Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seducing the Governess by Margo Maguire

Mercy Franklin was brought up believing that the vicar and his wife were her true parents but after the death of them, her mother reveals that she was adopted by them because her birth mother had unfortunate circumstances, leading Mercy to believe she was a wanton woman. Realizing she has no funds, she accepts the request to become governess to the niece of the Earl of Ashby, Nash. Upon arriving in a rainstorm and walking towards Ashby Hall, Mercy is run off the road twice, the second time throwing a man off his horse and twisting his ankle. She is startled by his scarred face but it does not throw her and she offers her assistance to the man. He accepts and has her remove his boot which leads to a few interesting moments that stiffen Mercys back.

However, much to Mercys dismay, when she arrives at the dreary, run down Ashby Hall she realizes the man is Lord Ashby and the first group of men are the servants. Even though Mercy is attracted to Nash, she must stay and be Emmalines governess. Emmy has had two tragedies befall her in her young life. First her father, the first Earl, was shot 'accidentally' at a hunting party and then later, her uncle, the second Earl, perished in a carriage accident. Naturally she is very reserved and a bit frightened of her big uncle with his scarred face but Mercy draws out the little girl. However, she is a bit surprised that there is no housekeeper or nursemaid in the house, just men that are from Nashs army days and in need of work.

As the story progresses and the fiery snaps between Mercy and Nash grow, Nash is investing his brothers deaths because even though they were ruled accidental, he just can't shake the feeling that they are not. Mercy has her mothers journal that she does not want to go through but one rainy day she reads it and is once again devastated and hurt. She keeps shoving down her feelings for Nash as she does not want to be a wanton woman like her birth mother and as she realizes that Nash is in dire needs of funds to survive, and she has none, she knows they can not be.

Now, this is where the beginning of the book comes into focus. Mercy, and her twin, were daughters of a lovely married couple, the woman being the daughter of a duke who disinherited her due to her choice of husband (who was wealthy in his own right, just not of noble blood). The duke is now on his deathbed and wants to find the girls and bequeath them a large sum of money. So there is a man, Captain Gavin Briggs, out searching for her and realizes that he is being tailed and knows Mercys life could be in danger. This is a running side story and I am happy to see Gavin is the hero in the next book in this series as he continues his search for Mercys sister.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. This was my first novel by Margo Maguire and I am very interested in continuing this story. There were a few looses ends that were left dangling and the suspense around the brothers death was interesting, if a bit predictable in some spots. I really enjoyed the premise of long lost twin sisters finding each other and look forward to reading that happen in the next book. If you are in the mood for a feisty heroine and a slightly scarred hero with a sweet child thrown in, curl up with this one. 3 1/2 stars

I received this ebook via

Once Upon a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

This is the second in Marvelles Scandal series (love the cover!), though it is not necessary to read the first to enjoy this one. Marvelle poses this story as a 'darker Cinderella' but with the male lead as Cinderella, complete with evil stepmother. Our hero, Jonathan Pierce Thatcher, Viscount Remington, declares his love to Lady Victoria Jane Emerson at the tender age of nineteen. After a heated kiss before he must leave for Venice, Victoria agrees to carry his mothers ring and write to him. However, once Jonathan arrives in Venice to help prepare his beloved stepsister for marriage, he loses his small fortune and must accept the position that is equivalent to being a ladies maid, in more ways than just tending menial tasks for a countess.
Jonathan writes Victoria and tells her he can not return home for five years and to please not write him anymore as the count is a evil man and he fears for her safety. Victoria is very put out by this and continues to write him, but as he never replies, her heart slowly shatters. When the five years have passed, he returns home to find Victorias father dying and learns that he is to compete with three men to wed Victoria. She, naturally, wants nothing to do with him, but when she learns she must marry one of the men to secure her inheritance, the other men beg excuses and she is left with Jonathan.

The rest of the story unfolds with Jonathan and Victoria trying to forgive and rekindle their young love. When they return to Venice and a vile thing happens to Victoria, her true love for Jonathan pulls through and they work their way to a HEA. Marvelle has a way with taking unusual and thought provoking issues and working them into a very interesting story. While I did not love this one, it was once again intriguing and was a very fast read for me. If you love a rekindled love story that need to overcome a few obstacles with a bit of a darker undertone, this is a great book for you. 3 1/2 stars

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller

Its that time of the year to head back to your cowboy roots with the queen of western romance. In this new trilogy, we meet up with some more of the Creeds, Steven and his twin cousins, Brody and Connor. This book features Steven who has recently adopted his best friends five year old son, Matt, and the towns prosecutor Melissa O'Ballivan. Steven moves to Stone Creek, Arizona to be near his McKettrick side of the family and leave a bad breakup and the big city behind and start over a bit with Matt. On his first day there he sees an attractive woman, who turns out to be Melissa, and the attraction is instant and mutual.
This book is full of small town country life. Melissa is coerced into supervising the town parade and as a result, has to deal with numerous small problems from the older women in the community. One of the side storied involves a young man that Melissa had successfully prosecuted and sent to jail, getting released and returns back home and he deals with some unfortunate circumstances and lead to Melissa and Steven, a public defender, squaring off against each other. And then there is Matt. I really loved the relationship between Matt and Steven. It was no surprise to Steven that he was the guardian, this was told to him shortly after Matt was born so there wasn't they big 'what do I do with a kid?' problem, which was great. There were a bit of inconsistencies, to me I felt, with Matts age and how he acted, but that seems to happen often with kids in the book. I think its hard to hit it just right with kids and how they act versus their age.

Also present in this book is lots of family and love between them. Melissa has her brother, Brad (who is married to Meg, Stevens cousin) and her twin sisters. Thank goodness both her sisters are happily married because I thought they were going to be paired up with Stevens twin cousins and I am a bit over the twin with twin thing lately. (Of course I don't know what happens with the next two books but I hope nothing happens to the sisters husbands!!) But, at the same time, the intertwined family life is a bit confusing sometimes. Everyone seems to be related somehow! The attraction between Steven and Melissa was heated and progressed very quickly but as Melissa had been burned by a guy with kids before, she is a bit hesitant as he with her as his ex was a prosecutor as well. They gradually overcome these issues with no big misunderstanding which was a plus!

Overall, this is a pleasant book to spend a nice snowy day with while curled up in front of the fireplace and some hot chocolate. I am looking forward to the twin cousins stories as there is some good back story waiting to be told that should be interesting. I have enjoyed all of Linda Lael Millers westerns and enjoy coming back each year for more. I have not tried any other westerns, as its not really my thing, but she does a great job giving you just enough without overpowering you. 3 1/2 stars

I received this ebook via

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Sin With A Scoundrel by Cara Elliott

This was a very fun, easy read for me and I am very glad that I have the next two books handy! The heroine of this book, Lady Ciara Sheffield, is a scientist and is accused of poisoning her late husband. She has formally been cleared of the charges but his evil family is desperate for the money that her son, Peregrine (!!! thankfully called Perry) will receive. At first, they just want to have custody of him and set about to prove that Ciara is an unfit mother. But as the story progresses, more sinister actions appear.
Enter our rake hell, the Earl of Hadley, Lucas. His uncle, who has been his guardian since he was a boy, needs the help of the lovely Ciara and Lucas grudgingly sets out to ask for her help. When the two meet, the sparks fly! He has climbed into her window as she has refused to see him, as he has quite the scandalous past and wants nothing to do with him. As he explains the purpose and she sees what it is his uncle has found, she agrees to help him and they strike up a bargain of sorts. She needs to clear her name with the ton and get away from her despicable in laws and Lucas agrees to escort her to some parties and strike up a fake engagement. We all know how those usually go.... :)
I really enjoyed watching Lucas transform from his devil may care attitude into a man who grows to love a wonderful woman and her son. I also liked that even though Ciara is a scientist and her discoveries are a large part of the story, it didn't overwhelm me. I am not a huge science fan and I did not find myself skimming over anything dull. Their is a lovely side story between a fellow member of her Circle of Sin, what five woman scientists call themselves, and Lucas' uncle that was very sweet. There was also just a taste of what we can accept in the next book, To Surrender To A Rogue, that should make that a very fun, sexy read as well! I picked this book up awhile ago but bumped it up my list to read as I won a firstreads copy from of the third book To Tempt a Rake and am glad I did! 4 stars

Monday, January 24, 2011

Then He Kissed Me by Christie Ridgway

This is the second of three books in Christie Ridgways Three Kisses series about three sisters trying to save their family winery. This time we focus on Stevie Baci and newcomer Jack Parini....who just happens to be a prince. Stevie runs a limousine service, aptly called Napa Princess Limousine, and meets the good looking, tough, have-quite-a-history Jack while picking up his sister, Roxy, who is engaged to Stevie's ex Emerson. You would think you would want to hate Roxy for "stealing" Emerson away from Stevie but she is over him and you really grow to root for Roxy and Emerson, who are the side story and have their own issues that are handled very nicely.
I was excited about the royalty aspect of this book because, hey, I admit, I live a a dream world where I marry a real live prince, lol! However, it is pretty downplayed, which in a way, was nice. Jack and Roxy are not full of themselves and their mother is quite a hoot when she arrives! They had a terrible incident happen to them when they were younger and Jack has never really quite forgiven himself for letting Roxy be involved. I enjoyed that Jack and Roxy had some flaws and were not pretentious.

As for Stevie and Jack, well the sparks fly right away and when they are caught in a heated embrace but all of Emersons family, Jacks solution was a bit of a surprise. I felt these two had great chemistry together and Jack helped Stevie feel like that woman she is deep inside and just never let out. Once again we see the build up to the next story with Stevies sister Jules and Liam with a bit more of their back story, just enough to make you really want their story now and not in a few months! I think (and hope!) their story is going to be the best of this trilogy. Even though this is book two of three, I don't feel it necessary to read the first one but of course I do recommend it as it was a fun sweet book as well. Overall, if you are in the mood for a few laughs in a sweet, sexy story about some great family love try this one! 3 1/2 stars

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory

I am having a bit of a hard time writing up a review for this's not that it wasn't enjoyable because it just left me feeling a, I guess. I think that has to do with the fact it took me four days to read it and they were always just snippets of time, darn real life! That being said, I hope I can do this book with the gorgeous cover some justice!

The premise of the story is a good one, a father bets his beautiful daughter, Charlotte, in a card game and loses to a less than perfect man, Roman. Charlotte, not of any noble blood, has been brought up by her parents to be perfect, in looks, temperament, and behavior. She is tolerated by the ton because it is a know fact that she will marry well and gain some sort of title, thus giving her father the thing he wants more. As a result, she feels cold and lonely from everyone but her younger sister, Emily. Charlotte also feels the pressure to marry well to secure happiness and some sort of freedom for Emily, who is shipped off to boarding school and barely tolerated by their parents because she is too carefree and nowhere near as beautiful as her older sister.
On the night that Charlotte is to pay her fathers debt, Roman offers her the chance to refuse, but as he has needled her beforehand, she declares she does not back down from paying whats due. Roman also is not a member of the ton. He is a self made man, with many dealings in gambling halls and many of the under goings of London. He is a bit of a sinister man but is instantly attracted to Charlotte and thus begins the back and forth between these two.

I really enjoyed watching the attraction grow into something deeper and how Roman gradually broke down her walls and her with his. But at the same time, I was a bit confused with everything else that was going on. I never really grasped what all Roman does, and that may have to do with the fact I just never got to sit down and really read, but I just felt a bit muddled throughout. We learn quite quickly that Charlottes father expects nothing but perfection but the ending didn't really resolve that issue for me. Their was some resolution with the relationship with her mother, but I would have liked a bit more. Emily was a fun addition to the story and I would have liked to know a bit more about her and I hope she turns up in future books (if there are more). It was nice to see Max and Miranda again and how Charlotte wishes in her heart to have the love they have. Also, there were a few too many dangling threads left open for me and I would have like resolved.

Overall, this is an enjoyable book. Maybe not the best to me, or for me, but I can see this appealing to many readers as it was very well written but I just never got that deep connection this time. I look forward to more books, hopefully one involving Romans brother as his back story was just skimmed over and there has to be much more there! 3/12 stars
I received this book via

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Prelude to a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

By reading the back cover blurb for this book you would expect the story to be about "the battle between the lady and the rake is about to begin". Which it is.....Lady Justine is willing to become her friends (I just can't think of a better word right now) mistress in exchange for him helping to get her father out of prison for his book on his views on animals, sex, and how they are similar to humans. Justine is very surprised when Radcliff, Duke of Bradford, makes a different offer to her instead, he wants to marry her in six weeks time but they can not see each other, as he has gotten a terrible scar on his face due to his...problem.

That brings us to what else this book is about. When you open the book and read the Dear Reader letter, you learn that Radcliff is dealing with a sex addiction problem. Which really leads to some, um, interesting happenings in the book that definitely pushed my comfort zone area and left me shaking my head a bit. But Ms Marvelle does make the request to set aside what we think of 1829 and allow her to give us her version of 1829. So, I did try to do that and with saying that, this actually was a very interesting book to read. I did not love it but I did not feel like I was wasting my time reading it. It definitely makes you think that this probably really did happen during this time and I thought the author did a fairly good job handling it.
Overall, I give this book 3 1/2 stars. What dragged it down a bit for me was how Radcliff suddenly had an "aha" moment as to why he acted the way he did and I didn't quite feel that. Also, he had quite a few mood swings and with his problem, even though the romance between Justine and Radcliff seemed very genuine and true, I'm just not sure if it is deep enough to outlast everything. And then there is his (rotten) brothers pregnant mistress, Miranda who is part of the book. I didn't really like her and I thought her twist she added was a bit too much and not needed. There are two more books in this trilogy, Once Upon a Scandal and The Perfect Scandal which I am looking forward to reading. But this book reminds me to always check for that Dear Reader letter so you know what you are getting yourself into because the back blurb may not always define it so clearly! :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke

I was really looking forward to reading this book, which follows Wedding of the Season, and features the straight laced Aidan, Duke of Trathen, and the carefree Julia and I am so glad that it was just as excellent, if not a bit more, than the first! The book opens with Julia finally getting her divorce from her hateful husband, Yardley. But in the process of getting it, she ends up causing yet another broken engagement and scandal for Aidan as she uses him in her desperate plan to leave her husband.
Now six months later, Aidan is entering back into the ton in hopes of finding a proper duchess and producing an heir. He keeps thinking about Julia and their afternoon together in the cottage but is only having hazy memories. When they bump into each at a ball, the sparks are still there but they both ignore them. Julia keeps up her pretense of carefreeness that she has built all around herself as a result of some horrible actions done to her from her ex husband and continues to believe that she can never be good enough for Aidan. At the same time Aidan keeps having these memories of all their past run ins, which include the first time they meet thirteen years ago, that he just can not seem to let go.

As the book unfolds and we learn more and more of both Aidan and Julias past together and Julias deep emotional scars, Aidan slowly transforms from the stuck up man and gradually loosens up a bit and when Aidan and Julia finally romantic, sweet, and hot. After reading the first book and seeing how Aidan was with Trix (Julias cousin) I wasn't sure how he could change enough to satisfy Julia, but Ms Guhrke seems to have done a good job. And I was surprised at how long Julia and Aidan have known each other and how they always had these lingering feelings even though they barely knew each other. There are plenty of fun moments as Julia is quite a character with everyone and her dog Spike adds some good doses of humor as well. It was really an emotional ride as you want to know what Julias secrets are and what really happened that afternoon and when she finally confides to Aidan how Yardley treated her, well, it was worth the wait. Overall, if you are in the mood for a fun, sexy, emotional (but not deep) this is a great book to check out. 4 1/2 stars
I received this ebook from

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rules of an Engagement by Suzanne Enoch

This was an enjoyable sea worthy tale, and while I didn't love it, it is still a fun, easy read. This is the third installment in The Adventurers Club series and we get the swash buckling, dashing Captain Bradshaw Carroways story. (Just a side note...I think this could be read as a stand alone as almost the entire book takes place at sea so the previous characters make only brief appearances). Shaw is tasked in taking Miss Zephyr Ponsley and her father, Sir Joseph, around to islands so that Sir Joseph may collect new plants and animals for his discoveries. Even though Shaw is in the marines and this is not exactly what he signed up for, he accepts as he also has a secondary secret mission given to him from the Duke of Sommerset (who was hardly in the book this time around, sigh).
Now, Zephyr has been her fathers assistant for years, traveling the world helping him collect his botany and drawing sketches to accompanying his findings. She was not brought up in London and therefore does not know all the proper rules of society and is very free with her thinking and her opinions. Upon her first meeting with Shaw, she snorts at some comment he makes and he is immediately intrigued and drawn to her. He takes it upon himself to always accompany her about the islands as they travel, to protect her from unknown dangers, and they continue their sparring back and forth. Shaw tells her he wants to bed her and she tells him that he must court her properly....and he does. There are some wonderful, tender moments as their courtship progresses. Oh and the ending on the ship, so sweet it brought a sigh to my heart.

Overall, this was a good book. A few things dragged it down a bit for me though. Shaw is forced to take on some more passengers who need to get back home immediately and I felt they added a layer of unnecessary chatter that wasn't needed. I can not really imagine ladies and gents and maids willingly go aboard a naval ship versus a passenger ship...the comforts are far different! Also, once again, was the overuse of the word chit. I don't know why it bothers me but I just do not like seeing it on almost every single page! Then of course, we barely see Lord Sommerset and I really hope Ms Enoch is working on his book next! But for this book, if you like a strong, snappy (in a good way) heroine and a strong, passionate hero who fall in love over the high seas with a bit of danger, this is a great book for you! Oh, and of course, the talking parrot makes an appearance to add a bit of chuckles! :) 3 1/2 stars

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Unclaimed Duchess by Jenna Petersen

This was another excellent read from Jenna Peterson. We get the story of the stuck up, proud Rhys Carlisle, Duke of Waverly, and his betrothed from birth wife Lady Anne. Upon arriving home from their honeymoon, their neighbor and friend, Simon delivers some devastating news to Rhys that makes him take off immediately without even a goodbye to Anne. Anne is devastated and sets out to find out where her husband is and makes Simon tell her of the one place Rhys used to go as a child that made him happy. Anne heads to the small countryside cottage, surprising Rhys who orders her to leave. She refuses as she can see he is in deep pain but he will not confide in her. Then Rhys deals Anne the news that they must divorce, but will not tell her why, and therefore they can not risk getting Anne pregnant.
Now, Anne has been in love with Rhys ever since they were children and he protected her from his friends and she refuses to listen to Rhys and sets about trying to seduce him and praying to keep her marriage real. Rhys and Anne spend ten wonderful, passionate (hot!) days together and Rhys slowly lets down his tough guard that has been installed in him from his father. After all, nothing is more important than bloodlines.... Rhys late father had installed in him how to be a proper, cold duke and that they are more important than everyone else. So it was wonderful to see Anne slowly chip away at some of that stubborn pride and remind him of that a caring duke can do great things for others as well.
Unfortunately, Anne and Rhys must return home to London and Rhys is still intent on his plans to separate from Anne, still not telling her his secret. When he finally reveals all to her, her love continues strong for him but she grows angry at his continual dismissal of their marriage and future together. When a blackmailer threatens to expose all, she fears she has lost him forever. The ending was very pleasant and resolved the situations nicely I thought. The epilogue once again led up to what should be another excellent book in this series. I loved how Anne stayed strong and finally broke down Rhys barriers with her love and I can not wait to read more from Ms Petersen. 4 stars

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What the Duke Desires by Jenna Petersen

I wasn't too sure about this book when I started it. Lillian Mayhew is visiting the new Duke of Billingham, Simon Crathorne, with her friend Lady Gabriela. Lillian is there with the sole purpose of extracting revenge against Simon but her hatred is really directed to his late father. The previous duke had done a horrible act against Lillians mother which caused her to commit suicide. As she heard her dying fathers wish to seek revenge, though this was said to her brother, not her, Lillian sets out to diminish the late dukes perfect, honored reputation any way she can. But as she arrives and is greeted by the most handsome man, she is thrown for a loop when he introduces himself as Simon.
As the sparks fly between Simon and Lillian, and everyone from Simons mother to best friend, Rhys, tell him that this is a match that can never happen (the scandal of the suicide, she has no money!), Lillian keeps feeling drawn to him and him to her. The real turning point, for me, to make this book a good read was when Simons discovers the secrets of his late father. They are some major secrets that have been hidden his entire life. They transform this dashing man into a devastated, humble man and made me really love him. Throughout all this, Lillian is by his side but still never revealing her secret. When she finally, finally, reveals her true reason for being there, Simon is heartbroken but chooses to stay with her. Lillian flees back home for a bit until we get the happily ever after.
Even though the first half or so was just ok, the second half was excellent. It has heartbreak, sorrow, love, joy. It will make you tear up, smile, and want to smack Lillian. The epilogue leads right up to the next story, The Unclaimed Duchess (Billingham Bastards, #2) and I have started it already as I was so intrigued to continue with this story and see all the fall outs waiting to happen. I hope there is more to come in this series. 4 stars