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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Review: Merrily Ever After by Jenny Holiday

Reviewed by Caitlin

Merrily Ever After is a novella in Jenny Holiday’s lovely Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series. It follows the story of Elise and Jay, who are the couple getting married in the first book One and Only and whose actual romance is told in the (free!) novella Once Upon a Bride (which I very much recommend).

Merrily Ever After might be a bit more women’s fiction than actual romance since it deals with overcoming an obstacle in a marriage rather than two people falling in love, but it does have a lovely HEA and is a great entry into a wonderful series, so I think it’s close enough. Any fan of Jenny Holiday should absolutely read this novella. [Read more…]

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: Death Knell by Hailey Edwards

Reviewed by Jen

Talk about a slow burn. I can’t think of a single romance I have become this invested in with so little physical payoff. Luce and Cole feel as inevitable as the tide, yet they move together in increments of inches. Millimeters. And even as slowly as they move, each hard won inch is a victory to celebrate. Hailey Edwards has sold me on this pairing, hook, line and sinker. And I may want this romance to happen even more than the characters do.

That being said, the book and the series aren’t romances; they’re urban fantasy. So there is a whole lot more going on on the pages. Luce is preparing for her sister, Death, to cross over into the world, and she is working with her new partner, Adam Wu, to figure out how when and where it’s going to happen. The bodies of corpses are reanimating and it seems a portend from Death 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: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Reviewed by Jen

You can never go wrong with an Ilona Andrews book! I loved the initial trilogy in the Hidden Legacy series for a ton of reasons, but mostly because of the main couple, Rogan and Nevada. Sadly, their primary story is over, but the series lives on, switching focus to Nevada’s younger sister, Catalina. And this story serves as a changing of the guards, beginning first in Nevada’s POV, then switching to Catalina’s, and I’m happy to say I have no doubt the middle Baylor sister will deliver as a lead.

The story surrounds Rogan and Nevada’s wedding. Let me just say how much I loved his mom. Mrs. Rogan was an unexpected treat, with a cool backstory and a will of steel. She decides she wants a wedding that includes her entire family, which is no small feat. Half of them are money grubbers, nursing a serious sense of entitlement. We switch to Catalina’s perspective when one of them steals the family wedding tiara and she needs to figure out who did it before her sister walks down the aisle. [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…]