Review: The Duke of Dark Desires by Miranda Neville

duke of dark desiresReviewed by Jen

I think this final installment is the best of the four in the Wild Quartet series. For me, it did the most to make me care about the characters. I already was intrigued by Julian from Caroline’s book. I recall clearly liking him more as a love interest than the hero of who brought her a HEA. But the real draw of this book is Jane, the heroine –and her backstory that seemed to make the romance doomed from the start. [Read more…]

Review: Lady Windermere’s Lover by Miranda Neville

lady windermeres loverReviewed by Jen

I had some issues with this book.  OK, one issue primarily.  I didn’t like the hero.  That’s a pretty big obstacle to overcome.  In fact, I found myself rooting for “the other guy” to win the heroine.  This, even though she was already married and I hate adultery storylines.  I didn’t dislike the entire book, but I just couldn’t get excited about the romance. [Read more…]

Review: The Ruin of a Rogue

ruin rougeReviewed by Jen

Eh. This one didn’t quite hit the mark for me.  It was ok, but it didn’t really inspire any deep feeling.  The book wasn’t exactly boring, but it teetered on the edge.

The story centers on two characters featured heavily in The Importance of Being Wicked: Caro’s cousin Anne and her unscrupulous friend Marcus.  As the story begins, Anne is being plagued by fortune hunters.  She can’t seem to find a man who wants her for who she is, until she meets Marcus. Of course, he wants her money every bit as much as all of her other suitors, but he’s better at playing the game.  He convinces Anne that he shares her interests –that he sees the real her– and convinces her to fall halfway in love with him.  That is, until she learns the truth.  From there, she decides to teach him a lesson he’ll never forget. [Read more…]

Review: The Importance of Being Wicked

Reviewed by Jen

Money has been tight for Caroline since the death of her husband Robert.  The two eloped when she was just 17 and their seven years of marriage were a whirlwind of parties, fun, and artistic expression. Really, the only things of value she has left are her memories, her old friends, and the painting of Venus that Robert bought for her before he died.  She sold everything else to pay off his debts, but allowed herself to keep the one painting that reminded her of his love.

Caroline is serving as chaperone to her cousin Anne when Thomas comes calling for the young woman.  Thomas is very proper… stuffy, even.  But Caro thinks he would be good to her cousin.  Anne is just what Thomas needs – a combination of a good bloodline and a sizeable dowry.  But it’s Caro who heats his blood.  And the attraction goes both ways.  It’s only a matter of time before they stop trying to fight it.

The story got better for me as it developed. The first half moved a bit slowly at times as we laid the groundwork for the relationship.  I got tired of Caro extolling the virtues of her late husband, who was clearly a cad.  Especially since Thomas is such a good guy.  He is steadfast and stalwart and his inexperience and naivete are all the more attractive in contrast to Robert.

The sexual element of the relationship is well done.  I enjoyed the tension as Caro worked to seduce Thomas and the payoff was good as she taught him the ways of physical love. (He is not virgin, by the way, but he has a lot to learn.)

There is not a huge conflict here, at least not an external one.  The biggest hurdle to face is for the two to get over their issues — especially Caro.  And waiting for this to happen got frustrating at times.  But overall, I enjoyed this one.

Rating:  B

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Importance of Being Wicked
by Miranda Neville
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: The Second Seduction of a Lady

Reviewed by Jen

At 30, Eleanor is firmly on the shelf and has no plans to ever marry. Why should she? She has certainly seen her fair share of unhappy marriages. She has her own money and can make her own decisions about her life. So what if she still remembers the one night of passion she shared with a man five years ago? Max Quinton is in the past and he can never hurt her again. –Imagine her surprise when she runs into him while chaperoning her young cousin, Caro.

Max has never gotten over his brief affair with Eleanor and he is shocked to see her while he is out fishing with his ward, Robert. She rejects his attempts to apologize for his past behavior, but he is determined to win her back. A growing affection between Robert and Caro gives him just the excuse he needs to get close to her again.

I liked the story. The details of what happened between Max and Eleanor all those years ago are slowly revealed over the course of the story. The sexual tension builds very well and I thought the payoff was good.

The story was short… maybe 70 pages, so we don’t have an opportunity to get to emotionally invested in these two. And I didn’t love the fact that a sizeable part of their discord was made by misunderstanding. But overall, I found the story engaging and enjoyable.

It’s also a great set-up for The Importance of Being Wicked.

Rating: B-

*ARC Provided by Avon 

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Second Seduction of a Lady
by Miranda Neville
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: Confessions from an Arranged Marriage

Reviewed by Jen

Minerva is different than the regular young miss coming out to the ton. She is beautiful and knows her manners, but instead of frivolity, her interests lie in politics. Her dream is to marry a man with political aspirations and help him effect change. But those hopes were dashed when Lord Blakeney confused her for another woman at a party. As she slept off a migraine in the library, he drunkenly thought she was someone else and put his head up her dress. Of course, that was the moment other people began to walk in the room.

The couple is forced to marry to avoid scandal and neither is happy about it. Blake just wants to live a life free of constraints…a life that includes his sexy and worldly mistress. And though he is next in line to the Dukedom and is devilishly handsome, Minerva can think of nothing but the fact that Blake is notoriously stupid. What the reader learns quickly, is that Blake is not really stupid, but likely dyslexic. He’s never been able to read well and cultivated the image of a lazy rake to hide behind. He is terribly ashamed of his shortcomings and he knows that his academic wife would reject him further if she ever knew the truth.

It was very hard for me to like Minerva. Even though she is not wealthy or of high station, she is so very snobby that it’s nearly unbearable. She is constantly ruminating about how stupid Blake is and she is completely self-absorbed with her political machinations. Blake was an ok hero, but I never really felt like he got his due. He never really gets over the belief that he is anything more than the brawn in their relationship and that was a shame. It took him a really long time to share his secret –and I don’t blame him one bit.

Tying into Minerva’s whole reformist yearnings, there is a lot of political weaving in the book. And there is a little blackmail scheme and a dab of danger at the end. But the story really focuses on the mismatched pairing of Blake and Minerva. I can see why she eventually falls for him, but I’m not so sure why he ever falls for her.

This is the fourth book in the Burgandy Club series and it made frequent references to the events of The Dangerous Viscount, which I have not read. Things are explained fairly well, but I was very aware that the books were tied together. This could be read as a standalone, but I feel like it would be better for those who have a history with the series. 3 stars.

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Confessions from an Arranged Marriage
by Miranda Neville
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton

Reviewed by Jen

Things aren’t going well for poor Celia. She’s lost her fiance and her job as a governess. And there aren’t many prospects for her future. But just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, she is kidnapped. Her assailant steals everything she owns, forces her to strip down to her shift, and locks her away in a cottage.  It’s only by happenstance that Tarquin nearly stumbles upon her.  Just before he does, Celia’s kidnapper knocks him out and steals most of his clothes too.

When Tarquin wakes, he doesn’t remember who he is.  But Celia recognizes him as the awful dandy who insulted her in front of the ton, ruining her prospects for a favorable match.  She decides to get even with him, making up a new identity for him and pretending to be his betrothed.  The two make their escape together.  But something unexpected happens as they make their way across the country landscape… they begin to fall for each other. In fact, things progress so far that they end up lovers.

Shortly after that, Tarquin’s memory returns. Will he go back to being the haughty jerk he was before? Will anything remain of the alter-ego Celia fell in love with? It’s a pretty good story, focusing not just on the romance but the intrigue surrounding Celia’s kidnappers and what they’re after. There’s also a bit of naughty fun as Celia uses one of Tarquin’s randy novels to acquaint herself with lovemaking. That novel makes for some very entertaining reading… even I picked up some new vocabulary… though I can’t imagine ever finding an opportunity to use the word “pintle” in conversation. But I’ll try.

A little more than 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton
by Miranda Neville
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Avon