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Posts Tagged ‘Widowed Heroine’

(Wicked Widows, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

IS IT A REASON FOR ROMANCE?

In Why Earls Fall in Love by Manda Collins, young widowed Georgina Mowbray is settling into her role as Lady Russell’s companion quite well—until the lady’s nephew Dominic, the Earl of Coniston, arrives in Bath for a visit. Georgie’s always found him shallow and too smooth, and trusts him as much as she trusts most men…which is to say, not at all. But Con turns out to be more intriguing than she remembers—and completely irresistible…

OR A PROMISE OF PASSION?

Pretty, practical Georgie is nothing like the women Con usually woos—especially since she seems blind to his charms. But his elderly aunt is so fond of her that Con is determined at least to be sociable…with the occasional flirtation thrown in just for fun. But things take a serious turn when a dangerous figure from Georgie’s unhappy past appears and threatens to bring her harm. Con will do whatever it takes to keep Georgie safe. And if he can show her that all men are not menaces, he might be able to keep her in his arms and never let go…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the second book in the Wicked Widows series from Manda Collins.

The series centres on sisters, Isabella and Perdita, and their friend, Georgina… all widows of abusive husbands. They share a terrible secret concerning the death of Perdita’s husband, the Duke of Ormonde, but find themselves threatened by someone who obviously knows that secret and is out for revenge. The first book, Why Dukes Say I Do, told Isabella’s story and this is Georgina’s (Georgie’s) story.

 “…he has nothing more to concern himself with than the betting book or which opera dancer he’s going to bed.”

This is how Georgie sees Con at the beginning of the story. Not very flattering to a potential hero but, of course, Con gradually reveals those qualities that make a good romance hero. It’s clear that he adores his aunt, Lady Russell, and that he had helped her through a very painful time in her life. I love how protective he is towards Georgie when he learns of the potential danger she may be in; how fiercely he defends her honour when Mr. Gilloway, the investigator makes disparaging remarks about her. After hearing how Georgie suffered during her abusive marriage, he comes to fully appreciate how difficult it is for a woman, forced to obey a father or a husband without redress. He had wanted to put a stop to the abuse that Perdita had suffered but, as a duke, her husband was far too powerful for a mere earl. I liked that Con’s thoughts weren’t solely occupied with lustful thoughts of Georgie but he also ‘found her quick wit and kind heart just as alluring as her pretty face’.

Georgie had long ago mastered the art of keeping her emotions in check. It gave her the inner strength to survive the years of her abusive marriage. She also appreciated the well-ordered army life which helped form a welcome counterbalance to the volatile relationship with her husband. Understandably, she has a deep distrust of men and deters any unwelcome attention with her serious demeanour, drab clothes and severe hair styles. I like how she refuses to be intimidated by Con but eventually comes to trust him and recognises his innate sense of decency and goodness. Her fears about remarrying again are very real. She made a terrible mistake in her choice of her first husband and no longer trusts her own judgement as regards men. I love Con for understanding her fears rather than sweeping them aside.

“No one who has endured what you went through could emerge without some sense of scepticism about people around them. It would be impossible not to.”

The romance between them is witty, tender and passionate and Ms Collins manages to convey all the emotion and passion quite beautifully and without being overly explicit. I’m sharing two of my favourite moments:

And with each beat of her heart she felt the threads of their souls knitting knitting together in a fabric no amount of strife could unravel.

It was a kiss of reverence, as if she were as precious to him as a fragile treasure. And Georgie felt her eyes prick with unshed tears. How did he know that what she always wanted deep down in her innermost soul, was to feel valued like that.

I love their conversation in Lady Russell’s breakfast room the morning after they have made love. It sounds perfectly innocent but is full of naughty innuendo.

There is well-drawn supporting cast including Con’s friendLord Archer Lisle who is in love with Perdita but unwilling to tell her. There is some delightfully witty banter between Archer and Con. I also liked Lady Russell who treats Georgie more as a friend than an employee.

”I am an eccentric old woman who has more money than is good for her, who wishes to see her dear friend , who is also her companion, enjoy herself for a change”.

The scene where she gives Georgie a sapphire necklace to wear and reveals her tragic past is both poignant and heartrending. Later in the story, I did find it hard to believe that, given their close relationship, Lady Russell would readily accept, without any question, that Georgie would steal her jewellery.

In the theatre scene, I love how Ms Collins makes reference to her characters in the Ugly Ducklings series, when Con is pointing out some of the more notorious members of the ton to Georgie. Isabella, Trevor and Perdita also make a welcome appearance to offer their help in tracking down the person threatening Georgie.

One reviewer says that Ms Collins’s dialogue is stilted but I totally disagree and found it natural and not at all stilted. I also like how she emphasises the reality of being a wife trapped in an abusive marriage and the limitations on women in general.

There are enough red herrings so that I didn’t guess the identity of the person threatening Georgie until right before the climax. It’s evident there is a master villain at work, who has been using others in pursuit of his or her revenge. At the moment, I have no idea who this mysterious person might be and can only wait for all to be revealed in the final book.

This is a delightful, entertaining romance and I’m really looking forward to reading Perdita and Archer’s story in Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (29th July)

 

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read July 2014

 

The Wicked Widows series (click on covers for more details):

Why Dukes Say I Do (Wicked Widows, #1) by Manda Collins Why Earls Fall in Love (Wicked Widows, #2) by Manda Collins Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (Wicked Widows, #3) by Manda Collins

 

A special thank you to Manda Collins for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

 

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(Duke’s Club, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Cover Blurb

What a Widow Wants:

Everything is going swimmingly for Kathryn Darrell. She’s got an annuity of a hundred thousand a year, her lecherous-heart breaking husband has had the good graces to pop off, and best of all, she has her freedom– Something she has every intention of reveling in to the fullest. And who better to revel with than Ryder Blake, the infamous Duke of Darkwell?

A Duke’s Desire:

Ryder Blake, Duke of Darkwell, known as the Duke of Debauchery, is certain he will never love again. His heart lies buried with his wife and he has vowed to never give more than his body to a woman. But when Kathryn shows up on his doorstep, quite literally, demanding he show her the ways of London, he finds that his heart longs to love once again.

Expected publication date: July 7th 2014 by Bard Publications

♥♥♥♥♥

ONCE UPON A DUKE

Eva Devon gives us a wickedly delicious and sparkling cocktail, with just a hint of bitters.

 

Method

Add a large measure of Ryder Blake, the eleventh Duke of Darkwell…

a man with a reputation as the Duke of Debauchery and a tendency to act irrationally at times; a widower who has sworn never to let another woman into his heart.

Add an equal measure of Kathryn Darrell…

an independent-minded widow determined to experience true passion and pleasure for the first time.

Stir well then add

a dash of Jack Eversleigh, Duke of Hunt, Ryder’s incorrigible best friend…

always ready with a mocking quip and a saucy innuendo; has been known to sing My Wild Irish Rose while waving a peacock feather fan.

and

a dash of Imogen Cavendish , Kathryn’s rather scandalous best friend…

always ready with some juicy gossip and rather fond of handsome footmen and dark closets.

mix in

a soupçon of Grieves, Ryders’ rickety, bushy eye-browed butler

a large splash of scandalous goings on at risqué parties and heaven forbid…even at the Opera House!

copious amounts of witty dialogue and hilarious situations

a generous amount of smouldering love scenes

and finally add

a splash of angst

shake well


FOR A SIGH-WORTHY HAPPY ENDING

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SCORCHING HOT!

Read June 2014

 

A special thank you to Eva Devon for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I loved every page.

 

NOTE: EVA DEVON ALSO WRITES AS MÁIRE CLAREMONT

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(Dangerous Rogues, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

In this dazzling Dangerous Rogues novel, a daring and dangerously handsome duke will do anything for the woman he loves—even if it sparks a scandal.

FRIENDS AND LOVERS…

As a wealthy young widow, Lady Jessica Heyer must endure the closest of scrutiny and most wicked of rumors from society gossips. Their whispers would be utterly unbearable if it weren’t for her oldest friend, the Duke of Alsborough. Jessica knows she can always count on Hayden. What she never could have expected, however, is that he is deeply, madly in love with her…

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD

For years, Hayden has kept his longing for his beautiful friend Jessica a secret. But now that she’s finally free to remarry, will she be willing to take their relationship to a more intimate level? He’ll get his answer soon—at a glittering masquerade, where identities are hidden, hearts are open, and true love is unmasked…in a single, shameless act of passion.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I have been waiting for Hayden and Jessica’s story and Ms Clare brings her Scandalous Rogues series to a close with this lovely friends-to-lovers story.

Hayden is such a wonderful hero. Beneath that very proper exterior beats the heart of a very passionate man. He has been in love with his friend Jessica for ten years but was too honourable to have told her of his feelings while she was married. Now her husband is dead, Hayden has every intention of claiming her for his own. I love how he respects, adores, cherishes and protects Jessica and will do anything to ensure her happiness.

Jessica spent eight years married to man who was cruel, abusive and humiliated her at every opportunity but she has still retained an inner strength. Even under the most tragic of circumstances, she refuses to give society the satisfaction of seeing any weakness. With everything she is coping with following her husband’s death, I can understand that she needs time to adjust to the knowledge that Hayden has harbored feelings for her for so long. I also understood her reluctance to accept hi marriage proposal. She fears that, if her darkest secrets are revealed, Hayden’s reputation would be irrevocably damaged and she couldn’t do that to him. I admired her for that unselfishness.

There are a variety of secondary characters who contribute to the action and drama… Lord Fallon’s treacherous valet, Miller, who may hold dark secrets about Jessica’s past, Mr Warren, heir to the Fallon estate, who clearly dislikes Jessica, the mysterious person who is writing malicious gossip in the Mayfair Chronicles and Lady Randall, Jessica’s unlikely champion.

Leo and Genny (Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady) and Tristan and Charlotte (Midnight Temptations With a Forbidden Lord) all make an appearance in this book because this story runs concurrently with events happening in the first two books. I think anyone who hasn’t read those books might find certain aspects of The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride confusing and, therefore, I would recommend reading the series in order.

Memorable Moments

He and Jez had known each other for nearly a decade, and looking at her now, he didn’t see one ounce of the vibrant woman she once was. What he saw in her gaze was eight years of a miserable marriage weighing down on her soul.

♥♥♥♥

And there was the crux of it: in her eyes he would always be just a friend. She really did make him believe that opposites attracted, for there was nothing similar in their characters, yet he wanted her to himself. She’d always been brazen and daring, him steadfast and cautious. Yet he still wanted to protect and cherish her as his own. And he would.

♥♥♥♥

He put his jacket around her shoulders and wrapped her tight in the safety of his arms as he dropped to his knees behind her. She fought him with tears on her face and nothing more than sorrow and sobs in her voice. Her fists pounded at his arms, his hands.
But he didn’t let her go.
He couldn’t.
“Hush. It’s all right. I’m here for you.” His
voice was jagged, raw with emotion.

♥♥♥♥

She felt like a wild bird stuck in captivity and under the scrutiny of too many eyes.

♥♥♥♥

“What do you want from me, Hayden?” “Nothing,” he whispered. “Everything. You make me question my every action and my every move. What I do know is that I want you and only you. I’ve always felt this way.”

♥♥♥♥

This was an engaging, poignant and sensual love story and a satisfying finish to this series.


REVIEW RATING:  4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING:  HOT

Read June 2014

Dangerous Rogues series (click on the covers for more details):

Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady (Dangerous Rogues, #1) by Tiffany Clare Midnight Temptations with a Forbidden Lord (Dangerous Rogues, #2) by Tiffany Clare The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride (Dangerous Rogues, #3) by Tiffany Clare

 

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(Mad Passion, #2.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

In this all-new novella from the award-winning author of Lady in Red and The Dark Lady, comes a story of fatal plots, seductive spies, and irresistible passions…

Duchess Clare Ederly is lucky to be alive. Having outlived her violent, abusive husband, she decides to put her significant inheritance to good use helping other battered women by opening a refuge for those seeking to escape. But not everyone is pleased with her work. Someone wants to see her sanctuary torn down—at any cost. Her only hope of protecting her home and tenants is a former spy, whose skill at tracking deadly men is matched only by his dangerous charm…

The Earl of Wyndham has done his part for Queen and country; he has had his fill of plotting and politics and simply wants to retire to the pleasant life of his club. But Duchess Clare’s razor-sharp wit and fierce determination awaken new purpose and admiration in him. To protect her, he will once again delve into the treacherous world of espionage. To win her love, he will do almost anything…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

**4.5 Absolutely Delightful Stars**

I LOVED this novella! It is a captivating and heart-warming story and made a lovely interlude between the darkness and intensity of the other books in this series. It brings together two secondary characters from the previous books –  Lord Byron Cartwright, the Earl of Wyndham (friend to Lord Ian Blake, the hero of the first book, The Dark Lady) and Clare, Duchess of Duncliffe (stepmother to Mary, the heroine of the second book, Lady in Red).

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Byron is a wonderful hero. There is something so adorable about him, with his easy charm and his propensity for quoting Shakespeare. He has experienced the horrors of war but hasn’t let it taint his view of life. His optimism is contagious.

“I am saying that there are things more wondrous in this world, more full of magic than we could ever imagine. And I, for one, despite the terrible things I have seen or perhaps because of them, choose to believe in them.”

He is an uncomplicated person and his dreams are simple…a quiet life, a wife who loves him and children.

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As a young woman of only seventeen, Clare married the Duke of Duncliffe with expectations of happiness, only to discover that her husband was cruel and abusive.

…her gaze bore that haunted mark of one who had seen hell and lived to tell the tale.

Now twenty-five and a widow, she devotes her time to helping other abused women. Her life is her work and she has long since given up any hope of love. Understandably, she is wary of men.

Ms Claremont’s writing perfectly conveys the mood of this enchanting romance. Here are a few of my favourite moments.

How could he do that? With two words? How could he somehow wrap her up in the safety of his voice and presence?

♥♥♥

Right now, she was in hiding, for goodness ’ sake. And the man leading her to God knew where kept spouting Shakespeare and making inappropriate remarks.

♥♥♥

The soft brush of Lord Wyndham’s lips sent Clare reeling. In all her life, she’d never been kissed. Not like this. Not this kind of kiss that every girl imagined and cherished in her heart.

♥♥♥

This was the stuff of knights and their ladies, of Abelard and Eloise, of Darcy and Elizabeth, of Jane and Rochester, of every romance she’d ever read. How she’d longed for it.

The mystery element never overshadows the romance and, although you don’t have to be a great detective to guess the identity of the person threatening Clare, I was so captivated by the characters that it didn’t really matter.

This novella may be short in terms of page count but Ms Claremont’s delightful and heart-warming tale captured my heart.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2014

 

The Mad Passions series (click on the book cover for further details):

The Dark Lady (Mad Passions, #1) Lady in Red (Mad Passions, #2) A Lady Undone (Mad Passions, #2.5) The Dark Affair (Mad Passions, #3)

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(Secret Brides, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

How to Stop a Wedding

Young, widowed, and penniless, Lily Andrews, the Countess of Merrill,has strong opinions on marriage. When she spots a certain engagement announcement in The Times, she decides to take action. She will not allow another hapless girl to fall prey to a man—particularly the scoundrel who broke her heart five years ago. Anonymously she writes and distributes a pamphlet entitled “Secrets of a Wedding Night,” knowing it will find its way into his intended’s innocent hands…

How to Seduce a Widow

Devon Morgan, the Marquis of Colton, desires a good wife and mother to his son—someone completely unlike Lily Andrews, the heartless beauty who led him on a merry chase five years ago only to reject him. When Devon’s new fiancée cries off after reading a certain scandalous pamphlet, he vows to track down the author and make her pay. But when he learns it’s his former fiancée Lily, he issues a challenge: write a retraction or prepare to be seduced—to find out how wonderful a wedding night can be…
♥♥♥♥♥♥

SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT, the first book in Valerie Bowman’s Secret Brides series, is a delightful tale of secrets, seduction and second chances, written with warmth, wit and style.

The things I love about this book:

Sexy, confident, strong, compassionate but stubborn hero ~

Society sees Devon as a gambler, a drinker and a rake. The reality is very different. Using his skill with numbers, Devon has accumulated a large fortune at the gaming tables and invested it wisely. Now he gambles in the squalor of the Rookery for one reason only…. to restore a family heirloom which was a symbol of his ancestry. Having once been deserted by the woman he loved in favour of an older, richer man, Devon now hides his true financial situation. The woman he marries must love him for himself and not his money. His love for his illegitimate son, Justin, and his rescue of an adorable puppy reveal a kinder and softer side to Devon. When Lily needs a knight in shining armour, he comes to her aid.

Resilient, protective, loyal and equally stubborn heroine ~

Left in financial straits after her father dies, Lily is determined to keep her “ragtag little household” together. Nothing is more important than her sister’s happiness and I can understand why Lily is overprotective. She wants Anne to have the freedom she didn’t enjoy whilst under the control of firstly her father and then her elderly husband. I can also understand her reluctance to trust Devon with her heart. To all appearances, he is a carbon copy of her father who drank and then gambled away everything. I love the fact that she is scared of spiders…something so many of us ladies share. It gives her a very human edge.

Delicious sexual tension and steamy passion ~

I enjoyed all the varied nuances of Devon and Lily’s romance.

The feelings of hurt and anger reflected in their barbed remarks to each other…

“I see in addition to your renowned gambling and rakishness, you’ve also turned to the bottle. Are you trying for all the seven sins?”
His voice was calm. “And I see in addition to your renowned flirtations and fickleness, your skills as a hostess leave much to be desired.”

The strong attraction that still simmers below the surface…

He was a drug. That’s what he was. Like opium. A maddening, unhealthy pleasure that left her senses reeling.

Blast it. He was already plagued with indecent thoughts. This entire seduction plot would be much easier if he weren’t driven half mad just looking at her.

The seduction …

She moaned when his warm lips finally touched hers. The contact was almost unbearable. It was the softest, smoothest, least aggressive kiss he’d ever given her. It demanded nothing from her and made her feel more than all the other kisses combined.

The lies…

“Damn it, Lily. Will you listen you me? I never intended to profit from it. You must belive me.”
She clenched her fists at her sides. “Believe you? A liar? A gambler? A man who prizes money above all else? What sort of fool do you take me for?.”

A lasting love

Tears flowed down Lily’s cheek. She smiled through them. “I love you, Devon. I always have.”

An engaging cast of secondary characters ~

I adore Lily’s loyal servants – Evans, the butler who had the habit of falling asleep at the most inopportune moments and Mary, the lady’s maid with an unfortunate memory problem. I love the way in which Lily’s sister, Anne matures during the course of the story:

Oh, Anne, when did you become so wise?”
Anne smiled a knowing smile. “When you weren’t looking, dear sister.”

I also enjoyed the interactions between Devon and his friend, Jordan Holloway, Earl of Ashbourne and Devon’s jealousy of Lily’s friend, Viscount Medford.

Overall, this was a charming fast-paced story filled with humour and passion and a very impressive debut novel from Ms Bowman. I will definitely be reading the other books I have in this series.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2014

The Secret Brides series (click on cover for more details):

Secrets of a Wedding Night (Secret Brides, #1) A Secret Proposal (Secret Brides, #1.5) Secrets of a Runaway Bride (Secret Brides, #2) A Secret Affair (Secret Brides #2.5) Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage (Secret Brides, #3) It Happened Under The Mistletoe (Secret Brides, #3.5)

 

 

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(Wicked Widows, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Even in London society—where everyone knows what you did last season—you never know who’s next in line to walk down the aisle, in Why Dukes Say I Do

TRUE LOVE IS OFTEN FOUND

With her whirlwind social life in London, Lady Isabella Wharton has little interest in the customs of the country. But when her godmother asks her to pay a visit to her bachelor grandson in Yorkshire, Isabella can’t refuse. It behooves her to please the old dowager, since she harbors one of Isabella’s most scandalous secrets. So off she goes to see the newly-titled—and notoriously rustic—Duke of Ormond…

WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT

Trevor Carey doesn’t care about what goes on behind ballroom doors. He is content with the simple life—and isn’t ashamed to admit it to a society flirt like Lady Isabella. But the country air brings out a different side of Isabella—one full of longing and passion. Can her sophistication be hiding a desire for love? When a blackmailer from the city arrives to threaten Isabella, Trevor will shield her from harm—even travel to London. Can the duke tackle the ton on Isabella’s behalf …and manage to keep her all to himself?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I enjoyed this book with its intriguing story (inspired by the movie I Know What You Did Last Summer), engaging characters, passion and romance.

WHY DUKES SAY I DO is the first book in Manda Collins’s new series, Wicked Widows, which centres around sisters, Isabella and Perdita and their friend, Georgina… all widows of abusive husbands. They share a terrible secret concerning the death of Perdita’s husband, the Duke of Ormonde, but find themselves blackmailed and threatened by someone who obviously knows that secret.

Trevor reminds me of Alec, the hero of Ms Collins’s How to Romance a Rake. He is honourable, a gentleman and treats everyone with kindness and civility. As one of his tenant’s remarks to Isabella – “a kinder, more dedicated master we could not have asked for.”  His care and concern for others is also seen in the importance he attaches to his duties as magistrate and how protective he is towards Isabella when he finds out about the threatening letters.

I understand his determination not to take up his role as the Duke of Ormonde. He holds no love for the Ormonde family who turned their back on his father who chose to marry for love rather than wealth.

He clearly loves his sisters but tends to be overprotective… a trait which I am sure is shared by a lot of older brothers. It is hard for him to accept that the seventeen year old Eleanor is now a young lady as Isabella points out.

“She isn’t so much older than Belinda,” he said defensively.
“There is a vast ocean of difference between thirteen and seventeen,” Isabella said. “And well you know it. You simply wish there were not. It won’t be long before she has beaux. I wouldn’t be surprised if she weren’t already smitten with some country swain.” He gulped down his brandy at the thought.
“You don’t think…” He glanced warily at Isabella.

I thought it was amusing that he was horrified by the fact that Eleanor may have a beau.

I admire Isabella…her strength, resilience and courage. She went through a soul-destroying, abusive marriage but has lost none of that indomitable spirit. Her selfless love for her sister and her need to ensure Perdita’s future happiness, above all else, made me like her even more.

Her interactions with Trevor’s sisters, Eleanor and Belinda, show the genuine affection she has for them. She also recognises how ill-equipped they are to take their place in society as the sisters of a duke and desperately need her guidance.

…there was something familiar about these two sisters, something that made Isabella want to shield them from the hurts and embarrassments that awaited them in the world outside their little village.

I particularly love the scene where Isabella loans Eleanor a gown …… Eleanor’s reactions and excitement are contagious.

I found the romance between Isabella and Trevor perfectly paced. They both start out with preconceived ideas about each other. Isabella has been preconditioned by the Dowager Duchess to expect some kind of stuffy, country yokel living a rustic existence while Trevor initially believes Isabella to be nothing more than a frivolous society lady. It is both amusing and delightful watching their preconceived notions slowly shattered allowing them to move from physical attraction to falling in love.

He’d expected Isabella to be incapable of conversing about anything but the latest on-dit, but she had proved knowledgeable on a variety of topics, including, to his great surprise, the glamorous world of crop rotation. She’d explained it away, saying that her father had been fond of agricultural talk despite making his home in London. She had, she said, absorbed the information over the course of many years listening to him drone on about it.

…to her surprise and admiration, Ormonde not only knew everyone’s names, but he also was able to ask after their siblings and parents and children and grandchildren and in some cases great-grandchildren, with an easy manner that indicated he had been doing so for years. He clearly cared for their welfare beyond just ensuring that they were able to produce a good crop yield. He cared about them as people.

The secondary characters add depth to the story. I was charmed by Trevor’s sisters, Eleanor and Belinda with their delightful banter and I love the humour Trevor’s friend and neighbour, Sir Lucien Blakemore, brings to the story:

“I took Lady Wharton and my sisters into York yesterday to go dress shopping.”
Blakemore blanched. 
“Ye gods, no wonder you’re livid. A shopping trip could make any man go mad.”

I like how Ms Collins intersperses social comments throughout the story and highlights the often harsh realities of being a woman during this era.

It wasn’t hard to figure out the identity of the person sending Isabella the threatening letters, but the action was still dramatic enough to keep me turning the pages. There is a cliff-hanger because the villainous mastermind behind the threats is still at large and the mystery surrounding his identity is set to continue throughout the series.

Overall this was an enjoyable start to Ms Collin’s new series with just the right amount of romance and mystery. I will definitely be reading the next book, Why Earls Fall in Love, which is Georgina’s story.

REVIEW  RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read February 2014

The Wicked Widows series (click on covers for more details):

Why Dukes Say I Do (Wicked Widows, #1) Why Earls Fall in Love (Wicked Widows, #2) Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (Wicked Widows, #3)– 29 July 2014

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(Scottish Brides #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

A wicked attraction!

Fashionable society widow Lady Mairi MacLeod cannot understand the dark passion that binds her to Jack Rutherford. He is everything she dislikes in a man, rakish, arrogant and charming, and she would prefer to forget the night of wicked passion that she spent in his arms.

But when Mairi is threatened by a blackmailer, Jack is the only man who can protect her. As they work together to uncover where the danger lies, their passion reignites. Little by little, the masks they wear burn away, and their most private secrets come to light…

Scottish Brides – Where Regency elegance meets Highland passion!

Publication date: 29 October 2013 

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

5 Passionate Stars

Ms Cornick drew me back to the wild Scottish Highlands with her second book in the Scottish Brides series… a compelling blend of passion-filled romance and intriguing mystery.

MY THOUGHTS

Neither of them gave away what really lay beneath

Beneath the arrogant, self-assured, confident and charming manner, Jack struggles with feelings of guilt and failure. However misguided, he believes he failed those he loved and blames himself for the death of his mother and sister. He sought solace in a bottle and only the efforts of his grandmother saved him from shame and humiliation and forced him to make something of his life. But he vows never to become emotionally involved with anyone again…he had the reputation for leaving a woman before the sheets were cold. When Jack reveals the full circumstances surrounding his sister’s death, I had an understanding of why, in his own mind, he carried this survivor’s guilt. He insists that everything he does is for selfish reasons… he has no honour…he is incapable of finer feelings…but his actions constantly prove that he is a worthy hero.

I had so much sympathy for Mairi. Like Jack, she is haunted by the past. Betrayed and hurt by her husband, forced to keep his scandalous secrets and burdened with the responsibility for the estates she inherited, Mairi has always had to be independent and strong. But she is tired of a life lived without color or excitement and I could understand why she longed to experience just one night of passion with a stranger. Events of the past have left her vulnerable and wary of any emotional ties. I love how gradually we begin to see the real Mairi, just as Jack sees her …complex, warm, passionate and sweet. In fact, she is a true heroine.

WOW!! Jack and Mairi’s journey was such an emotional roller-coaster. Ms Cornick captured all the subtle nuances of their heated and intense relationship. The chemistry between them was tangible…the sexual tension sizzling…the love scenes smouldering. But I loved the scenes where they each finally share their secrets. There is such a deep emotional connection that made their love for each other seem genuine and believable.

She stroked his hair and held him close as he fell asleep. She understood now why Jack was afraid to love anyone and why he did not want the responsibility of a wife and child. Her heart ached for him and she drew him closer into her arms. 

~~~~~

He raised a gentle hand and smoothed the hair away from Mairi’s cheek. She stirred in her sleep, making a soft sound and pressing closer to him, turning her face instinctively to his. Something like a fist clenched tight in Jack’s chest, sweet and poignant at the same time.

The mystery aspect of the plot held my interest and I only started to have my suspicions about the identity of the villain towards the end but there was a surprise twist I didn’t see coming and a nail-biting ending.

My only complaint was that the ending felt somewhat abrupt and so I’m hoping that we see more of Jack and Mairi in the final book in this series which features Mairi’s older spinster sister, Christina and Lucas Black, who makes a brief appearance in this book.

A passionate and sensual love story, memorable characters, a compelling plot and great writing make ONE NIGHT WITH THE LAIRD a highly recommended read.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT 

Read October 2013

Scottish Brides series so far (click the cover for more details):

The Lady and the Laird (Scottish Brides, #1) One Night with the Laird (Scottish Brides, #2)

My sincere thanks to Nicola Cornick for providing me with an ARC of her book in return for an honest review.

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(A School of Gallantry Novella)

Genre: Victorian Historical Romance

Official Blurb 

He believes in destiny. She just wants to survive it…

At forty, Lady Cecilia Evangeline Stone thinks she has everything a woman could ever want. A title, a fortune, and four children who make her proud. After a marriage of convenience that was anything but convenient, she has no desire to complicate her life by including a man in it again. When her eldest son announces his engagement to a Russian actress in Saint Petersburg, Cecilia sets out to do what any good mother would do: stop the wedding. Unfortunately, destiny has other plans.

Konstantin Alexie Levin never considered himself to be a villain. In fact, he considers himself to be a Russian gentleman. Having grown up in a refined and well-educated family that embraced criminal life to avoid debtor’s prison, the only thing preventing him from knowing happiness is the rest of the world. Everything changes, however, when Konstantin is given a chance to start life anew and travel to London to collect an unexpected reward for saving a man’s life. To his surprise, he is about to become a hero at midnight to a beautiful aristocrat who desperately needs his help. The problem is…he wants to do more than save Lady Stone. He wants to make the woman his, all his.

WARNING: This book is Rated Double S (Sweaty & Sinful) and contains strong language and sexual content which may cause respectable people to swoon.

★✩★✩★✩★

ROMANCING LADY STONE is unashamedly romantic and I loved every moment of it! This novella has everything I love about Delilah’s books in a small, neat package…emotive and evocative writing, an innovative story, richly drawn characters, wonderful chemistry, sizzling love scenes and lovely touches of humour.

In the distance, she heard a hall clock chime twelve times.
It was destiny.
 

I totally fell in love with Konstantin and Cecilia…so perfect for each other. Through their love, Konstantin shrugs off the shackles of his criminal past to become the man he was meant to be…respectable and honourable; Cecilia becomes the woman she has always longed to be…daring and passionate. The idea of destiny, the watch and the magical hour of midnight being central to the plot has great appeal. I love that this is simply the story of two people falling in love…their uncertainties…their hopes…their dreams.

Delilah’s stories aren’t just a series of steamy love scenes but a beautiful blending of poignancy, tenderness and sensuality. I love how the romance plays out…they talk …they laugh…they make love… they even dance naked together. Everything seems so real and natural. It feels they are truly meant to be together.

Delilah is known for her scorching hot love scenes but just wait until you read the BATH SCENE! This is one of the funniest and sexiest scenes I’ve read in a long time!

I am so happy that the enigmatic, scarred Duc de Andelot and Madam de Maintenon, owner of the School of Gallantry, will be getting their own full length book. From the teasers in this novella, it promises to be a heartrending second-chance love story.

I adore Cecilia’s overly romantic, starry-eyed daughters. I cheered them when they encouraged their mother to call on Konstantin and find the happiness she deserves. The scene where Konstantin asks the girls for permission to marry their mother is such a delightful touch and the charming Epilogue left me with a big smile on my face.

If you have never read any of Delilah’s books, then ROMANCING LADY STONE is the perfect introduction. I’ll be surprised if don’t want to rush out and grab the rest of the School of Gallantry series!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!

Read August 2013

My thanks to Delilah Marvelle for kindly sending a copy of this novella in return for an honest review. The pleasure was all mine.

School of Gallantry series to date (click on the covers for more details) :

Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #1) Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #2) Lady of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #3) Romancing Lady Stone (School of Gallantry #3.5) Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4)

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Genre: Regency Historical Romance

Official Blurb 

THE LETTER is a story of a betrayal that wasn’t. Even so, it still tore two lovers apart for eleven years. Michael Jeffres, Earl of Daventry, found his betrothed, the woman who meant as much to him as the air he breathed, in bed with his cousin on the eve of their wedding.

Diana, the daughter of a marquess, remembers nothing of that night. All she knows is she was forced to marry Michael’s cousin, Leo, and then spent the next eleven years in hell.

When the two lovers are brought back together by a letter from Leo a year after his death, they must struggle through all the lies and secrets before they can find a love that far surpasses that of their youth.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**In the interests of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book from the author with no strings attached. It is my personal choice to write this review and these are my honest thoughts about the book.** 

THIS BOOK WAS JUST AMAZING… SO HEARTBREAKING YET SO UPLIFTING!

I found myself totally engrossed in the story and just could not  put it down. It was so compelling and so rewarding. I found myself experiencing so many emotions…revulsion, hatred, sorrow, hope, laughter and joy. This story touched me deeply on so many levels.

From the very first page when Michael reads his cousin’s letter, I hated Leo Standish. To put it bluntly he was an evil, manipulative, sadistic bastard! Even from the grave his malignant presence is all pervasive. Kudos to Ms Owens for creating one of the most repugnant villains ever. It made me all the more determined to read on and see his evil presence ultimately banished forever by the power of love!

To read about what Diana suffered at Leo’s hands was so heartrending but, despite everything, she still retained a core of inner strength. She was stronger than she thought…she survived. Not only did she survive but she also raised her son Jamie to be a fine boy. But she bears the scars of Leo’s horrific abuse, both physically and emotionally. She is a shadow of the beautiful, spirited, laughing girl she used to be. She no longer trusts any man and cannot bear to be touched by one. I understand the anger she feels towards Michael and her resistance in accepting his offer of help. She feels his betrayal deeply and fears the cold, powerful, determined man she sees now may be just like Leo. But she realises that Michael is nothing like Leo and, although it is a slow process, she comes to trust him and see the man she fell in love with all those years ago.

Michael is racked with guilt because he feels responsible for what happened to Diana. He had promised to protect and cherish her but he had simply walked away leaving her to Leo’s tender mercies. At first, he simply wants to help her…provide adequate food and somewhere to live… but soon it becomes more than that. He wants to see that spark she once had…he wants to see her smile again. When he is with Diana and Jamie he feels a sense of contentment, a feeling he does not want to examine too closely.

Following Diana’s journey to “finding her wings” again is, at times. heart-breaking:

Resentment and hurt, feelings she had long thought dealt with, hit her with the force of a fierce storm whose screaming winds toppled hundred-year-old trees. She hugged her knees, pressed her face against them and helplessly sobbed for the first time in years. And as she wept, she let the pain of Michael’s betrayal and Leo’s brutalities consume her. She cried until she had no tears left and when she was done, the heaviness in her heart eased a bit.

and, at times, heart-warming:

Michael picked up another slice and handed it to her. She stared at the bread in her hand, her heart beating furiously in her chest.
“Go on,” Michael said.
“Do it, Mama,” Jamie urged.
She looked at Michael once more to make sure she didn’t see any trickery in his eyes and then threw her bread. A tiny burst of laughter escaped and she slapped her hand over her mouth. Jamie giggled and Michael gave her a smile of approval. A sliver of the fear that had held her captive for eleven long years fell away. 

but so rewarding.

I totally fell in love with Michael. I love all the things he does to make Diana happy…the way he teases her and makes her laugh. Most of all I love the crazy letters he sends her about the imaginary cats after she runs away.

The scene, where she finally shows Michael the scars she has kept hidden from him, is so moving and so incredibly beautiful.

“This is what I see when I look at you.”
He held the up the rose. “Perfection, Diana. I see perfection.”

There is a fascinating assortment of secondary characters who add richness to the story :

* Michael’s French born, meddling mother, Lady Suzanne Daventry who insists on regaling her son with details of the “fun” she had with his father, something Michael definitely does not want to hear about!

* Michael’s valet Hansen who is always being threatened with dismissal. The repartee between these two is just so funny. Here is one of my favourite exchanges…

So it is my fault I am bleeding like a butchered pig?” Michael grabbed the mirror and glared into it, but couldn’t see anything past Hansen’s hand and the cloth. “Move your paw, man, and let me see.”
“Dogs and cats have paws, your lordship. I am human, thus I have a hand.”
“You are being impertinent. I have half a mind to dismiss you with no reference. What have you to say to that?”
“If your temper doesn’t improve soon, my lord, I have half a mind to quit, no reference necessary”.

* Jamie is such an adorable child and the scenes between Michael and him are poignant, charming and funny

* I must not forget one other important character…


Peggy , the three legged cat

I could wax lyrical about this book for hours but I simply want to say thank you to Sandra Owens for giving me the privilege of reading this fabulous book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5/5 stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read August 2013

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Genre; Historical Erotic Romance

Official Blurb 

Lady Chrissie Wellsby and her two country friends research dozens of rogues before selecting the notorious Viscount Hawkesbury, owner of London’s most exclusive and expensive brothel, to educate them in erotic seduction. The ladies abandon respectability and coerce Justin Tremayne into letting them visit The Pleasure House and to teaching them the sensual tricks mistresses and prostitutes use to entertain men.

Though Justin believes three naive ladies will see the debauched romps in his themed rooms, cover their eyes and ears, and run back to their sheltered lives, he underestimates the desperation of abandoned women who imagine a wider knowledge of sex will keep the men in their lives at home, in their own beds. But despite watching several of their friends, men and women, perform raunchy acts at his brothel, the ladies insist on participating in the last of Justin’s infamous Sultan’s galas, held in numerous silk tents and outdoor bathing areas on his estate.

Justin concedes to Chrissie’s demands only to gain information about his long-lost mother and sisters, but the world-weary viscount falls head over heels in love with his emotionally bruised pupil. He yearns for a wife, children, and an uncomplicated wife, but can he convinced Chrissie to take a chance and marry again? Because Justin never wants to leave her bed.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

What a delightful surprise this book turned out to be!

OK, there were plenty of scenes depicting all kinds of lascivious behaviour but there was so much more to this book I hadn’t anticipated – a wickedly entertaining plot, likeable characters, delicious sexual tension, ribald humour and a rich historical atmosphere.

Justin just seemed to weave his way into my heart. His hedonistic lifestyle belies the fact that, at heart, he is an honourable man. Everything he’s done has been with one purpose – to provide him with enough money to restore the family estate and find his mother and his sisters and bring them home. The past three years have obviously taken their toll and he’s desperate to leave all this behind and become a part of conventional society again.

He really cares about his friends, Bart and Thomas, and even surrounded by all nature of sexual excess…

…he wasn’t willing to compromise his entire moral belief structure. Nor would he dirty the morals of his friends to that extent, knowing they’d both need to take wives one day in the future.

If that wasn’t enough, I simply adore a man with a sense of humour.

Chrissie has some pluck bearding Justin in his den but it shows how much she cares for her friends Anna and Gillian and wants to help them with their personal issues.

I love the fact that she is not some ravishing beauty, quite ordinary in fact, but Justin is able to see her inner beauty…

“Yours is a far deeper beauty. It shines through from the inside out. An inner radiance lights up your features and entrances a man so he cannot look away.”

It was a joy to see her regain her self confidence and realise that she’s a warm, passionate woman. I loved the scene where she turns the tables on Justin and assumes the role of seductress. It was amusing to see Justin so completely lost for words and I loved this gem from Chrissie!

“I do hope, my darling,” she said, touching his face to bring his gaze back to hers, “you’re not going to waste precious time doing that groaning thing again.” She softened her words with a smile, stretched up to her toes to touch his lips, butterflies wings flitting softly. “You know, those pleas and moans you insist on directing at angels frolicking across your ceiling.”

Ms Love builds some sizzling sexual tension between these two. The mutual attraction was palpable in their initial battle of wills, escalating to the scene in the Pleasure House where they have to assume the roles of master and slave. This is one HOT scene and, for any oldies like me, keep those smelling salts handy!!

The secondary characters enhance the story but never overwhelm the main romance. I enjoyed seeing husband and wife, Gillian and Edward resolve their marriage issues and the rivalry between Bart and Thomas for Anna’s attentions was amusing.

If you’re looking for a romance that is refreshingly different, wickedly funny, full of richly drawn characters and plenty of scandalous sexcapades, then I can definitely recommend this book! I am looking forward to reading more from Suzi Love!

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING : SIZZLING!

Read June 2013

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