Review: Lord of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

lord of pleasureReviewed by Jen

Everyone has their own demons and everyone has their own needs. When you love someone, you have to be what they need. And the School of Gallantry was designed to help men do that. It’s the entire point of the series. The blurb on this book focuses almost entirely on the hero, the Earl of Hawksford, who used to be fat and is still dealing with his issues despite his now attractive form. It spares no time at all for the heroine Charlotte, which meant I walked into this book unprepared for a storyline I would not have chosen to read, had I known what I was getting into. [Read more…]

Review: Mistress of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

mistress of pleasureReviewed by Jen

I jumped into the School of Gallantry series with book 3 and I absolutely loved it. I followed along through the end of the series and am only just now seeing where it all began.  I read this as a second edition re-release, which I understand has some differences from the original, so you may want to keep that in mind.

One of the things I really like about this series is that the books all take place in the same period of time. So even though I didn’t start with book one, with all of the events taking place concurrently, I didn’t feel like I missed anything. The series surrounds a special school for gentlemen, run by a former French courtesan. She helps them learn the art of romance and seduction. Each man needs her help for different reasons, but each ends up a hero of his own story. This book not only features one of the students, but the courtesan’s own granddaughter, Maybelle. [Read more…]

Review: The Duke of Andelot by Delilah Marvelle

duke of andelotReviewed by Jen

What a wonderful, bittersweet romance.

Fans of Delilah Marvelle’s School of Gallantry series will absolutely love this romance featuring Madame de Maitenon, the spitfire woman who runs the school.  This book is told largely about 30 years before the events of the other books in the series, but eventually jumps ahead to the reunion between Madam and her lost love, some of which we saw in Romancing Lady Stone.  It’s such a great romance. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking that these two lost so many years together. [Read more…]

Review: Master of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

master of pleasureReviewed by Jen

I need to start by sharing two important truths that will absolutely color this review. Truth One: I adore Delilah Marvelle. Lady of Pleasure was a 5-star read and even though I didn’t love Night of Pleasure, I left that book truly excited for Brayton’s story. Truth Two: I do not enjoy any elements of BDSM. At all. In fact, I actively avoid books with these themes. Unfortunately, it’s a prominent part of this book. It’s not in the blurb, but the hero’s sadomasochism is the primary conflict. And had I known, I would have never picked it up. [Read more…]

Review: Night of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

night of pleasureReviewed by Jen

I am such a fan of Delilah Marvelle, but this one wasn’t my favorite from her.  I applaud that she tried to do something unique with a plot that takes a different path than the standard tropes of the genre. But when all was said and done, I just couldn’t rally behind the romance. This is primarily due to the fact I didn’t really like the heroine or the way she treated the hero. [Read more…]

Review: Romancing Lady Stone

romancingReviewed by Jen

I know I have said this before, but Delilah Marvelle never disappoints me. Every time I finish one of her books, I find myself wishing I had another one to jump into. And this one is no exception. It’s sexy and romantic, and it throws the Historical Romance formula right out of the window.

Our heroine is Lady Cecelia Stone, a 40 year-old mother of four. Yes, you read that right. She’s 40. And she’s been a widow for the past seven years. Her first marriage was one of convenience and ever since she lost her husband, she has been a model mother and lady of the ton. She has no intention of changing that when she journeys to Russia to stop her son from marrying an aging actress. Unfortunately, her plans are laid to waste when her traveling companion drugs and robs her, then leaves her unconscious in a stagecoach. That’s where she meets Konstantin. [Read more…]

Review: Lady of Pleasure

Reviewed by Jen

A deliciously angsty hero; a heroine who is steadfast, loyal and knows her own heart. Fabulous sexual tension and a love story to pull on the heartstrings.  Simply put, this book rocked my socks off.  In her letter to readers at the before the story begins, Delilah Marvelle says the publishing industry has no place for a book like this one.  Perhaps the industry needs its head examined, because this book gave me absolutely everything I want in a historical romance.

Still need convincing?  Let me give you the setup.

Lady Caroline knew she was in love with Ronan, the Marquess of Caldwell, when she was only 13 years-old.  The dashing 24 year-old was her brother’s friend, but he quickly made a special place in his life just for her.  They had a standing weekly card game for years.  They talked; they valued one another; they were friends in the truest sense of the world.  But circumstances forced Caroline to move away at 16.  She professed her love before she left, but it was clear he still saw her as a child.

Fast forward three years.  When she returns, Caroline is most definitely grown, and ready to pursue Caldwell’s hand.  And when he sees her, he can’t help but react as any man would to her beauty. The problem is, he doesn’t want to soil the one true and good thing in his life.  He has a dark secret that keeps him from forming real relationships.  I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say, it leaves him feeling unworthy of Caroline and unwilling to pursue anything beyond friendship.  But fate and the interference of others won’t let that be enough.

Ah, I loved Caldwell so.  Marvelle has constructed such a marvelous tortured hero in him.  He is so sure he isn’t good enough for Caroline; so unaware of his own feelings; so… good.  And Caroline!  It would have been so easy to make her naive or weak-willed because of her age or her consuming devotion.  But she respects herself too much to be walked on; and at the same time is so unwavering and true. I loved her almost as much as I loved him.  There is great chemistry. And most importantly, I believed in their feelings for one another 100%.

My only small complaint is that Caldwell’s issues resolved a little faster than I would have liked, and much of it, off page.  I would have liked to see more of his “education” at the school of gallantry, but perhaps, some of the events there happened in previous books.  I must go and read the backlist to find out. If books one and two are anywhere as good as this one, they will definitely be worth the read. I couldn’t put this one down.

Rating: A-

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Lady of Pleasure
by Delilah Marvelle
Release Date: March 15, 2013

Jen’s Favorite Books of 2013

It’s never too early to start keeping up with the amazing books of the New Year! I am sticking with the tradition I started last year of running “Best of” post, so no great book slips through the cracks.

January
by Kim Harrison

Guys. This is the best installment in the Hollows series to date.  It’s not a book for new readers to jump into Rachel Morgan’s world.  But for established fans, it’s like hitting the jackpot.  The story is more of a continuation of Pale Demon than A Perfect Blood was.  It follows Rachel as she tries to repair the damage her ley line made in the ever after a couple of books back.  Ku’Sox is trying to get her killed.  Ivy is out of town!! It’s heavy on Trent and Al –and delivers the emotional kick to the gut that this series should be known for.  Sexy, funny, heartbreaking, and action packed… this one is a can’t miss read.

Click to purchase: Ever After

March
Night Blade
by JC Daniels
There is a difference, I guess, between saying, “this was one of my favorite books of the year,” as opposed to saying, “this was one of the best books I have read this year.” I can’t really call Night Blade a favorite, as it left me gutted and hunched over, rocking in the corner of the room. But what I can say is that it will be one of the most unforgettable books of the year for me. It affected me. It made me reach out to the book community to talk about it. I couldn’t put it down, and I now look at Shiloh Walker with a combined sense of awe and horror. You don’t want to read this second installment in the series without reading Blade Song first. You’ll probably find that first book a bit Kate Daniels-ish. But this second book takes us where Kate has never been. If you’re not afraid of some angst, I definitely recommend it.

Click to purchase: Night Blade

by Anne Bishop

This is the most unique feeling Urban Fantasy book I have read in ages.  The tone is so dark.  The monsters aren’t just sexy humans with super-powers… they are beasts.  They are killers.  And humans are little more than a food source.  The heroine, Meg, is woman of beautiful spirit.  She shows the “others” the best of what it means to be human.  With her simple kindness and goodwill, she begins to change how they view her kind.  I loved how Bishop portrays the supernaturals in this world; how they are so alien and she doesn’t try to humanize them.  I picked this book up and was glued to the pages until I was done.  Very cool.

Click to purchase: Written in Red

 

by Delilah Marvelle

You may have noticed that historicals don’t feature on my favorites lists quite as often as some other genres. But I really, really enjoyed this third installment in the School of Gallantry series.  (Don’t worry; it works great as a standalone.)  This book has one of my favorite romance tropes: a tortured hero who thinks he is not good enough for his heroine.  Caldwell and Caroline have been friends since she was only 13, but now she is all grown up.  Despite his best intentions, Caldwell can’t help the attraction he feels for her, but he doesn’t want to ruin the one good relationship he has ever had by bringing sex into the picture. There is great sexual tension; characters I felt I knew and I loved; and a romance that I could really root for. Plus, a delicious dollop of angst.  Good stuff.

Click to purchase: Lady of Pleasure

April
Touch & Geauxhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image4206965
by Abigail Roux

Just when I think I can’t get any more emotionally invested in Ty and Zane, Abigail Roux writes another book and I only fall deeper.  I should have known that this book would take me through the wringer. After all, the last installment ended with everyone so happy. I was feeling so good, I should have known it couldn’t last.  This book takes our men to New Orleans to hook up with Ty’s Sidewinder team. There is big trouble with an old nemesis of Grady’s and it leads to danger and… Who am I kidding? The heart of this book is the giant wedge that slams down the center of our beloved couple.  It’s dirty and painful and I was a sniveling mass of raw nerves when it was over. And the ending. Killed me.  If you are not reading this series, you should be.  One of my favorite romance series of any subgenre.

Click to purchase: Touch & Geaux

June
Heart of Obsidian
By Nalini Singh

heart of obsidianIt’s so rare for a book to live up to the hype.  But this one did and then some.  For a year, Psy Changeling fans made their best guesses and predictions about who this book would be about and whether we would finally discover the identity of the elusive Ghost.  It turns out that this is Kaleb’s story –and he is everything we wanted in a hero and more.  It’s a book full of passion and deep emotion, with amazingly hot sex and a romance that grabs onto your heart and doesn’t let go.  It was absolutely worth the wait and satisfying in every way. Fans of the series won’t want to miss this one.  –And if you’ve never read the series, you could still enjoy it, though you are better off starting the series from the beginning.

Click to purchase: Heart of Obsidian

July
magic risesMagic Rises
By Ilona Andrews

There has yet to be an installment in this series that I didn’t enjoy, so I hesitate to call this a “comeback” book.  But I can say that this book really reinvigorated my devotion to this series.  Kate and Curran are as engaging as ever, maybe even more so, as the future of their relationship is put on the line.  What’s so awesome about it, is that I really had no idea how the conflict would be resolved –or if it even could be. That’s a tall order for a series with such an established couple.  The book is a road trip for the gang, but most of the core characters are still there.  And it continues to advance the overall arc concerning Kate and her father.  I am so excited to see where the series goes from here.

Click to purchase: Magic Rises

Rise of the Gryphon
by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love

rise of the gryphonI know these books don’t have the same kind of following as Sherrilyn Keyon’s other series.  They are not PNR.  But this series is really good Urban Fantasy. It may not be for everybody. It’s complicated and you have to pay attention to the wide palate of characters, races, alliances, and feuds.  It’s totally worth it, though. This fourth installment is easily the best in the series to date.  Our heroine, Evalle, is finally learning the truth about what she is. She is moving forward in her fragile relationship with Storm.  The plot moves fast.  There is great action and ass kicking.  There is emotional resonance… good sex… and huge arc advancement. I was riveted from beginning to end. Evalle is growing so much.  And the ending left me begging for book 5.  Really good!

Click to purchase: Rise of the Gryphon

August
Guardian Demonguardian demon
by Meljean Brook

This book left me feeling so emotional. It was the perfect ending to the Guardian series.  The romance is exceptional.  Michael’s worship of Taylor is so lovely.  Meanwhile, her wariness and fear slowly morph into a tentative love, and it’s such an amazing journey to watch.  This story broke my heart and made it whole again, while keeping me on the edge of my seat with action and a fabulous master plan.  I loved it.

Click to purchase: Guardian Demon

archangels legionOctober
Archangel’s Legion
by Nalini Singh

This book got me excited for the Guild Hunter series all over again. Raphael and Elena still have so much fire.  But what I really loved about this book is the great pacing. The story just builds and builds until it explodes all over the page.

Click to purchase: Archangel’s Legion

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean (historical romance)
Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (paranormal romance)
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (YA urban fantasy)
Never a Hero by Marie Sexton (m/m contemporary romance)
How Beauty Loved the Beast
by Jax Garren (steampunk? sci-fi? romance)
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (historical romance)
Romancing Lady Stone by Delilah Marvelle (historical romance)
Secret Unleashed by Sierra Dean (urban fantasy)
The Last Hour of Gann by R Lee Smith (sci-fi with strong romantic elements)
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn (historical romance)
Long Time Gone by SE Jakes (m/m romantic suspense)

Check out Carrie’s, Shelly’s, Jaimie’s and Janell’s top picks of 2013.

Review: Forever a Lord

Reviewed by Jen

The more I read from Delilah Marvelle, the more I like her.  This third installment in The Rumor series was a hit for me.  Mostly because of its brawny, wounded hero, Nathaniel.  A British viscount, he was kidnapped at age 10, by a man who was wronged by Nathaniel’s father.  Unfortunately, dear old dad would not bend to the kidnapper’s demands, which left Nathaniel locked in a cellar for five years before being dispatched to the mean streets of New York.

Nathaniel created a new identity and a life for himself as a bare-knuckled boxer in Five Points.  But when his late sister’s husband seeks him out to mend the rift with his family, it sets a chain of events in motion that brings him back across the pond.

In the meantime, Imogene dreams of setting her brother free. He’s been shackled in a loveless marriage as he sinks all his money into doctors to help with her poor health.  Together, they come up with a plan to invest in a boxer to win the big championship fight. Enter Nathaniel.

The first time Gene lays eyes on Nathaniel, she is drawn in.  He is so masculine and powerful. And he feels the same attraction.  She decides she will make marriage to her, part of the investment into his training –and from there, their relationship is born.

Nathaniel is a tough nut to crack. His time in captivity did a number on him, but so did his father’s betrayal, and his life on the streets.  It’s hard for him to let Gene in, no matter how taken he is with her.  His issues run so deep that he can’t even have sex without binding his partner. (This was the only part of the book I didn’t love. –I would imagine being tied up while you lose your virginity isn’t the best experience.) But he tries to protect her the best way he can. He honors her. He loves her. And eventually –he grows to trust her.  Which is when I really fell for him.

Gene is fragile in some ways, but she is strong in the ways that really count. And she is exactly what Nathaniel needs.  I really enjoyed their love story.  Well done.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Harlequin via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Forever a Lord
by Delilah Marvelle
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Publisher: HQN Books

Review: All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke

Reviewed by Jen

This duology features two fantastic novellas, featuring historical Christmas romances.  I would absolutely recommend, since I adored them both.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs Robinson” – I really, really enjoyed this one!! Years ago, Jane fell in love with a secret admirer.  A man who called himself only Mr. X sent her beautiful letters… letters she responded to in kind.  She had no idea they were coming from Martin, a younger friend who never believed she would return his affection if she knew who she was.  When an older, dashing man came forward, claiming to be Mr. X, Jane believed him and married him.  It only took a couple of weeks for his lies to surface and for Jane to demand a divorce.  Only, her husband dropped dead before he could grant her wish.

It’s been eight years since that happened.  Martin, who left town when Jane got married, is back.  And circumstances bring him back into Jane’s life.  This time, however, he refuses to hide who he is and how he feels.  Can they find love after all that has happened?

This story was so good!  The characters were so engaging. It’s impossible not to root for Martin as reaches for his dream of a life with Jane.  The sexual tension is palpable. The sex is hot.  And in just 100 pages or so, Delilah Marville had me completely emotionally invested in their future.  Loved.

“The 12 Days of Seduction” – The day Adrianna has long dreaded has finally come to pass.  Her employer has finally learned about her past and real identity. She had adopted a softer, more proper, persona as governess to Alexander’s daughter.  The position, and the child, have come to mean the world to her.  But all is not lost. Alexander wants her as his mistress. She challenges him to seduce her and as he works to do that, he ends up peeling back the layers of Adrianna’s true self she has hidden for so long.

Adrianna has worked hard to shed her horrible past, and she is a good person. I loved watching Alexander discover what a treasure she is. Just the right combination of romance and sensuality, this novella really hit the spot.

It’s rare for a novella to truly satisfy for me, but both of these really did.  I was already a fan of Marvelle, but now I won’t hesitate to try more from Clairmont.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Entangled via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke
by Delilah Marvelle & Marie Claremont
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing