Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki

“Do you think you’ll swoon again?”
He scowled over his shoulder. “Men do not swoon.”

The Highland Duke was a hoot to read! It’s nonstop action across the roaming hills of the highlands with lots of quick-witted banter and charm. Add in a dollop of romance and a touch of brogue? The start to this series was a home run.

30842455Akira Ayres is a gypsy healer. She lives in Scotland on English controlled soil, and she’s tasked with healing wounded Jacobite rebels before they are shipped off. It’s when she’s looking for any stragglers that she hears a masculine groan in the woods. Before she knows it, Akira’s agreed to help one a brawny and mysterious highlander with a musket ball in his leg. Now she’s an accomplice to the man’s escape with a regiment of dragoons on her tail. As if that wasn’t bad enough? She has a heavy and thoroughly unconscious Geordie against her back.

Geordie, the Duke of Gordon, is part of a Highland uprising against English soldiers. He’s shot and left behind, and with the English closing in, he knows he won’t survive long without Akira’s help. Akira agrees, but Geordie doesn’t expect to remain unconscious for most of their journey nor does he count on the tenacity of English soldiers. That’s before he falls hard for a sweet woman who doesn’t even know he’s a duke.

I adored both of these characters so much. Geordie is such an adorable grump! Granted, he gets shot in the leg, so who wouldn’t be? But Geordie is determined to take care of himself only to find he cannot. He needs Akira. It doesn’t sit well for him, but he doesn’t have much choice. It’s breakneck speed for much of the book. From complications with Geordie’s injury to the myriad escapes and maneuvers in eluding the enemy. Add in the attraction and lust dogging their steps, and it made for a quick read.

Akira has to be the sweetest heroine I’ve read in a long time. She’s gentle and soft-spoken and kind-hearted. She gets roped into helping Geordie because of this inherent nature. But in Akira fashion, she takes it like a trooper. This girl overcomes a lot of her fears and has many more still to face. However, sweet does not equal meek! Geordie growls at her so much in the beginning (again, he’s an adorable grump), before Akira just explodes. Ooooh boy, is Geordie not going to make that mistake again! I loved it!

Despite all of their obstacles, this story was just so romantic. Geordie doesn’t realize how tired of being a duke he is until he meets Akira. She speaks and looks at him like a man, and he can’t help but be charmed by her guilelessness. And Akira isn’t used to being looked upon with anything less than suspicion or scorn because of her gypsy heritage. Geordie only sees the selfless healer before him.

Akira was dear and beautiful and made sunshine radiate in his chest when she smiled.

Gah, this one was so swoony. Lots of tension and buildup, some scorching scenes that were just perfect, and a steady wooing that brought the sugar to Akira’s sweet. I’m highly anticipating the rest in Amy Jarecki’s Lords of the Highlands series. Just the read I was looking for!

*This will be cross-posted on Alpha Book Club. You can find it here.*

Buy Your Copy!

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo

Review: If the Duke Demands by Anna Harrington

“Was that how all the Carlisle men saw her? As a silly country gel destined to marry a boring vicar or farmer and spend her life polishing church pews or chasing pigs on a farm?”

Miranda has crushed on her country neighbor, Robert Carlisle, since they were little and he gifted her with a kiss. Her problem? She’s all grown up now, but he’s entranced with another woman. Her solution? Why, dress in a fine and provocative gown, lie on his bed with her masked face, where they’ll make love before she declares herself and her heart. Too bad she ends up in bed with the wrong brother.

30364206Sebastian feels the weight of the dukedom on his shoulders. He’s determined to marry his perfect duchess. That isn’t Miranda with her bold maneuverings and her love of Milton and Shakespeare. No, the part of him that glories in her passion and intelligence doesn’t fit with the Sebastian he is now.

They strike a bargain: Miranda will help him find a suitable wife if he’ll help Miranda ensnare Robert. But damned if Sebastian doesn’t fall for her in the meantime.

This is a solid historical romance with all its humorous barbs and battles and just the right amount of passion. Miranda is a blend of bold, but shy; innocent, yet brave. She flowers under Sebastian’s attention, and she really needs someone to see her. Especially when all her attempts to capture Robert’s attention fail. It’s her wake up call. Does she want the man she’s loved for years or the one she’s just starting to know?

The best part is how Miranda’s passion and exuberance ignites the Sebastian he has tried so hard to subdue. But when they’re one-on-one, shrouded in an opera box or alone in the gardens, the devilish rogue comes out to play. It made for some scorching scenes.

“Does the opera stir your blood?”

He stared at her profile in the shadows, his gut tightening at the raw pull of her, and confessed, “You stir my blood, Miranda.”

But about halfway through, the pacing stalls out. Miranda always seems to be embarrassed, and she would make a decision regarding Sebastian only to flounder at the last minute. It made her seem wishy-washy, and I wanted her to stand up and tell him to sod off or realize he doesn’t want a straight-laced bride. He wants her.

It would have also helped the pacing with Sebastian’s inner turmoil. Sebastian brings up Miranda’s station and upbringing way too often, and while I can sympathize with Sebastian’s past, I didn’t think it was significant enough for him to hold off as long as he did. The back and forth became repetitive and a good editing would have rounded out the story better.

If the Duke Demands is a great start to this series, and I can imagine the books for the other Carlisle brothers will involve plenty more hijinks. This is a quick, fun read that offers lots of laughs and the feel-good moments I expect in a historical romance.

Order Your Copy Here:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo

*I was given an arc via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review was cross-posted on Alpha Book Club and can be found here.*

ARC Review: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

30226770Cat Sebastian has done something for the romance genre with The Lawrence Browne Affair – and in particular, this historical period – that few have done in the market thus far. It has added diversity that’s needed while giving us all the essential elements of a great romance. I am so happy I found this one!

Lawrence and Georgie are the perfect match right from the beginning. I simply can’t resist a broody hero, but Lawrence is more than that. He’s sequestered himself alone, living in a broken down home, and thinking he’s mad simply because he desires men. How can you not just want to hug this man? This sweet person who doesn’t understand how amazing he is?

Don’t worry. It’s Georgie to the rescue. He’s funny, snarky and brutally honest. He made this book for me! In one scene, they are working on Lawrence’s experiments – yes, Lawrence is super sexy smart and handy too! – and Georgie sends him a message. Two words, and Ack! The tension killed me. I just wanted to shout, “Atta boy, Georgie! Get your man!” And when Lawrence reins in his ghosts and throws around his brute strength and title…watch out!

Their story is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy, and any book that makes me sigh in happiness is a 5-star read for me. It’s books like these that have me so excited for the historical fiction genre as a whole as much as it cements my love for them.

I highly recommend this one!

Buy your copy now:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo

 

 

ARC Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

4.5 stars!

Byrne is an author who delivers stripped-down characters – pitting their best selves against their own darkest parts. This book doesn’t back down from controversy, from the raw and gritty, from the vulnerable and damaged.

From behind the elegant veneer of the illustrious duke, cousin to the queen, herself, peered the eyes of a predator. Calculating. Hungry. Lethal.

thedukeCollin Talmage, Duke of Trewyth starts as a soldier in this story, newly gaining the title after the loss of his father and brother, and he’s floundering, looking for salvation. He finds it for the night in Imogen’s bed.

Imogen Pritchard is in protection mode. Her father left their family swimming in debt, and Imogen strikes a deal with their debtor. She’ll waitress in his establishment as Ginny as long as he doesn’t sell her companionship for the evening. Her luck runs out the night she meets Trewyth. He’s gentle and compassionate that night – sharing his burdens – and it stays with her.

Years later, Trewyth shows up at a hospital – the hospital where Imogen works as a nurse. He has been tortured, left with one arm and narrowly escaping death. Imogen’s premonition about his condition saves him, but Trewyth didn’t want to be saved. Nor does he recognize his nurse. The pain Imogen feels when he wakes up and hates her tore me apart. And what she loses in the process…

Both of these characters are so damaged; not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, and my heart bleeds for them both. Trewyth changes, likens himself to an animal, and his only saving grace in all this is his night with the mysterious Ginny.

This beast was no longer dormant within him, but prowling beneath the surface of his skin, wanting to mark his territory.

There is also the added conflict of someone being after Imogen, but I thought the story simply didn’t need it. These two are so broken as individuals that seeing them heal each other – slowly and with each resisting to the end – is enough.

Every second I held my breath wondering when Imogen will reveal herself and what Trewyth would do when her identity came out. The charade goes on a little longer than I anticipated, but it kept me on the edge of my seat!

That being said, the tension between them is on point. Though Trewyth likens himself to a base animal, Imogen sees beneath the veneer, and her reaction always surprises Trewyth. You can’t scare her, Duke!

This story stuck with me and Byrne is on my auto-buy shelf – right next to Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas – because of it. Any lover of historical fiction with a taste for a darker romance should pick this one up. Stat!

*The Duke is the fourth book in Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series, but it can be read as a standalone. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are 100% my own*

Pick up your copy here!

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo

Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that reminds me why I fell in love with the romance genre to begin with and where the true meaning of romance comes out: that you’re good enough as you are; that you are accepted as you are; that you are worthy of love.

Just as you are.

Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt is that book for me.

And honestly, I knew before picking up this book that it would go straight to my keeper shelf. Ms. Hoyt always astounds with her remarkable details and depth of feeling. I didn’t expect, however, for this book to have such a profound impact on me.

My Review

imagesInitially, I read the book for Hugh. Readers are introduced to him in the previous book as the King’s acknowledged bastard, and he is a widow with two sons – children who hardly know him. He is an enigma I wanted to solve, and I did adore him. Alf, however, stole the story for me.

This is, quite simply, a coming-of-age story that had me charmed from the very beginning. Alf has spent the last two decades as a boy, and after losing her close friend, has been faring for herself in St. Giles.

The feeling of flight, the happiness she finds in the freedom of jumping roofs as the elusive Ghost, is a big part of her journey, and when she finds that same feeling in Hugh’s arms, she owns it. Alf is the one who saves Hugh in the opening scene, and right away, she makes her attraction to him known. Alf revels in it, even if – or especially because –  she has lived decades as a male. It cements her decision to ultimately help the duke find his attackers.

Hugh, for his part, is the catalyst that helps Alf grow into her womanhood. When Alf’s disguise crumbles and the duke requires the woman, Alf, not the informant boy, she is plagued with doubt, and I love how Hugh took charge. Where’s the courageous Alf? He asks. He needs her to do this, praises her skill and her upbringing, and knowing Alf like he does, she takes the bait and rises to the challenge.

This is, quite simply, a coming-of-age story that had me charmed from the very beginning.

Likewise, Alf brings Hugh to his knees. He is scared shy of love after his wife’s infidelity, and the chasm between Hugh and his children is heartbreaking. Alf’s honesty and forthright nature are exactly what he needs.

And, typical of Hoyt, the heat between these two is there and steaming hot. Alf initiates the intimacy on more than one occasion, and I loved this! Hugh didn’t stand a chance against her, and I loved when the Duke lost his soldier persona – the protector and gentleman – for the lusting man beneath.

And oh, how this girl made even my eyebrows go up a time or two! There is one scene in the book where they must hide in plain sight…and well, I’ll let you read and delight in the how.

There is also a secondary romance featured, and I gasped at the ending. I can never wait for the next installment in this series, but we readers are in for quite a treat!

5/5 Stars!

Duke of Pleasure is hands down my favorite read of the year. Well done, Ms. Hoyt. I have never been more proud to be a woman than I am reading this book. Another absolutely breathtaking and heart wrenching addition to the Maiden Lane Series.

Professional Reader

Review: Baron by Joanna Shupe

It isn’t often that I run across a romance featuring a well-to-do railroad politician and a working class female medium. It’s even less often that the book is set in 1880s America. It’s for those reasons and many more that Baron, by Joanna Shupe, is one of my favorite reads this year.

Synopsis

51iqg-st6pl-_sx304_bo1204203200_
Click to preorder your copy!

William Sloane has the world at his feet – he’s a successful businessman and is campaigning for the Republic nomination alongside his good friend. He has one problem, however: a medium named Madam Zolikoff. The last thing he wants is to become a laughingstock, and a medium who is no more than a con would ensure exactly that.

Ava Jones wants security for her siblings, and she dons the disguise of Madam Zolikoff to ensure it. In return, Ava does her best to help the people who come to her for readings, offering them logical advice. That is, until William Sloane jeopardizes her career – and her money source – with his insistence on giving up her act. Ava submitted to a rich, charmer once before. She refuses to do so now.

Unfortunately, the rules of attraction aren’t black and white, and perhaps what they really want is exactly what they need.

Review

I devoured this story in one sitting and a big part of that is Ava. She is so relatable – strong when needed, but never too stubborn; forthright in her actions, but never foolhardy. Ava sets a standard for herself and Will and she is unshakeable in that. And, when her passions lead her into Will’s arms, she owns herself and her actions.

I loved this about her!

William Sloane is her refreshing counterpart. He starts out as the son of a business magnate, determined to prove himself – rigid and sure-footed. Enter Ava, and this railroad man meets his match, showing all these different facets that left me enthralled.

And, oh, what lies underneath his exterior! He turns from the uptight politician into the sexy rogue. At one point, Ava mentions Will is rather different from what she expects, and Will rises further – and quite deliciously – to the occasion:

“Is this fun enough for you?” His deep voice whispered over her cheek, bringing back her earlier words. “Do I seem fun now?”

The heat level is off the charts, and I love that I wasn’t expecting it.

The only criticism I have is a loose end that never ties up. I won’t say what it is, but with Ava’s past, I thought it was a big issue. I have a hard time believing that it didn’t come up in conversation with Will.

That, however, was the extent of my criticisms. Joanna Shupe is a new author to me, but I can say with absolute certainty that this librarian will be adding more of Shupe’s books to the shelves – both for the public, and one just for me.

 When can I buy it? What comes next?

Baron is the second book in the Knickerbocker Club series by Joanna Shupe. It is available for purchase on Oct 25th. The third book, Mogul, is set to release January 2017.

Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Professional Reader

My Current Project

Hi all!

Today, I’d like to share my current project, “Loving Lady Georgianna.” It’s the second book in my regency historical series – the Spirited Brides Trilogy. It follows Lady Georgianna (Georgie) who is abandoned one evening by Lord Vincent Thorne who promises to take her to Gretna Green to marry. The problem? He never shows up.

Years later – after being forgotten by the love of her life and being burned in a manor fire – Georgie is done hiding. She reaches a betrothal arrangement with the Duke of Burkeley. She will be married by season’s end, and hopefully with child, soon after.

Until Thorne catapults back into her life with a wager. A better husband is to be found – him. But first, he needs her forgiveness. He’ll get Georgie to lower her defenses and then propose himself as her only option. Although, he has no intention of bringing a child into society. It’s a minor hiccup.

Or so he thinks.

Can forgiveness be found? Will their past love remain simply that? A mistake?

It’s a battle that they both want to win. But soon, perhaps losing doesn’t seem so bad…

Loving Lady Georgianna

Click on here to check it out now!