Friday, November 30, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: The Way to a Duke's Heart by Caroline Linden

Charles de Lacey, Lord Gresham, is running out of time, running from his responsibilities, and running from love.

Destined to be a duke, Charles de Lacey has led a life of decadent pleasure, free of any care for propriety or responsibility. It comes as a terrible shock to learn that he might be stripped of everything, thanks to his father's scandalous past. He has no choice but to find the blackmailer who would ruin him—and his only link to the villain is a woman who may be part of the plot….

To save his fortune and title, he vows he'll stop at nothing—in fact, he's all too eager to unravel the beautiful, tart-tongued Tessa Neville. She intrigues him and tempts him like no other lady ever has. With only his heart to guide him, and keenly aware that his entire future is at stake, Charles must decide: is she the woman of his dreams, or an enemy in disguise?

The Way to a Duke's Heart is the conclusion of the Durham Dilemma trilogy.  When we first meet Charles de Lacey, Lord Gresham, first-born son and heir, in One Night in London, he has a nonexistent relationship with his father and could seem to care less about losing his name and his fortune.  He has the most to lose of the three brothers, yet he's content to let Edward and Gerard solve the problem.   Edward and Gerard meet their respective wives, however, and force Charlie into accepting responsibility and getting to the bottom of this mystery.  And just as Charlie has a solid lead, he meets the beguiling Tessa Neville, a woman unlike any other.

 An angry woman was one thing, but an armed angry woman was another. 

Tessa is a plain-spoken, intelligent woman.  She has no use for flattery or witty banter; get to the point and get there quickly.  Because of her intelligence, she is acting on her brother's behalf in a business transaction with Mr. Hiram Scott, a man who Charlie believes is the blackmailer.  Charlie aligns himself with Tessa, and never lets go.

Watching Charlie and Tessa maneuver around each other was quite fun.  Neither wants to be attracted to the other, yet they cannot deny it.  The Way to a Duke's Heart was a very satisfying end and I will be sad to see the de Laceys say good-bye. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, Harper Collins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of The Way to a Duke's Heart.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Catch Me a Cowboy by Katie Lane

Shirlene Dalton has it all: a dream marriage to a man who spoils her rotten and the most outrageous mansion Bramble, Texas, has ever seen. But when her husband unexpectedly dies, Shirlene finds herself right back where she started-in a rundown trailer on the wrong side of the tracks. Never the type to let a little bad luck and a whole heap of heartache get her down, Shirlene is ready to prove to the local gossips she can make it on her own . . . until she ends up living next door to the most tempting cowboy in town.

Billy Wilkes has a score to settle and a plan to wipe Bramble right off the map. But when his sexy, redheaded neighbor figures out what he’s up to, his good ol’ boy charm won’t be enough to save him. With the town on his tail, Billy will have to come clean quick-or kiss Shirlene goodbye.

Ms. Lane picks up directly where she left off in Bramble, Texas, with Catch Me a Cowboy.  Shirlene Dalton rose high from her trailer-park childhood only to fall back to it when her husband unexpectedly dies and his company is threatened by creditors.  William Cates, known as Bubba Wilkes by the townspeople, came to Bramble with revenge on his mind.  He plans the town's demise by buying Dalton Oil, but living next to Shirlene's trailer he sees a different side to the woman he calls a gold digger. 

We, like Bubba/Billy, learn there's more to Shirlene than meets the eye in Catch Me a Cowboy.  I for one am glad to have had the opportunity.  The secondary cast, however, really make this series for me.  They complain, speculate, and take hilarious action when necessary.  Love them all! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath

"Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped--to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle--awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright."

Once upon a time, he was Lord Tristan Easton--now he is Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer beholden to none, whose only mistress is the sea. But all that will change when exquisite Lady Anne Hayworth hires his protection on a trip into danger and seduction. . .

Desperation brought Anne to the bronzed, blue-eyed buccaneer. But after the Captain demands a kiss as his payment, desire will keep her at his side. She has never known temptation like this--but to protect her heart, she knows she must leave him behind. Yet Tristan cannot easily forget the beauty--and when they meet again in a London ballroom, he vows he won't lose her a second time, as fiery passion reignited takes them into uncharted waters that could lead the second lost lord home. . .

The second book in Ms. Heath's The Lost Lords of Pembrooke trilogy, Lord of Temptation didn't hold up as well as I had hoped in relation to book one, She Tempts the Duke.  Maybe it's because I like the friends-to-lovers trope incorporated in She Tempts the Duke; maybe it's because the Tristan Easton we met in She Tempts the Duke isn't at all who we see in Lord of Temptation.  I'm not sure.  But I will admit is was depressing to finish Lord of Temptation and not love it as much as I have loved Ms. Heath's previous books.   

I think my issues stem from a variety of reasons, not solely that I didn't like Tristan or Anne as main characters.  By the halfway point of the novel, I wanted them to resolve their issues separately and come together collectively.  The pacing of the narrative seemed slow, and I wasn't as swept up in their courtship as I expected to be.  

That being said, I do intend to read the third and final book, Lord of Wicked Intentions (April 2013). 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Lord of Temptation.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: The Warrior by Margaret Mallory

Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.


From the Isle of Skye to the battlefields of France, Duncan MacDonald has never escaped the memory of the true love he left behind. Deemed unworthy of a chieftain's daughter, Duncan abandoned the lovely Moira to prove his worth in battle. Now, when called upon to rescue her from a rival clan, one thing is certain: Moira's pull on his heart is stronger than ever.

Bartered away in marriage to a violent man, Moira will do anything to ensure she and her son survive. When a rugged warrior arrives to save her, the desperate beauty thinks her prayers have been answered—until she realizes it's Duncan. The man who once broke her heart is now her only hope. Moira vows never again to give herself—or reveal her secrets—to the fierce warrior, but as they race across the sea, danger and desire draw them ever closer.

We are introduced to Duncan MacDonald in The Guardian, book one of the Return of the Highlanders series.  He is a powerful warrior, but he's lonely, and he mourns the loss of his first love who had married into another clan while Duncan, Connor, Ian, and Alex were fighting in France.  Given Duncan's demeanor throughout the course of two books, I assumed once he found love, he would be happier.  And despite the fact that he finds love again (love renewed perhaps?) with his first love, Connor's sister, Moira, I couldn't believe that what Duncan and Moira had shared during their one summer as lovers would be all encompassing and never dimming.  Meaning, I wanted them to have more of a reconnection and maybe some more angst so their happily ever after would feel worth the years of separation.  I didn't enjoy The Warrior as much as I had hoped I would.  

I do have high expectations for The Chieftan (February 2013), however, and am looking forward to the obstacles Ms. Mallory places in front of Connor and Ilysa.       

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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: Royal Pain by Megan Mulry

Bronte Talbott follows all of the exploits of the British royals. After all, they're the world's most preeminent dysfunctional family. And who is she to judge? Bronte's own search for love isn't going all that well, especially after her smooth-talking Texan boyfriend abruptly leaves her in the dust.

Bronte keeps a lookout for a rebound to help mend her broken heart, and when she meets Max Heyworth, she's certain he's the perfect transition man. But when she discovers he's a duke, she has to decide if she wants to stay with him for the long haul and deal with the opportunities -- and challenges -- of becoming a royal.

Decidedly "chick lit" in tone, I thought I would give this debut a try.  Who hasn't fancied themselves a princess in daydreams?  And who doesn't get a little excited by the prospect of a royal wedding?  

The typical chick lit tropes are there:  heroine obsessed with fashion, heroine with an endless supply of money (though Bronte seems to have a high-paying job to pad her bank account and thereby make her credit card payments), heroine with poor luck in the love department.  When Bronte met Max, however, this book began to remind me of one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies:  The Prince & Me


I did not like Bronte's ability to seem shrewish and overreact at the drop of a hat.  In fact, her bi-polar nature drove me a little batty, especially after she and Max become engaged.  [Sorry, spoiler alert!]  If anything caused me to almost DNF this book, it was her multiple episodes of "the crazy."   The ending felt too sudden and final, however, so I hope Ms. Mulry's forthcoming book, Earl Meets Girl, features Bronte and Max in some secondary capacity. 

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley who provided me with an ARC of A Royal Pain.)
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