Review: A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

Reviewed by Jen

When I first picked this book up, I did it on the blurb alone. If I had any idea it was book nine in the Playful Brides series, I would have probably taken a pass– A) because Playful Brides do not sound like my cup of tea and B) I haven’t read the previous eight installments in the series. I’m happy to report that neither point became an issue. There were no playful brides to be found and this book holds up completely as a standalone.

This is a second-chance-at-love story involving a married couple that has been separated for the past ten years. There was a Big Secret/Big Misunderstanding that drove them apart after just a few months together. Now, though, the husband, Mark, is in line for a job he wants desperately–a job he can only win if he proves he is a family man. So her tracks down Nicole to come back and play the part. She agrees, but only if he promises to give her something she wants in return: a child. [Read more…]

Review: Someone to Care by Mary Balogh

Reviewed by Jen

40-year-olds exist as more than just the roles they play in life. They are more than just moms, grandmas, daughters, aunts, or even wives. It’s a point not often made in romance novels, especially historical ones. Let’s be real, a woman such as Viola is not generally heroine age material. She is 42. Her children are grown. She has three grandchildren. But she is first and foremost her own person. She just needs to figure out who that is. And she wants to be loved for it.

This is book four in Mary Balogh’s Wescotts series. You could probably read this as a standalone, but there are a lot of characters that may be hard to keep up with if you have not read the previous books. Suffice it to say, the premise of the series is that after the death of Viola’s first husband, she and her three children learn he had never been her husband in the first place. He was still married to his first wife and the daughter he had with her was the true heir to his fortune. The discovery made Viola a tainted woman and her children, bastards. At the start of this book, a couple of years have passed, but she is just starting to really deal with what happened to her. [Read more…]

Review: A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe

Reviewed by Jen

As much as I love the Regency romances that are the mainstay of my historicals, I am really enjoying the foray into New York’s Gilded Age I’m getting with this series. This is the second installment in Joanna Shupe’s The Four Hundred and–though I enjoyed the first one–if you want to jump in here, this holds up just fine as a standalone.

Lady Eva is a talented architect who learned her craft at the feet of her renowned father. Unfortunately, her dad has developed dementia and can no longer work. To make matters worse, he mismanaged their money and despite his success, she can’t pay the bills. So she decides to use her own skill to fix the situation. Of course, no one will hire a woman as an architect, so she takes a lucrative job in New York, pretending to serve in her father’s stead. After all, she’s been designing in his name for years. What could possibly go wrong? [Read more…]

Review: A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter

Reviewed by Jen

Eh. I struggled with this book. It wasn’t bad necessarily, but it didn’t grab me. In fact, I had to push myself to get through it, largely because I didn’t connect with the characters or feel any real spark between them.

Amanda is a daughter of two thieves who is trying to make a respectable life for herself. She is serving as a lady’s secretary and is using her skills and her smarts to find success. Unfortunately, someone has kidnapped her mother and is now blackmailing Amanda into stealing stuff to keep her safe. First it was something in a museum… now it’s an object in a private collection. The owner of the house is out of town, but the only way she can access it is through the home next door… and she’ll seduce the man who lives there to get inside. [Read more…]

Review: Lady Rogue by Theresa Romain

Reviewed by Jen

I wanted to love this book. I mean, a romance between a lady and Bow Street Runner, one that would be forbidden in the eyes of society… that is right in my lane. I adore pairings where the hero is below the heroine in social station. But for a number of reasons, this book did not deliver in the ways I had hoped.

The biggest fail, for me, was that the first hook up for these two happened before the book ever began. Yes, it tells you that in the blurb, but reading this book gave the distinct feel that I was jumping into a series already in progress. The was disappointing for the romance to be sure, but it was downright overwhelming with the giant infodumps in the bigger story. No standalone book has a history for its characters so detailed and complex, so I did some research and sure enough, this book was born out of the events of The Royal Rewards series. (*This is clearly stated now on Amazon & Goodreads, but was not made obvious when I accepted the ARC.) There is a whole thing about a gold heist and a dead brother for the hero… all it did was bog me down and take away from the story at hand. Even worse, I couldn’t tell what stuff had actually happened on page in other books and how much was backstory for the characters that no one had read anywhere. [Read more…]

Review: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Reviewed by Jen

In the books leading up to this one, I was deeply curious about how Lisa Kleypas would fashion a romance involving the youngest member of the Hathaway family. Beatrix was always painted as a strange bird, more interested in animals than people. I wondered what kind of hero would fit with her quirky personality. And I have to say, Kleypas didn’t disappoint. What better match for a woman who collects and cares for wounded animals than a man who so wounded, he needs her special blend of tender loving care?

It takes a while for the love story between Beatrix and Christopher to really get off the ground. That’s because for the first several months…years…of their relationship, Christopher was at war. They grew close through an exchange of letters over time. The thing was, he thought he was writing to someone else, a deception she perpetuated as a kindness, until she realized she was falling for him and he was was falling in love–with a lie. [Read more…]

Review: Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

Reviewed by Jen

All hail Lisa Kleypas. Two books back, I had absolutely no interest in this couple whatsoever. It seemed like it was going to be a tired rehash of reformed rake in an enemies to lovers situation with an uptight governess. But somehow, Kleypas made it so much more. She made me root for Leo and Miss Marks to make it work. Not only that, but she piqued my interest by giving me a little nuggets and breadcrumbs to follow in their backstory.

When the last book ended, we knew there was some kind of secret between Lord Ramsey and his sisters’ governess. As this story begins, we learn that they shared a kiss in the aftermath of Leo’s discovery that Catherine was related to Harry, Leo’s brother-in-law. It doesn’t take too long to work that out, but what does develop over the course of the book is the story of why she has hidden herself away as a domestic servant when her brother has more money than King Midas. I won’t spoil the particulars, but I will say it’s pretty gnarly. [Read more…]

Review: His Wicked Charm by Candace Camp

Reviewed by Sara

Do you like the opposites attract trope? How about Historical Romance? What about mysteries with paranormal elements?

If you said yes to any of these you’ll probably really enjoy Candace Camp’s latest release, His Wicked Charm.

Lilah Holcutt is everything a proper lady should be. She is well-mannered, logical, even-tempered and never breaks the rules. When her best friend gets married, she’s introduced to the Moreland family, better known as the Mad Morelands. The Morelands don’t care about convention; they believe in following one’s passion and are *gasps* suffragists. Con, Lilah’s best friend’s husband’s twin brother, is the worst of these. He’s a joker, a flirt and, for some reason, has turned his attention on her. [Read more…]

Review: Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

Reviewed by Shelly

I came away from this without that Ravenel-happiness that I had after reading the first 3 books in Lisa Kleypas’s ‘Ravenel’ series. Book 1, Marrying Winterborne, is still my favorite and Rhys is my favorite hero of the series.

This is Garrett Gibson and Ethan Ransom’s story. I was really looking forward to this because Garrett’s a female physician and I thought her story – being female and a physician in a time when it was virtually unheard of – would be interesting. Since she made her appearance in Marrying Winterborne and her subsequent service as Rhys employee, I saw a great romance for this rare situation.

I can’t decide if this was too long or too short. If I wanted less medical terminology or more. I can’t decide if it’s my expectations or could it possibly have been Garrett’s character didn’t live up to what I saw being developed in the first few books. And I definitely couldn’t decide if I liked Ethan as a hero. [Read more…]

Review: Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

Reviewed by Jen

As much as I loved the book before this in the Hathaways series, I have to admit that I wasn’t super excited to keep reading for this installment. Honestly, I thought we were going to get Leo’s book and I was not all that jazzed about the set up with the governess. Then I discovered this is actually Poppy’s book. I still wasn’t terribly excited, because she has probably been the least developed character among the Hathaway siblings. I didn’t feel like I knew her, and I did not particularly care to. But people love Lisa Kleypas for a reason. The lady knows what she is doing. I ended up really enjoying this book, and even more, I am actually now looking forward to Leo’s book when I wasn’t before.

The reason Poppy always faded into the background is because she is the Hathaway sibling who longs for normalcy. All she wants is a nice quiet life in the country. But what we want and what we need aren’t always the same thing. Hotel owner Harry is exactly what Poppy needs. Unfortunately, she is in love with another man. Michael is the son of a peer and the feelings between him and Poppy are real. His father would never approve of the match, though. So when Harry meets Poppy and is taken by her, he makes quick work of his nemesis by exposing the clandestine relationship to dear old dad. The result? Michael drops Poppy like a hot potato. [Read more…]