Posts Tagged ‘3½ Stars’

(The Westruthers, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Can an Indecent Proposal

Eight years ago, a tall, handsome stranger entered Lady Alexandra’s bedchamber and consummated a marriage of the utmost necessity. The Marquis of Steyne had agreed to wed and bed Lord Brute’s admittedly lovely daughter to pay off his mother’s gambling debts. But once the deed was done, Steyne’s lawfully-wedded wife vanished into the night…

Lead to Everlasting Love?

Years later, Steyne has nearly forgotten about his runaway bride. But when he suddenly finds himself in need of an heir, he has no choice but to track her down. Living happily in a small village under an assumed name, Alexandra is surprised to see her husband—and to feel such a strong attraction to him. But she is downright shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. How can they possibly repeat the heated encounter of their ill-fated wedding night…without falling hopelessly in love?


Throughout this series, I have been intrigued by the cold, cynical Xavier. Such an enigmatic character and the surprise ending of The Greatest Lover Ever held lots of promise for his book but I was really disappointed.

I was fascinated by the destructive relationship between Xavier and his mother. Nerissa’s machinations are central to the story and it was interesting to see Xavier’s ambivalent attitude towards her. Despite everything, he had always felt the need to protect her.

Try as he might, he could not entirely eradicate the last vestige of chivalrous instinct where Nerissa was concerned.

I liked Lizzie. She had sufficient backbone to run away from her brutal father and make a new life for herself in Little Thurston. Her sunny disposition and caring nature were a perfect counter to Xavier’s darkness.

My main problem was that the romance between Xavier and Lizzie just didn’t work for me. I felt there was a lack of any deep emotional connection between them.  Given the malignant influence of his vicious, narcissistic mother, I could understand why emotionally Xavier was such an “impenetrable fortress” but I didn’t like the way he blew hot and cold towards Lizzie, seducing her one minute then being autocratic and distant the next. I  couldn’t believe that, in no time at all, Lizzie was falling in love with him. There was no building of any relationship between them to convince me because, before their eight year separation, the only time they spent together was their wedding night when Xavier was so impersonal and detached.  The romantic element in their relationship seemed sadly missing…no tender or truly romantic moments. Yes, there were some steamy love scenes but, to me, they lacked that element of intimacy that I look for.

There were some interesting plot twists but I felt the climax verged too much towards the melodramatic.

On a positive note, I loved the secondary characters, especially Xavier’s cousin, Viscount Lydgate and Lizzie’s friend, Clare Beauchamp and perhaps there is romance in the air for these two in the next book.  The other Westruther cousins and their wives and characters from Ministry of Marriage series make a welcome appearance. This helped boost my rating from 3 stars to 3.5 stars.

I loved the first two books in this series and I hope that, in Viscount Lydgate’s book, Ms Brooke will recapture some of the magic that made those books so enjoyable.



Read December 2014
The Westruthers series so far (click on the book cover for more details):

London's Last True Scoundrel (The Westruthers, #1) by Christina Brooke The Greatest Lover Ever (The Westruthers, #2) by Christina Brooke The Wickedest Lord Alive (The Westruthers, #3) by Christina Brooke


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(Devine & Friends #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb

A woman of pristine breeding, Lady Rosalind Devine is also an unrepentant meddler and snoop—which is why her brother refuses to leave her to her own devices while on his wedding trip. But Rosalind will not make things easy for any unseen, unwanted “nursemaid”—and vows to use her considerable wiles to expose her mystery guardian.

Nicholas Kincaid, the Marquess of Winterbourne, agreed to secretly guard his friend’s spoiled, stubborn sister, though her infuriating penchant for mischief is causing him to question his decision. Though bound by the rules of society—and friendship—Rosalind’s spirit and sensuality have sparked a fierce desire in Nicholas to play a very different role in her life, one that entails passion, ecstasy…and unavoidable scandal.


**3.5 Enjoyable Stars**

GUARDING A NOTORIOUS LADY was an enjoyable ‘hero falls for his best friend’s sister’ story but it just didn’t tick all the right boxes for me.

Rosalind is a charming heroine…independent, smart and funny with a penchant for matchmaking, although some would tend to call it meddling. I love how she isn’t afraid to stand up to her brother, Gabriel (At The Bride Hunt Ball)…

“Am I not only to be pitied for my unmarried state but considered utterly helpless as well?” 
“See here, Rosie. You make it sound as if I think of you as a child.” 
“Is it not obvious that you do?”

Rosalind’s excessive clumsiness…falling off ladders or tumbling into chairs…did seem an obvious ploy by the author to have her landing in Nicholas’ arms or on his lap. Unfortunately, it tended to make Rosalind look rather dippy.

I did have a problem with Nicholas. I understood his fear of falling in love having seen the sort of pain his father had endured after Nicholas’ mother died… he doesn’t want to leave himself vulnerable to that sort of pain. But he blows hot and cold towards Rosalind, seducing her one minute and then showing complete indifference the next. Even when he realised how much his actions were hurting her, he still kept doing it!

The constant swaying of his indifference to interest to slighting her for a dance grated on her mind.

I just wanted to knock some sense into that stubborn head of his!

There were a number of delightful scenes which brought a smile to my face. For instance, where certain ladies were surreptitiously trying to peak under Nicholas’ kilt or when Nicholas had to dive under Rosalind’s bed clothes to avoid being found in her bedroom.

I liked some of the secondary characters as well:

Tristan, Rosalind’s younger brother, an endearing and witty rogue…

Rosalind,” Tristan replied a bit desperately, “must you shout?” 
“Sorry.” She pressed her lips together as she took the chair to his left.
He waved away her apology with a flick of his fingers. 
“I will not ask how you’re feeling, as it is obvious.” 
“I would nod,” he said quietly, “but then my head might roll off my neck.”

and Rosalind’s crotchety, old spinster Aunt Eugenia…

“You there, young man,” Aunt Eugenia replied, gesturing to Nicholas. “You were at the ball last night, were you not? I saw you talking to my nephew.” 
“Aye, madam.”
“Weren’t you wearing a skirt?” Eugenia asked, giving him a once-over, the number of her chins increasing as she dipped her head.

Overall, this was an entertaining read but not as good as the first two books in the series, At The Bride Hunt Ball and To Wed A Wicked Earl.



Read November 2013

Devine & Friends series (click on cover for more details):

At the Bride Hunt Ball (Devine & Friends, #1) To Wed a Wicked Earl (Devine & Friends, #2) Guarding a Notorious Lady (Devine & Friends, #3)

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(The Blind Series #1)

Genre : Historical Romance (Viking) 

Official Blurb 

She’ll always fight for what she believes in…

Betrayed by a brother she hardly trusted before the bloodthirsty Viking, Jarl Randvior Sigurdsson, attacks her home, Noelle Sinclair is conveniently bartered as a means to save her cowardly sibling’s skin. Forced to leave her homeland and accompany the petulant Viking to the untamed wilderness of central Norway, Noelle is ever-aware of the burgeoning dangers around her—including her weakening resolve to resist Randvior.

Should Noelle surrender to his resplendent charms and seduction, or fight with every ounce of strength she possesses to get home?


This is Violetta Rand’s debut book and, although I did have some issues with the story, the interesting characters, the passionate romance and the intriguing plot make this a very enjoyable read.

I like how Ms Rand develops the romance between Randvior and Noelle. From their first meeting, it is obvious sparks will fly between the powerful, strong, stubborn Viking Jarl and the intelligent, strong-willed and equally stubborn, Saxon lady. There is just the right amount of sexual tension and passion between them and the love scenes are deliciously sensual. Their journey is no smooth ride though. They have to overcome their own innate prejudices and the machinations of those who conspire against them.

I enjoyed the fast-paced plot with all its twists and turns and the fascinating insight it provided into the Viking world. Ms Rand’s obvious research and attention to detail brought their complex world to life.

The secondary characters also played an important role in the story, particularly Noelle’s cowardly, despicable brother Brian, Randvior’s antagonistic, scheming mother Lauga and his witty, Scottish friend Brandon who brings some much needed humour to the story. I’m hoping he gets his own book!

What stopped me from rating the book 4 stars was that some of the language was too modern sounding…‘provocateur’, ‘wrap his head around the situation’, ‘caught with his pants down’ , ’infrastructure’. I am aware that it was Ms Rand’s decision to use modern language and I know this is not a problem for many readers but the choice of language is important to me. It is what helps create the right mood and atmosphere…what draws me into the story and transports me to another time and place. So, at times, I found myself pulled out of the story.

Overall, despite this criticism, I did enjoy BLIND ALLEGIANCE. I loved the characters, the romance and the adventure and definitely want to read Book 2, BLIND MERCY.

REVIEW RATING: 3.5/5 Stars 


Read September 2013

I would like to thank Violetta Rand for kindly providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Friday Harbor #4

When Justine Hoffman was born her mother cast a spell to protect her from heartbreak, and as a result, she is incapable of falling in love. Eventually Justine’s irrepressible curiosity —and her wish to lead a normal life —get the better of her, and she finds a way to temporarily block the enchantment. However, when Justine meets the mysterious Jason Black, she accidentally unleashes a storm of desire and danger that will threaten everything she holds dear . . . and together Justine and Jason discover that love is the most powerful magic of all.


Lisa Kleypas has a special place at the top of my list of favourite authors. I love her historicals but I understood her reasons for wanting to extend herself as an author by writing contemporary novels. The Travis series is one of my favourites and I enjoyed the first three books in the Friday Harbor series. So I was looking forward to Justine’s story but Crystal Cove was so disappointing.

What didn’t work for me ~

There was so much emphasis on the witchcraft that, at times, it seemed more like a paranormal book with romantic elements. It didn’t even feel like part of the Friday Harbor series. Apart from a very brief appearance by Zoë and Alex, none of the other characters from the previous books made an appearance. I missed those delighful family moments.

There was no slow build up of the relationship between Justine and Jason and I never felt that all important chemistry – that spark – between them. The relationship seemed very superficial and more about lust at first sight than love at first sight.

“Because love is there not just in the big romantic moments, but in all the little things. The way he touches your face, or covers you with a blanket when you’re taking a nap, or puts a Post-it note on the fridge to remind you about your dentist appointment. I think those things glue a relationship together even more than all the great sex.”

Zoë sums up my feelings perfectly. I missed those little gestures that speak volumes about the hero. You know the ones I mean – Derek Craven stealing Sara’s spare pair of glasses and keeping it in his breast pocket, next to his heart; St Vincent bringing the warming brick on the coach for Evie’s cold feet; Jack Travis changing a diaper; Alex Nolan’s endearing habit of leaving Post-It notes everywhere. These guys know how to steal a woman’s heart!

Unfortunately, Jason didn’t grab my heart. He was too controlling, aggressive and manipulative. There was no give and take as far as he was concerned. Everything had to be done his way. So what happened to the impulsive and outspoken Justine of the previous books?  She simply caved into his domineering ways.

Yes, there’s plenty of steamy sex in this book but I found the ‘truss me up like a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store deli’ scene was a complete turn off.  It didn’t fit in with the tone of the story and it was so unromantic.

What worked for me ~

As always, I cannot fault Ms Kleypas’s evocative and multi-textured writing:

As Justine unwrapped the linen, a wonderful perfume rippled upward, honey-sweet, greeny-herbal, lavender-musty, candle-waxy. The cloth, with its frayed selvage and ancient fingerprint smudges, fell away to reveal a leather-bound book with ragged deckle-edged pages. The leather binding gleamed like the skin of black plums and cherries.

Her lovely touches of humour are there too:

“A wonderful-looking man, isn’t he?” Sage asked of no one in particular. “And so well endowed.”
“Sage,” Justine protested.
“I was not referring to the fruit of his loom, dear. I meant endowed with looks and intelligence. Although …” Sage proceeded to lengthen the crotch of the pants. She held them up and asked Justine, “What do you think? Have I allowed enough room in the rise?”
“I think you’re a little too interested in what he’s packing.”

The writing and humour did increase my rating by half a star.

Perhaps I’m just getting nostalgic in my old age and longing for those heart-melting stories that leave a big smile on my face and those sigh-worthy heroes like Westcliffe, McKenna and St Vincent!


RATING: ★★★½


Read February 2013

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Official Blurb

Miss Kate Daltry doesn’t believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.

Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince . . . and decides he’s anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancée, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn’t love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble . . .

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune . . .

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything…


After reading all the great reviews about this book, I was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I have to count myself amongst the small number of readers who found it disappointing.

I did enjoy the zany humour, the wonderful array of quirky secondary characters (particularly Kate’s ‘fairy’ godmother, Henry, with her deliciously wicked tongue), the royal menagerie and even the yapping rats. My problem was that I couldn’t seem to warm towards Gabriel and so the romance just didn’t work for me. Like some other readers, for me the love scene in the turret bedroom just seemed distasteful and it was more about like mutual lust than mutual love. Even Gabriel’s groveling came far too late to placate me.

Berwick, Gabriel’s half-brother, was the one who won my heart and I can’t wait to read his story in Storming the Castle.

Coco, Caesar and ‘Freddie’ – the three small, yapping, silky Malteses (aka the ‘rats’)

Overall, I was really disappointed with the first book in Eloisa James’s new series but I definitely want to read When Beauty Tamed the Beast.

RATING : ★★★½

[Read May 2012]

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Heiress in Love (Ministry of Marriage, #1)


Official Blurb

When the Ministry of Marriage arranges a match, all that matters is power, wealth and prestige. In the business of marriage, there is no room for love. But even the most prudent plans can go awry…

Jane, Lady Roxdale, has endured one marriage of convenience decreed by the Ministry of Marriage. While she deeply regrets her late husband’s death, she is relieved to be free at last. But when a dissolute rake threatens everything Jane holds dear, she must contemplate marrying a second time…

Disgraced libertine Constantine Black inherits his cousin Roxdale’s land and title—while Roxdale’s prim widow is left all the wealth. Constantine is not a marrying man, but wedding Jane is the only way to save the estate from ruin. Jane resists the smoldering heat between them, desperate not to fall in love with an unrepentant rake. But for the first time ever, Constantine wants more than seduction. He wants all of her—body, heart, and soul…


“Clever, lush and lovely – an amazing debut!” – Suzanne Enoch

“One of the most compelling heroes I’ve read in years.” – Anna Campbell

With such praises from two of the most respected authors of the genre, HEIRESS IN LOVE certainly piqued my interest. It’s my first book by Christina Brooke and, although there were some flaws, overall I really enjoyed it.


I love very character-driven romances and this book really scores in that respect. Constantine and Jane and their growing relationship are always the central focus of the story. Constantine has such depth to his character. His reputation suggests he’s a complete scoundrel with no thought in his head save the next faro bank, the next wench, the next bottle of wine. But, behind this mask, he hides bitter memories. Memories of how, as a young man of twenty, he found himself betrayed and forced to make a choice that would alter the course of his life. The scandal that ensued left him shunned by decent society and even disowned by his own family. Only his younger brother, George, stood by him over the years. He has never been able to forget the pain of knowing his father believed him capable of the dishonourable act of which he was accused.

I enjoyed watching him emerge from his self-imposed prison to reveal the man he truly was; honourable, hard-working, warm-hearted, caring and courageous. I love the way he takes Jane’s son, Luke under his wing when he sees how much the boy needs a man’s influence in his life. This is one of my favourite scenes because it shows the warm and caring side of Constantine that he rarely reveals to the outside world.

Constantine looked like a sultan or a pasha lying there on the carpet, completely at his ease. Exotic treasures lay scattered around him like the spoils of war or offerings from foreign princes eager to win his favor. In the midst of all this paraphernalia, he and Luke seemed to be engaged in some sort of game.

At first, I didn’t warm to the prudish and opinionated Jane.  Like Constantine, her life hasn’t been easy. After her frightening experiences as a little girl and the years spent in a loveless, arranged marriage with an unfaithful husband, it is easy to appreciate why she finds it difficult to trust people. Constantine is everything she despises in a man and her attitude of icy disdain is understandable. A very different Jane emerges when she’s with those she loves and trusts, her son, Luke and her cousins, Rosamund and Cecily. I enjoyed watching her gradually shed that protective shell and liked the warm, loving and passionate woman she became.

From the moment Jane and Constantine meet, it’s obvious that these two flawed people are perfect together. I liked the way their romance develops slowly, making their growing trust and love for each other seem natural and believable.  Ms Brooke’s love scenes are full of emotion and passion and I liked that Jane doesn’t overcome her fears of intimacy and self-doubt as a woman too soon. In each love scene, she steps that little bit closer to embracing her passionate nature in full but each time the spectre of past hurt and humiliation pulls her back. I’m glad she finds the courage to bury the past and make the move to finally consummate their relationship. I loved the way Constantine understands all her self-doubts and is so determined to show her just how beautiful and desirable she is. The scene involving the cheval mirror is definitely one of my favourites!

She swayed, and he steadied her, his hands closing over her breasts. “Watch us, Jane,” he whispered into her ear. “Look how beautiful you are.”

We are introduced to some of Jane’s cousins in this book; the beautiful and kind-hearted Rosamund, the outspoken Cecily and the solid and reliable Earl of Beckenham (aka Becks). Of course, we are also introduced to the major players in the Ministry of Marriage; the Duke of Montford, its founder, Lady Arden and Oliver deVere. Montford really intrigued me because he appears cold and ruthless on the outside but it’s obvious he cares for his six wards more than he will admit. I’m also speculating about his relationship with Lady Arden. Is there more going on with them than meets the eye? Then there’s Adam Trent, Jane’s devious neighbour. He obviously has designs on Jane and claims to know more scandalous secrets about Constantine.


I did have some issues with this book which prevented it from being a 4 star read.

I really wanted to know more about Jane’s earlier years spent in the sordid boarding house before Montford rescued her. They were obviously very traumatic but Ms Brooke glosses over this period in her life.

The final argument between Jane and Constantine seemed very contrived. Jane’s belief in the lies that the devious Adam Trent tells her about Constantine seemed totally out of character. She knows that Constantine to be a man of honour and integrity and trusts him. Above all, she loves him! Why would she believe a man of questionable character who has been hell bent on discrediting Constantine in her eyes? I can understand Constantine’s reaction because he sees Jane’s willingness to believe the worst of him as history repeating itself. At least, Jane has to step up and do the grovelling which was a refreshing change from the usual scenario of the hero grovelling!

Overall,  HEIRESS IN LOVE is an enjoyable read and I will certainly be looking out for the other books in this series.

 Rating: ★★★½


 I did find a scarcity of background information about the Ministry of Marriage in the book but I have included a link to Ms Brooke’s website where she has a dedicated Ministry of Marriage page.


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