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Posts Tagged ‘Sensuality-Hot’

the-highlander

 (Victorian Rebels, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Can the fiercest master of battle conquer a woman’s heart?

They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent… in the game of love.

Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena—and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart… without surrendering his own?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Once again, I was completely immersed in the dark, intense and compelling world of Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels and the passionate love story between Liam and Mena.

The story opens with a powerful Prologue that had me totally riveted to the pages. Ms. Byrne does not shy away from depicting the harrowing events of Liam’s youth and how his violent, abusive, sadistic father tried to shape Liam in his own image. It isn’t easy reading but it gave me a real understanding of Liam’s character; his fear that the same tainted blood runs through his veins and that he would one day become a monster just like his father; the decision he is forced to make to protect is brothers; his belief that by becoming a soldier he could expunge his violent tendencies on the battlefield but all the violence and bloodshed only serves to confirm his belief that he is unworthy of peace or happiness.

The scars he carried upon his soul were horrid and deep as those on his back. Some of the wounds remained open and bleeding, poisoning his chances at happiness or peace.

Mena’s life has been hellish too. Mentally and physically abused by her husband for the past five years, he has now had her committed to an asylum (the reason forms part of the plot of the previous book, The Hunter, and, for those who haven’t yet read that book, I am avoiding spoilers). Once again, Ms. Byrne conveys the chilling reality of Mena’s suffering and abuse in graphic realism and it is not for the faint hearted. These scenes are a powerful indictment of Victorian society, where those without a voice could be committed to such a terrible fate without redress.

I love the scene where Mena is on her way to Ravencroft Keep, Liam’s home, and the carriage wheel fractures. The driver sets off to the keep to get help and, in the meantime, a group of dirty, bedraggled highlanders appear. Liam demands she open the door but Mena refuses point blank, not believing for one minute that he is the marquess. Their exchanges are so funny but, more than anything, I  love how Mena has the courage to refuse to do as Liam says, particularly as he shows every sign of exploding at any moment!

“Do you happen to have any proof of your lordship or nobility?” she suggested, blinking pleased, expectant eyes at him as though she’d offered some sort of foolproof plan. “A signet ring, perhaps, or a seal of—”

  “The fact that I havena torn this carriage apart with my bare hands is proof enough of my nobility,” he growled through lips drawn tight over his teeth. “Now open the bloody door.” 

“I’m sorry, but no.” She shut the window.

It’s obvious that Liam loves his children and has done everything he could to protect them but, after such a long absence, he doesn’t know to relate to his grown-up son and daughter. I love the scenes between Mena and Liam’s children, especially the one where she has a rather clever way of persuading Andrew to read the three classics. I also enjoyed seeing the loving relationship flourishing between Liam and his children.

I like how Ms. Byrne builds the romance slowly. Yes, there is lots of sizzling sexual tension, desire and passion…

The moment they’d met had been like the whisper of a storm kissing a hot, humid day with a blessed chill. The promise of something dark and exciting gathered on the horizon, and Mena had watched that storm rumble closer with every instant they’d spent together. Every time she’d banked the fires that blazed in his eyes. Every time he’d ignited heat into her cold heart.

but they also get to know each other and share their tragic pasts. I love how two such mismatched people are so perfect for each other. Mena finds a man she can trust who will protect and cherish her and allow her to be strong, while Liam finds a woman who accepts him for who he is and offers him the chance to protect rather than hurt and finally find peace.

I liked the secondary characters especially Jani, Liam’s Indian valet, Liam’s children and Liam’s brother, Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, whose story will be told in THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE (October 3rd 2017). I was also intrigued by the references to the Duke of Trewyth and look forward to reading his story in THE DUKE.  

While the main focus of the story is the romance, there is an element of drama in the form of a malevolent force within the keep and Mena’s husband’s attempt to institutionalize Mena again. Dorian Blackwell (The Highwayman) and Christopher Argent (The Hunter) prove their worth as allies for Liam and this fearsome trio show no mercy when exacting revenge on those who have harmed Mena.

MY VERDICT: Another superb addition to this darkly compelling series. Highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

 

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

The Highwayman (Victorian Rebels, #1) by Kerrigan Byrne The Hunter (Victorian Rebels, #2) by Kerrigan Byrne The Highlander (Victorian Rebels, #3) by Kerrigan Byrne The Duke (Victorian Rebels, #4) by Kerrigan Byrne The Scot Beds His Wife (Victorian Rebels, #5) by Kerrigan Byrne – October 3rd 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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a-gentleman-undone
(Blackshear Family, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A seductive beauty turns the tables on a gentleman gaming for the guiltiest of pleasures in this rich and sensual Regency romance from beloved newcomer Cecilia Grant.
 
Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play—both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London’s gentlemen’s clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm’s length.

A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind and a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

After reading A Lady Awakened, I knew I had found an author who wasn’t afraid to push the recognised boundaries of Historical Romance with her daring, unique stories and unconventional, flawed characters. I found A Gentleman Undone just as original and engrossing.

I admire Ms. Grant for her unflinching and gritty characterisation of Lydia, whose very flaws make her such a complex, unconventional and fascinating heroine. I admit that it is difficult to like the bold, ruthless, cold-hearted, sexually aggressive woman we see at the beginning of the book; a woman who has no time for tenderness or emotion.

Tenderness was a rat whose neck she wrung with her own hands before hurling it over the hedge to rot with feelings.

I love how Ms. Grant shows the subtle changes in Lydia, as fractures begin to appear in the walls she has built around herself, and I saw a softer Lydia emerging. For me, one moment in particular illustrates the change in Lydia more than any other. It is when she gives Mrs Talbot the money which will secure not only that lady’s financial security but also a place of her own. In doing this, Lydia is willing to relinquish her own chance of financial security and her response to Mrs Talbot’s reaction is a far cry from the woman devoid of all feelings.

It was wonderful, one of the most wonderful things Lydia had ever seen. Her foolish heart felt like a teacup into which someone had forgot to stop pouring.

The key to understanding Lydia lies in her past and, as her darkest secrets are revealed, I saw a vulnerable woman desperate to expunge the guilt she feels over her parents’ death. She had tried to destroy herself layer by layer but when that failed, she found the will, the strength and the ruthlessness to survive.

Out of the ashes of catastrophic misfortune she’d reinvented herself as something formidable, honed and tempered by each disaster she weathered.

Will has his own demons, having returned from the Napoleonic Wars burdened with a deep sense guilt over the death of Talbot, one of his men. Plagued by black moods, he sometimes feels that he has lost the ability to enjoy himself.

Let them come, the sorrow and anger and bleakness and oh, the tireless self-recrimination that swirled up from the pit of his stomach like plumes of coal dust. He was nothing if not accustomed to their company.

He resists his sister’s attempts to draw him back into the family circle, in the hope of restoring him to the carefree brother she once knew.

Although he believes otherwise, Will is essentially a good and honourable man as shown in his determination to ensure that Talbot’s wife and child are financially secure and independent of the relations she currently lives with. He is patient and understanding and protective of those he cares for, even though his willingness to be Lydia’s knight in shining armour does not exactly provoke the right response!

“I’m not some bedraggled kitten for you to rescue from a ditch.”

I love how Will comforts Lydia when she has nightmares and wants to discover the real Lydia behind the belligerent stranger he has come to care for. I love how he defends Lydia and the choices she was forced to make and is willing to suffer estrangement from his family rather than abandon her.  I also like his reference to the double standards of society.

“I cannot seem to find my place any longer in a society where to keep a woman in sin is a more respectable path than to give her my hand and my name.”

Ms Grant took me on an emotional roller-coaster of a journey. Their romance is passionate with lots of sizzling sexual tension. At times, the sex scenes are raw, earthy and explicit but reflect Lydia’s belief that she is unworthy of tenderness and that rough, impersonal sex is a way of making her forget the guilt she feels over the death of her parents…a way of punishing herself.

The fact that Lydia continues to consort with Edward, her protector, at the same time as her relationship with Will is developing might be unacceptable to some readers. However, I saw it as realistic because Will could not afford to keep Lydia as his mistress and, if she was no longer under Edward’s protection with no way to support herself, she would most likely find herself back in a brothel.

Will and Lydia have to fight every step of the way for their Happy Ever After but I felt that their love would endure.

Happiness still felt, at odd moments, like something with which she oughtn’t to be trusted. A delicate and costly music box put into the hands of a maladroit child. Yet happiness felt, too, like a prize she and Will had fought for and seized. An edifice they’d built with their own bare hands out of the scrap heap of mistake and misadventure.

I like how Martha, Will’s sister, and her husband, Mirkwood, (A Lady Awakened) are sympathetic towards Lydia and Will because Martha knows from her own experience that people in desperate circumstances do what they must and she also married a “black sheep” whom her family disapproved of.

I was quite fascinated by the card-playing aspects of the book, probably because I played vingt et un (or twenty one as we called it) in my much younger days.

Once again, I loved Ms. Grant’s beautiful, evocative writing.

She would lay waste to him tonight. To herself as well. She would hurl herself against him like a wave breaking over a rock. She would claw her way to oblivion as many times as she must, until no fragment of human feeling remained.

♥♥♥

Here after all was their condition, perched on their separate wind-whipped summits, in view of each other, but too distant to reach.

♥♥♥

He was a man, for Heaven’s sake. Men liked bedsport wherever they could get it. Why the devil should his plain statement of the fact make her insides race and wheel about like a frantic flock of swallows? 


MY VERDICT: Another outstanding book from Cecilia Grant. Highly recommended.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

 

Blackshear Family series (click on the book covers for more details):

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong (Blackshear Family, #0.5) by Cecilia Grant A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1) by Cecilia Grant A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2) by Cecilia Grant A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family, #3) by Cecilia Grant

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duke-of-pleasure

(Maiden Lane, #11)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1742)

Cover Blurb:

IN THE ARMS OF DANGER

Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king’s secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley—and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE

Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she’s the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation.

ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER

When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be—before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?


**PUBLICATION DATE: 29th November 2016**

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the 11th book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s fabulous Maiden Lane series and it still amazes me that she can consistently enthral me with her fascinating characters, engrossing plots and sensual romances.

Ms Hoyt excels in writing unconventional heroines, none more so than Alf who first appeared in Lord of Darkness where it was revealed that this young street urchin is in fact a woman. Alf survived the dangerous streets of St Giles, where she was born and bred, by disguising herself as a boy.  Bold, tenacious and quick-witted, she had made a living as an informant. Godric St John (hero of Lord of Darkness and retired Ghost of St Giles) saw her potential and trained her to become the Ghost of St Giles. During the day, she is Alf, but at night she is the Ghost of St Giles, willing to put her life on the line to protect those weaker than herself.

At night she was the Ghost of St Giles. She protected the people of St Giles—her people, living in the big, dark woods. She ran out the monsters—the murderers and rapists and robbers. And she flew over the roofs of the city by moonlight, free and wild. During the day she was Alf, a boy. 

I was pleased to see the return of the Ghost especially as Ms Hoyt chose a woman for the role. I had this wonderful vision of Alf gracefully “darting, wheeling and spinning” whilst wielding her two swords.

Hugh is the illegitimate son of King William but had been formally acknowledged by his father and granted the title of Duke of Kyle, together with considerable land, money and an education befitting a duke. The King has now charged Hugh with destroying the Lords of Chaos, a secret club committing terrible acts of debauchery.

Hugh suffered emotionally in the past. A man of deep passions, he married Katherine with whom he was besotted, but it wasn’t long before he realised that he a had made a terrible mistake. Desperate to get away, he took a commission in the army and went abroad; his only regret was leaving his two young sons, Christopher and Peter. When news reaches him that his wife has died after falling from her horse, he resigns his commission and returns home. He has vowed never again to be swept away by passion for a woman.

…never let passion for a woman sweep away reason, self-preservation, and sense, for that way led to devastation.

I like how Hugh’s relationship with his sons is explored because it gives his character greater depth. It is obvious that he loves them but both boys are still coping with the recent loss of their mother and he doesn’t know how to reach out to them. The eldest, Christopher, hates his father for not being there for them, while the youngest, Peter, suffers from terrible nightmares. Some of the scenes where Hugh tries to comfort Peter are heart-rending to read.

In this series, Ms Hoyt always pairs the most unlikely hero and heroine but she makes the romance work beautifully. A duke and a street urchin shouldn’t work on many levels but it does, and I was rooting for Hugh and Alf to find the happiness they deserve.

I understood why Hugh fights his feelings for Alf but it is a lost cause because…

She made his heart beat fast. Freed all those wild emotions he thought he’d safely locked away when he’d left England three years ago.

and Alf’s feelings are just as potent…

She wanted him with every breath she drew, a painful longing inside her lungs, until it felt as if she’d break apart and shatter into tiny pieces of glass if she could not touch him.

The air positively sizzles when these two are together and there is a particularly erotic scene where Alf has a rather inventive way of evading capture when they are being chased by members of the Lords of Chaos!

I love the scenes between Alf and Hugh’s children. She connects with them in a way that he hasn’t been able to, but she also paves the way for Hugh to reconcile with his children. It also gives Alf something she has never had before – a family.

It was as if her heart had been a tiny seed, alone in a dark box, and Hugh and his boys had shone light on it.

Murder, kidnapping and code-breaking – there’s plenty of action, danger and mystery to keep the story moving as Hugh and Alf work to track down the Lords of Chaos.

Godric St John and his wife, Megs, make an appearance and two new characters are introduced.

  • The widowed Iris Daniels, Lady Jordan, a friend of Hugh’s who takes Alf under her wing when plans require Alf to dress as a woman for the first time.
  • The mysterious, scarred Raphael de Chartres, Duke of Dyemore

After reading the Epilogue, I can’t wait to read their story in Duke of Desire!!

MY VERDICT: Another highly recommended addition to this outstanding series.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

The Maiden Lane series so far (click the book cover 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 Hoyt Sweetest 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 an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. **
 

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A Lady Awakened

 (Blackshear Family #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

In Cecilia Grant’s emotionally rich and deeply passionate Regency romance debut, a deal with a rumored rogue turns a proper young woman into . . . A Lady Awakened.

Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee.

Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This was Cecilia’s Grant’s debut novel in 2011 and it has to be one of the most unconventional Historical Romances I have read. While the premise bears similarities to other books I have read, it is Ms Grant’s unique voice and wonderfully flawed and interesting characters that make this book exceptional.

When Martha Russell’s husband is killed in a riding accident, she knows that, as a childless widow, Seton Park will pass to her late husband’s brother, James Russell. With very little means of supporting herself, she has no option but to live as her brother’s dependent. Then her solicitor advises her that it is normal to wait sufficient time to ensure that she is not carrying her late husband’s son and heir. She knows full well she is not pregnant but it offers her a few more weeks or a month at Seton Park. She is not only concerned for the future of her tenants and servants but she has given her support to the building of a new school for the local children. This could be in jeopardy because James Russell will decide whether it is to be built or not and Martha also learns of his reputation for taking advantage of female servants. Desperate to protect both the tenants working on the estate and the females of her household, she formulates a plan…to get pregnant. All she needs is a gentleman who is willing to have sex with her once a day for a month, for which service she is willing to pay five hundred pounds regardless of whether it is a boy or girl, and fifteen hundred pounds more if she gives birth to a son. Learning of his disreputable reputation, newly arrived Theophilus Mirkwood seems like the perfect candidate.

This could end in a dozen different kinds of disaster. There’d be no guarantee of success. And how to get through it without losing all claim to principle, she couldn’t begin to imagine.
So be it. She could wait for Providence to come to these women’s aid, or she could make use of what Providence had already put in her path. “Sheridan.” She twisted to face her maid squarely. “Tell me again about Mr. Mirkwood.

Tired of his son’s spendthrift and dissolute ways, Theophilus (Theo) Mirkwood’s father has stripped him of his allowance and banished him to the country estate in Sussex in the hope that Theo can improve himself by learning some land management skills. Theo is surprised to receive a request that he call on his neighbour, the widowed Mrs Russell, but he is totally unprepared for what follows!

“I can get you funds, Mr. Mirkwood, in exchange for something from you. I need to conceive a child.”
Only by heroic will and quick use of his napkin did he prevent a mouthful of tea from spewing straight into his lap. He choked and sputtered, and groped for the fresh napkin she held out to him as his teacup met its saucer
all clumsy and percussive.

Somehow the prim, stern widow, dressed head to toe in black, intrigues him and he finds himself fantasising about what she would be like in bed. Despite her insistence that this is purely a business arrangement from which she has no wish to derive any pleasure, Theo is sure that, as an experienced lover, he will be able to seduce her. But Martha seems completely immune to all his efforts and, if he is to fulfil their bargain, he may have to rethink his strategy.

What I love about this book is the understated way in which Ms Grant builds the relationship between these two disparate people. Theo is charming, funny and good-natured with the ability to put people at ease, but he is honest enough to admit to being a spoiled, lazy wastrel because that’s all anyone had ever expected of him. Martha is the complete opposite – serious, stubborn, highly principled with a genuine desire to better the lives of her tenants and provide education for the young estate girls.

Their ‘afternoon appointments’ are awkward and totally unsexy. Martha wants Theo for one thing only…his seed and nothing else. I’m so pleased Ms Grant didn’t make Martha frigid. She has experienced pleasure (albeit at her own hand) but she refuses to compromise on her principles. Although she comes to like Theo, she can never have any emotional connection to a man she cannot respect and whose sole purpose in life is the pursuit of pleasure. I admire how Martha stays true to her principles throughout the story. Poor Theo. The one thing he really excels in is knowing how to please a woman but having Martha shrinking from his every touch has him questioning his own self-worth.

Surprisingly, Ms Grant imbues these impersonal sex scenes with considerable humour and these inner thoughts of Martha’s are my particular favourite.

Where she was molded, he was rough-hewn. Where her form curved with logic and precision, not to mention breeding parts tucked neatly away, he looked rangy, haphazard, his male parts an ill-placed afterthought. Like the last leftover bits of clay scraped together, rolled into primitive forms and stuck onto the middle of him, the stones in their rough red sack and that improbable appendage dangling to the fore.

Through their regular after-sex discussions, they get to know each other better and an unlikely friendship develops. They take walks and start to learn from and help each other. Although initially feigned to gain Martha’s approval, Theo’s interest in land management and his tenants becomes genuine and Martha encourages him to believe in his own abilities, something no one has ever done before. Martha’s reserved nature means that she finds it difficult to socialise and when Theo discovers that she has no friends, acquaintances or callers, he arranges for people to call and I loved Martha’s response when Theo asks her…

“And what worthy things did you accomplish today?”

I didn’t accomplish a thing.” Her smile deepened, sweet and bracing as a bite of lemon cake. “I had callers.”

Gradually this friendship grows into affection, admiration and finally love and I like how their sexual encounters undergo subtle changes to reflect their evolving relationship.

It seems improbable that such a morally principled woman like Martha would be willing to cheat a man out of his inheritance but, for her, it is the only way to protect her female servants, her tenants and ensure that the school is built. When she meets James Russell’s wife and children, I could feel that she is troubled over cheating these boys out of their future inheritance and has great sympathy for Mrs Russell.

The secondary characters, Mrs Weaver and her children, Mr Barrow and Mr Atkins, the curate, all add depth to the story and highlight the ways in which Theo and Martha grow and change in the course of the story. Look out for the Weaver’s devious pig who steals the show with his antics every time he makes an appearance.

I like how Ms Grant portrayed the villainous James Russell as an “unimpressive figure”. As was frequently the case with such men, it was his position and power which allowed him to prey on the women in his employ.

I thought the ending was well thought out with everything tied up in a satisfactory and believable way and allowing Martha and Theo to finally marry. As a devotee of the Epilogue, the lack of one was my only gripe, but not enough for me to give the book less than 5 stars.

I can’t end this review without reference to Ms Grant’s wonderful writing and here are a few of my favourite quotes.

“Shouldn’t you have seduced me first? Or drugged my tea, and let me wake up chained to a bed?”
She colored, and looked more disapproving yet. “This is a business arrangement. I should like to conduct it accordingly.”

★✩★

The pig heaved forward, but Theo blocked it with one boot. “May I present Mr. Mirkwood, the proprietor’s eldest son? I’m showing him round the estate today.” With surprising agility, the pig feinted left and then surged right. He just managed to get his boot in front of it again, prompting an indignant barrage of squeals and grunts to round out the general cacophony.

★✩★

 His blood hummed and tingled as though tiny benevolent hornets were racing through his body.

 ★✩★

Damnation, but she did make him feel like a king. She made him feel as though he’d always been one, muddling along just waiting for her to kiss him out of some enchantment into his birthright.


MY VERDICT: Definitely recommended and I look forward to reading the other books in the series with relish.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read July 2016

 

 Blackshear Family series (click on the book covers for more details):

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong (Blackshear Family, #0.5) by Cecilia Grant A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1) by Cecilia Grant A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2) by Cecilia Grant A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family, #3) by Cecilia Grant

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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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(Hot Cowboy Nights, #4)

Genre: Contemporary Western Romance

Cover Blurb:

Award-winning author Victoria Vane lets loose the fourth in the Hot Cowboy Nights series

WILD HORSES COULDN’T BRING THEM TOGETHER…
With exceptional talent and looks, cowboy “horse whisperer” Keith Russo once had the world at his feet – until his career was unwittingly destroyed by an aspiring filmmaker. After being rejected by his family for exploiting his Native American heritage, Keith has no choice but to turn back to his humble beginnings as a wild horse wrangler.

BUT MAYBE THEIR PASSION CAN…
Miranda Sutton always dreamed of making films, until wild mustangs captured her heart. But turning her grandmother’s Montana ranch into a wild horse sanctuary proves harder than she thought. She needs someone who knows wild horses. Keith and the mustangs need each other. And while working together to save the herd, Keith and Miranda discover a passion as wild as the mustangs they love.

PUBLICATION DATE: 7th June 2016

♥♥♥♥♥♥

As you know I read very few Contemporary Romances but I love Victoria Vane’s Hot Cowboy Nights series with its absorbing and well-researched stories, intriguing characters and scorching hot romances.

Keith Russo(Two Wolves)

Keith Russo was born and grew up in New York but had always felt an outsider in his own family. It is only after he discovers that his real father is a full-blooded Shoshone that he understands why. Eager to explore his Shoshone heritage, he goes to live on the reservation, working on his grandparents’ horse ranch. At first, he embraces his native roots but, as he gets older, the novelty of living on the reservation starts to pall and he leaves. His natural rapport with horses leads to a successful career travelling the world as a horse clinician using his Shoshone name, Two Wolves. At first, he is flattered by the female attention he receives but gradually tires of the constant propositions.

When he agrees to participate in a short promotional film about his horse clinic for Starlight Productions, he is instantly attracted to the videographer, Miranda Sutton. With her natural look and direct manner, she is refreshingly different to all the other women he has met. However, when he turns down the advances of the female head of the Starlight Productions, he finds both his reputation and his career ruined by Ms Sutton’s video. He returns to the reservation but, after his grandparents reject him, accusing him of exploiting his Shoshone heritage, Keith is forced to return to his former job as a wild-horse wrangler. Helping a friend with a mustang round-up, the last person he expects to meet is Miranda Sutton.

Miranda Sutton

Miranda grew in a small town in Ohio but has ambitions of becoming a film maker. After graduation and encouraged by her grandparents to fulfill her dreams, she heads for Los Angeles. Once the excitement and glitter wears off, Miranda realises that she doesn’t fit in this world. Her only real opportunity to get behind a camera is as a stand-in videographer on a short promotional film for Starlight Productions about horse clinician, Two Wolves. She feels an instant attraction towards him but knows that “rich and beautiful always won over plain with brains”.

With only work offers of commercials and corporate promos which Miranda hates, disillusionment and disappointment soon set in. When an opportunity to film a wild-mustang roundup for The Bureau of Land Management comes along, she jumps at the chance. The last person she expects to meet is Keith Russo (Two Wolves) who angrily accuses her of ruining his reputation with her video.

Both Keith and Miranda are on a journey to discover their place in the world but Keith’s journey is the hardest. He has always struggled to reconcile his two opposing worlds. He seems strong and self-reliant but fundamentally he has led a lonely, drifting life, never truly belonging.

All my life, I’ve taken a day at a time. I’ve never had a serious relationship or any real responsibilities. I’ve never even stayed in one place for more than a few months at a time. And that kind of life suited me just fine.”

Miranda takes a chance when she decides to give up her job in Los Angeles and return to live with her grandmother Jo-Jo on her ranch in Montana and finds purpose in her life creating a mustang sanctuary on the ranch. I love how Ms Vane portrays the loving relationship between the two and I adore Jo-Jo. She’s not only wise…

“You gotta understand, with men, actions speak much louder than words, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.”

but funny too.

There may be plenty of sparks between Keith and Miranda but their relationship isn’t plain sailing. Keith knows that it is more than lust he feels for Miranda but he’s afraid to make any commitment. Trust doesn’t come easy after the hurt and pain caused by his family’s rejection and I like the analogy Ms Vane draws between Keith and the renegade mustang stallion. I also love the way his grandfather’s visions convey that Keith has finally found his place in the world.

Ms Vane’s always writes scorching hot love scenes but my favourite must be the “stallion and mare” conversation which leads to some pretty hot action!

“I’ve had a raging hard-on since you started this whole damned breeding discussion.”
“That was the idea,” she confessed with a giggle.

I like the inclusion of Dirk and Wade Knowlton, characters who provide a link to the previous books, and I also love the Epilogue, although it is tinged with a little sadness.

I have enjoyed the thought-provoking issues Ms Vane brings to this series, whether it is highlighting the daily struggles of the Montana ranching community in SLOW HAND, or presenting the issues surrounding the reintroduction of the wolves in SHARP SHOOTIN’ COWBOY or the controversy surrounding the mustang round-ups in this book. As with the other books, her extensive research is impeccable.

MY VERDICT: Another excellent addition to this absorbing series. A must for all lovers of Contemporary Western Romances.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2016

 

Hot Cowboy Nights series  (click on cover for more details):

Slow Hand (Hot Cowboy Nights, #1) by Victoria Vane Rough Rider (Hot Cowboy Nights, #2) by Victoria Vane Sharp Shootin' Cowboy (Hot Cowboy Nights, #3) by Victoria Vane Saddle Up (Hot Cowboy Nights #4) by Victoria Vane

 

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

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(Maiden Lane, #10)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

A MAN OF SIN

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.

A WOMAN OF HONOR

Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.

A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH

Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

PUBLICATION DATE: 31st May 2016

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the tenth book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series and I have so much admiration for her ability to continue to give readers stories that are unique and engrossing; characters that are complex and fascinating, and romances that are erotic and sensual.

“Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.”

I have been fascinated by Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery, ever since his first appearance in DUKE OF MIDNIGHT and I was intrigued to know how Ms Hoyt would set about redeeming such an anti-hero. He may be handsome, sophisticated and charming but he is also vain, amoral, unscrupulous, unpredictable and an evil, scheming blackmailer with a desire for power over people.

Although the bastard daughter of an aristocratic lady, Bridget Crumb’s birthmother has ensured she was brought up in a foster home in the country. When Bridget decides to find employment in London, her mother has also provided her with references enabling Bridget to gain employment as a housekeeper. At the age of twenty-six, she is now regarded as the best housekeeper in London. She is competent, down-to-earth and loyal but rather plain and prim.

Val finds himself attracted by Bridget’s very normality which is in sharp contrast to his own mercurial nature. He is also impressed and aroused by her refusal to be intimidated by him, something he is not used to.

…she didn’t seem cowed by either his silence or his stare. She held her head high and she met him stare for stare, her eyes dark and intense and oddly arousing. Really, she was very self-possessed for a housekeeper when one came to think about it.

Against her better judgement Bridget is attracted to Val and I can see why she might find it hard to resist someone so delightfully wicked. He has no qualms about talking to his housekeeper while completely starkers and saying the most outrageous things.

“Oh, Mrs. Crumb, such a look,” he murmured, his voice a deep purr, his bare chest brushing against her snowy white apron. “Why, I don’t know whether to guard my bollocks . . .”—his gaze dropped to her mouth—“or to kiss you.”

There’s oodles of sexual tension between these two and the love scenes are definitely HOT (in fact I think they are steamier than any I’ve read so far in the series) and I love how Bridget reveals that she isn’t quite so prim!

I love seeing the little glimmers of hope that Val isn’t completely irredeemable. His sister Eve has always been a chink in his formidable armour and the scene where he confronts Asa, after discovering they are getting married, shows just how much he cares for her and wants to protect her. He also rescued an Arab youth, Mehmed, from a terrible fate on his travels abroad and bought him back to England as his second valet. Mehmed also provides some amusing moments with his broken English.

When Val tells Bridget of his childhood experiences at the hands of a sadistic, depraved father and a mother who hated him, it is easy to understand how Val could have become so damaged…so flawed and believing himself incapable of love. He no longer has any concept of what is right or wrong; he does what he likes, when he likes without any conscience. Only Bridget sees the real Val and knows he can be a better man. She becomes his moral compass, but he only realises this when she leaves him…

Fair Seraphine had tried to explain to him the difference, right from wrong. It made sense to her because she burned and was an angel. But to him, a creature of hollow ice and pain, it was sound and confusion without her to filter it for him.

When Bridget’s life is in danger, he finally has to make a choice between good and evil, knowing the action he decides to take may lose him Bridget’s love forever. For the first time, he puts someone else first, regardless of any personal cost. It is this more than anything that made me believe that Val is truly redeemable. It won’t happen overnight but I feel that with Bridget by his side, he has every chance of becoming a better man. The scene where he says he loves Bridget is a such an emotional one.

We learn more about the notorious Lords of Chaos and their evil pursuits and a new character, Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, makes his appearance. As the cover blurb for the forthcoming DUKE OF PLEASURE (29th November 2016) is available to read on Amazon’s site, I don’t think I’m giving away any spoilers by saying that Hugh is the hero to Alf’s heroine and expect the return of a certain masked crusader.

The Epilogue provides further proof that Val has definitely changed for the better but I love that he is still  wicked in certain ways. 😉

Val hasn’t quite managed to topple Charming Mickey off his pedestal as my favourite hero of the series, but he ties with Winter Makepeace as a close second!

MY VERDICT: What can I say other than this is another outstanding addition to this fabulous series. I can highly recommend both the book and the series!

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!

Read April 2016

 

The Maiden Lane series so far (click the book cover 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 Hoyt Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9) by Elizabeth HoytDuke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt – 31st May 2016

Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane, #11) by Elizabeth Hoyt – 29th November 2016

 

**I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. **

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