Monday, May 20, 2013

A Family Affair by Jennifer Wenn

This was a very lovely romance and a strong debut and start of what is sure to be a lively, romantic series from Jennifer Wenn!  Lady Francesca Darling has known she would marry Devlin Ross, Duke of Hereford, from the tender age of five.  Not having seen him for thirteen years, she still harbors her young crush and when she runs into him again at her debutante ball, her feelings come crashing back and intensify into an adult longing.  Devlin has decided long ago not to marry and be the kind of father his father was to him, cold and cruel but something about Fanny makes him reconsider.  Maybe he can marry and be happy but then tuck her away in the countryside with their children and stay away....or maybe Fanny has her own intentions and will never let that happen.  Watching how this all resolves itself, with plenty of help from her loving, interfering family is a delight to read!

I enjoy stories that have large, lovingly meddlesome families and Fanny is part of a wonderful one!  The first female born in years, she is spoiled and indulged but it has shaped her into an honest young lady with a kind, generous heart.  I enjoyed watching all the interactions between her parents, brothers and uncles and how close they are were with each other.  This is a huge adjustment for Devlin who was an only child and is not used to the boisterousness of a large family.  Even though he has been friends with Fanny's uncle for years, it is still a hard adjustment and he handles it badly at first and it causes quite a strain on Fanny and Devlin's relationship. His fear of being a rotten father is also handled well and I admired how he came to realize how happy he can be as a father and husband and not just as a husband.  Warm, sexy and delightful, I thoroughly enjoyed this romance and am looking forward to more of this wonderful family finding their happily-ever-afters!  4 stars

*review copy provided by author, thanks!!

Book blurb from Goodreads:

Devlin Ross, the Duke of Hereford, has long ago made a vow to himself to break the curse his father has cast upon him by mentally abuse him throughout his childhood by never marry or have a family of his own. But when he meets Lady Francesca Darling, his best friend's merry niece, he can't help himself - he must have her.

Fanny, who fell in love with Devlin when she was a mere five years old in that obnoxious, stalking way only a child can, didn't hesitate when it came to her feelings towards him. She had loved him dearly for thirteen years and would not let her interfering relatives stand in the way between her and lifelong happiness. 

But was she stubborn enough to make him realize exactly how simple-minded he was when it came to fulfilling the vow he once made?

The Secret Life of Lady Julia by Lecia Cornwall

I have really enjoyed all of Lecia Cornwall's previous works but this one just did not click with me as much.  It features a plot with political intrigue and that is just not a plot I enjoy personally.  I also felt like the romance between Julia and Thomas needed a bit more attention.  After a passionate meeting in the beginning, they do not speak to each other again until half way into the story.  There were a lot of people and names and it got a bit confusing and overwhelming for me and I would have just like a bit more time focused on the couple and their personal issues.  After all, Julia has a very large secret that Thomas does not find out about until the very end and I felt like it was all glossed over a bit too easily.

However, I did really enjoy the different locale we saw.  Quite a bit is set in Vienna which was refreshing and exciting and the attention to detail was very well done but a bit overwhelming for me.  So while this did not work for me, it will appeal to romance fans who enjoy the political angle with some mystery and heat.  But for me, 3 1/2 stars this time.

eARC provided by Avon Books via edelweiss

Monday, May 13, 2013

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

I just adore this series!  I love the fact that I am laughing within the first couple of pages and that is exactly what I was doing, reading the interaction between Griffin York, Duke of Halford, and his mother.  His mother who has taken him to Spindle Cove to find a wife (she wants grandbabies desperately).  To thwart her, he chooses the girl that stumbles into the room covered in sugar...a barmaid.  If she can turn Pauline Simms into a duchess within a week, he will marry her.  However, he is not going to fall in love with the smart-mouthed woman.  He is going to overlook the fact that he can talk with her, really just talk.  He is going to help her achieve her dream of opening her own shop...even if returning to Spindle Cove to open her dream separates them.  Because a duke can not fall in love with a barmaid and be happy...right?

Loved it, plain and simple.  There is something magical about Tessa Dare's writing and she can not write fast enough to make me happy!  I adored watching the romance and friendship grow between Griff and Pauline.  She talks to him like he is a normal person and not a duke and her boldness and proud demeanor appeal to the generous, decent, good-hearted Griff.  Pauline can see that Griff is burying something very hurtful from his past and it has caused him to change.  He has not told his mother, with whom he has a good, though not talkative, relationship with and the distance is putting a strain on things.  Pauline, for her part, knows she will never be a duchess but she can not help falling for Griff but even after she does, she knows there can be no true future for them together.  I thought the difference in class situation was handled well in the end.  Yes it was all tied up neatly in a bow, but it was a pretty, sigh worthy bow.  Every time I read a Tessa Dare romance, I know I am going to laugh, sigh, cheer and fall in love with the characters she has created and Any Duchess Will Do is the perfect example of this!  A perfect romantic delight!  4 1/2 stars

eARC provided by Avon Books via edelweiss

Spindle Cove series
Can be read as stand alones, but most enjoyable in order as characters are recurring
A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1)Once Upon a Winter's Eve (Spindle Cove, #1.5)A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2)A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3)Beauty and the Blacksmith  (Spindle Cove, #3.5)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What a Wicked Earl Wants by Vicky Dreiling

The start of Vicky Dreiling's new series is fun, sexy and romantic!  Laura Davenport is worried when she receives a letter from her stepson's guardian, a man who has taken no interest in her stepson in years.  When he suddenly shows up to take him away, she panics and informs him she in engaged and the man has taken a personal interest in her stepson's upbringing.  Andrew Carrington, Earl of Bellingham, never imagined that his good deed of returning a flask being used by a wayward lad would get him engaged.  Yet seeing the desperation of Laura, and the way the guardian treats her, his protective nature kicks in and he plays along with the charade.  What he doesn't count on his Laura and her stepson becoming like a family to him, the one thing he will not have in his life again after the sudden death of his own family.  When circumstances change, his gentlemanly nature comes back into force but Laura is not sure she wants what he offers...she wants more.  Will Bell be able to find the words to express his true feelings before Laura is gone for good?

Laura and Bell's romance was a fun journey to read.  I really adored Andrew.  He was haughty and blunt but that was all due to the fact he was afraid to let himself fall in love again because he didn't want to lose those he loved again, like his mother, father and brother.  When he realized he had recreated a family with Laura, he, of course, reacts badly.  He knows Laura needs to be needed and he is not sure he can do that for her.  The romance grows from a friendship into something more and is very sigh-worthy.  I liked how Laura's stepson is very much part of the story and hopefully we will see his own story someday, after he grows up a bit more.  Bell's two friends add a bit more humor to the story and I also look forward to their stories and them growing up a bit as they seemed just a dash immature yet for me.  Overall, a delicious start to a sexy, witty new series!  4 stars

eARC provided by Forever via netgalley

The Sinful Scoundrels series
A Season for Sin (The Sinful Scoundrels #0.5)
Book Two: What a Reckless Rogue Needs (the set up for this one was well done and I can't wait for it!)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James

Gowan Stoughton of Craigiever, Duke of Kinross, is organized and precise and everything follows a routine, just as it has for years.  Knowing it is time to marry, when he meets the lovely Lady Edith Gilchrist and dances with her and finds her serene and likeable, he promptly asks for her hand in marriage.  Edie, who was suffering from a high fever and was not quite herself the day of the ball, or after when she agreed to the marriage, finds herself betrothed to a man she knows nothing about.  They exchange a few letters and Edie finds herself vastly relieved to find out Gowan has a sense of humor and that they seem to rub along well together.  Passion quickly blooms and after they marry...disaster strikes.  While they are compatible outside the bedroom, inside the bedroom is another story.  Edie finds herself reaching out to her stepmother and when the truth of the matter reaches back to Gowan, tempers explode and hurtful words are spoken and leave a damaging impact.  Determined to teach her husband a lesson, Edie retreats to the castles tower and awaits her husband.  Will Gown realize how much his words hurt and help bridge the gap with Edie?

Eloisa James' take on Rapunzel, with a bit of Romeo and Juliet thrown in as well, was a delight to read, plain and simple.  The build up to Edie locking herself in the tower was very well done and thought out.  I loved how straightforward she was to not just Gowan but his regimented staff as well.  I absolutely loved her dedication to her cello and learning little snippets of how to care for a cello and such (a whole separate carriage was needed just to carry it).  She takes no arguments from anyone and this is new to Gowan as everyone has always done what he says without question.  He leads a very ordered life and reveals his true heart and feelings to almost noone.  The heartbreak that follows his terrible words to Edie is raw and emotional.  I also really enjoyed a secondary storyline involving Edie's father and stepmother.  Edie has a close relationship with her stepmother and that was a pleasant experience to read!  This was one of my favorite stories so far by the esteemed Eloisa James.  Heartbreak, laughter, joy and determination make a sigh worthy romance that is sure to please many romance fans! 4 1/2 stars

eARC provided by Avon Books via edelweiss

Fairy Tale series
Standalone stores, ebooks are loosely connected to some full length books
A Kiss at Midnight (Fairy Tales, #1)When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales, #2)The Duke Is Mine (Fairy Tales, #3)The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales, #4)
                Storming the Castle (Fairy Tales, #1.5)Winning the Wallflower (Fairy Tales, #2.5)Seduced by a Pirate (Fairy Tales, #4.5)