sisters. We know she is strong and powerful, almost masculine. The heir to their father’s throne, she leads armies, she eschews relationships, and she demonstrates unwavering loyalty to the king. All of those things are true, but what we could never see through the first person POVs of Amelia and Andromeda is that her power and strength have come at a very steep price.

The King has grown wilder and more power hungry with each book. Or maybe, it would be more accurate to say, it’s become more obvious with each book. What’s also obvious now is that the journey each sister has taken has been in tandem with each identifying with one of the three goddesses. As they each come into their power, they come closer to balancing the gifts each goddess represents. Ursula is the sword. [Read more…]

Review: Single Malt by Layla Reyne

Reviewed by Jen

Feeling nostalgic for the Cut & Run books I loved so much, I asked Twitter to give me some recommendations of books with a similar feel and this one rose to the top. I can see the similarities for sure and they were close enough to scratch my itch, but there were enough differences that no one would confuse the two.

Like my beloved C&R books, this series centers around two FBI agents who are paired as unlikely partners. But these two guys are markedly different from Ty and Zane, who were always on the edge of spiraling out of control. Aidan is one of the FBI’s best agents, but he is just returning to work after an eight-month leave to recover from the accident that killed both his partner and his husband. His boss, Mel–his dead husband’s sister–assigns him to work with Jamie, a brilliant cyber-agent who is also a handsome former NCAA basketball star. Aidan is tasked with evaluating Jamie for field work. [Read more…]

Review: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy

Reviewed by Jen

It was the love story between Ami and Ash that made me jump in to the backlist of this series. They were the couple featured in the anthology Amid the Winter Snow, set much later in the series. I was so taken with them and with the world building in that novella that I went back to start the series from the beginning. Overall, I found the book captivating and I read it all in one sitting much like the first in the series. It wasn’t exactly like I expected, though.

Obviously, the novella meant massive spoilers. I feel like I would have enjoyed the surprises of this book much more if I didn’t know what was going to happen. That is not the book’s fault, so I won’t complain about that, but I will give my small gripe that I wish there was more time devoted to the romance that made me read the series in the first place. I understand it; there are reasons it takes so long for the love story to get off the ground, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wanted more of it… and much like book one, this ended too abruptly for my taste. Even though the larger arc will continue in the next book, this romance won’t. [Read more…]

Review: The Duke of Her Desire by Sophie Barnes

Reviewed by Jen

This second story in Sophie Barnes’ Diamonds in the Rough series marries the fish out of water trope with an older brother’s best friend romance. Amelia is just a few months into her reintroduction to society after spending most of her life in the slums of St Giles. Her older brother, Raphe, is happily married now and wants to take his wife on a wedding trip, so he asks his friend, the Duke of Coventry, to keep an eye on his sisters while he’s away. Of course, he has no idea that Amelia is nursing a giant crush on the man.

Not only does Coventry agree to watch out for the girls, he promises to draft his mother to help Amelia find a husband. That means lessons in dancing and comportment and a little bit of matchmaking to boot. He’s only doing a favor for Raphe until two things happen which make it into something more. First, he discovers Amelia’s plan to launch a school for unfortunate children. Though she doesn’t show enough regard for her own safety, he can’t help but be impressed by her determination and smarts in creating a business-plan. His appreciation for her grows… so that when the second thing happens–and he sees her in a low cut ball gown–it gets harder to see her as just his best friend’s younger sister. [Read more…]