Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review of What Ales The Earl by Sally MacKenzie Book 1 in The Widow's Brew Series

This is the first book in Sally's new Series The Widow's Brew.  As you can tell by the title Ale plays a part in this love story.  Harry  Graham is now the Earl of Darrow after his older brother dies in an unexpected accident.  Now he has promised his mother that he will find a bride this season to ensure the succession of his title.  The only problem is that all the debutantes are young, feather brains that will drive him to bedlam if he marries one of them.  The only remotely acceptable candidate is Lady Susan who is older than the rest, even though he cannot seem to get a word in edgewise.  He is resigned to ask for her hand when he is asked to investigate a matter for a friend in a small town called Little Puddledon.  He has no idea that this trip is going to turn his life upside down and determine whether his life will be filled with duty and obligation or bring him the joy of love and a HAE.  

Penelope Barnes is a participant in a venture that supports the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children in the town of Little Puddleton.  They grow the hops and brew an ale that is called WIdow's Brew to support the home.  She and her beloved daughter Harriet have found a home here.  She has managed for almost ten years to pass herself off as a widow with a child.  Unfortunately, her fiction is about to be revealed and her illegitimate daughter was the one who will suffer.  Growing up the daughter of a  drunk and violent farmer,  she fell in love with the younger son of a lord who's estate supported the town she grew up in.  They spent an idyllic summer together making love and just being happy with each other.  Being young they never considered the future or the consequences of what they were doing. Harry goes off to war and Pen is left dealing with the results of their relationship.  Now ten years later she has to find a way to keep her secret and protect her daughter.  She decides that she must marry and the only remotely eligible man in town the local Vicar.  She convinces herself that he will do.  Before she can put her plan into motion a new arrival in town spoils her plan and instead of asking for her hand the Vicar attempts to rape her when he finds out that she was never married and her daughter is a bastard.  Trying her best to fight him off before he can succeed a man appears and rescues her from the Vicar.  She can't believe her eyes, it's Harry!  How did he find her and why was he here?  Does he know about Harriet, his daughter?  

Harry is just as surprised to see Pen in this remote small town.  He is happy to see her and wants nothing more than to find out why she is there and what she has been doing for all this time.  When he finds out that he has a daughter he decides that he wants to get to know her and realizes that he wants both of them in his life.  Only he can't marry Pen, a farmer's daughter, the best he can offer her is a position of his mistress.  Pen does love him but she won't put Harriet in a situation that would label her a bastard.  She tells Harry no, but he doesn't understand if they love each other how she can turn him away.

This is a story of how the class differences defined the lives of the rich and the poor alike.  Even though
Harry loved Pen and his daughter he knows that Society has rules that must not be broken and that he has always been taught that his responsibilities will always come before his happiness.  Pen was brought up being told that she can never reach above her station and if she did she would never be accepted by her so-called betters.  Children born out of wedlock were treated like dirt and Harriet is an innocent child who doesn't understand why she can't be part of a happy family.   Sally writes a story of how love can overcome any stigmas and prejudices.  Pen is a truly strong woman who will protect her daughter with her life.  Harry is a typical nobleman of the time who thinks he can have his cake and eat it too until he realizes that he has to go against the beliefs that he has known his whole life and make the decision with his heart and not his head.  

A great beginning to a new series by Sally.  I eagerly await the next book in the series. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review of His Wicked Embrace by Lauren Smith (The League of Rogues)

Another wonderful addition to The League of Rogues Series.  The story of a young lady from a faraway land and rogue gentleman who should never have met in the normal course of their lives.

Lawrence Russell is a man who adores women and they adore him.  He has never been in danger of losing his heart to a woman, it's not that he doesn't want to fall in love, he just hasn't met the right woman yet.  When his brother asks him to go to a disreputable brothel to observe an illegal auction and note who bought the women so they could be arrested and the woman returned to their families.   Only his brother was late and to stop a degenerate from buying one of the women, he bids on her and wins.  Now, what is he supposed to do with her?  He is awed at her courage in the face of what she has been through.  Abducted and shipped thousands of miles away from her home.   Taking her to his home he plans on helping her with whatever she needs.  Her beauty, resilience, and courage awaken feelings that he has never experienced before.

Zehra Darzi is in a nightmare that she cannot awake from. Her parents are dead, betrayed by a man they trusted and she is taken prisoner to become a member of the man's harem.  Protected and loved by her parents, her father a Persian Prince and her mother the daughter of an English Lord.  She has always lived in Persia, her mother wanted her to see England one day, but not like this.  She escaped the harem and was captured by slavers and wound up in a brothel being auctioned off as a slave, but the villain has followed her to England and is determined to recapture her.

The man who buys her is so unexpected.  He is a beautiful gentleman who promises not to hurt her and help her get home.  But she can't go home and decides she wants to stay with him where she finally feels safe again.

But staying together forever might not be easy, the English Government is determined to return her to Persia to save diplomatic relations even if she has no desire to return.  Can Lawrence save her again?  

A beautifully crafted love story filled with adventure, danger, courage, and honor.  Lawrence is a wonderful hero, a truly good man who will protect his love at all costs.  You also get to visit with the  Rogues from the previous books in this story.  This is a lovely sensual love story that will leave you gasping for breath and sighing over their happily ever after.  Lauren has been a favorite of mine for years and a go-to author for me.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review of The Duke Buys A Bride by Sophie Jordan (The Rogue Files, Book 3)

It seems like I have been waiting a long time for The Duke of Autenberry to get his Happily Ever After.
When we last saw the Duke he was leaving London forever, his best friend has married his stepmother and his bastard brother is marrying his ex-fiance.  How he has wound up face down in horse dung in a stable is a mystery.  He must have gotten really drunk because he doesn't remember how he got here.
Now he on his way out of this dreary country village and headed as far away from London as he can get.

Alyse Beard was finally getting out of this dreary house and will finally be free.  No more cleaning, cooking and raising someone else's children.  She has been trapped here since she was 15 years old after her father died.  He thought he was ensuring her safety by selling her in marriage to a man much older than her.  Now the man who was her husband in name only is selling her at auction so he can marry a woman his own age.  Alyse is not worried, her childhood friend is going to buy her contract and marry her.  Only he doesn't show up and it looked like she was going to wind up with the tanner, another old man with a cruel disposition.  When someone bids 50 pounds she realizes that it is a stranger who has bought her as his wife.

Marcus could not believe what he was witnessing, an actual wife auction.  He knew this village was decrepit and old fashioned but he couldn't believe that they were bidding on the woman on the platform.  She looked terrified and as a Gentleman who could not just ride away.  He bought her for 50 pounds, now what was he supposed to do with her?  He was on his way to Scotland and didn't need company, especially didn't need a strange woman who according to the auctioneer was now his wife!

Sophie writes an original story that will leave you smiling and cheering for Marcus and Alyse.  If any two people need each other it is Marcus and Alyse.  Marcus hasn't been happy in a long time if ever.  All his relationships, except his family, has been at best just casual affairs that left him dissatisfied.
Alyse hasn't felt loved since her father died and left her as a servant/wife.

I loved this book, Sophie's characters are wonderful and her stories exceptional.  Everything you want in a Historical Romance Novel, laughter, tears and very sensual love scenes.  This one is a keeper.  I highly recommend Sophie's Historical Romances.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review of The Wicked Cousin by Stella Riley/Performed by Alex Wyndham/Rockliffe #4

Rockliffe #4 The Wicked Cousin starts with a Prologue that affected me deeply.   I felt the sadness and terror that Sebastian Audley felt as his twin brother was taken from him by an illness.  Sebastian literally lost the other half of himself.  What shaped the rest of his youth was not only the loss of his twin brother but the complete elimination of his childhood.  He was now the only male heir and he was not to go away to school, play with other children, not risk his safety in any way.  When he finally reached the age to defy his father he left England and traveled the world.  He indulged in all the vices that all young men did, woman, drink, duels, gambling and accepting outrageous wagers.  Now he is returning to England and the rumors start to fly.  All the young ladies are all agog wanting to meet him and find out for themselves if he is as dangerous and beautiful as the scandal sheets have made him out to be. His friends think it is hysterically funny and tease him.  If one more young lady waxes poetic about his red hair he is going to be sick.

Cassandra Delahaye is a practical young lady who loves her family and has great friends that make her happy.  She is not a great beauty, in fact, she considers herself quite plain.   She is intelligent, witty and enjoys her life just the way it is. She is not interested in a grand passion, emotional angst, and doesn't want anything to do with scandalous Gentleman like Sebastian Audley, that is until she actually meets him.  A chance meeting in a darkened room at a ball begins the journey of a friendship and a romance that will have you enthralled till the last chapter.

Sebastian knew that his reputation would make it difficult to return to London Society, but even he could not predict that the young debutantes would actually chase him from room to room at a ball. Looking for a place to hide he finds an empty room that will suit him just fine, Brandy and no marriage minded ladies.   Then his worst nightmare walks in the door.  Miranda was his mistress while he was in Lisbon.  A married woman with a mostly absent husband is usually Sebastian's cup of tea, but Miranda got too clingy and he broke it off and moved on to another country.  Now her husband is dead and she has returned to England to marry Sebastian, and she has no plans to take no for an answer.

Sebastian and Cassandra are made for each other.  They are both kind, honorable and want the same things out of life, which surprises both of them.  Cassandra never thought she would love someone as much as she loves Sebastian.  He never thought to find love and Cassandra is his soulmate.

The only thing that will destroy their love is a truly demented female that will do anything she can to make Sebastian hers.  Stella has the best female villains.  Miranda is unstable and doesn't care who gets hurt as long as she gets her way.    Can Sebastian and Cassandra survive whatever lay ahead in their journey?  Stella writes a tale with heart-breaking moments of sadness and euphoric moments of pure joy mixed in with mind-blowing peril and acts of unfaltering bravery.  You also get to catch up with all your favorite characters from the first three books in the series. They say that rakes make the best husbands and in this series that is definitely true.  I cried at the beginning of this book because of sadness and cried again in the last chapter from happiness.  Stella is truly an amazing author and I loved this book.

Now about Alex Wyndham's performance.  He brought all the characters to life like only he can.  Whether it is a female, child or anyone of the amazing characters in this book only Alex will do for Stella's audiobooks.  I cannot tell how much I have come to enjoy Stella's audiobooks because of his lovely voice.  Now on to the next one in the Series "Hazard".

Review of Lord of Secrets by Erica Ridley

Book five in the Rogues to Riches Series was a nice read.  I have enjoyed all the books in this series. Heath Grenville is widely known as the man to see if you need to hush up a scandal or fix a problem that would ruin you. He has made a career of helping people keep their secrets. 

He is the heir to a Baronetcy and does not have to worry about money, so he donates all his fees to his sister's boarding school.  He has also promised his mother that he would look for a wife this Season.  His father is hale and hearty so he has decades before he will become the Baron.  All the young ladies out for the Season are the same, young, silly and just plain not worth a second look. 

Then one day he meets the paid companion of a lady he is acquainted with and is dumbstruck.  She is everything that he would want in a wife.  She is beautiful, smart, kind and she loves her family and will do whatever it takes to make them safe and happy.  He feels the same way about his three sisters.  The only problem is that she is not well born, or so he thinks.

Miss Eleanora Winfield has been brought to London to be a paid companion to her second cousin Lady Roundtree, who has broken her leg and needs someone to help her.  Nora is not used to this privileged life.  On her farm, she toils day and night with her younger brother and takes care of her Grandparents.  They are always one step from poverty.  Nora has secrets that could send her back to the farm, but if it helps her family she will do whatever it takes. 

As Nora and Heath get to know each other their feelings for each other intensify, but can they overcome the obstacles that are in the way of their HAE?

Erica's books are full of great characters, surprising plot twists, humor, heartbreak, and love.  This series is a must-read. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Review of The Risk of Rogues by Sabrina Jeffries

A lovely new novella to take you away to another time and place for an evening reading in your favorite chair with a glass of wine.  

Hart and Anne were in love when they were young and planning on getting married.  Their parents forbid the match.  Anne was not well-born and Hart had a reputation as a gambler.   The match was forbidden and Hart's father bought his son a commission in the Army and he was shipped off to India.

Hart has never had the urge to marry if he couldn't marry the woman he loved then why bother. Eleven years later he literally bumps into Anne at a ball given by his brother.  He thought she had long since married and had a passel of kids.  That she hasn't is a miracle and he is now determined to prove he still loves her and wants to marry her.

Anne doesn't know how she can trust Hart after so many years.  She still loves him, but if he has been back in England for three years, why hasn't he tried to find her.

Secrets and misunderstandings could cost them both their chance at love and marriage.  Will they learn to trust each other? Give enough to finally put the past behind them?

This is a wonderful story that reads more like a full-length novel.  It has everything you would want in a love story.  Surprise, excitement, and a steamy love scene.  Sabrina is one of my go-to authors, I love everything she writes. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review of One For The Rogue, A Studies In Scandal Novel by Manda Collins

This is the fourth installment of the Series "A Studies in Scandal" and it is classic Manda Collins from beginning to end.  Gemma Hastings is one of the Beauchamp Heiresses.  She is the one most likely to land in trouble.  She is sassy, stubborn and a hoyden.  As you can tell from her picture on the front of the book, she has a little bit of the devil in her.  Unlike the other Heiresses, she has no intention of getting married.  Gemma knows that she is as smart or smarter than most of the men who collect and study fossils and bones.  She has no time for socializing or romance.  Her work is serious and someday she is going to find a spectacular fossil or bone and she will be able to take her place among the men in the field as an expert.

Cameron Lisle is a Gentleman who is a fossil collector and the editor of a scientific journal about fossils and bones.  He decides which articles will be published in the journal.  He is in the area of Beauchamp House attending a private conference of like-minded men of Science.   Last time he was here was to see his brother the Vicar marry Gemma's sister.  Needless to say that Gemma did not like Cameron and told him so.  Just because she is a woman doesn't mean her work should not be taken seriously.  Cameron defended his decision and hasn't seen her since.  He hopes to avoid her on this trip, but the men want to see the Beauchamp Fossil Collection so he will have to accompany them to Beauchamp house.

When Gemma and Cameron are in the same room the sparks fly.  He didn't notice how lovely she was and she didn't remember him being so good looking.   They decide to try to get along because they are now related by marriage.  Neither one of them counted on the attraction that seems to be developing between them.

When a fellow collector is murdered trying to steal Gemma's most important discovery, a giant lizard skull, that is on Beauchamp land and now missing, she is furious and is determined to find the murderer and get back her discovery.  Of course, Cameron can't let her investigate alone. 

Mystery, murder, mischief, and romance abound as the plot thickens and they find themselves right in the middle of the adventure of their lives that will take them places they never imagined and a love for a lifetime.

Manda is a master storyteller of mystery and misdirection.  I thought at least two times that I knew who the murderer was.  Her characters are amazing and her stories are original and very sensual.  This is a must-read.