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…]

Review: Duchess By Design by Maya Rodale

Reviewed by Jen

If you’re looking for a historical with a somewhat different flair, look no further. Duchess by Design features the requisite duke the title suggests, but it takes us out of Regency England to New York’s Gilded Age, while he searches for his bride. It’s fresh and fun, and it’s filled with the kind of feminism and empowerment that made me want to cheer out loud.

Brandon is the stereotypical impoverished duke, in need of an heiress to help fill the coffers of his estate. The well of women who fit the bill in London is running dry, so he travels to America to take advantage of the surfeit families with new money. It’s when he first arrives that he lays eyes on Adeline. Since she is well dressed and appears to be staying in his high-class hotel, he believes her to be the kind of lady he’s searching for. But that would be too easy. Adeline is actually a seamstress visiting a client at the establishment. [Read more…]

Review: Joy to the Earl by Nicola Davidson

Reviewed by Caitlin

I’m a sucker for a virgin hero, and this is Nicola Davidson’s SECOND virgin hero! I am usually not a sucker for a holiday romance, but I’ll make an exception for an author I like.

Jack Reynolds is a farmer in Yorkshire. He’s 6’5″ and muscled from labor, but he has a bad limp. He is socially awkward and painfully shy, which means he’s made it to the age of 28 without having had sex. A few days before Christmas, Jack finds out he was actually the son of the Earl of Lynthorpe, given away because of his “deformity.” Now he’s the next in line to inherit the title. He’s not sure he should – he knows nothing about being an earl – but the law is the law, and primogeniture insists he must be the next earl. [Read more…]

Review: Last Night With the Earl by Kelly Bowen

Reviewed by Jen

The more I read from Kelly Bowen, the more I am convinced that her work is right in my lane. This second installment in Devils of Dover series features familiar characters from A Duke in the Night (which I loved!) but this holds up fine as a standalone. Honestly, I expected this installment to be the pinnacle for me. After all, it features a scarred hero, which is usually my catnip. And I did like it. There were just a couple of issues that kept if from being my all-time favorite from this author.

Eli Dawes, the Earl of Rivers, has been missing and assumed dead for years. Badly injured at Waterloo, he was ready to leave his old life behind and hide the disfigurement he endured from an artillery blast. But when solicitors tracked him down at a farm in Belgium after his father’s death, his regret and sense of duty finally drove him home to accept his title. Imagine his surprise to arrive to his family’s country estate to find it rented out to the Haywood family and their school for young ladies. [Read more…]

Review: A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe

Reviewed by Jen

I have enjoyed every installment in The Four Hundred series so far, but Joanna Shupe has outdone herself with this third book. It was fantastic.

The blurb sold at this as a young woman who escapes a repugnant suitor by making a marriage of convenience to a reclusive inventor. Let me just say, the blurb did not do this book justice. It leaves out so much about what makes it good. [Read more…]

Joint Review: The Lady is Daring by Megan Frampton

Reviewed by Jen & Sara

Jen: I have a hit and miss relationship with books from Megan Frampton. Sometimes I like them a lot, while some of them have just been OK. This third installment in the Duke’s Daughters series, I thought, was one of her better ones.

The heroine is intelligent, yet socially awkward sister, Ida. She is not exactly a darling of the ton as she would rather wax on about interesting facts she has learned, than titter about the weather or bonnets and fripperies. She has essentially resigned herself to a life without a husband. After all, who would welcome her eccentricities? All she wants is a little bit of freedom. That, and to find her older sister, Della, who ran away with the wrong man to elope. Ida’s timetable is pushed into high gear when her mother decides to marry her off to a man who is both dull and a little bit dumb. So at her first chance, she swipes a convenient carriage and runs away. Too bad Lord Carson is passed out in the back. [Read more…]

Review: The Duke Buys a Bride by Sophie Jordan

Reviewed by Sara

The Duke Buys a Bride is an Historical Romance by author Sophie Jordan. The male main character and aforementioned Duke, is Marcus Weatherton the fifth Duke of Autenberry. While running away from his life in London to a long forgotten Scottish property, he comes across Alyse.

Alyse was raised by loving and educated parents. Unfortunately, due to their untimely demise, Alyse is auctioned as a wife to an older member of her village. She works as the housekeeper and care provider for his children until that man is ready for a “real” wife and arranges to auction Alyse. Alyse is frightened, but arranged with a childhood friend that he would buy her and they would leave for London. Unfortunately, Alyse’s friend never shows up and when Marcus first sets eyes on her, she is alone on the auction block at the mercy of the local townsmen. Marcus is immediately struck by Alyse’s bravery and places the winning bid. Marcus’ plan is to install Alyse as the housekeeper of his Scottish estate, but over the course of their journey and against the better judgement of both Marcus and Alyse, the two fall in love. [Read more…]

Review: An Earl Like You by Caroline Linden

Reviewed by Jen

Generally, the Big Secret trope is one of my least favorites, but I like Caroline Linden and I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I decided to give this book a try. I’m glad I did, because while the secret was, indeed, the driving plot device of the story, I thought it was well done and it didn’t prevent me from rooting for this couple to make things work.

Eliza is the daughter of a successful businessman. Her father is ruthless in his dealings, and as a result, he has more money than Croesus. But that money can’t buy his daughter’s way into the ton. Not that such a thing really matters to her. At the end of the day, she is happy with her friends, her home, and her beloved dog. She has no idea that her father has a plan in place to blackmail an earl into becoming her husband. [Read more…]

Review: The Illegitimate Duke by Sophie Barnes

Reviewed by Jen

I have consistently enjoyed all three installments in the Diamonds in the Rough series. Each followed the love story of one of the Matthews siblings, a trio who grew up in poverty only to join the ton later in life.

The focus on this book is Juliette, the sister who struggled with her health as a child. More recently, she contracted a bout of the measles, which is how she got to know our hero, Florian. He is a serious and dedicated physician, and now he is also the unexpected heir to a dukedom.

The promise of nobility has made Florian irresistible to the ladies of high society. Only Juliette seems to see him as a man instead of a potential title. She is intelligent and selfless, and she actually seems interested in what he does for a living. She would be a perfect wife, if only he ever planned to marry. You see, Florian is hiding a devastating secret. He is actually a bastard and his true father is a criminal of the worst sort. Most people thought the man, Bartholomew, had been hanged for his various other crimes, but as this story begins, Florian learns the man is alive and well. He would never expose Juliette to the potential scandal or danger involved with becoming his wife. [Read more…]