Posts Tagged ‘Family-Dynamics’

(Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

He thinks she’s an annoying know-it-all…

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

She thinks he’s just plain mad…

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless …

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn’s enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.


**4.5 Captivating Stars**

THE SUM OF ALL KISSES, the third book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet series, was just what I needed after the darkness and intensity of my last book. I know that Julia Quinn will captivate me with the romance, charm and humour of her stories.

Hugh is definitely the most tormented of the heroes in this series. Even though he did everything in his power to make things right after the reckless, drunken duel, he is still filled with overwhelming guilt. His friend Daniel might have forgiven him but it seems he can’t forgive himself. He seems a lonely figure… constantly in pain from his lameness and believing it makes him less of a man. I think that’s why he stole a piece of my heart and the fact that he is an unconventional hero…with his amazing memory and mathematical genius.

Both he and Sarah have preconceived ideas about each other. Hugh can’t stand Sarah’s tendency to overdramatize …

Sarah Pleinsworth was one of those dramatic females given to hyperbole and grand announcements.

and Sarah hates Hugh for causing her family so much pain and hurt…

“They are my family,” she said in a choked voice, “and you have hurt them beyond repair. For that, I can never forgive you.”

So watching their feelings gradually change and evolve as they learn more about each other was so heart-warming. There are many delightful scenes but I absolutely love this one…for me it is gloriously romantic!

It was the strangest, most awkward waltz imaginable. Instead of a clasped pair of hands, elegantly arched before them, they both put their weight on the cane. Not too heavily; they didn’t need that much support, not while they had each other. He hummed in three-quarter time, and he led with light pressure on her back, moving the cane whenever it was time to turn.
He had not danced in nearly four years. He had not felt music flow through his body, nor savored the warmth of a woman’s hand in his. But tonight … It was magical, almost spiritual, and he knew that there was no way he could ever thank her for this moment, for restoring a piece of his soul.

Another memorable scene, but for very different reasons, is where Sarah massages Hugh’s leg and he’s having all sorts of randy thoughts! I’ll leave you to read that one!!

Ms Quinn always imbues her stories with a strong sense of family and the scenes between Sarah and her younger sisters are a sheer delight. I love Hugh’s reaction to their conversations…

Hugh could only stare. There appeared to be sixteen different conversations going on at once. With only three participants.

The youngest sister, Frances steals every scene she’s in…she’s so adorable.

The least said about Hugh’s father the better, other than to say, when he is described as a rat bastard, it is definitely no exaggeration!

My only criticism is that the drama towards the end of the book, involving Hugh’s father, seems excessive but it certainly didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

THE SUM OF ALL KISSES is a charming romance with endearing characters, sparkling dialogue and delightful touches of humour.



Read November 2013

The Smythe-Smith series to date (click on cover for more information):

Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2) The Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

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(Ministry of Marriage #4)(The Westruthers #1)

Genre: Regency Historical Romance

Official Blurb 

London’s Ultimate Bad Boy…

Physically reckless, irrepressibly roguish, and poised on the brink of ruin, Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Davenport, returns from the dead only to throw himself into dissipation. Until he meets his worst nightmare: a straitlaced former schoolteacher he can’t get out of his head. He resolves to seduce the delightful Miss Hilary deVere by fair means or foul. But when his past returns to endanger Hilary, he must protect her at all costs…

Meets England’s Most Proper Miss

Dismissed from her post at a ladies’ academy because of prejudice against her uncouth family, Hilary will do anything to avoid going back to live with her loutish brothers. She longs for a London season to show the world a deVere can behave with utmost decorum and to find a respectable husband. Everything about Lord Davenport appalls her, but desperation makes strange bedfellows. To get to London, Hilary strikes a bargain with the devilish Davenport, confident that she’s immune to his charm. But as she discovers surprising depths beneath his rakish surface, this infamous scoundrel becomes more temptation than even the most proper lady can withstand…


“I am London’s most notorious scoundrel. As such, it is my job to seduce you. As a virtuous lady bent on establishing her pristine reputation, it is your job to stop me.”

I really enjoyed this book! A classic opposites attract story, it combines all the right ingredients; an irresistible scoundrel of a hero… a delightfully spirited heroine… sparkling dialogue…delicious chemistry and spicy love scenes… drama…an array of interesting secondary characters.

This is the fourth book in the Ministry of Marriage series and, although it works well as a stand-alone, it would be a pity to miss out on the previous books in this engaging series.

I couldn’t help but fall for Jonathon… he’s such an adorable scoundrel. He has the looks, the intelligence, the charm and a great sense of humour. But dig deeper and you find a man adrift…an honourable man who sacrificed his scientific work and his reputation for the noblest of reasons. Without purpose, his life has spiralled into a continuous round of drinking and womanising and he is tittering on the brink of scandal. Then a ‘virago in tiny, fragile, fairy form’ enters his life!

Hilary is such a delightful heroine but has a lot on her plate. Her guardian is hardly aware of her existence; the deVere family name is synonymous with every type of scandal and the reason she loses her governess job;her brothers are selfish, hard-drinking, womanising louts and the family house is tumbling down around their ears. She dreams of a season in London where she might find a kind, refined gentleman to settle down with and have the security and stability she has always wanted. Then a scoundrel with ’wide, muscled shoulders, a slim, tapered waist, and firm, taut buttocks’ enters her life!

It’s obvious that these two polar opposites are going to clash big time and this leads to some hilarious scenes. One of my favourites is where Mrs Farrington, the lady Hilary hopes will sponsor her London debut, arrives. Failing to heed her manservant Hodgins’s warnings, Hilary takes her guest in the direction of the drawing room only to be met by the sounds of female laughter and the doors flying open to reveal…

Half-naked women, mostly clothed men, empty wine bottles strewn about, articles of clothing festooned over the furniture…
And in the doorway that big, gorgeous ruffian of an earl, standing solid and tall as the trunk of a tree, with two females— two!— twining around him like vines. He grinned down at her. “Care to join us?”

I had no difficulty in visualising that hilarious scene!!

Their banter is a total delight as well and this has to be my favourite exchange:

”Ah, “ she said, nodding wisely. “I see that you are like most men, grumpy as a bear with a sore head in the morning.”
His jaw turned granite. “My dear Miss deVere, I have an erection between my legs the approximate size of a flagpole. If you don’t want me to use it, go away.”


I loved the chemistry between Jonathon and Hilary and how they come to love and respect each other and finally realise what they truly want. The ending was beautifully done.

The mystery sub-plot, concerning events in Jonathon’s past, only really builds towards the end of the book but there is quite a tense scene and I’m happy to say the villain gets his just desserts.

I loved the dynamics between Jonathon and his Westruther cousins; the solid, reliable Lord Beckenham, the elegant Viscount Lydgate and the arrogant Marquis of Steyne, all waiting in the wings for their own stories.

I enjoyed seeing Cecily and Rand ( A Duchess to Remember ) and Rosalind and my favourite ‘Beast’, Griffin ( Mad About the Earl ). I loved how everyone rallied round in support of Hilary even those master manipulators the Duke of Montford and Lady Arden. Speaking of Lady Arden, I enjoyed seeing her trounce the irascible Baron deVere!

There is an excerpt from the next book in the series, THE GREATEST LOVER EVER (31 December 2013) and it definitely whetted my appetite for Beckenham’s story.

Now I can’t possibly end this review without allowing you a sneak peek at Jonathon’s glorious buttocks!

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 stars


Read July 2103

The Ministry of Marriage series to date (click on the book covers for more details):

Heiress in Love (Ministry of Marriage, #1) Mad About the Earl (Ministry of Marriage, #2) A Duchess to Remember (Ministry of Marriage, #3) London's Last True Scoundrel (Ministry of Marriage, #4) The Greatest Lover Ever (Ministry of Marriage, #5)– 31 December 2013

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(Kellington #1)

Genre : Historical Romance

Official Blurb 

Caught behind enemy lines at the Battle of Waterloo, nurse Jane Wetherby is forced to seek shelter with British operative Lord Edward Kellington. After a night of passion, the two are separated. With nothing but the alias Jane used to protect her family, Lord Edward is unable to find the woman he cannot forget.

Seven years later, Jane courts scandal by serving as the unofficial surgeon in the village of Marston Vale. When Edward arrives to formalize his betrothal to a viscount’s daughter in accordance with his late father’s wishes, Jane has no choice but to watch the match proceed. When a threat from the past emerges, Jane must join forces with Edward to safeguard her loved ones. But at what risk to her heart?


I really enjoyed this book! It combined all the right ingredients; a lovely heroine, a worthy hero, lively repartee, delicious sensuality, a little intrigue and an array of interesting secondary characters.

What I love about Ned…

– his charm and wit
– his kindness and generosity to others regardless of their station in life
– his protectiveness towards those he loves and cares about
– his support and admiration for Jane
– his uncertainties about being a father
– a real romantic at heart but would never admit it

What I love about Jane…

– her determination to keep her child despite being disowned by her grandfather and ostracised by society
– her strength and resilience in the face of all her difficulties
– her unwavering love for her daughter Violet (Vi)
– her compassion, kindness and generosity to those who need her help
– her outspokenness and refusal to be brow-beaten, particularly by our hero

I enjoyed the development of the romance between Ned and Jane and their scenes together positively sizzle with sexual tension. Although the book is categorised as erotic, I didn’t find it overly so. The love scenes are definitely HOT on my sensuality rating but without being too graphic. Their road to happiness is a rocky one littered with obstacles but it all serves to push Ned and Jane into declaring their love for each other and treating me to a most satisfying happy ending.

Ms Driscoll has gathered together an interesting cast of secondary characters including Elizabeth, Ned’s independent and out-spoken sister, the rather austere Duke of Lynwood, Ned’s eldest brother, and the enchanting Violet who really captured my heart. The scenes between Ned and Vi are utterly delightful. I absolutely loved the teasing and light-hearted banter between the Kellington brothers.

I did notice a few modern words creeping into the dialogue but they certainly didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the story.

A few favourite quotes…

I hope you’re sewing the wound expeditiously and not creating an embroidery pattern as if amusing yourself on a winter’s day.”

“Do you have brothers and sisters?” Vi asked him.
“Three brothers and one sister.”
Vi’s eyes lit up. “I’d love to have three brothers and a sister. All I have is Titania.”
“Yes, but at least Titania catches mice. I’m afraid none of my brothers can catch mice, although I’m sure my sister is clever enough to do so.”
“What are their names?”
“The mice my sister catches? I’m not sure she ever named them.”
Vi broke out in giggles and Ned felt punched in the gut. He wasn’t sure he’d ever heard a sweeter sound.

“So, Ned, you nodcock,” said Lizzie as she poured herself and Jane a brandy, “what’s this about you getting engaged to a termagant with the fashion sense of a nearsighted opera dancer?”

This was Maureen Driscoll’s debut novel and the first book in her Kellington family series. Having read and enjoyed Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid, I’m certainly keen to read the other siblings’ stories.


RATING: 4/5 Stars


Read May 2013

My sincere thanks to Maureen Driscoll for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Kellington Series (click on the cover for more details):

Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid (Kellington #1) Never Miss a Chance (Kellington #2) Never Wager Against Love (Kellington #3) Never Run From Love (Kellington #4) Never Deny Your Heart (Kellington #5)

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The Marriage Game #1

Setting: Regency England, 1814

Official Blurb

Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak of heart…

Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially astride a horse. And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within in his blue-eyed gaze…

For Lord Finley, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he’s returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage—to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies—but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control…



THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE, Ella Quinn’s Regency Historical debut novel, is a delightful mix of romance, excitement and charming characters.

I have a soft spot for unconventional heroines and Phoebe certainly falls into that category. She combines beauty with intelligence, daring, a political and social awareness and a damaging right hook!

For the first time in Phoebe’s life, she was truly afraid. Desperate, she broke his hold and drove her fist into his nose.

I’m also partial to a hero in hot pursuit of a reluctant heroine and love Marcus’ sheer determination to prove to Phoebe that he is no longer the arrogant, spoilt young man of eight years ago, but a man of honour and integrity.

I enjoyed Ms Quinn’s gradual development of the romance between Phoebe and Marcus. Marcus’ actions have instilled such feelings of fear and hurt in Phoebe that it takes a lot of effort on his part to break through the barriers she’s erected around her heart. His love for Phoebe has remained constant and his years of exile in the West Indies have given him time to reflect on his actions and realise what an arrogant and stupid young man he was. I love his willingness to let Phoebe set the conditions regarding his courtship. It certainly enhances the sexual tension and provides for some amusing plotting and scheming from various family members and friends. Although I like my love scenes with plenty of steam, I feel  Ms Quinn’s less explicit scenes do fit the general tone of the story perfectly and so this isn’t a minus point for me.

The secondary characters definitely add richness to the story (although, at times, it does seem like a cast of thousands! LOL!) I love the family dynamics and Lord Travenor makes a suitably menacing villain.

The family exchanges provide some lovely touches of humour and witty dialogue. This is one of my favourites:

“Does she always travel like this?” (Marcus)
Geoffrey grinned. “Always, unless she is fleeing you. Never saw her travel so light before.”
“At least she leaves the furniture,” John said. “I had a great-grandmother who took half her house when she traveled.”

The period language definitely gives the story an authentic Regency feel but, occasionally, I was distracted by some of the phrases, such as ‘peep o day boy’, which I’d never come across before. But, overall, this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story.

How I imagine Marcus…

How I imagine Phoebe…

THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE is a perfect blend of heart, wit and charm which will certainly appeal to all lovers of Georgette Heyer.


RATING: 4/5 Stars


Many thanks to the author, Ella Quinn, for providing me with an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

Read April 2013

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