Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James

when beauty tamed the beastReviewed by Jen

Beauty and the Beast stories are some of my very favorites –and this historical was a total win for me. I felt connected to both the hero and heroine and their chemistry was absolutely fantastic. They have great witty banter, hot sexual tension, and –best of all– can see past each other’s facades to the hidden truths beneath.

Linnet is the beauty of this tale and she was a coveted catch, until an unflattering dress and some food poisoning had the combined effect of convincing the ton she was expecting a baby. They are wrong, of course, but she is ruined nonetheless, leaving her with very few choices for her future. Just one choice, really: she must use her so-called pregnancy to her advantage. Her father ships her off to an Earl in Wales with a beastly reputation and a known injury that leaves him unable to produce an heir. Linnet should be the answer to his prayers. [Read more…]

Review: My American Duchess by Eloisa James

my american duchessReviewed by Jen

This almost felt like two different books in one. The first half deals with an American heiress, betrothed to the wrong man. I didn’t enjoy this half very much. The book is called My American Duchess, so it’s no big leap to realize that Merry’s engagement to the Duke’s brother isn’t the way the story is going to end. In fact, when she meets the Duke of Trent that very same night, it’s obvious that he is the better match. There’s a great spark between them, that sits completely unattended for more than 150 pages. [Read more…]

Review: The Lady Most Likely by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway

lady most likelyReviewed by Janell

This is billed as a novel in three parts, and it was written by three pros in the historical romance genre. In a first for me, I listened to this as an audio book. Do you guys do that? I checked it out from the library, which you definitely should be doing. And if you use your children’s library cards to request more books than your card allows? Well, aren’t you smart! [Read more…]

Review: With This Kiss

Reviewed by Jen

This is my first experience with a serial romance.  I opted to read all three installments back to back, but I will break down the review by the three parts.

Part One:  Grace was only 10 years old when she realized something was special about Colin.  Their families were close and they grew up visiting each other over the years.  But like with everyone else, she was practically invisible to him.  No one ever paid attention to her when her sister Lily took the spotlight.   But as they all grew older, and Colin joined the Navy, Grace carved out a special place in his life by writing him letters.  So when he comes home, will he finally see her or will he only have eyes for Lily?

I was surprised at how quickly I grew to care about Grace.  She is thoughtful and loyal; and she is amazingly understanding of how people ignore her in favor of her sister.  The events of the story actually brought tears to my eyes, which I consider pretty remarkable, considering how short it was.  I really enjoyed it and it made me very excited for part two.

Part Two:  Grace is doing her best to move on from Colin. She is even planning to marry another man, but she doesn’t realize that Colin has finally realized what she means to him. He plans to tell her, but he is injured before he can do it. He comes home with an infirmity that both thrusts them together and leads to even more confusion and misunderstandings between them.

This installment took my emotions on a bit of a roller coaster.  There were too many misunderstandings, though.  It was hard watching these two go through the wringer, when we know how they feel about each other. The circumstances of the sex were a little too convenient and a bit unrealistic.  But it was hot, nonetheless.  (*fans self*) The cliffhanger definitely serves to get make you anxious for the last installment.

Part Three: It’s time for Colin and Grace to lay all of their cards on the table.  Colin doesn’t know how to convince her that she is really the woman he loves, but he is determined to do it.  Grace wants to believe Colin shares her feelings, but it’s hard to put aside her hurt over feeling second place to her sister once again.

I enjoyed watching Colin prove himself. This third installment is almost entirely written as payoff for the heartbreak and longing of parts one and two.  And as a lover of the happy ending, I reveled in it. Again, the sex is great!  There aren’t any surprises or anything; it’s a pretty standard HR HEA.  But the resolution is satisfying.  I enjoyed it.

Overall, I liked the serial.  I think it would have been frustrating, though, if I would have had to wait between installments.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: With This Kiss Part 1
Click to purchase: With This Kiss Part 2
Click to purchase: With This Kiss Part 3
With This Kiss
by Eloisa James
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Avon

Review: The Lady Most Willing

Reviewed by Jen

It’s anthology, but not.  It’s dubbed as “a novel in three parts” and I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. Each author tackles a different couple, but all three love stories fall under the umbrella of a bigger picture.  And for the most part, I really liked it.

The basic story is this: a Scottish laird, who sees no prospect of a wife and child of his own, decides to find a matches for his two nephews and potential heirs.  So he kidnaps four eligible heiresses (and one stuffy duke by accident) and drags them back to his castle to put his plan in motion.  Snow keeps anyone from leaving, and everyone ends up finding their perfect match over the course of a few days.

Generally speaking, I really hate it when couples fall in love in such a short time, but the story had almost a fairy tale type feel that made me fixate on this less.  And though the individual love stories were clearly defined, I thought the authors did a fantastic job of working together to make it all flow together in a cohesive way.

The first third of the book was my favorite.  It features a lovely pairing between the stuffy duke, Bret, and Catronia, a lesser member of the nobility. The laird didn’t really mean to kidnap either of them. After all, Catronia has no money to bring to a match with one of his nephews, and the duke is –well– a man.  But they really make a great couple, as the duke found someone to look past his title for the first time and see him simply as John.

Part two featured the laird’s uptight and proper nephew, Byron, and Fiona, the bespectacled redhead with a tattered reputation. This one was my least favorite of the three. I just didn’t think Byron made an attractive hero and his affections toward Fiona seemed to come out of nowhere.

Part three focused on the laird’s true heir, Robin, who has a reputation as a dissolute rake.  But Lady Cecily doesn’t judge him on the gossip. She is a firm believer in true love, and (though neither realizes it right away) theirs was a case of love at first sight.  Robin really tries to stay away from Cecily, because he believes she deserves better than him, but she won’t give up on what’s in her heart.

The whole thing was very easy reading… sweet and fun. I was a bit sad when it was over.  Definitely worth reading for fans of historical romance.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Lady Most Willing
by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockaway
Release Date: December 26, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: The Ugly Duchess

Reviewed by Jen

This book pushed my buttons in a bad way.  I know many people enjoyed it. Most were able to get over the things that got stuck in my craw.  But it did not work for me at all.

I had problems from the very beginning. James and Theodora grew up together. Theo had been taken in as ward of James’ father. They were essentially raised as siblings.  Unfortunately, Daddy Dearest lost all of his money in bad investments and some of Theo’s dowry too. If anyone were to find out, he could go to prison. So he forces James to propose to Theo to hide the crime and legally get his hands her remaining funds.  James cares for Theo and knows what he doing is wrong, but he does it anyway.

I thought this dynamic was kind of squicky. Rather quickly, though, James begins to have less than brotherly feelings towards Theo and their marriage is the real deal.  Until Theo finds out why he proposed.  She is heartbroken and orders him away.  James takes her demand seriously, heading to the high seas, where he spends the next seven years as a pirate.

That’s right. I said SEVEN YEARS.  He leaves her the entire responsibility of running his estate and getting it out from under his father’s debts.  He leaves her to deal with his father’s death alone… and then her own mother’s passing as well. Not to mention that she is left to shoulder the cruel moniker of the “Ugly Duchess,” she was given by all the newspapers from the day they wed.  They had been married only two days before he left her, and her humiliation was heartbreaking.

In her husband’s absence, Theo remakes herself. She ends up very successful and the height of fashion. She moved on with her life, but in a very closed-off way. James broke something inside her and what remained was icy and distant.  It was just as she was preparing to have him declared dead that James returns.  He has decided he wants her back and somehow he thinks he is entitled to it. Despite his lies to get her to marry him. Despite the fact he abandoned her. Despite the mistresses he took while he was gone.

Yes. Mistresses. And he has no problem with the fact that she knows it. He even talks to her about them, about how he considered their marriage over.

This was the point that I was ready to stop reading.  I didn’t even want them to work it out.  I didn’t want him to be redeemed.  I just wanted to rage.  This is not ok. You can’t go around shtupping other women in your randy pirate life then come back and say no other man will ever touch your wife. You can’t consider your marriage over, yet still consider it valid when it suits you.  You can’t make me like you again.

Unfortunately, I can’t say Theo holds onto her anger quite the same way. To the contrary, one nice bath and a couple of hours naked and all seems forgiven. Let’s reiterate the seven years part. And the mistresses part. No. Just no.

Rating: D+

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Ugly Duchess
by Eloisa James
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon