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Posts Tagged ‘3 Stars’


(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?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I really enjoyed Ms Collins’s previous Ugly Ducklings and Wicked Widows series. So I was looking forward to reading this first book in her new Lords of Anarchy series but, overall, I was disappointed.

Frederick was honourable, patient and protective…all the qualities I look for in a hero but he didn’t seem to have that dynamic presence on the page. Leonora was my sort of heroine…unconventional (a poet and a staunch proponent of women’s rights), intelligent, bold and outspoken.

I wanted to know about their previous relationship. How did they meet? How long they were together? What were their feelings for each other? Leonora had decided she would never marry because of the shameful secret she carried so why did she agree to the engagement to Frederick, only to call it off? In this instance, a flashback would certainly have been helpful in answering these questions. I’m not sure whether it was this lack of insight into their previous thoughts and feelings but the romance between them felt flat somehow. I also found it hard to believe that a seasoned rake like Frederick would not have realised that Leonora wasn’t a virgin when they made love.

I am not giving away any spoilers because it was fairly obvious that Frederick’s cousin and leader of the Lords of Anarchy, Sir Gerard Fincher, is responsible for Jonathan’s death. So, rather than a mystery, the main gist of the story was Frederick and Leonora working together to find the evidence to prove it. There were some especially tense moments and Gerald was truly diabolical so I was disappointed that he never got the punishment he truly deserved.

On a more positive note, I did like Frederick’s mother, the Duchess of Pemberton, who is very adept at handling three grown-up sons. I also liked Frederick’s witty friend, Lord Mainwaring and Leonora’s friend, Lady Hermione Upperton, whose skills with the reins are equal to any man’s.

My Verdict: This book was disappointing but it won’t deter me from reading Lord Mainwaring and Lady Hermione Upperton’s story in the second book, GOOD EARL GONE BAD

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2015

Lords of Anarchy series so far (please click on the book cover for more details):

A Good Rake is Hard to Find (Lords of Anarchy, #1) by Manda Collins Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy, #2) by Manda Collins – 6 October 2015

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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(Wicked Wagers, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

To live happily ever after…

Henry St. Giles, the Earl of Cravenswood, longs to find his soul mate. Now that his two best friends, both reformed rakes, are happily married, the need becomes an obsession. When they challenge him to find a wife by the end of the season or marry his neighbor, the innocently alluring Lady Amy Shipton, he can’t believe his luck. He wins, either way. But in a darkened garden, a case of mistaken identity, a drunken kiss, and a dropped emerald earring, leads Henry on a Cinderella hunt. He knows the woman he held in his arms could be the one he’s searched for all his life. He just has to find her.

Lady Amy Shipton is determined to marry for love instead of sharing her husband like her mother did. So why did she let her handsome neighbor and romantic fantasy, known as the Sinful Saint for his bedroom prowess, seduce her in his garden? And what can she do when in the middle of their passionate encounter; he whispers another woman’s name. Now Henry is hunting the owner of the earring Amy left behind, and she’s determined to retrieve it before her identity is revealed. She’s not about to give her father the ammunition he desperately wants in order to force her down the aisle.

♥♥♥♥

This is the final book in the Wicked Wagers series and I was really looking forward to the pairing of two of my favourite secondary characters from the previous books, Henry and Amy. Sadly, the romance didn’t work for me and I was left disappointed.

What I did like:

Both Henry and Amy were very likeable characters.

Henry is a contradiction because, although a rake, he is honourable and kind, dubbed “the archangel of their group” by his friends. It was also refreshing to have a hero who believes in love and longs to find his soul mate as both his friends have. He feels the grief over his older brother’s death and the weight of his responsibilities as Earl of Cravenswood, a role that should never have been his, fall heavy on his shoulders.

Amy is not only beautiful and intelligent but also kind-hearted. She has been in love with her neighbour, Henry, since she was fifteen but he has failed to notice that she has grown into a beautiful and desirable young woman during the intervening years. Amy grew up knowing that her father loved his “other family”(his mistress and illegitimate children) more than her mother and herself. She does not want a marriage like her parents and will only marry for love. She knows her father wants to marry her off as quickly as possible so he can spend more time with his “other family”.

There are some memorable scenes such as the amusing one where Amy is looking for her missing earring in Henry’s garden and to allay his suspicions she says she is looking for her escaped guinea pig “Tinkles”. It was easy to conjure up a wonderful picture of Henry crawling around the rose bush getting scratched by thorns looking for the imaginary “Tinkles”!

The other scene that particularly comes to mind is where Amy is searching Henry’s room for her missing earring and has to hide under the bed when he unexpectedly enters the room. Suffice to say, she sees more than see bargained for!

I also like how Amy and her father are finally reconciled when he seeks her forgiveness and offers some fatherly words of advice.

What I didn’t like:

I didn’t like the way in which the presence of Henry’s ex long-time mistress, Millicent, pervaded the story and was used to cause the conflict between Henry and Amy. It totally soured their romance for me. One minute Henry is bemoaning the fact that he misses Millicent and the next he’s all randy over Amy. The fact that Amy looks so much like Millicent didn’t sit well with me either. The final straw was when Amy discovers that Henry still has a painting of Millicent on his study wall 18 months after she left him for another protector. His excuse that he’d forgotten it was there was just so unbelievable to me. At that point, I could totally share Amy’s doubts that Henry truly loves her. Another reviewer wrote that she felt Henry and Amy deserved a much better story and I have to agree.

This book has garnered many good reviews but it just didn’t work for me and I think readers will have to make their own minds up.

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book covers 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

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(Marlow Intrigues, #1.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

From Kindle bestselling Historical romance author, Jane Lark, comes a brand new FREE novella to accompany her breathtaking Marlow Intrigues series.

This novella tells the story of secondary characters from The Illicit Love of a Courtesan…

Rupert Stanforth, Earl of Morton, is exasperated by his sister’s choice of friend. Meredith Divine clings, using Rowena’s plain appearance as a foil for her auburn curls and fuller figure. He would break the friendship, but the more he complains, the more time the girls spend together. Ceasing his disagreement, he hopes the friendship will die, believing Meredith will take a wrong step soon…

Meredith clings to her only friend, Lady Rowena Stanforth, despite the disgusted looks thrown by Rowena’s proud, judgmental brother. Lord Morton cannot abide Meredith because of her low standing, but Meredith’s heart favours him . . . then in his single act of kindness, Meredith grasps an opportunity she cannot resist…

♥♥♥♥♥

Last year I read and loved Jane Lark’s The Illicit Love of a Courtesan but this novella just didn’t work for me. It lacked strong character development and a believable romance.

My Thoughts

I believe the story would have benefited from being a full-length novel. Rupert and Meredith had the potential to be such interesting and complex characters but, within the confines of this novella, they lacked the necessary in-depth  characterisation  and seemed very one-dimensional. So I found it difficult to relate to them and understand their thoughts and actions.

Rupert came across as a stuffy, pompous snob and I disliked how he judged Meredith to be a scheming opportunist simply because her father was in trade.

He wished nothing to do with the little schemer. Her father was in some sort of trade. Rupert had not even wished Rowena to befriend Miss Divine , let alone become so thick with her.

Even his final change of heart seemed to be based more on the fact that Meredith was “a delicious, sultry hoyden” in bed on their wedding night (hard to believe when she is a virgin!) rather than his truly falling in love with her.

Why did it have to be him her heart favoured?

I asked myself that same question. I couldn’t understand what attracted Meredith to a man whose every look conveyed dislike, disgust and suspicion. It made her seem weak. I did have some sympathy for her because of her unhappy childhood and lack of fatherly love. She was only tolerated by the ton because several of them were in business with her father and I understood why her friendship with Rupert’s sister, Rowena, was so important to her.

I never felt any real chemistry  or deep emotional connection between Rupert and Meredith. Their falling in love wasn’t very believable, especially as there was no gradual build up…it seemed to happen too suddenly.

Thank goodness for Rupert’s cousin, Edward (hero of The Illicit Love of a Courtesan), who opened Rupert’s eyes to the fact that not everything can be viewed in simple black or white and there is a vast spectrum in between.

This one disappointment certainly isn’t going to deter  me from reading the other books in this series because I know that Jane Lark can write romances that are passionate, intense and engrossing.

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read February 2015

Marlow Intrigues series (Click on cover for more details):

The Lost Love of a Soldier (Marlow Intrigues #0.5) by Jane Lark The Illicit Love of a Courtesan (Marlow Intrigues, #1) by Jane Lark Capturing the Earl's Love (Marlow Intrigues, #1.5) by Jane Lark The Passionate Love of a Rake (Marlow Intrigues, #2) by Jane Lark The Desperate Love of a Lord (Marlow Intrigues, #2.5) by Jane Lark The Scandalous Love of a Duke (Marlow Intrigues, #3) by Jane Lark The Dangerous Love of a Rogue by Jane Lark The Secret Love of a Gentleman by Jane Lark – 23 July 2015

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(Dangerous Rogues #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Official Blurb 

Seduce and Destroy

Tristan Bradley, the notorious Marquess of Castleigh, is a danger to any woman’s reputation. Devastatingly handsome and devilishly seductive, he delights in the challenge of a lovely new conquest—especially when she’s engaged to a man he despises. But when this particular young lady asks him to dance, Tristan realizes he may not be the only one playing a game.

Or Fall Dangerously in Love

Defiantly bold and disarmingly beautiful, Lady Charlotte Lindsey will do anything to break free from her loathsome fiancé—even destroy her good name to do it. What better way to seal the deal than a tryst with Lord Tristan, who’s led many a girl to ruin? But when Charlotte looks into his eyes—and Tristan takes her in his arms—all of their schemes melt away…because the heart has a plan of its own.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

(Note: In the early part of this book, the story runs concurrently with events happening in Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady but these same events are seen from Tristan and Charlotte’s perspective. I would, therefore, advise reading Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady first.)

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and was looking forward to reading Midnight Temptations With a Forbidden Lord but, overall, I was really disappointed.

MY THOUGHTS

Tristan makes an admirable hero. I loved his devotion to his sister and the children and admired the fact that he wasn’t prepared to marry anyone who wouldn’t accept his family just as they are. I particularly enjoyed his scenes with the children…they reveal the real man behind the rakish reputation. I could understand his desire to ruin Warren given the despicable way he had treated Tristan’s sister, Bea.

I definitely did not warm to Charlotte. She came across as self-centered, stubborn, impulsive and, sometimes, very naive. For instance, I couldn’t believe that she was so naive as to think her father would welcome her back with open arms after she had been compromised. The fact that she did’nt show any concern for her cousin Genny, when she was ruined and ostracised by society, definitely counted as another black mark against her character as far as I was concerned.

I never felt that all important chemistry between Tristan and Charlotte…that spark that really makes me believe that they are truly meant to be together. I enjoyed their initial lively dialogue and the amusing letters they exchanged but this did not make up for the lack of any deep emotional connection between them. As a consequence I didn’t find their falling in love very believable particularly as there was no build up…it seemed to happen too suddenly.

I found the ending very abrupt leaving too many unanswered questions. I can only assume that Ms Clare intends to bring all these issues to a resolution in the final book of the trilogy, The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride. 

I was intrigued by the infamous Jezebel, Dowager Countess of Fallon and the enigmatic Hayden, Duke of Alsborough in the first book and definitely want read their story. My hope is that, in this final book, Ms Clare will recapture some of the magic of Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady, which made it such a delightful and entertaining romance.

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September 2013

 

The Dangerous Rogues series (click on cover for more details):

Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady (Dangerous Rogues, #1) Midnight Temptations with a Forbidden Lord (Dangerous Rogues, #2) The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride (Dangerous Rogues, #3)– 25 February 2014

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Genre : Historical Romance (early 20th century)

Official Blurb 

Diana Mayo is young, beautiful, wealthy–and independent. Bored by the eligible bachelors and endless parties of the English aristocracy, she arranges for a horseback trek through the Algerian desert. Two days into her adventure, Diana is kidnapped by the powerful Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who forces her into submission. Diana tries desperately to resist but finds herself falling in love with this dark and handsome stranger. Only when a rival chieftain steals Diana away does the Sheik realize that what he feels for her is more than mere passion. He has been conquered–and risks everything to get her back. The power of love reaches across the desert sands, leading to the thrilling and unexpected conclusion.

One of the most widely read novels of the 1920s, and forever fixed in the popular imagination in the film version starring the irresistible Rudolph Valentino, The Sheik is recognized as the immediate precursor to the modern romance novel. When first published there was nothing like it: To readers the story was scandalous, exotic, and all-consuming; to such critics as the New York Times the book was “shocking,” although written with “a high degree of literary skill.” In the author’s native England, the bestselling book was labeled “poisonously salacious” by the Literary Review and banned from some communities. But the public kept reading. The influence of The Sheik on romance writers and readers continues to resonate. Despite controversy over its portrayal of sexual exploitation as a means to love, The Sheik remains a popular classic for its representation of the social order of its time, capturing contemporary attitudes toward colonialism as well as female power and independence that still strike a chord with readers today.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

I was in a quandary when reviewing this book. Should I make some sort of concession for the fact that it was written in an era where certain beliefs and attitudes would be totally unacceptable today? Or should I simply review it using the same criteria I would use for all the other books I read. I decided on the latter because ultimately I rate a book on how it makes me feel and how much I enjoy it.

The lengthy narrative and Diane’s predilection for protracted internal monologues frequently slows the story down to a tedious pace. However, I do like E. M. Hull’s descriptive flair… how she captures so vividly the changing hues of the desert setting…the sights, sounds and smells of Ahmed’s camp… the action scenes.

Normally, I love Alpha heroes but not if they are cruel, intimidating and controlling like Ahmed. While I understand his need to rule his people with an iron hand, I absolutely abhor the way he treats Diana. Although not graphically portrayed, it is obvious Ahmed rapes her over and over again. He is determined to force her into total submission.


The easy swing of her boyish figure and the defiant carriage of her head reminded him of one of his own thoroughbred horses. She was as beautiful and wild as they were. And as he broke them so would he break her. She was nearly tamed now, but not quite, and by Allah! it should be quite!

He has no regard for her feelings and no compassion. There is never any real softening of his character and the odd glimpses of tenderness are not enough to redeem him in my eyes.

I hate that Diana does not stay true to her character…the strong-willed, confident woman we see at the start of the story. She quickly becomes whimpering and weak-willed. She may rage against Ahmed inside but simply rolls over and accepts anything he chooses to dish out.


She knew that her life was in his hands, that he could break her with his lean brown fingers like a toy to be broken, and all at once she felt pitifully weak and frightened. She was utterly in his power and at his mercy – the mercy of an Arab who was merciless.

I read an interesting post by Elizabeth Vale on Heroes and Heartbreakers, where she compared the characters in a romance novel to the opponents in a prize fight:

“Now imagine the fight is between a heavyweight champion and some skinny dude who barely tops 90 pounds soaking wet. No one wants to watch a fight like that – it’s too overmatched. No one wants to see a weakling get his butt handed to him, and no one roots for the hulking meathead willing to mop the floor with an opponent one-third his size.”

This struck me as an excellent analogy for this book. I didn’t want to see a once strong-willed heroine demeaned and humiliated by a jerk of a hero. That’s not what I look for in my romance. Maybe, because of this power imbalance, I never felt any real chemistry or sexual tension between Ahmed and Diana and their falling in love seemed forced and unbelievable.

I wanted to read THE SHEIK to fully appreciate THE SHEIK RETOLD, Victoria Vane’s retelling of this story. Overall, it was an interesting experience but not a book I can say I really enjoyed.

REVIEW RATING: 3/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

Read August 2013

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THE BRETHREN GUARDIANS SERIES BOOK 1

With the scandalous nature of her birth to live down, Isabella Fairmont dreams of a proper marriage, even if a passionless one. She saves her deepest desires for the novel she dares to pen, wherein a handsome lord with dark powers seduces her. But then her courtship with an appropriate suitor is threatened by the sudden attentions of the reclusive Earl of Black, whose pale blue eyes and brooding sensuality are exactlyas she described in her book.

Isabella tries to resist the mysterious Earl of Black.

Yet as he pursues her, with inexplicable knowledge of her past and kisses that consume her, Isabella fears she will succumb.

If only the earl could tell Isabella the truth. With very real, and treacherous, thieves endangering her life, Black will need to protect Isabella from the very people she trusts the most.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Having read and loved Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone, I couldn’t wait to read the first book in her Brethren Guardians series, Seduction & Scandal. Full of passion, suspense, mystery and intrigue, it promised to be a compelling read.

Having read some of the rave reviews, I know I am definitely in the minority but I found this book really disappointing. I’m not fond of Gothic novels and so I think my main problem with the book is the strong Gothic tone especially in the scenes between Black and Isabella. For me, the over-dramatic declarations somehow seem to diminish the sensual chemistry between them and the scenes feel stilted:

Looking deep into his eyes, Isabella licked her lips, her mouth suddenly dry, her breathing harsh behind her tight corset and the cuirass bodice of her gown. “My lord, this is reckless”.

“Reckless, dangerous, irresponsible, yes,” he murmured as he pressed against her, his chest slowly, inexorably pushing her backward till she was lying on the carriage bench and he was looming over her. “It is all those things, but it is also unavoidable, inevitable, inescapable.”

I couldn’t help but compare this to a similar situation in Addicted by the same author:

His eyes darkened and he rose from the settee, stalking her so that she stepped back from him. Towering above her, he stared down at her with his penetrating gaze.

No words are actually spoken but, to me, this scene is full of sexual tension.

The romantic element in their relationship seems sadly lacking. It always seems to be more about lust and need than love such as when Black says:

“I want you to close your eyes, and remember this, this moment between us right now, where our desire and need is so palpable neither of us can resist – where we will just fall into each others’ arms without thought or guilt, or fear of repercussions.”

This seems totally inconsistent with Black’s professed love for Isabella and his wish to protect her.

I must confess that I found the secondary characters more intriguing than the main love story. Lucy was very irritating at times but had fire unlike Isabella and when the reason for her obsession with the supernatural was explained, her actions became more understandable. Following the revelation at the end of the book involving Lucy and the impact it has on the Duke of Sussex who is suffering from unrequited love for her, I certainly want to read the second book in the series, Pride & Passion. There is also an obvious tension between Elizabeth, the Duke of Sussex’s blind sister and the Marquis of Alynwick, and I’m anxious to find out the reason in the third book of the series.

The subplot involving the role of the Brethren Guardians, the artifacts with their potential supernatural powers and the mystery surrounding the identity of Orpheus really held my interest and I will be keen to see the direction the plot takes in the following books.

VERDICT: RECOMMENDED TO ANYONE ENJOYS THEIR ROMANCES WITH A GOTHIC VIBE

RATING: ★★★

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TRAVIS SERIES BOOK 1

Lisa Kleypas has enthralled millions of readers with her powerfully seductive novels. Now she delivers a story featuring her most unforgettable characters yet….

SHE’S FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS
Liberty Jones has dreams and determination that will take her far away from Welcome, Texas—-if she can keep her wild heart from ruling her mind. Hardy Cates sees Liberty as completely off-limits. His own ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty Jones is a complication he doesn’t need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than both of them.

HE’S THE ONE MAN SHE CAN’T HAVE
When Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty finds herself under the spell of a billionaire tycoon—-a Sugar Daddy, one might say. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family’s past.

WILL THEY FIND THEIR HEARTS’ DESIRES OR WILL HEARTBREAK TEAR THEM APART?
Two men. One woman. A choice that can make her or break her. A woman you’ll root for every step of the way. A love story you’ll never forget.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m a huge Lisa Kleypas fan but I was really disappointed with her first contemporary novel.

I enjoyed the first part of this book very much and really became absorbed in the characters of Liberty and Hardy. But I found the second half rather disappointing because I couldn’t seem to connect with Gage. For me there wasn’t enough page time given to him to really develop his character fully. I just didn’t feel that spark between him and Liberty.

VERDICT: ENJOYABLE

RATING: ★★★

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