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Currently Browsing: historical romance
Feb
5

Review: The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter

Review: The Countess Confessions by Jillian Hunter The Countess Confessions Author: Jillian Hunter  Reviewer: Ang Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Jillian Hunter is the queen of the O’Henry Twist. As I was reading The Countess Confessions and nearing the last 50 to 100 pages, all I kept thinking is “Wow, she never REALLY dealt with the conflict. She let the love story supersede the conflict.” Then BOOM right between the eyes! She threw a twist at me that a) I didn’t see coming, something very few authors are capable of doing, and b) wrapped up the entire conflict in one short chapter. Well done Ms. Hunter!!! Overall, I enjoyed my trip through England with Emily and Damien. Their chemistry is clear right from the start. His desire to protect her is admirable, and her trust of him is sweet and innocent without being saccharine. I found the story wasn’t so far fetched that it wasn’t believable, despite obvious liberties with timelines, passion, and probably family acceptance that were taken. The dialogue was well written and the numerous lovemaking scenes didn’t distract from the overall story line, something I tend to be a real stickler for. The lovemaking scenes were well written without going into raunchy, another thing I am always grateful for. I want the couples I read to understand and appreciate sex for the emotional connection and intimacy it brings, not just the physical act, and Ms. Hunter does this well. The themes throughout the story of love, forgiveness and redemption were handled well without getting preachy. And although I would have loved it if Damien had actually said the phrase “I love you” out loud to Emily, his internal dialogue and actions speak clearly that this is the case. I do wish, however, that we could have seen a stronger resolution between Iris and Winthrop. Although it is clear they achieve their happily-ever-after, I would have appreciated attending a wedding that I’ve no doubt Emily and Damien would have made sure was simple, beautiful and befitting of those they love and trust so much. My only real issue with this book are a few editing issues that hopefully will be fixed before the book is released. Namely the time line of the first party. Sometimes it is referred to as last night and sometimes it is referred to as two nights ago, which is the correct timeline. This oversight bugged me the beginning of the book but the pattern didn’t continue throughout the...
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Jan
23

Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett

Review: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett Bitter Spirits Author: Jenn Bennett Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I’ve been especially fortunate lately in discovering several “new-to-me authors” that I might not have otherwise chosen for myself by reviewing books. These stories have surprised me for a variety of reasons, oftentimes simply by drawing me thoroughly into the narrative from the very beginning when I had no idea what to expect. Bitter Spirits certainly falls into this category, immediately delving into several things that I’ve always enjoyed reading about, most especially the 1920’s, an impossible romance, and a good mystery. The main characters are unique as well as being a puzzle in and of themselves. Survival has made Aida independent and headstrong, while it has turned Winter into something of a controlling recluse. He bears the weight of misplaced guilt and a responsibility to care for those in his household and employ, while she refuses to be indebted to, or dependent on, another. At first glance, they are opposites in every way, which is, of course, a recipe for disaster as well as romance. Yet, Aida and Winter are remarkably well suited for one another, despite their mutually frustrating inability to acknowledge their own feelings. They are both scarred, inside and out, each finding a way to go on living, even if they aren’t being very honest with themselves. They are misfits, in more ways than one, and it is pleasantly obvious, once they allow themselves to enjoy it, that they actually fit together very nicely. Aida and Winter are also very sexual creatures who have yet to find a good match, neither of them fitting society’s definition of what a “desirable” lover should be. Aida’s independence is filtering its way into her sexual desires as it has already done in all other aspects of her life. Having been left disappointed and uncertain by her previous, inept lovers, she’s found contentment on her own. Winter, on the other hand, has gotten used to being pitied or feared, rather than desired, thanks to his scars, but the attentions of women who want him only for his fortune have made him resentful and numb. Together, however, they discover what they’ve been looking for, and don’t waste a single opportunity to make up for all they’ve been missing. Ms. Bennett is very good at crafting all her scenes, painting each one with rich descriptions, using everything from colors and textures to detailed geography, and even specific scents...
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Jan
20

Review: How to Master Your Marquis by Juliana Gray

Review: How to Master Your Marquis by Juliana Gray How to Master Your Marquis Author: Juliana Gray Reviewer: Ang Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: What I enjoy about Juliana Gray’s books are that they are unconventional tales of betrayal, trust and ultimately redemption. Rather than the typical damsel in distress, she gives us charmingly flawed heroes and smart, strong women who find themselves in odd situations doing highly dangerous things. How to Master Your Marquis was no different. Our hero Haltherfield is a charming, devoted, strong, scarred and wounded hero who finds his path to redemption in Stephanie, a princess in hiding working as a law clerk. She is snarky, cheeky, funny and excellent to read. Together they are the perfect combination of sugar and spice, base and acid, humor and heat. Their chemistry is strong, and although I thought they jumped into bed a bit quickly (a princess would have been raised better than that) it didn’t feel completely out of character with Stephanie’s impetuous character like it would have with her sisters.   But I felt like the physical chemistry downplayed the emotional connection they had, which was unfortunate because Ms. Gray is quite good as developing the emotional side of her characters. My other struggle at times was the back and forth style of the book. Because the time frame is so short I sometimes struggled to know exactly where I was in the timeline, and I would have to go back a few pages and reread to remind myself of where and when I was, which was unnecessary given that this book could have been written in a linear fashion and lost nothing. I commend Ms. Gray for attempting the challenge but felt she fell short in this effort. Other than these couple issues, overall I found the book to be fun, entertaining and all around a good read. Stephanie, like her sister, is bright, charming, strong-willed and a lot of fun to get to know. Haltherfield is loving and strong, despite an ugly past. His ability to move on, forgive, and love is a testament to his character and Ms. Gray’s writing abilities. There were several spots in the story where things could have been weighed down, but they were handled with the perfect amount of strength, tenderness and humor, keeping the story line moving forward, giving the reader the information they need without coming off like an after school special or a day time talk show. If you are a fan of the...
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Jan
16

Review: The Magic Between Us by Tammy Falkner

Review: The Magic Between Us by Tammy Falkner The Magic Between Us Author: Tammy Falkner  Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The latest novel in the Faerie series, The Magic Between Us, was not exactly what I was expecting.  Although I liked Marcus and Cecelia’s story, reading it was a bit more tedious than the previous two novels.  As much as I found their story compelling – I was confused throughout the novel causing me to reread sections. First let me say, I liked Marcus and sympathized with his struggle.   I was also overcome with pathos over Cecelia’s plight and situation.  I loved how Marcus’s family stepped in to help him follow his heart.  It was all heartwarming.  I liked how the overall story arc of Mayden seemed to come full circle. Before I comment further on what I liked about The Magic Between Us, let me handle one major issue I have – my apparent overall confusion.  The book blurb on Goodreads is NOT an accurate synopsis of this book.  While working at this review, I found the book blurb on the author’s webpage.  Dear Blog Readers, please compare these: Goodreads: Love triumphs over all differences…even those of wings and magic… Marcus Thorne was groomed to be one of the Trusted Few in the land of the fae, but now he must step into his father’s title in the British ton.  Cecelia Hewitt, a half fae/half human, has always lived in the human world and is not accustomed to wings and magic.  Completely unprepared for their new positions, Marcus and Cecelia strike up a partnership to teach each other about their respective worlds. In the process, they discover they have more in common than they ever expected—including a burning mutual attraction. Authors Blog: When These Worlds Collide… Cecelia Hewitt has lived her whole life in the land of the fae, and she dreams of a future with her childhood sweetheart, Marcus Thorne. When Marcus is called upon to dwell in the human world, it means leaving Cecelia behind and breaking both their hearts… More Than Sparks May Fly… Marcus was groomed for leadership in the land of the fae, but now that he has found his human parents, he will inherit his father’s title and position in the British ton—and he will marry a human. As love and passion continue to burn between Cecelia and Marcus, the question remains: Can two people fated for different worlds find one to share? Now, when I...
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Jan
6

Review: Viking Fire by Andrea Cooper

Review: Viking Fire by Andrea Cooper Viking Fire Author: Andrea Cooper  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: I adore historical fiction when the Irish or Scottish are involved. I am completely fascinated by Norse/Viking history. Imagine my giddy glee when I was offered the opportunity to read a title that combined both! However, I’m not sure exactly why, but I was disappointed with this book. There were a lot of things that detracted from my enjoyment of Viking Fire. I didn’t get enough description of the landscape, nor the things that attract me to the time period. During this period in history, religion was important. Mother Earth was the be-all, end-all. Until the end of the book, nothing was mentioned about Druidism. Mention of Norse belief systems were oaths uttered. Even the blurb mentions myth and magic. There are usage errors that WORD wouldn’t catch. Really, I’m not a snob about these things (ok, maybe I am…), and I would probably have been alright with them if the story had been more captivating. The plot was predictable, and the conflict was pretty much meh for me. I almost felt like we were just reading Kaireen’s diary. I liked the two main characters, for the most part. I also liked Kaireen’s handmaid. A lot. At times, I felt she drove the plot. Kaireen’s parents were incidental characters, and I felt that their presence was mainly conflict-based. While parents do have their place in conflict in historical titles, for me, there needs to be redeeming interactions when there’s conflict with the ‘rents. The ‘other’ clan, the O’Neills, provided the bulk of the conflict. To me, the younger brother seemed like a psychotic, spoiled brat that didn’t get the prize out of the cereal box. I was disappointed at his ending. I wanted more. There was the potential. Rhiannon, Kaireen’s mother’s handmaiden and the dominatrix of the dye room, was quite a surly one. I get the whole revenge thing. I get the plotting and conniving. I even get the whole betrayal thing. What I don’t get is why, if she despised the family, would she serve them in such a capacity for so many years? Most surely, there would have been other ways to go about her revenge. And ways to make the ends meet in a more timely fashion. I did see the romance between Bram and Kaireen, and I like the way it played out. I would have liked to see more between...
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Nov
25

Review: Devil in My Arms by Samantha Kane

Review: Devil in My Arms by Samantha Kane Devil in My Arms Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I have been a big fan of Ms. Kane’s The Saint’s Devils series since the first title, The Devil’s Thief. I enjoy her sharp witted heroes, no-nonsense heroines, and the wonderful romances each story imparts. Devil in My Arms is the third entertaining story in the series. This time around, the focus of the story is on Sir Hilary St. John (aka Hil), probably my favorite character in the series. It will take a special woman to match Hil’s cleverness and cunning ways, and Eleanor Enderby fits the bill. The story grabbed my attention from the very start, filled with intrigue as we follow a penniless and hungry Eleanor running from her abusive husband to the home of her sister, Harriet Templeton (from the second book, Tempting a Devil). Quickly we learn of Eleanor’s horrible marriage and how she hopes that after hiding for three months, her husband will assume she is dead and move on. I admire Eleanor and her desire to be a free woman. She has a sense of who she is and won’t let society dictate who she will be. When Eleanor first arrives, she is sent off to the country for three months to recover and remain hidden. I appreciate this time for what it is–a chance for Eleanor to get her feet on the ground and for the reader to learn more about the heroine without interference. As Eleanor begins to feel more comfortable that her freedom is real, she embraces all that she has been denied for too many years. As she steps out into society, she gains the attentions of her brother-in-law’s good friend, Hil. It is during this time of exploration that Eleanor finds her true self, and it is such a joy to experience. Hil is a worldly man, perhaps even a rake, who has friends in high places and tours all over the continent. Eleanor is an enigma that he must solve in order to rid himself of thoughts of her. Hil’s incredibly rude and blunt words for Eleanor when they first get to know one another had my jaw dropping more than once! But he is obsessed, and he doesn’t hide it. Luckily for the pair and the reader alike, Hil begins to see the true beauty of Eleanor and his obsession turns to lust and love. Together the pair have...
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Nov
20

Review: Somewhere to Dream by Genevieve Graham

Review: Somewhere to Dream by Genevieve Graham Somewhere to Dream Author: Genevieve Graham  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Every time a Genevieve Graham title comes through, I’m on it. I really like the MacDonnells series, and I’m glad I picked up the first title, Under the Same Sky as well as the second title, Sound of the Heart. I’m excited that the series keeps getting better for me, with subsequent titles. While Ms. Graham appears to be a kindred spirit, bringing the Scots as well as Native Americans into her writing (personal areas of interest), she does so respectfully and with accuracy. What I adored about this book was the way the reader felt as though they were in the middle of a Cherokee village in the early days of America. The social and political unrest were tangible in the story. I adored the way the first two titles in the series were tied in to the story. If you haven’t read the first two titles, it’s OK. Ms. Graham explains what you need to know. It did give me that little sense of déjà vu when I read certain parts, especially when we met Maggie – the heroine’s sister – again. I was OK with the way we were introduced to Jesse. At first, it bothered me a little bit. Then, as I read through how Jesse wasn’t instantly accepted, it was more believable than if he’d been automatically made a member of the tribe with all the benefits thereof. Even though they believed he was part of their tribe, the Cherokee waited until Jesse believed that he belonged. It seemed as though the story were about Jesse and his acceptance to the Cherokee tribe.  But it was about so much more than that. Adelaide learning about herself, her dreams/visions. Figuring out where SHE belonged. Learning to trust her instincts. I thought the focus was on Adelaide, but it was split between the two, overall. Adelaide started off as a mouse. Jesse flat-out called her that. Her Cherokee name was Shadow Girl. I was pleased that she lost that by the end of the book. I did think Adelaide was a little flat as a character until she started to stand up and be her own woman. Which is probably what endeared her to me as a character. Watching her develop as a character was one of the things that drew me through the story. Seeing the facets develop and become prominent...
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Nov
7

Review: The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

Review: The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas The Luckiest Lady In London Author: Sherry Thomas Reviewer: Ang Rating: A-, 4 Stars What I’m Talking About: One of the things I love about a Sherry Thomas book is that the author always gives us characters with well-developed back-stories complete with realistic issues, quirks, and intellectual interests. Her heroes are deeply flawed and her heroines are smart, funny and all enjoy pursuits outside of searching for the best catch of the season. The Luckiest Lady in London did not disappoint in any of these regards. Not unlike Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, The Luckiest Lady in London plot revolves around Louisa’s search for a husband worth at least 5,000 pounds a year, who would be willing to support both her and her epileptic sister. The man she stumbles on, however, is worth MUCH more in terms of pounds per year and issues to overcome. Felix, a dashingly handsome and charming marquess, who is deeply scarred by a dark and desperately cold childhood, is far deeper and multifaceted than Society believes him to be. Louisa picks up on this right away, fueling the story wonderfully. Their courtship and romance (which take place in stages throughout the book) are both difficult and enchanting while remaining realistic and entertaining. Thomas paints a lovely picture of believable characters that I came to know and enjoy throughout the novel. Their path to self-discovery, emotional healing, love, and ultimately their happily-ever-after is filled with bumps, primarily of their own making, and the resolution, although abrupt, is well-earned. Another thing I enjoyed about the novel was the complete candor between Felix and Louisa. Despite their issues, or maybe because of them, they break down typical society barriers right away, beginning with Felix proposing Louisa become his mistress, which allow for very improper but entertaining conversations to take place. Her sexual attraction and Felix’s growing obsession were a refreshing change to many of the previous books I’ve read. I also enjoyed that it was Felix dealing with the baggage and hurts of the past rather than Louisa. It gave an interesting and fresh perspective on a time-old plot line. My only issue with the book, and the only thing that dropped my rating, was the ending. I felt it was too abrupt. Thankfully Thomas was able to band-aid it with a decent epilogue. Overall I would have to say the reason I enjoyed this book so much is because in addition to being well-written and entertaining in the traditional...
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Nov
4

Review & Giveaway: Bound by Wish and Mistletoe by Kat Bastion

Review & Giveaway: Bound by Wish and Mistletoe by Kat Bastion Bound by Wish and Mistletoe Author: Kat Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Kat Bastion has done it again!  Bound by Wish and Mistletoe, a follow-up holiday novella to her fabulous first title in her Highland Legends series, Forged in Dreams and Magick, offers the reader more insight to the wonderful world created.  And more of Iain and Isabel! I don’t think I’ve read a heroine as sassy as Susanna MacEalan in a long time.  To say that she begins as a reluctant participant in the ‘couple’ is an understatement.  With physical agility as well as tenacity to be free, she definitely was no wallflower in her battle of independence.  As Susanna grew as a character and learned to trust, she did have roadblocks to hurdle.  It wasn’t easy for her.  Learning to love – and BE loved – was probably the most difficult task she’d ever undertaken. Watching her build friendships with Isa and Iain’s sister was parallel to watching a newborn colt gain its legs.  As feisty as Susanna was, I think she found her match in Robert. Head of Iain’s guard, Robert had sworn-off women.  They’re all more trouble than they’re worth.  Always trying to manipulate him into a marriage proposal or some sort of commitment.  I found it fascinating that Robert just knew that Susanna was the one for him.  His inner voice telling him resistance was futile.  How he knew he’d win her over eventually.  How that big lug of a man went to the mat for this woman that he innately knew he loved, but merely wished would be able to one day love him back.  I was rooting for Robert from the first moment he saw Susanna. Over-all, this was a great way for me to catch another glimpse at Iain and pregnant-with-twins Isa.  I missed them.  Stoic Robert gets his HEA… and Isabel gets Christmas.  What a wonderful magick that is!  Excellent holiday novella, perfect for a cup of cocoa and snuggling under the blanket in front of the fireplace this holiday season! 5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+) About the Book: Desperate to honor a life-long promise, Susanna MacEalan escapes her abusive clan with the fierce determination of never falling under the power of a man. Ever. Aggravated by shallow-hearted pursuing lasses, Robert Brodie, commander of his clan’s elite guard, has foresworn scheming women. Forever. When magick transforms Brodie Castle into a Christmas...
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Oct
24

Review: The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter

Review: The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter The Counterfeit Mistress Author: Madeline Hunter Reviewer: Ang Rating: DNF What I’m Talking About: Let me start by saying this book has great potential, and I was super excited to get. Spies, Refugees, French versus English, Love, Seduction, a handsome viscount as our hero and a war-torn French refugee determined to do anything to protect herself and her father as the heroine. There is so much to work with, but the reality is I’ll likely never know if all the pieces came together to reach it’s potential or not. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. For more than a month I tried to get into this book. I picked it up no fewer than six times, and each time I couldn’t get more than a few pages into it before setting it down. It simply didn’t hold my interest. I finally gave up when I reached chapter eight, and it was still dragging. I understand a slow starting book, but by chapter four or five things should be picking up; however, we were still wandering the streets of London. Or was it Bath? Wait, maybe it was Brighton… I can’t even tell you, which is sad because I really wanted to read this book. DNF – Did Not Finish About the Book: A refugee from the war in France, Marielle Lyon has established herself at the fringes of London society. Claiming to be the niece of an executed aristocrat, Marielle welcomes the gossip that she is a spy. The more eyes she has watching her, the better protected she is—and the better chance she has of saving her father’s life. A warrior at heart, Alban Norwood, Viscount Kendale, would still be in uniform if not for his older brother’s untimely death. After all he’s seen, Kendale doesn’t trust the French—or their femmes fatales. He has set up a surveillance network to ferret out undercover agents, and he believes he’s found one in the delicate, mysterious Marielle. Ready to pounce on his tempting prey, Kendale arranges a meeting with Marielle, who is more beautiful and more cunning than he anticipated. But the Viscount is ready to do whatever it takes to unmask her—even if it means playing a game of seduction… Release Date: September 24, 2013 Publisher: Jove Series: Fairbourne Quartet #3 ISBN: #978-0515151381 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info: The Counterfeit Mistress (Fairbourne Quartet...
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