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wicked-rivals

(League of Rogues, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A LORD WITH LEGENDARY CONTROL…

Merciless and powerful, Ashton Lennox is a wealthy man because he puts business before everything else, especially love. As a member of the infamous League of Rogues, he’s no stranger to scandal. His bedroom conquests are as legendary as his fortune. As he searches for a way to bring down an old enemy bent on destroying the lives of his friends, the last thing he needs is a Scottish widow getting in his way.

A FIERY WOMAN WHO WON’T BACK DOWN…

The daughter of a Scottish lord with a dark and treacherous past, Rosalind Melbourne has spent years distancing from her past. After escaping her tyrannical father and marrying an aging English lord, she has become a powerful widow with a business empire at her command. Her business dealings are everything to her, leaving her no time for love. Especially not with her business rival Ashton, a man with a scandalous reputation as striking as his blue eyes.

A GAME OF WITS TURNS TO A GAME OF SEDUCTION…

Ashton is fascinated by the strong-willed, intelligent and sensual lady who, up until now, had outsmarted him at every turn. Rosalind wishes she could deny she is falling for the brooding, handsome baron. How can she possibly trust him when doing so could cost her what she values most—her freedom? When Ashton discovers Rosalind might hold the key to saving the League of Rogues, he knows he will do anything to woo his wicked lass. As their pasts return to haunt them and dark forces rise to keep them from exposing a deadly spymaster, their game of love turns to a game of survival…

Warning: This book includes a brooding baron who’s wild in bed, a crafty Scottish lass who never knows when to quit, a wicked game of strip chess, and a merry band of rogues whose first instinct is to run when they hear wedding bells ring.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the fourth book in Lauren Smith’s wonderfully entertaining League of Rogues series. Three of the rogues have succumbed to the parson’s noose and now the same fate awaits Ashton. Meanwhile their adversary, Hugo Waverly, continues to plot his revenge against the League members.

Ashton Lennox has always put his family first and has done everything to care for and protect them.  When his father died in scandalous circumstances, leaving the family socially and financially ruined, young Ashton returned home and worked hard to rebuild both the family’s wealth and social standing in society.

I admire Ashton for his devotion to his family, particularly as they have never fully appreciated everything he has done, especially his mother. Her reaction was to tell him that his need for money and power made him just like his father. Her cutting words left him hurt and angry and his relationship with his mother has been one of icy coldness from then on and he rarely goes home.

Apart from his family, the League is the most important thing in his life. As the oldest member, he feels a duty to protect the other members and is the most cool-headed of them. Ms Smith always writes the camaraderie between these men so well. Despite the witty banter, the close bond that exists is evident to see and, when danger threatens, they will always be there for each other.

When it comes to running his business, Ashton is ruthless, controlling and determined. That is how he has built up his wealth.

He had learned how to make men do his bidding with a cool stare and an imperious tone.

But, for the past several months, a certain Lady Rosalind Melbourne has been outmanoeuvring him on several of his deals. He also suspects that Hugo Waverly is using Rosalind’s companies for some nefarious reason. To find out, he needs to get control of the company’s books and records and so he buys up Rosalind’s debts and arranges for the banks to stop her credit, thus controlling her and her business. However, unaware of the real reason for Ashton’s actions, Rosalind is furious and determined to face him.

Anger and panic rippled through her, dueling for dominance. That damned bloody Englishman. She wanted to strangle him, but the truth of her situation was dire. He had full control over her and was toying with her the way a cat would a mouse. Something had to be done.

Rosalind grew up with an abusive father and three brothers. Her brothers did their best to protect her from their father’s brutality, but, after one particularly bad beating, she runs away from home. After stumbling into a tavern, she meets the elderly but kind Lord Melbourne who immediately marries her. He teaches her about business strategies and banking and instills in her the confidence and knowledge she needs to successfully run Melbourne, Shelly and Company which she inherits after his death. She is now in control of her own life and enjoys the mental challenges of running the companies. She has no desire to remarry and lose the freedom to choose her own destiny and I could understand why she is so furious with Ashton. She fears losing everything she has strived for and revealing the vulnerability which lies beneath her tough business-like exterior

…two reluctant hearts starved for love and yet afraid to grasp at it.

At first, Ashton is unwilling to trust Rosalind. She is far too cunning and just as ruthless as he is. Rosalind sees Ashton only as a cold, calculating business man but this does not stop the attraction that simmers between them. I like how their time spent together at Ashton’s estate allows them to view each other in a very different light; to see the real person they hide from the world.

Rosalind is surprised by Ashton’s kindness in opening his home to simple farm folk when their homes are burnt down and by her discovery that he can be sweet and playful.

This side of him caught her off guard. Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined the cool, collected man to be so… playful.

I love how, once he discovers the abuse Rosalind suffered, Ashton wants to protect, care for and spoil Rosalind and give her the happiness she deserves. He also finds he enjoys being with an intelligent, free-thinking woman with whom he can enjoy interesting conversations. He had always thought he wanted to marry a woman who was sweet and would bow to his judgement but perhaps…

It would be quite a stimulating experience to be married to Rosalind and share his life with her. They could ride, plan business decisions, even take long walks in a pleasant silence together.

Look out for the game of “strip” chess when Rosalind gambles not only her future but her clothes too!!

There is a point where a Happy Ever After seems imminent but, of course, Ashton’s deception raises its ugly head and Rosalind understandably feels betrayed. To complicate matters further, Rosalind’s burly brothers decide to “rescue” her from Ashton’s clutches but, of course, everything comes right in the end.

Hugo Waverly continues to plot his revenge with the help of spies and it was shocking to discover just how close to the League these spies are. For the first time, the League have evidence to expose Waverly but circumstances force them to make a difficult choice.

There are many intriguing secondary characters, among them is League member Charles and I think I have an inkling of the identity of his heroine (there again, my guesses have been known to be way off the mark). The Jonathan/Audrey (Cedric’s hellion sister) and the possible Brock (Rosalind’s brother) and Joanna (Ashton’s sister) pairings should prove entertaining.  Charles’s servant, Tom Linley, has always been an enigma for me but even more so now, given the disclosures in this book.


MY VERDICT: After I’ve finished a book in this series, I always find myself eagerly waiting for the next one. If you enjoy great characters
and the right blend of romance, humour and action, then I can recommend this entertaining series.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

League of Rogues series so far (click on the book cover for more details):

Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues, #1) by Lauren Smith His Wicked Seduction (The League of Rogues, #2) by Lauren Smith Her Wicked Proposal (The League of Rogues, #3) by Lauren Smith Wicked Rivals (The League of Rogues, #4) by Lauren Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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save-the-last-dance-for-me

Kindle – 77 Pages

(Maitland Maidens, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1812)

Cover Blurb:

Mr. Benedict Grey is the only heir to a long-standing title, and he knows his duty: find a suitable girl, get married, secure the succession beyond himself. But if a gentleman could be called a wallflower, Benedict would fit the description perfectly. And for the past six years, he’s been out of Society more than he’s been in it. How will he find a woman to wed and bed when he can barely converse with the ladies of the ton?

Lady Honoria Maitland has promised her dying father that, before he breathes his last, she would find a husband to take care of her. But she wants a gentleman that loves her, not her dowry or her name. When she reunites with her old friend Benedict, she proposes a plan that will help them both: a faux courtship and betrothal. She can teach him how to woo a woman and simultaneously ease her father’s last days. But Honoria’s clever plan failed to account for Benedict’s heart…or her own. Is she strong enough to bear the loss of her father and her friend?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME, the first book in her Maitland Maidens series, is Ms Lee’s debut work which was originally published in the anthology, Sweet Summer Kisses.

Antiquarian Benedict Grey is tongue-tied and awkward at society events and only too aware that he bores everyone to death. Circumstances require him to marry and produce an heir but he know he lacks the necessary social skills to court a potential wife.

Believing he is terminally ill, Lady Honoria Maitland’s father wants his daughter settled before he dies and has sent her off for a season in London to look for a husband. Although Honoria has enough money to live independently, her father believes she needs a man to protect her and there is also her young brother to consider. After eleven years on the marriage mart, she has very little hope of finding love which is the one thing she truly wants.

Benedict and Honoria were childhood friends and when they meet again at a Christmas House Party, Honoria proposes a plan that will be mutually beneficial. She will teach him how to woo a lady while he agrees to a sham betrothal to put her father’s mind at rest. However…

“Things rarely end up the way we plan them.”

I really enjoyed this friends-to-lovers romance with its likeable hero and heroine and it was also refreshing to have a less-than-perfect hero.  Even within the confines of  70 pages, Ms Lee succeeds in giving her characters sufficient depth to make them feel real. She also conveys the relationship between Benedict and Honoria in a believable and charming way. I usually love plenty of heat in my romances but, in this book, I feel the lack of explicit love scenes fits the general mood of the story perfectly.

I like Ms Lee’s intelligent and engaging writing style and I know that she employs a British editor which definitely shows in her choice of vocabulary and lack of Americanisms, the bane of British readers like myself.

MY VERDICT: A well-written and charming short story and I will be looking out for book 2 in the Maitland Maiden series, BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

Read September 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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days-of-rakes-and-roses

Kindle edition – 93 pages

(Sons of Sin, #1.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency 1816 &1826)

Cover Blurb:

Lady Lydia Rothermere has spent the past decade trying to make up for a single, youthful moment of passion. Now the image of propriety, Lydia knows her future rests on never straying outside society’s rigid rules, but hiding away the desire that runs through her is harder than she could have ever dreamed. And as she prepares for a marriage that will suit her family, but not her heart, Lydia must decide what’s more important: propriety or passion?

Simon Metcalf is a rake and adventurer. But for all his experience, nothing can compare to the kiss he stole from the captivating Lydia Rothermere ten years ago. Simon can scarcely believe he’s about to lose the one woman he’s never forgotten. The attraction between them is irresistible, yet Lydia refuses to forsake her engagement. With his heart on the line, will Simon prove that love is a risk worth taking?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Days of Rakes and Roses was originally released in July 2013 but regrettably it was not available to purchase in the UK until earlier this year. In the intervening three years, I read all the other books in the excellent Sons of Sin series. Now reading this lovely second-chance romance is just like enjoying a small but delicious dessert after the main course and I can definitely confirm that it can be read as a standalone.

I adore Simon. He truly loved Lydia but, when her father caught them in a compromising situation, he was forced to leave England or see his family destroyed. Simon knew that he could never have asked Lydia to run away with him because, as a penniless second son, he could never offer her a life worthy of her. So he had struggled to forget Lydia, drinking and whoring his way across Europe, but to no avail because:

…through all that time, nothing had erased the memory of the one woman he’d ever loved. And nothing had eased his yearning for her.

I could sympathise with Lydia’s situation. The Rothermere family has lived in the shadow of scandal for many years and Lydia has always been afraid of disappointing her father or tarnishing the family reputation. She has been in love with Simon forever but he always seemed impossibly out of reach. When she discovers that Simon feels the same way, she is willing to cast caution to the winds, but it costs her dearly. Finding Lydia in a compromising situation with Simon, her father’s retribution is swift and harsh and, from that moment on, she vows that she will be the epitome of propriety. Over the years, the passionate 17-year-old has become:

…a mature, sensible woman of twenty-seven marrying a mature, sensible man of forty-one. She was content with her decision.

So when Simon re-enters her life, Lydia is beset by all sorts of emotions. She still loves him but, for ten years, even after her father died, she had heard nothing from him, only the occasional report of his rakish exploits abroad. She’d finally accepted that he cared nothing for her and decided to move on with her life and marry Sir Grenville. I can understand her stubbornness in revealing her true feelings and trusting Simon with her heart.

I love that Simon is honest about his feelings for Lydia and prepared to fight for her even though he fears she no longer feels the same about him.

In his heart, she was his, she’d always be his. The problem was he had a strong suspicion that, while she may once have felt the same, she felt the same no longer.

Ms Campbell provides just enough conflict before these two can attain their overdue Happy Ever After.

I like how Camden, Lydia’s brother, wants her to be happy and feels she deserves better than a cold marriage with Sir Grenville and is even willing to weather any resulting scandal. I also like how he sees beyond Simon’s reputation:

Aren’t you worried that you invite a libertine into the family?”
Cam leveled an uncompromising stare on him as he lifted the decanter. “Do you mean to play my sister false?”
“Of course not.” He paused. “But how can you trust me?”
“You can’t have changed that much from the boy I grew up with.” Cam refilled both their glasses. “Anyway the best proof of Lydia’s hold on you is that you came the moment I sent for you.”

There is also a brief appearance by Sir Richard Harmsworth (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss).

MY VERDICT: Once again, Anna Campbell enchanted me with this short but captivating love story. If you haven’t read the Sons of Sin series, I can definitely recommend it to all lovers of historical romance.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read September 2016

 

The Sons of Sin series (click the covers for more details):

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) by Anna Campbell Days of Rakes and Roses (Sons of Sin, #1.5) by Anna Campbell A Rake's Midnight Kiss (Sons of Sin, #2) by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin, #3) by Anna Campbell A Scoundrel by Moonlight (Sons of Sin, #4) by Anna Campbell Three Proposals and a Scandal (Sons of Sin, #4.5) by Anna Campbell

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the-duchess-hunt

(House of Trent, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

THE DUKE’S DESIRE

Simon Hawkins, Duke of Trent, is no stranger to scandal. Rumors and innuendo have darkened the House of Trent for decades, and it has fallen to Simon to restore his tattered family name. He lives by a strict code of honor, but when he is called home to investigate his mother’s disappearance, the distinguished duke will tangle with temptation. For there waits the only woman he has ever loved-and the last woman he should desire . . .

Sarah Osborne has spent her life dreaming of Simon’s touch. But dukes do not long for lady’s maids–or so Sarah believes, until a stolen kiss sparks a passion that could be her ultimate undoing. As the couple begins a forbidden romance, a cunning enemy plots to destroy the duke and everything he loves. Now, caught in a blackmailer’s web, Simon faces an agonizing choice: Sacrifice his family’s future, or break Sarah’s heart.

♥♥♥♥♥♥                                                                                                                                         

This is my first time reading Jennifer Haymore and I really enjoyed THE DUCHESS HUNT, the first book in her House of Trent series. A charming story, it features two of my favourite tropes, friends to lovers and a cross class romance.

When Simon Hawkins, the Duke of Trent, receives news from his sister, Esme, that his mother has mysteriously disappeared, he returns home to Ironwood Park to investigate, aided by his three brothers and his half-brother. Honour, integrity, decency and propriety are the principles by which Simon Hawkins has lived since becoming Duke of Trent. His parents’ scandalous behaviour has brought the House of Trent into disrepute and Simon has spent all his life trying the restore the Hawkins’ family reputation. However, these principles are tested when, after an absence of three years, he sees Sarah Osborne again.

His body came instantly alive at the sight of her, even after all this time. Even under the circumstances. Lust. Desire. Need. All of it barreled through him in a hot rush.
Damn. She was more beautiful than ever.

Sarah Osborne was eight years old when she went to live at Ironwood Park with her father, who is employed as the Duke of Trent’s gardener. After being rescued from a blackberry bush by the thirteen-year-old Simon, he takes Sarah back to the house to have her injuries attended to. Simon’s unconventional mother takes a shine to the girl and arranges for Sarah to be raised and educated with her own children. What starts as a friendship between Simon and Sarah soon develops into a strong attraction which culminates in a passionate kiss.  Shortly after, Simon leaves for London but now, after an absence of three years, he is back. Sarah knows that, as a housemaid, there can never be any future for them but…

…she was as besotted with the Duke of Trent as she’d ever been. More so, probably.

Fearing for Esme’s safety, Simon decides to take her to London with Sarah acting as her companion. As circumstances throw them ever closer together, how long will it be before Simon and Sarah succumb to the passion that burns between them ?

I sympathised with Simon, torn between his strong sense of honour and his overwhelming love for Sarah. He knows that having such feelings for someone who works for him and is under his care is morally wrong but…

His body paid no heed to his strict attempts at discipline, to his notions of honor and responsibility.
   He wanted her.
   God help him.

Even so, he respects Sarah too much to make her his mistress and I also like the fact that, when he finally does marry, he intends to remain faithful to his wife.

I like Sarah very much. She is kind, honest, loyal and compassionate and understands Simon and loves him for himself and not for his title. She is pragmatic enough to appreciate the vast gulf that lies between them and knows that one day Simon must marry. She accepts this but I love her boldness in wanting to experience making love with Simon.

 “No regrets, Your Grace. I offer you this with my eyes wide open. I know” – she took a deep breath – “our time together will be limited. But it can be for now. Just for now, we can offer each other comfort.”

I like how she truly cares about Simon’s socially awkward sister Esme and tries to help her overcome her fears.

The romance provides a satisfying blend of emotional and sexual tension. There is potential heartbreak when a blackmailer threatens to keep the lovers forever apart but, when the blackmail threat is thwarted, Simon realises that nothing matters more than the woman he loves and refuses to live without…honour and responsibility be damned.

Sarah Osborne was the only woman who moved him. Who he admired. Who could engage him, body, mind, and spirit. He loved her. And he wanted it all.

I love the rest of the Hawkins family, particularly Lukas, the apparent black sheep of the family; Sam, the hard-working, illegitimate, half-brother; quiet, studious Esme who is keeping a rather scandalous secret. I’m definitely looking forward to reading their stories. I  love the dynamics between the brothers and their bond is obvious. I also like how they show their support for Simon and Sarah.

The deeper they dug into the mire that was his mother’s disappearance, the murkier it became.

I am definitely intrigued by the mystery surrounding the duchess’s disappearance and, as there is no resolution at the end of this book, it appears that the mystery is set to continue throughout the series…definitely an added incentive to read the other books.

MY VERDICT: This was an enjoyable introduction to this series and I will definitely be reading the next book, THE ROGUE’S PROPOSAL, Lukas’s story.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read September 2016

 

House of Trent series (click on the book cover for more details):

The Duchess Hunt (House of Trent, #1) by Jennifer Haymore The Rogue's Proposal (House of Trent, #2) by Jennifer Haymore The Scoundrel's Seduction (House of Trent, #3) by Jennifer Haymore

 

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My Lady, My Lord

(Twist, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1822)

Cover Blurb:

Book #1 in a new series of historical romances… with a twist.

The Bluestocking
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.

The Rake
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.

Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I loved this first book in Katherine Ashe’s Twist series. What a charming, creative, funny and entertaining story!

Corinna had an unconventional upbringing by Regency standards. Her father actively supported her intellectual pursuits and,instead of attending balls, she attended lectures and supported her father’s political initiatives. She travelled abroad with her aunt and uncle, returning home after her mother died to act as hostess for her father. At the age of 29 and with her bluestocking tendencies, Corinna is firmly on the shelf, but she is content hosting her own salons which attract Europe’s intellectual elite.

Ian’s late father was a gambler and a cheat whose dishonourable actions brought disgrace to the family. Needing to put as much distance between himself and the father he despised, Ian left for London where his reputation for horse racing, gambling and beautiful, unmarried women convinced society that he’d turned out just like his father. Instead he has worked hard to restore the family’s honour and fortunes.

Although childhood neighbours, Ian and Corinna have detested each other for the past twenty years. Every time their paths cross, an argument erupts with barbed insults hurled on both sides. However, one such argument has unexpected consequences which allows them to see each other in a completely new light (in more ways than one!).

While I enjoyed their cutting exchanges, I also appreciated how much pain it caused to each of them. Words and actions of the past had left wounds that have never healed and they have continued to fan the flames of their mutual contempt.

It may not appeal to Historical Romance purists but I loved the unusual “Freaky Friday” twist because the scenes where Ian and Corinna are having to live in each other’s bodies are so well written and often funny.

If Ian was obliged to eat another teacake or drink another cup of tepid swill he would vomit it all up in the middle of the Duchess of Hammershire’s drawing room. The corset bound his ribs and stomach with an iron grip. He had divested any number of women of stays, but he’d never understood before how damn uncomfortable they were to wear. How a woman ate more than a soupçon of food at a time, he hadn’t the foggiest.

Corinna refused to cry. The dratted thing would not go away, but she could not let it best her. As a person of reason and sense, she would conquer the beast. Man’s animal nature must perforce be sublimated to moral right and intellectual strength. Hadn’t the Roman moralist Seneca said something like that?
The trouble was, the more she thought about it, the larger it seemed to grow. She stared at her lap, the fine linen nightshirt tenting at her hips, and groaned in frustration.

Living in each other’s shoes also allows them to truly see each other for the first time without their judgement being coloured by animosity. Corinna has always regarded Ian as a “cretin” and a reprobate but is struck speechless when Ian’s friend, the Marquess of Drake, believing Corinna to be Ian, tells him that he is decent, honourable and a loyal friend. Corinna is also surprised to discover the careful records Ian keeps for his several estates, his successful horse breeding business and the family’s finances. He also cares deeply for his family and is liked and respected by his servants.

Ian has always been secretly impressed by Corinna’s beauty, intelligence, wit and boldness but always thought her blood ran with ice rather than hot, feminine need. He is therefore surprised to discover that she had numerous suitors over the years but has refused them all. He is left to ponder the real reason why.

Once they return to their own bodies, they are consumed with all sorts of emotions they have never felt before. Ms Ashe captured all their confusion, doubts, anguish and passion so well.

She resisted the urge to flee. Perhaps making love to him for an entire night, or at all, had not been such a good idea. She ought to have allowed her unrequited admiration to fade into sensible oblivion over months, perhaps years, without the memories of his touch to tease her. The ache inside her was unbearable.

Now deeper inside him, harder than lust or passion, an ache grew, and the power of it filled his arms, his entire body. For years he had wanted her yet told himself he didn’t, but only because he could not have her.

I was really rooting for them to confess their love for each other.

I loved Ian’s friends and do hope they each get their own stories. I also liked Ian’s younger brother, Gregory, who with Ian’s guidance, had grown into a decent young man.

Other reviewers have already mentioned the Americanisms that crept in and the incorrect forms of the address for the male characters and so I won’t labour the point. It just seems a pity that these are issues that could so easily have been remedied.

I would have liked an Epilogue because I wanted to see Ian and Corinna enjoying their hard-fought Happy Ever After but it certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

MY VERDICT: A thoroughly entertaining and refreshingly different story.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read July 2016

 

Twist series to date (click on the book covers for more details):

My Lady, My Lord (Twist, #1) by Katharine Ashe Again, My Lord (Twist, #2) by Katharine Ashe

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(Maiden Lane, #10.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1741)

Cover Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt comes a delightful Maiden Lane novella that begins once upon a moonlit night—and ends wickedly, wonderfully ever after…

Hippolyta Royle is running for her life. Pursued by hounds on a cold rainy night, the heiress flags down a passing carriage and throws herself at the mercy of the coach’s occupant. Whoever this handsome traveler may be, he is her only hope to escape a terrible fate. But should he agree to escort her to safety, he’s in for much more than he bargained for.

At first Matthew Mortimer doesn’t believe Hippolyta’s story, that she’s a fabulously wealthy heiress who’s been kidnapped. He assumes she’s a beggar, an actress, or worse. But once his new travel companion washes the mud from her surprisingly lovely face, and they share a breathtaking kiss, there is no turning back.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I really enjoyed this latest addition to Elizabeth Hoyt’s fabulous Maiden Lane series. This novella follows Hippolyta Royle’s “adventures” after escaping the clutches of the wicked Duke of Montgomery (DUKE OF SIN)

I love the unconventional first meeting between Hippolyta and Matthew. I had a vivid picture of the wet, bedraggled, dirty, smelly Hippolyta trying to convince a disbelieving Matthew that she is telling the truth and she really is an heiress! It’s hardly surprising he doesn’t believe a word and is convinced that she is either a beggar, an actress or a whore. Given the circumstances, I can forgive his boorish attitude and rather coarse language and to his credit he does take pity on her and offer to give her a lift to the next town.

Well, it was a cold and wet night after all, and he had a bit of soft spot for scamps who could tell a cock-and-bull story with a straight face.

Matthew is both surprised and impressed by Hippolyta’s intelligence and wit and starts to have doubts about his original assumptions. He also feels very protective towards her while she feels safe with Matthew. I love the scene where Matthew walks in on Hippolyta while she is soaking naked in a tin bath, and he sees for the first time just how beautiful she is.

Ms Hoyt is excellent at building sexual tension and those who enjoy their romances with a goodly dose of sexy times will be more than satisfied (no pun intended).

I admire Hippolyta’s spirit when she attends Viscount D’Arque’s ball, knowing the potential scandal it would create, and I love how Matthew is a solid presence, supporting and encouraging her.

…she stumbled a bit.
But Matthew caught her so that none of those watching could see the hesitation. “Head held high, Princess, “he murmured in her ear.

D’Arque and his grandmother, Lady Wimple, also rally round to offer their influential support and it was wonderful to see Hippolyta triumph. I think Lady Wimple sums it up perfectly.

“Well! This is all very satisfactory. I can’t think when I’ve seen a scandal with greater dash.”

I cheered when the blackmailer is well and truly hoisted by his own petard and thoroughly thrashed by Matthew. I also enjoyed seeing, Sir George, Hippolyta’s father, put the final nail in the blackmailer’s coffin.

Last but not least, I must mention Tommy Teapot, Matthew’s pet mongoose, a real charmer who steals every  scene he’s in.

My only criticism is that I would love to have spent more time with Hippolyta and Matthew and see them enjoying their Happy Ever After.

Favourite Romantic Quotes

“Beggar or heiress. Princess or pauper. I didn’t give a goddamn who or what you were, Hippolyta, I just wanted you.”

He’d stood by her, had believed in her when she’d been hopeless. Had rescued her and argued with her and made love with her and she…She loved him, her pirate, her husband, her Matthew.

MY VERDICT: This novella is a must read for all fans of the Maiden Lane series. For  those who have yet to read this brilliant series…what are you waiting for?


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read June 2016


Maiden Lane series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3) by Elizabeth Hoyt Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6) by Elizabeth Hoyt Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8) by Elizabeth HoytSweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt Once Upon a Moonlit Night (Maiden Lane, #10.5) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane, #11) by Elizabeth Hoyt– 29th November 2016

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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(Lords of Anarchy, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

LOVE IS ALWAYS A WILD RIDE.

A writer for the Ladies Gazette, Miss Ophelia Dauntry’s passion is her pen. So when she sees a fellow writer kidnapped before her eyes—and the trail of evidence leads to the Lords of Anarchy—Ophelia vows to find her friend and take down the notorious London driving club in her column. But before she can argue her case, she needs the inside scoop from its newest leader: Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent.

Headstrong, handsome Trent joined the Lords of Anarchy after a decade in the British Army. He’s made it his business to tame the misbehavior within the driving club—and the infuriatingly attractive Ophelia is only getting in his way. The deeper she digs into the case, the more she puts her own life at risk. Can Trent convince Ophelia to trust him to seek justice…and find protection, and passion, in his arms?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK is the final book the Lords of Anarchy series and, once again, Manda Collins writes an engaging mix of romance and mystery.

Trent is definitely a hero to fall in love with…strong, honourable and kind. His determination to restore the reputation of the infamous Lords of Anarchy club and help Ophelia find her friend is admirable too. I love how protective he is towards Ophelia when he tends her injuries; how he recognises her quiet loveliness when others don’t; how he expresses faith in her ability to fulfill her duties as duchess when she has doubts; how he encourages her to be open and honest with him; how he respects her enough to wait until their wedding night.

Ophelia is a likeable heroine…independent and stubborn. She doggedly refuses to agree to a passionless marriage even though her mother is determined to marry her off to her best friend’s dull son. She is also loyal and caring as seen in her deep concern for her friend, and her determined efforts to find Maggie. I like that she is wise enough to seek the duke’s help and take her two friends along when she goes to visit the orphanage, unlike some heroines who foolishly run headlong into danger. I also love her boldness and ingenuity when she finds herself in the villain’s clutches.

I enjoyed the slow build-up of the romance between Trent and Ophelia, played out against the unraveling of the mystery surrounding Ophelia’s friend’s disappearance. I also like that a genuine friendship exists alongside the growing physical attraction. It gives their relationship more depth. Trent is certainly every lady’s dream lover but I also enjoyed Ophelia’s boldness in the bedroom.

There is some delightful wit and humour in the story too. I love how Trent’s friends, Freddy and Mainwaring, are constantly ribbing him and, this is one of my favourite exchanges.

I think you’ll make a splendid father when the time comes,” Mainwaring said, turning his quizzing glass from Freddy to Trent. “Quite masterful. But sensitive too.”
“Yes,” Freddy agreed. “Like the sort of father one wouldn’t be afraid to tell about a tipple into his brandy.”

“Or a kiss behind the rosebushes,” Mainwaring added.

“Or losing the cricket match for the whole team.” Freddy agreed.

“You are both quite mad,” Trent said, shaking his head at them. “You know this do you not?”

I also enjoyed the scene where Trent adopts a display of ducal arrogance, complete with quizzing glass, when he questions Doctor Gideon.

I adore Ophelia’s father for standing up for her and loving her just the way she is. Ophelia accepts that her mother loves her but that love seems conditional on Ophelia being compliant to her mother’s wishes.

There are a number of red herrings and the mystery kept me guessing right up to the point where the villain is revealed…a nasty piece of work he is too.

MY VERDICT: A satisfying end to what has been an enjoyable series.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read June 2016

 

Lords of Anarchy series (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 Good Dukes Wear Black (Lords of Anarchy, #3) by Manda Collins

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. **

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