Review: Highland Heat by Jennifer Haymore

highland heatReviewed by Jen

This book delivers on one of my favorite tropes: a hero so beneath the heroine in social status, they believe they can never make it work.  Duncan is a Scottish soldier, injured at Waterloo. Lady Grace is sister-in-law to his superior officer. They are light years apart in station, but from the moment she tended him on the battlefield, they were like moths to a flame.

Grace doesn’t consider herself “too good” for Duncan. She is attracted to him and is fascinated by every word he says and every action he makes. She thinks she’ll never see him again after that first day –that first kiss– but circumstances bring him into her life over and over again. And she couldn’t be happier. Stolen moments grow into heated touches and a real emotional connection… all while reality insists they can never have a future. [Read more…]

Review: Pleasures of a Tempted Lady

Reviewed by Jen

Ever since we were first introduced to the Donovan sisters in Confessions of an Improper Bride, I knew in my heart that Meg was alive and I had to have her story.  Poor Meg fell overboard into the sea eight years ago and has been presumed dead all of this time.  Her sisters mourned her. So, too, did William, the man she planned to marry.

She never thought she would see him again after she was kidnapped by a cruel pirate. Since he took her, she has been aboard his ship, trying to teach his wife to be a proper lady… that is, until the woman died, sending the pirate further off into the deep end.  Meg managed an escape with the man’s young son in tow.  She had to get him away from his father’s cruelty, especially since the child’s mother had passed away.  She didn’t make it far in her little boat. Thankfully, it was William who found her adrift and rescued her and the boy.

Even after so many years, the old feelings come rushing back for the both of them. But her experiences have changed Meg.  She is terrified that the pirate will find her and snatch his son back. He has deep connections in high places and she fears nowhere is safe from his grasp.  And this is what plagues her relationship with Will throughout the book.

William is a pretty great hero.  He did make one misstep (which seemed grossly out of character,) but beyond that, he is damn near perfect. He is strong, stalwart, sexy, understanding, forgiving, protective and loving. He isn’t afraid to speak his heart or to go after what he wants in a relationship with Meg. He is great with little Jake. Despite all this, Meg pushes him away over and over again. She thinks she is “protecting him.”  Instead, she hurts him and almost ruins her own chances at happiness. It was frustrating.

In the course of the story, Meg is reunited with her family, which gives us an update on the women we have gotten to know in the previous books. It also opens the story for a secondary romance between younger sister Jessica and David, a man who served on Will’s ship.  This side story was so good, it was a shame that there wasn’t more of it.  Frankly, these two should have gotten their own book –or at the very least a novella. I feel a bit robbed.

I did like the book overall, though my issues with Meg kept me from loving it as much as I hoped to.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Pleasures of a Tempted Lady
by Jennifer Haymore
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Forever (GCP)

Review: Secrets of an Accidental Duchess

Reviewed by Jen

Olivia Donovan expects nothing from life but to become a spinster and live among her sisters. A childhood bout of malaria has left her with frequent fevers and her sisters worry over her constantly. She doesn’t expect any man to take a chance on a woman with poor health — one that may not even be able to have children. But that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the looks of a handsome man when she sees it.

Max is certainly a handsome man. When he first noticed Olivia at a London ball, he was instantly smitten. He even accepted a hunting invitation from her brother in law to get close to her. And the two of them get along famously. It’s clear they are made for one another, but they create problems for themselves. Both swear they will never marry: Olivia, because of her illness. Max’s reasons are much murkier. His dad treated his mom poorly and he doesn’t want to ever hurt a woman that way –or some ridiculous nonsense.

Even worse than Max’s “reasons” for bachelorhood, was an inane bet he made with an acquaintance at the very beginning of the book. You know, one of those “gentlemen’s bets” over who could get Olivia in the sack. Which means that you know from the Prologue that the bet will kick them in the teeth just as soon as they fall in love. And it does. Fortunately, there is more to the story after that… namely, some danger from the smarmy man on the other end of the bet. But while I believed in the threat Fenwicke presented, he was a pretty one dimensional villain.

Despite my complaints, I did like both main characters. It was a gentle romance. It wasn’t rushed and I found it believable. Plus, the sex was good.

This is the second story in the Donovan Sisters series. And I think I enjoyed it more having read Confessions of an Improper Bride. References were made to the events of that book which were not fully explained… and while new readers could still enjoy the story, they’ll likely realize they were missing something. I didn’t like this installment quite as much as the first one, but I do plan to keep reading, in hopes that the missing sister Meg will one day come back for her happy ending. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Secrets of an Accidental Duchess
by Jennifer Haymore
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review: Once Upon a Wicked Night

Reviewed by Jen

This 26 page short story is a nice little bridge between the events of Confessions of an Improper Bride and Secrets of an Accidental Duchess.

Here we get a look inside the ball where Olivia and Jessica Donovan are first introduced to London society. It happens to be the same ball where her older sister was caught in a compromising position years ago, completely ruining her reputation. But Serena is coming to terms with what happened, and it’s made easier with her now-husband, Jonathan, at her side.

While the couple takes their trip down memory lane, Olivia has a close encounter with the smarmy Lord Fenwicke, setting the stage for his villainy in the next book. It’s a nice little novella for fans of the series, though it will probably mean little to those unfamiliar with the Donovan Sisters books. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Once Upon a Wicked Night
by Jennifer Haymore
Release Date: February 1, 2012
Publisher: Forever (GCP)

Giveaway: Secrets of an Accidental Duchess

The fabulous historical romance author Jennifer Haymore is offering up a copy of her new book, Secrets of an Accidental Duchess. I haven’t read this one yet, but I loved her last book, Confessions of an Improper Bride. Check out the blurb:

With her pale hair and slim figure, Olivia Donovan looks as fragile as fine china, and has been treated as such by her sisters ever since a childhood bout with malaria. But beneath her delicate facade, Olivia guards a bold, independent spirit and the kind of passionate desires proper young ladies must never confess…

It was a reckless wager, and one Max couldn’t resist: seduce the alluring Olivia or forfeit part of his fortune. Yet the wild, soon-to-be Duke never imagined he’d fall in love with this innocent beauty. Nor could he have guessed that a dangerously unpredictable rival would set out to destroy them both. Now, Max must beat a Madman at his own twisted game-or forever lose the only woman to have ever won his heart.

If you would like a chance to win, enter using the Rafflecopter form below. A big thanks to Jennifer Haymore for providing the prize! This contest is open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Confessions of an Improper Bride

Reviewed by Jen

What a surprising gem this book turned out to be.  It wrapped me up from the very beginning and I didn’t want to put it down until it was over.

At just 18, Serena Donovan fell in love during her first season in London.  But Jonathan was above her station. When the two of them were caught in the midst of a tryst, she was ruined in the eyes of society. And Jonathan turned his back on her. She was forced to set sail for her home in Anguila, with her twin sister Meg at her side.  During a storm at sea, Meg went overboard and was never found.

Six years later, Serena discovers that her mother informed London society that it was she, not her sister, who died in that tragic accident. What’s more, her mother has been corresponding with Will, the man Meg had been in love with.  Will has believed he has been writing to Meg all this time and has now asked her to return to London to wed.  Serena’s mother insists that Serena go in Meg’s place. If she marries Will, she can restore honor to the family and help finance a future for her younger sisters.

When Serena arrives in London, she comes face to face with Jonathan again.  He’s the only one who seems to recognize her for who she really is.  Of course, this takes time to come out in the open.  In the interim, Serena does her best to stay away from the man who broke her heart so completely all those years ago.  But it’s a losing battle.

There was so much raw emotion in this book.  Serena’s anguish over her past is palpable.  She is such a sympathetic character, because you can see how trusting and in love she once was.   Her shattered self esteem is crushed even more as she is forced to sublimate herself to take on her “good” sister’s persona.  But she does it for her family… for her remaining sisters who would have no future otherwise.  She struggles with the lies she must tell and fights her own heart to stay away from Jonathan… even after he reveals that he knows who she is.  And even though it would be easy to hate Jonathan for all he put Serena through, you can see the depth of his grief at her loss –and the honesty in his love for her now.

It was really very good and makes me want to find more from Jennifer Haymore.  Almost 5 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Confessions of an Improper Bride
by Jennifer Haymore
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Forever (GCP)