Review: Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Reviewed by Jen

I am such a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt. Her Maiden Lane books are among my favorite historical romances. This new series has a bit of a different feel, though I did enjoy it. The story mixes tropes with the older brother’s best friend and enemies to lovers, set against an extortion scheme, a mystery, and a secret society. There’s a lot going on here.

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DNF Review: Earl To The Rescue by Jane Ashford

Reviewed by Sara

Earl To The Rescue is the story of Gwendeline Gregory, daughter of the Baron Gregory of Brooklands and his wife Annabelle. While she was young, Baron and Baroness Brooklands spent only a week out of the year with Gwendeline and were as uninvolved in her upbringing as possible. So, when they die in an ill-defined accident, Gwendeline, is less upset about her parents being dead as she is about the fact that they spent all of their savings and have left her penniless and soon to be homeless, since their debts require their estate to be sold off.

However, Gwendeline, is rescued by a the incredibly popular Lore Merryn, who, while surprised that Gwendeline is 19 years old and not an infant, is committed, along with a group of like minded gentlemen, to caring for her and helping her be introduced favorably into the ton. Gwendeline is whisked away to London where she is put up with Lord Merryn’s mother, a novelist, and begins making the round of parties. Here, she learns that her parents were general reprobates and begins to meet various characters. [Read more…]

Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

Reviewed by Jen

This is the fourth book in Janna MacGregor’s Cavensham Heiresses series, and though I did read book three, apparently the threads in this story harken back to the first two installments that I didn’t read. Unlike The Luck of the Bride, which held up very well as a standalone, there is a ton of backstory that’s relevant here. Could I follow along? Yes. But it was obvious I was joining these characters with a story that was already in progress.

Honestly, that part didn’t bother me all that much. I wanted to read this because the blurb promised a redemption story for the male lead, who was a villain in stories past. I love this trope, so I jumped right in. Paul grew up as the best friend of Daphne’s older brother. The prologue sets up their dynamic well, when a teenage Paul saves a baby bird and earns young Daphne’s unending affection. Unfortunately, as the years go on, Paul becomes a rake and a bit of a scoundrel, so she must keep her tender feelings to herself. [Read more…]

Review: Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh

Reviewed by Jen

This book was not my favorite from Mary Balogh. It got off to a very slow start for me, though it did improve once it finally got around to the romance. This is book five in the Westcott series, and I have read the previous four books. Even with the backstory I know, however, there are just too many characters for anyone to keep straight. For the first 10 chapters, I found myself tempted to keep flipping back to the birth chart at the beginning, and that’s no way to really lose yourself in a story.

Probably the first third of the book was spent reminding us who everyone was, how they were related, and why they were all together for Christmas. There was a great deal of narration and very little feeling from either main character. Basically, the only thing established was that Elizabeth and Colin thought well of each other but were nine years apart in age. Yes, this is an older woman younger man story. And it completely dominated the dynamic of their relationship. [Read more…]

Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Reviewed by Jen

Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books consistently deliver for me. This one was fun and engaging, with a hero and heroine easy to love –both as individuals and as a couple.

Andrew Roskesby traffics information for the crown under the guise of a pirate captain. To protect his family and his identity, he does it under the name Captain Andrew James. He is about to embark on a trip to deliver information to Portugal when two of his men drag Poppy Bridgerton aboard his ship. The woman had stumbled across the cave where his men stored their booty and kidnapped her to prevent her from telling anyone their secrets. Andrew wants her nowhere near his mission, but the job can’t wait, so he takes her along with the promise to return her to her family once the voyage is complete. [Read more…]

Review: Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry

Reviewed by Caitlin

“Bound to be a Groom” is a historical polyamorous romance novella by Megan Mulry. This is my first Mulry venture, and I can’t decide how I feel about it. I really liked seeing a love story with four people in it (I am very into polyamory stories, although this was my first time reading one with multiple women in it and not just multiple men), and I especially loved that it was historical, but I’m not sure I really connected to it. There was a factor that was just, frankly… missing for me.

The novella starts in Badajoz, Spain in 1808 with Anna Redondo trying to seduce Sebastian de Montizon at a wedding. Even though she’s a virgin, she clearly has a dominant personality that immediately asserts itself with the much more knowledgeable Sebastian, who appears to be a natural submissive. He is immediately entranced with her, and she feels guilty because she appears to genuinely like him too. [Read more…]

Review: Highland Wolf by Hannah Howell

Reviewed by Jen

I cannot remember the last time I struggled so hard to finish a book. My problems with Highland Wolf kicked off at the very beginning and then only intensified as the story continued. I did a little research after reading a review copy and discovered this is book 15 in a long running series and it is a reissue from 10 years ago. Interesting, but neither was the real root of my problem.

The simplest explanation is that I thought this book was boring. I liked the setup well enough. James was the laird of Dunncraig Keep but was framed for the death of his wife three years ago. Now he is posing as a woodcarver to get close to his enemy, reclaim his land, and rescue his young daughter. Meanwhile, Annora is the bastard cousin of that enemy. She takes care of the little girl to earn her keep and she has grown to love her. She hates her cousin and his awful men, but she wants to protect the little girl and will not leave her. [Read more…]

Joint Review: First Earl I See Tonight

Reviewed by Jen & Sara

Jen: This is my first book by Anna Bennett and though I had a few small issues, I found it an easy, pleasant read that I enjoyed overall.

The heroine, Fiona, is being blackmailed. Apparently, someone knows the truth of her sister’s parentage and will expose the secret unless Fiona pays him off. Before I get too far, I’ll say that my problems began here. I felt like it strained credibility that a wealthy family would raise a baby left on their doorstep and it took way too long to establish the particulars of the family dynamic. A) That they raised this orphan as their own. (I thought maybe she was the father’s bastard at first.) And B) the Mama in the story is actually Fiona’s step-mother and not even the woman who took the sister in.

Anyway, Fiona loves her sister so much that she is determined to pay the blackmailer, but the only way she can do it is by getting married and using part of her marriage portion. So she proposes to David Gray, the Earl of Ravenport. Gray is an impoverished nobleman who showed her kindness once. But he is skeptical about marriage since his betrothed dumped him. The woman took one look at his ramshackle estate and threw him over. He is determined to bring the property back to greatness, though, for the sake of his grandmother. [Read more…]

Review: Barbarous by Minerva Spencer

Reviewed by Jen

I will start by saying this book has really really good reviews on Goodreads. And I didn’t dislike it, but the sheer number of five star ratings has me wondering if I read the same book as everyone else.

I was excited about picking this up, despite the title which reminded me of a 1980’s bodice ripper. After all, the hero was scarred, with a delicious piratical eyepatch. I love a scarred hero. But Hugh wasn’t what I expected. This man was enslaved, tortured, and disfigured, but there was virtually no angst to be found.

As the story begins, Daphne is fighting off the lecherous advances of the man who raped her years ago. Her elderly husband is dead and there is no one to protect her now that Malcolm is after her fortune. And if she isn’t willing to cooperate, he’ll tell the world he’s the father of her children. It’s just as she fights back that her late husband’s nephew shows up. Everyone thought Hugh was dead, and he’s only returned due to a threat on Daphne’s life. [Read more…]

Review: The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly

Reviewed by Jen

This new story from Vanessa Kelly is the first in her Clan Kendrick series, but it reads like it’s part of something bigger. I did a little bit of digging and discovered that the Kendrick family and the couple who led it were the main characters in The Highlander’s Princess Bride, the last in Kelly’s Improper Princesses trilogy. Obviously, I didn’t read that book and I enjoyed this one anyway. But it was very clear that there was a lot of story before this that came in another book, not just with the other couple but with the main hero and heroine here. So if that sort of thing bothers you, be warned. It niggled me a bit to have their past referenced, but the author does a good enough job of filling in the blanks so at least I wasn’t lost.

As the story begins, the hero is already half in love with Lady Ainsley. Royal was injured at Waterloo and has been kind of checked out on his life ever since. But with Ainsley, he feels alive again. Unfortunately, she is engaged to another man. Fast forward a year or so and you skip the course of events that transpired between them in the other book. Apparently, Royal had tried to kidnap Ainsley because he thought she would rather marry him. It did not go well. Now she is living with an aunt, too ruined by his kidnapping to get married. And he has no idea whether she considers him a friend or foe. But she wrote him a letter, so he takes a chance and goes to visit her. [Read more…]