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(Wicked Wagers, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Let the Wicked Wagers Begin…

Lady Caitlin Southall’s temper has finally got the better of her. She’s challenged Harlow Telford, the Duke of Dangerfield, the most notorious rake in all of England, to a wager. She wants her house back. The one her destitute father lost to Dangerfield in a card game. But if she doesn’t win their bet, she not only loses her home, she loses her dignity and pride and damn it all, maybe her heart… For the handsome Duke has decreed, when he wins, she must spend the night in his bed.

Harlow Telford is amused by his hellion neighbor, Caitlin, or Cate to her friends, who seem to encompass everyone on earth except him. When she bursts into one of his private gatherings, he mistakes her for the entertainment. Her slap across his face sets him straight and raises the absurd desire to seduce the unconventional beauty into his bed. When she issues her daft challenge to win back her father’s pile of rubble, the terms are set. And he’ll do anything to win—except fall in love…

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This was my first book by Bronwen Evans and I really enjoyed it. It was longer than the average novella and I felt this allowed for effective characterisation and a well-paced story.

Harlow turned out to be quite a surprise. He appears to be a typical rake, only concerned for his own pleasures but, deep down, he is a man who really cares about his mother and half-brother, Jeremy. I could understand his desire for revenge against the man who brought ruination to his mother and his desire to secure Jeremy’s birth right. His honourable actions towards Caitlin were not at all what I expected. It was clear that he would not have gambled with her father had he known that Mansfield Manor was in trust for Caitlin but it created a real dilemma for him. He felt obligated to keep his promise to Jeremy but he also needed to secure Caitlin’s future by marrying her.

I enjoyed seeing the growth in Harlow’s character. Getting to know Caitlin makes him take a good look at his life…a meaningless life in which he has achieved very little. He is afraid that by opening up to Caitlin and sharing his life with her, she will find him sadly lacking and, for the first time, he wants more.

Tonight had been a revelation. Caitlin stirred more than his lust. He wanted her respect. He wanted to be… more. More for her. He suddenly found himself in the unenviable position of wanting a woman to be proud of him. He wanted her to look at him with pride, rather than simply seeing him as a title and a means to a life of wealth and ease.

Looks can be deceptive. Outwardly Caitlin may look delicate but she has a will of iron, shown in her determination not to lose Mansfield Manor. It takes boldness and daring to put the mighty Duke of Dangerfield firmly in his place.

“I’m Lady Caitlin Southall,” she called over her shoulder and, filled with satisfaction at seeing his mouth drop open, she kicked Ace of Spades and tore off at a gallop— spraying His Grace with clods of earth.
The string of curses behind her made her laugh out loud. Bumping into the duke or, rather, leaving Dangerfield in a shower of dirt, made her day.

I like how she refuses to compromise over what she truly wants from life… a partner in marriage, a man who truly loves her and understands the meaning of commitment. Despite the fact that Harlow represents everything that she despises, arrogant and overbearing, she can’t help but be attracted to him. He challenges her and treats her as an equal and, for the first time in her life, she no longer feels lonely. Her life is full of fun and happiness.

The romance…the battle of wills, the witty banter, the wagers (particularly the cake baking one), the heated, passionate encounters…is immensely enjoyable.

I was intrigued by Harlow’s friends and fellow rakehells, the arrogant Lord Marcus Danvers, Marquis of Wolverstone and the rather more honourable Lord Henry St. Giles, Earl of Cravenswood and look forward to reading their stories.

My only criticism is about the ending. While I understand the necessity for Jeremy to feel genuine remorse for his actions, the events do seem overly dramatic and somewhat contrived. However, this was a relatively small point and didn’t really spoil my overall enjoyment of the story.

Favourite Romantic Quote:

“I need a woman who completes me. Who fills my soul with song, and who can bring me to my knees in adoration with one simple smile.”

Overall, romantic, witty and entertaining.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book cover for more details):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

 

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Eternity Gambit, #2)

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy with Paranormal Elements

Cover Blurb:

Working in the Temptations Department in H.E.LLc isn’t about stock tips and sugar plums. It’s more like hands-on demolition and no one can implode a wicked man’s life with sexier flair than demonic agent, Lillith Fields. Except her newest target is providing way too many challenges and for a girl who’s used to toppling men with the slightest glance, Jackson Kent is not giving in—at least, not without a fight. He is a sports legend and a rising celebrity flagged by Upper Management for a lesson in humility or what Hades Enterprises likes to call a “take down”, but Lilly sees him as very delicious low-hanging fruit.

Jackson Kent never jumps without looking and instead of turning to putty in her hands, he is making a demon rethink her tactics. It’s Lilly who’s melting when Jackson turns sincere eyes her direction and no matter how hard she tries, the seduction isn’t going how she’d planned. It turns out that Jackson Kent might just be the very first Good Guy she’s ever met.

It’s the Temptress who’s tempted to forfeit the game and bare all.
But how will a truly good guy feel when the woman of his dreams isn’t a good girl by anyone’s reckoning? It’s a tough call and for Lilly, it’s life and death. Love is a dangerous move for a demon and she could lose more than the game if Jackson sends her packing.

DEVIL MAY CARE is the second book in The Eternity Gambit Series by USA Today Bestselling author, Renee Bernard. In this comic twist on paranormal romance, Heaven, Inc. and Hades Enterprises, LLc are nothing you’d expect them to be. “Office Space” meets “Supernatural” and the result is pure fun!

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(Duke’s Club, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance

Cover Blurb:

Lady Imogen Cavendish loves making merry. After surviving years of marriage to an old man, having seized her freedom seems the only intelligent thing to have done. Even so, years of dancing her way through parties has lost its’ luster and all she wants now is to spend most of the year on the small estate she’s purchased in Scotland. There’s just one thing. Her neighbor is an infuriating, superior, and exceptionally handsome duke!

An Arrogant Duke Who Knows It All:

Duncan Hamish Fergus, Tenth Duke of Blackburn, does everything right. Duty might as well be his middle name. After his father very nearly ruined his mother and sister’s life, Duncan is determined to never let the family name be tarnished again. Sacrificing his own pleasure seems a small price to pay until he meets the mad capped English woman, Lady Cavendish. In all his years on the path of righteous, no woman has ever tempted him to stray into sin, but no woman has ever been as mischievous or voluptuous as his saucy sassenach neighbor.

Can Imogen teach the oh so proper duke how to have a little fun or will two hearts be broken by propriety?

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I LOVED THIS BOOK! Romantic, sexy and funny, it was totally enchanting from start to finish.

How I imagine Duncan…

Once…years ago, he’d been like them. Making jokes. Smoking, drinking, making merry, as they put it. But he’d let that go. Unlike them, he took being a duke very seriously.

Duncan had watched his womanising, drunken, gambler father almost ruin the family and its good name with his profligate ways. He fears that any slight slip from a life of sobriety could send him down the same slippery path as his father and it terrifies him. Refusing to be fodder for the village gossips, Duncan is the epitome of everything that is proper until the fateful day he meets his lively Sassenach neighbour, Lady Imogen Cavendish.

How I imagine Imogen

…she’d learned that pleasure could easily be had without love. The years since her marriage had proved it time and again, and she’d enjoyed every moment without a second thought.

Ever since her elderly husband’s death, Imogen has enjoyed her freedom and lived boldly without any regrets. Her sense of fun, kind nature and winning smile brighten everyone around her. But she has begun to grow discontent with her carefree life and longs for the sort of love that her friends share with their husbands. Life takes an unexpected turn when she meets her handsome neighbour, the ever so proper Duke of Blackburn. Imogen is sure the man obviously needs some fun in his life.

I imagined the initial meeting between the “grumpy” Duncan and the effervescent Imogen would be memorable. In fact, it is one the most memorable hero/heroine first meetings I’ve read in a very long time. Here’s a taster of this wickedly delightful scene.

“I adore it,” she continued, clearly unaware of his state of torture. “I don’t know why more men don’t wear them. They seem to be far more practical for a man’s. . . um. . . Well, they’re more practical.”
At that, he could no longer suppress his groan. He was discussing the freedom of a man’s cock in a kilt with a Sassenach noblewoman. Surely, he’d conked his head on a rock when he’d fallen. Yes. That had to be it.

As a couple, Duncan and Imogen are irresistable and their romance is such a perfect blend of great chemistry, simmering sexual tension, sparkling dialogue and highly sensual love scenes. Imogen’s sense of fun positively spills off the pages and it’s easy to understand why Duncan falls under her spell and eventually sees what a wonderful woman she truly is.

Imogen wasn’t perfect. She was in many ways the opposite of it…And yet, somehow, that very thing made her the most perfect woman he’d ever met.

Duncan has never enjoyed Christmas. It had always been marred by his father’s drunkenness and then by his mother’s illness. So I loved the scene on Christmas Eve when, for the first time, he knew true joy. There is a poignant moment when Imogen puts a candle in the window and a small knitted baby shoe on the tree and it was so heart-breaking to hear the story of her loss. It made me love her even more because, despite her personal loss, she could still bring happiness to those around her.

As with the previous two books, there are some colourful secondary characters to “assist” our hero and heroine on their journey to a Happy Ever After.

~~~ the Duke of Aston who I love to bits:

“Oh, Aston is quite the character. The man is mad as a loon, a retired pirate if you must know but he’s quite good fun.”

~~~ the powerful and seductive Duke of Roth

~~~ The very pregnant Cordelia and Kathryn who threaten to pop at any moment and their respective doting husbands, the Duke of Hunt and the Duke of Darkwell.

~~~ Duncan’s impulsive sister, Lady Rosalind, who frequently subjects him to “the eye”:

It was the ability to look at one with such disbelief it verged on disgust. If it had taken physical form, it would have been a slap upside the head.

When the Dukes’ Club get together you can be assured of some great banter and, as Duncan finds out to his cost, never trust your so-called friends’ advice regarding matters of the heart, especially when they are all three sheets to the wind!

The Epilogue provides a joyous end to Imogen and Duncan’s story and a hint of whose book might be next.

Engaging writing, lively characterisation and great dialogue make this a thoroughly entertaining romance. Highly recommended.

REVIEW RATING : 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

The Duke’s Club series so far (click on the book covers for more information):

Once Upon a Duke (Duke's Club,  #1) by Eva Devon Dreaming of the Duke (Duke's Club, #2) by Eva Devon Wish Upon A Duke (The Dukes' Club Book 3) by Eva Devon

**A special thank you to Eva Devon for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. It was an absolute delight.**

NOTE: EVA DEVON ALSO WRITES AS MÁIRE CLAREMONT

I’ve added this to my must-read list.

(Once Upon a Rogue Novel, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Miss Sophia Vane, a hoyden of the first order, makes an unlikely match when she weds Nathaniel Ellison, the rich and wary Duke of Scarsdale. What starts with an unexpected friendship soon blooms into a fiery passion. But a betrayal plunges Sophia into the thorny world of London Society and entangles her in a labyrinth of manipulation and jealousy that will test the strength of her marriage. Behind her husband’s sudden icy facade, Sophia believes dwells the caring, passionate man she loves. To break through the barriers and reclaim their happiness, they must do more than simply cast away their pride. They must fight for their very lives.

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Blurb:

When opposites attract!

Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.

But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.

Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!

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I don’t read many contemporary romances but there are a few authors whose books I really enjoy and Annie West is one of them. Her books are always intense, emotional and sensual.

Damaso

Damaso is a survivor. Through a combination of determination, hard work and luck, he dragged himself up from the poverty of the Brazilian slums to become successful and fabulously wealthy, surrounding himself with beautiful things. In business, he is ruthless and single-minded, used to giving orders and having then obeyed. He has always been a loner and never indulges in long-term relationships…he guards his heart carefully.

When he meets Princess Marisa he feels an intense attraction and, with her wild reputation, she would be perfect for short vacation affair. However, he doesn’t count on the feelings she evokes in him that send him high-tailing it in the opposite direction.

Marisa

Princess Marisa is desperate to live her own life but her uncle, now King of Bengaria, after the tragic death of her beloved twin brother, controls both her life and her funds. The press have hounded her since she was fifteen, portraying her as “a little, slut, uncontrollable and without morals”. She has been stripped of everything except her pride. She feels lonely and isolated, longing to be wanted for herself and not because of her royal status. She had trusted men before and been sorely disappointed.

When she meets Damaso, she feels a bond between them and is willing to reach out and trust herself to a man again, only to be hurt and disillusioned. When she discovers that she is pregnant, Damaso is insistent that they marry.

Despite his dictatorial attitude towards Marisa, I admire Damaso’s determination that his child would not grow up abandoned and neglected like he was. The child would have a father and be cared for and nurtured

I like how their relationship develops gradually as they learn more about each other and how it changes each of them. Damaso sees that Marisa is very different to the picture painted by the media. He finds he actually likes her and sees the hurt and pain she tries to hide behind the wild party girl image. It is the first time Damaso has truly cared about anyone else and I love how all his protective instincts come to the fore when Marisa tells him about her uncle and the press vilification of her:

He wanted to grab her uncle and the media piranhas by their collective throats and choke some apologies out of them.

and the tender emotions he feels:

He wanted to crush Marisa in his arms and hold her until the pain went away.

When Marisa visits the community centre in the poor area, Damaso is furious but refuses to say why. It is only when he tells Marisa about his young life that I truly understood him, not just his fears for Marisa’s safety but also that Marisa’s reaction to discovering where he grew up would be one of disgust. The picture he paints of his life is heart-rending but it made me admire him all the more for rising above his origins. It was a world where emotions had no place if you wanted to survive but meeting Marisa made him re-evaluate his life.

Marisa is unique mixture of fragility and strength and I admire her determination to ensure that her child will not be a pawn in her uncle’s schemes. Her child would have what she never had, love. It was satisfying to watch her find a real purpose in her life and see her genuine warmth and sincerity shine through.

I enjoyed seeing the changes in Damaso and Marisa as they gradually fall in love.

He was Damaso Pires. Powerful, secure, in command of his world.
Yet he’d watched those men eat her up with their eyes and rage had consumed him. Rage and jealousy.
The realisation hit him with full force.
He didn’t do jealousy.
Damaso shook his head.
He did now.

♥♥♥

Damaso was inextricably part of her life now. As her child’s father and more, much more.

♥♥♥

“I love you, Marisa, with all my heart and soul. I want to be your husband, because there’s no other woman in the world more perfect for me than you. “

Overall, an emotionally satisfying and sensual love story.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read March 2015

**My sincere thanks to Annie West for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.**

carolcork:

I’m looking forward to what promises to be an interesting April!

Originally posted on Addicted To Romance:

Historical Romance 101Starting in the month of April, I will be on a joint effort with Jennifer @ Feminist Fairy Tales; Quinn @ Quinn Book Nook; and Anna @ On A Book Bender. As many of you know, Historical Romance is one of my favorite genres to read, in my mind there is nothing better. So when I was invited to host this event I was more than excited. This event, will take place every Monday and Friday. Each day we will be discussing a variety of topics that will help you in discovering a exciting world of historical romance reading. The reason I love romance novels, is thanks to historical romance. This is for anyone that has a love for Historical romance, or wants to discover more about this genre. This is a chance for us to be able to share what we love most about this genre…

View original 59 more words

Source: Received an ARC from the author via NetGalley.

(Lords of Anarchy, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A DANGEROUS GAME

Heartbroken by the loss of her brother, Miss Leonora Craven vows to uncover the truth about his “accident,” which seems to have been anything but. Jonathan Craven was involved with the Lords of Anarchy, a notorious driving club, and Leonora can’t help but suspect foul play. But the only way she can infiltrate their reckless inner circle is to enlist the help of Jonny’s closest ally, Lord Frederick Lisle. If only he didn’t also happen to be the man who broke Leonora’s heart…

AN UNDENIABLE DESIRE

Frederick isn’t surprised to find gorgeous, headstrong Leonora playing detective, but he knows that the Lords of Anarchy mean business—and he has no choice but to protect her. A sham engagement to Leonora will allow Frederick to bring her into the club and along for the ride. But it isn’t long before pretending to be lovers leads to very real passion. With everything to lose, is their tempestuous affair worth the risk?

Date of publication: 31 March 2025

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Source: Won in a Giveaway

(Marriage Mart Mayhem, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

London 1814…

Drake, Duke of Manchester is searching the Marriage Mart for a perfect bride. He wants a woman who is poised, sophisticated, and worthy of the title Duchess. But most of all, he wants a woman who does not want the useless emotion of love.

Socially awkward Miss Penelope Clayton isn’t meant for marriage. A serious botanist, she has no desire to wed, so being forced by her guardian to participate in the Season to find a husband is torture. She’ll never fit in with the ton, especially if they discover she’s been pretending to be a man within the scientific community.

As Drake’s family makes over Penelope, turning her from naive bluestocking to enchanting debutante, he is put upon to introduce her to society and eligible bachelors. Despite dance lessons and new gowns, Penelope is the opposite of poised and sophisticated as she stumbles from one mishap to the next. Why then, does he find it so hard to resist her?

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Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency and Medieval)

Cover Blurb:

Enter a world of dark romances, dark dreams, and ultimate passion in this two-book, multi-historical collection from bestselling authors, Regency powerhouse Christi Caldwell and Medieval master Kathryn Le Veque.

BOOK ONE: MY LADY OF DECEPTION by Christi Caldwell

For Georgina Wilcox, only child of the notorious traitor known as “The Fox”, there are too many secrets to count. However, after her interference results in great tragedy, she resolves to never help another… until she meets Adam Markham.

Lord Adam Markham is captured by The Fox. Imprisoned, Adam loses everything he holds dear. As his days in captivity grow, he finds himself fascinated by the young maid, Georgina, who cares for him. When the carefully crafted lies she’s built between them begin to crumble, Georgina realizes she will do anything to prove her love and loyalty to Adam—even it means at the expense of her own life

BOOK TWO: NETHERWORLD by Kathryn Le Veque

1197 A.D. – Smarting from the loss of his betrothed, Sir Keller de Poyer has learned not to trust women. A bear of a man with a brilliant mind, Keller is socially awkward but an accomplished knight. He is so accomplished in fact that his liege, William Marshal, gifts the man with lands in Wales for his meritorious service. But there is a catch – in order to secure the lands and titles, he must marry the Welsh heiress.

And so begins the journey into the Netherworld – a castle with a dark reputation and an heiress who hides her own terrible secrets. Death lives at Nether and Keller is caught in the maelstrom. Can he save his new wife from danger and betrayal before it’s too late?

This collection is a LIMITED EDITION that also contains bonus chapters of unpublished and published works from these two top-selling authors.

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