Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eagerly Anticipating -- March 2012


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Blame it on Bath by Caroline Linden

A marriage of convenience . . . or of destiny?

Gerard de Lacey is determined to find the man who is blackmailing his family, but with his inheritance and status at risk, a hasty marriage to a wealthy bride also seems in order—just in case things take a turn for the worse. Charismatic and capable, Gerard knows he can win the hand of any lady he chooses. Still, he's not expecting a rich widow to find him and propose the very thing he wants: a marriage of convenience.

Katherine Howe's first marriage was one of dreary duty. Now that she's being pressured to marry her late husband's heir, she's desperate for a better option. Gerard de Lacey, with his sinful good looks, charming manner, and looming scandal, fits her needs perfectly. The fact that she's nursed a secret affection for him only makes it better—and worse. Because Gerard will likely marry her for her fortune—but can he love her for herself, as she loves him?

A great addition to this intriguing series.  Blame it on Bath may be my favorite thus far. 

Gerard de Lacey is the third son of the late Duke of Durham, whose first marriage is causing what's being billed as the Durham Dilemma in the scandal sheets.  Katherine Howe is a wealthy widow who needs protection -- and a husband.  Since Gerard needs money (regardless of the outcome of the Durham Dilemma) and Katherine has it, Katherine proposes they get married.  

What I enjoyed most about this book was watching them fall in love.  Oh, they're compatible in the bedroom -- almost instantly so -- but their relationship outside the marriage bed is what I loved.  How Katherine learns to overcome her insecurities brought on by her mother and her first husband and how Gerard looks past Katherine's plain exterior to see the passionate and lovely woman beneath.  It's the stuff of true romance!

The mystery of the late Duke of Durham's first wife is not furthered, but I'm sure we'll have a resolution -- and perhaps another visit from Aunt Margaret -- in the final book of the series, The Way to a Duke's Heart (August 2012).

(A very special thank you to Avon, Harper Collins and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Blame it on Bath.)    

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: One More Summer by Liz Flaherty

Grace has taken care of her widowed father her entire adult life and the ornery old goat has finally died. She has no job, no skills and very little money, and has heard her father's prediction that no decent man would ever want her so often she accepts it as fact.

But she does have a big old house on Lawyers Row in Peacock, Tennessee. She opens a rooming house and quickly gathers a motley crew of tenants: Promise, Grace's best friend since kindergarten, who's fighting cancer; Maxie, an aging soap opera actress who hasn't lost her flair for the dramatic; Jonah, a sweet, gullible old man with a crush on Maxie.

And Dillon, Grace's brother's best friend, who stood her up on the night of her senior prom and has regretted it ever since. Dillon rents Grace's guest house for the summer and hopes to make up for lost time and past hurts—but first, he'll have to convince Grace that she's worth loving...

When I finished One More Summer, I wrote on GoodReads it was the saddest book I'd read in a while.  That is 100% true.   If you read it, have tissues at the ready.    What surprised me most was how sad it is, given the blurb doesn't seem to convey that fact.  This book is sad; Grace is an unhappy and very damaged heroine; there are bad things happening to those around her; she discovers -- and reveals -- some startling truths as time progresses.  That Dillon comes into her life for the summer is a small piece of the whole picture.  So in that respect, I would classify One More Summer as women's fiction than romance.  But once I started reading, I had a difficult time stopping, despite the tears in my eyes and the tissues clutched in my hand.

(A very special thank you to Carina Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of One More Summer.) 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cover Love

This cover love encompasses an entire series. Black Knights, Inc., by Julie Ann Walker looks pretty interesting to me!  The first book, Hell on Wheels, releases August 2012. 


Review: Ember by Kristen Callihan

After a fire consumes the Ellis family fortune, the beautiful and resourceful Miranda finds herself faced with an impossible dilemma: enter a life of petty crime or watch her family succumb to poverty. But once her fiancée learns of her descent into danger--and of the strange, new powers she's discovered --saving her family may come at the high price of her heart.

When Lord Benjamin Archer's one chance for redemption is destroyed by corrupt London antiquarian Hector Ellis, he vows to take what Ellis values most-his daughter Miranda. Forced to hide his face behind masks, Archer travels the world hoping to escape the curse that plagues him so that he can finally claim his prize.

But once Archer returns home to London, will it be revenge he seeks? Or will the flame-haired beauty ignite new, undeniable desires? 

An interesting premise, to be sure.  Jen from Red Hot Books glowingly recommended the first full-length novel of this series, Firelight, and I was intrigued enough by her comments to read the prequel. 

Perhaps the "meat" of the story -- Miranda's relationship with Archer -- is better told in a longer format.  While it was interesting to see them meet accidentally on the street and to know the backstory of how they came to be together (I assume), I'm not sure what's detailed in Ember is enough to sufficiently entice me into reading Firelight at this time.

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

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

Breaking rules and breaking hearts
Free-spirited Chloe lives life on the edge. Unlike her soon-to-be married sisters, she isn't ready to settle into a quiet life running their family's newly renovated inn. But soon her love of trouble--and trouble with love-draws the attention of the very stern, very sexy sheriff who'd like nothing better than to tame her wild ways.

Suddenly Chloe can't take a misstep without the sheriff hot on her heels. His rugged swagger and his enigmatic smile are enough to make a girl beg to be handcuffed. For the first time, instead of avoiding the law, Chloe dreams of surrender. Can this rebel find a way to keep the peace with the straitlaced sheriff? Or will Chloe's colorful past keep her from a love that lasts . . . and the safe haven she truly wants in a town called Lucky Harbor?

After the events of The Sweetest Thing, it seemed obvious that Chloe and Sheriff Sawyer would hook up.   They didn't like each other, for one thing; they always seemed to antagonize and deliberately put the other on edge.  But their dance of mutual dislike is one that often overshadows a hidden sexual attraction. 

Given Chloe's need for thrills, Sawyer is the one who ultimately ends up rescuing her from her attempts gone bad.  Because of their opposing natures, they are completely perfect for one another, a solid match from the get-go.  I hope we get to revisit them in future Lucky Harbor books. 

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

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: Secrets of an Accidental Duchess by Jennifer Haymore

With her pale hair and slim figure, Olivia Donovan looks as fragile as fine china, and has been treated as such by her sisters ever since a childhood bout with malaria. But beneath her delicate facade, Olivia guards a bold, independent spirit and the kind of passionate desires proper young ladies must never confess...

It was a reckless wager, and one Max couldn't resist: seduce the alluring Olivia or forfeit part of his fortune. Yet the wild, soon-to-be Duke never imagined he'd fall in love with this innocent beauty. Nor could he have guessed that a dangerously unpredictable rival would set out to destroy them both. Now, Max must beat a Madman at his own twisted game-or forever lose the only woman to have ever won his heart.

Frail-looking Olivia Donovan has been treated with care and delicacy since the bout with malaria that weakened her and killed her father.  She has given up hope of ever having a marriage or children, content to be a happy spinster aunt to her sisters' children.   Of course, she meets Max, who has decided he never wants to marry either.   The two embark on "adventures" together and soon become lovers.  Unfortunately, Max's bet with the Marquis of Fenwicke comes to light,  putting a cloud over the genuine feelings of love he and Olivia share.   When Olivia's life is placed in danger, Max is able to save her, and the two reunite in true romantic fashion. 

I wanted to like Secrets of an Accidental Duchess much more than I actually did, simply because I'm such a fan of Ms. Haymore's previous series.  So while I've been disappointed in this series thus far, I am going to hold out hope for Pleasures of a Tempted Lady.  

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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Once Upon a Wicked Night by Jennifer Haymore

All of London looks forward to the Dowager Duchess of Clayworth's annual ball. For no matter how hard the serious society matron strives to host an elegant event, scandal always ensues . . .

Seven years ago it was a young Serena Donovan and Jonathan Dane who shocked the ton when they were discovered in a most compromising position. Tonight they return for the first time as the Earl and Countess of Stratford. And while Serena hopes for a quiet evening to introduce her younger sister Olivia to society, Jonathan's only desire is to pick up where he and Serena left off . . .

Though innocent Olivia secretly longs for the kind of passion her sister shares with her husband, none of the men she's met spark a fire inside her heart-least of all the notorious Marquis of Fenwicke. When his request for a waltz turns into something sinister, Olivia must use her wit and wiles to evade a powerful peer who vows if can't have her, no man shall... 

Once Upon a Wicked Night is a short story bridge between the first two full-length novels of Ms. Haymore's newest series.  We return to the Dowager Duchess of Clayworth's annual ball where Jonathan and Serena, now married, were caught seven years earlier in a delicate situation that resulted in Serena's flight from London.   Serena has been charged by her mother to introduce her younger sisters Olivia and Jessica to London society.   It is also at this ball where Olivia meets the Marquis of Fenwick, who plays a large role in Secrets of an Accidental Duchess.  

Once Upon a Wicked Night is a quick read to lead you straight into Secrets of an Accidental Duchess

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Hachette Book Group and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Once Upon a Wicked Night.)
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