Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: The Governess Club: Bonnie by Ellie MacDonald


Miss Bonnie Hodges, governess to the Darrow family, is desperately trying to hold it together. Tragedy has struck, and she is the sole person left to be strong for the two little boys in her care. When the new guardian arrives, she hopes that things will get better. She wasn't expecting her new employer to be the most frustrating, overbearing, and ... handsome man she's ever seen.

Sir Stephen Montgomery is utterly distracted. He should be trying to figure out how his two best friends were killed in a suspicious accident and why the new young viscount seems destined to be the next victim. But he can't concentrate on anything but his growing infatuation with the beautiful, mysterious, and utterly captivating governess.

Together they're doing their best to save the two boys, but will Stephen's feelings for Bonnie get in the way of their search for a killer?



The Governess Club:  Bonnie is the second novella in The Governess Club series by Ms. MacDonald.  Though Claire and Jacob from The Governess Club:  Claire do make a short appearance, it's not necessary to have read any other novellas in the series. 

Bonnie has delayed her arrival to join her friends, fellow governesses, when tragedy strikes the family who employs her.  She feels guilt about leaving her young charges, so she decides to stay and see what will happen with their guardian arrives.  Bonnie and Sir Stephen Montgomery don't see eye-to-eye immediately, but the undercurrent of attraction between them is quite obvious. 

I liked that Stephen is trying to solve a mystery, and that Bonnie's story is similar in tone -- and outcome! -- but not in content to Claire's.  I am anxious to read the remaining novellas featuring Louisa and Sara, respectively. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Impulse, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of The Governess Club: Bonnie.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Back To You by Lauren Dane


Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….


I have read the two previous Hurley Boys books, as well as the Brown Siblings and Delicious series, all of which gravitate in the same general world.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, Back To You didn't measure up.  

I cannot put my finger on exactly why I didn't like this book.  It's a combination of Vaughan, Kelly, and comments made about Kelly (typically by Sharon Hurley) in the two Hurley Boys books.  Based on those comments, Kelly had a lot to overcome, and Sharon's opinion is something Kelly struggled with during her marriage to Vaughan.  But while Back To You is a second-chance romance, I also didn't believe in Vaughan and Kelly's reconnection.  She's engaged to another man, for Pete's sake, when Vaughan decides to tell her he still loves her.  They've been divorced for eight years.  [I've never been divorced -- or divorced with children -- and I would imagine some romantic feelings may exist between divorced co-parents; however, it seemed like Vaughan was exchanging one thing (a life touring with the band) for another (a life with his wife and kids).  I didn't get the sense that his new thing would fulfill or sustain him completely for the rest of his life.] 

Disliking a book makes it hard to write an honest review, and I feel doubly bad since I enjoyed The Best Kind of Trouble and Broken Open so very much.

(A special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Back To You.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: A Taste of Sugar by Marina Adair


A blast from her past . . .
Charlotte Holden, Sugar's favorite pediatrician, knows better than anyone that love only leads to heartbreak. Instead, she's focused on creating the Grow Clinic, an outpatient center for children. All she has to do now is to host the best Founder's Day Parade in the history of Sugar, Georgia, to win over a big-city donor. Easy as peach pie. Then sexy Jace McGraw blows back into town and utters those three words every woman dreads: we're still married.

. . . leads to tantalizing trouble
Jace McGraw was making an offer on his dream business in Atlanta when he was told that his wife had some credit issues. Wait, his wife? The annulment went through years ago-or so he thought. He'd walked away only to keep his troublemaker reputation from ruining her dreams. But now that they have a second chance, Jace offers Charlotte a deal: he'll grant a discreet divorce in exchange for 30 days and nights of marriage. Because this time he isn't going to let her go without a fight.



We have met and interacted with Dr. Charlotte Holden several times in Sugar's Twice as Sweet and Sugar on Top, respectively.  On the outside, Charlotte seems completely together -- she gives advice to Glory, she manages finicky patients (human and animal), she is well-respected in Sugar -- but A Taste of Sugar introduces us to a different Charlotte, one who is concerning with her parents' approval at all times, one who doesn't want to let others around her down, one who doesn't go after what she wants.  When Jace McGraw returns to Sugar to tell Charlotte they are still married, she eventually has to make a choice.

Jace left Sugar after high school, but he reconnected (and married) Charlotte Holden in a fit of whimsy in Atlanta.  That was four years ago, and Charlotte returned to Sugar once they decided to annul their short marriage.  Seeing Charlotte again makes Jace realize that she is the only woman for him and he's going to fight for her.

The small-town shenanigans featured in A Taste of Sugar add silly fun, mainly because I can know people who act exactly like Darleen and Lavender and June Ferguson.  What I really wanted was for Charlotte to not let her father and mother dictate her life.  I was glad when she stood up for herself, though Jace had a hand in pushing her toward her decision.  I would still love to read a Lavender-and-Jackson romance.  *hint, hint, Ms. Adair*

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Grand Central Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of A Taste of Sugar.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review: The Earl Claims a Bride by Amelia Grey


CAN A HASTILY ARRANGED MATCH
Harrison Thornwick is the Heirs' Club's newest member. His carefree days as a reckless rogue carousing around London are suddenly behind him after the tragic death of his brother leaves him in charge of the family estate. What's more, the Prince himself has offered to secure his marital prospects. Now Harrison has no choice but to grin and bear his noble fate-and the woman who's been chosen for him.

BECOME A LOVE FOR ALL TIME?
Miss Angelina Rule is a spectacular beauty, a dream match for any man. But she is fiercely independent-and full of passion-and is all set to rebel against her royal order of marriage...until she meets the devilishly charming Harrison. With him by her side, Angelina devises a scheme that will teach her meddlesome relatives a lesson, once and for all. But little did she and Harrison expect to fall into a tempestuous attraction-and a powerful desire that neither of them can deny... 



The Earl Claims a Bride is an enjoyable entry to Ms. Grey's The Heirs Club of Scoundrels trilogy.   Thornwick is a friend of the Duke of Drakestone, the hero from The Duke in My Bed, book one of the trilogy.  However, that the men have minor mentions in each other's books shouldn't dissuade one from reading.

Harrison Thornwick didn't expect to be earl; he was the fourth son and enjoyed every moment being a fourth son entails.  Unfortunately, he is discovered in a duel by Alfred Hopscotch, the Prince Regent's emissary, and the Prince has a perfect way for Harrison to avoid prison:  marry Miss Angelina Rule.

Angelina Rule has loved Captain Maxwell since before he went away.  When Captain Maxwell returns, scarred and disfigured by war, Angelina is determined her love and their marriage can heal him.  (It should be noted that Angelina is quite adept at rehabilitating wounded creatures -- her pack of stray dogs can attest to that.)  Her father, however, has placed their family into ruin with his gambling, but the Prince Regent has a enterprising way for her father to avoid debtor's prison:  Angelina will marry Harrison Thornwick.

Harrison and Angelina have remarkable chemistry throughout, despite Angelina's assertion that she will not marry him when the Season has ended.  The moment I thought Harrison actually grew up is when he discovered Angelina might be taken away from him and how that made him feel.  That is when the earl actually claimed his bride.  

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Earl Claims a Bride.)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: The Governess Club: Claire by Ellie MacDonald


Claire Bannister just wants to be a good teacher so that she and the other ladies of the Governess Club can make enough money to leave their jobs and start their own school in the country. But when the new sinfully handsome and utterly distracting tutor arrives, Claire finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance that could change the course of her future.

Jacob Knightly has a secret. He is actually the notorious Earl of Rimmel. He's just posing as a tutor to escape his reputation in the city. He never expected to fall in love with the kind and beautiful governess. She is the first person to love him for himself and not his title.

But when Jacob's true identity is revealed, Claire realizes she has risked her reputation and her heart on a man she doesn't truly know. Will Jacob be able to convince her that the Wild Earl has been tamed and that she is the true countess of his heart?



This novella by Ms. MacDonald begins The Governess Club series, which focuses on four friends who happen to be governesses.  All the ladies are tired of pushing back against stereotypes of their station in life and have decided to save their money for three years in the hopes of purchasing a house where they can live and work.  The first novella focuses on Claire, who proposes her childhood home, Ridgestone -- despite it having been repossessed -- as the place the ladies should purchase.  

Claire works for the Aldgate family.  Jacob Knightly, the Earl of Rimmel, arrives to tutor Michael and Peter, sons of the Aldgates.  Jacob has no idea how to survive or blend in at a lower station, so Claire gives him some tips.  They spend quite a bit of time together, and naturally, they fall in love.  Jacob keeps his true identity a secret from her.  Despite Claire discovering the truth, things work out fine:  Jacob and Claire agree to marry; the governesses leave their employ and live free.  

Some portions of the novella didn't seem possible (that Jacob could free himself of debts and purchase Ridgestone within a two-week period) or historically accurate (Jacob losing his title when his nephew is born).  However, The Governess Club: Claire was a good way to spend an afternoon. 

 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: Sugar on Top by Marina Adair


She's sassy and sweet
The last thing Glory Mann wants is to become chairman of the Miss Peach Pageant in Sugar, Georgia. Spending months hearing nothing but the clinking of pearls and judgment? No thank you! But when Glory is forced to take the rap for a scandal she didn't commit, the judge sentences her to head the committee. Even worse, her co-chairman is rugged, ripped . . . and barely knows she's alive.

He's ready and willing
Single dad Cal McGraw can't take any more drama in his life. After a difficult divorce, his little girl became a boy-crazy teenager and his hands are full. The last thing he needs is to spend his down time with the town bad girl. Glory is pure trouble—tempting and tantalizing trouble. But he can't deny the strong chemistry between them-or how her touch turns him inside out. Now as squabbles threaten to blow up the contest and the town of Sugar itself, Cal must risk everything on the sexy wild card to get a second chance at love . . .




Cal has spent his life since the death of his parents taking care of everyone:  his brothers, his grandmother, his wife (now ex-wife), their child.  When Glory, with what can only be described as her perpetual bad luck, practically falls into his lap, he sees another person he can help, despite willing himself to stay far, far away from her. 

Glory is not a popular woman in Sugar, though she's determined to turn her life around for the better regardless of what the townspeople think.  She's thankful for Cal's help -- and his interest --  but she's quite capable of handling her own problems, thank you very much.

 With Sugar on Top, we revisit Sugar, Georgia, the small town introduced in Ms. Adair's book, Sugar's Twice as Sweet.  While things tend to be a little over-the-top in small-town romances, I thought Glory and Cal were a delight as a couple.  I believed in their chemistry a little more than Josie's and Brett's, and I may have liked their pairing a little more.  They did have a MISUNDERSTANDING regarding Cal's daughter, Payton, though they were able to get to the bottom of the matter and straighten it out quickly. 

I'm glad to see Charlotte will be featured in Book 3, A Taste of Sugar, and I do hope Sheriff Jackson Duncan and Lavender Spencer will progress their mutual attraction past trading jabs and barbs at each other. 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Hachette Book Group, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Sugar on Top.)

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