Friday, May 31, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

What's a duke to do, when the girl who's perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can't live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season—or any season—but his diabolical mother abducts him to "Spinster Cove" and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn't dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week's employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother's "duchess training"… and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn't a miserable failure. She's a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure—a woman who ignites Griff's desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won't be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess—can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?

I am so sorry to see the Spindle Cove series end -- I'd like to revisit Evan Grammercy, I must admit -- but I believe Any Duchess Will Do ends the series on a high note.  

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has been drugged and kidnapped by his mother, who is simply tired of waiting for grandchildren.  She wants Griff to settle down and leave his bachelor lifestyle behind.  When they arrive in "Spinster Cove," Griff agrees to pick one lovely lady for his mother to mold into the future duchess, and he picks Pauline Simms, the Bull and Blossom's serving girl.  

Pauline agrees to Griff's proposal of failing his mother's duchess lessons miserably within a week, and she'll be back in Spindle Cove one thousand pounds richer.  The problem is that while Pauline doesn't enjoy life in Spindle Cove, she cannot deny that despite her better judgment, she is falling in love with Griff.  

“I’m the Duke of Halford,” he said, plunging deep.
She shut her eyes, trying not to cry. It was all too much – the emotion, the pleasure. The hopelessness.
“I’m the Marquess of Westmore.”
“I’m also the Earl of Ridingham. Viscount Newthorpe. Lord Hartford-on-Trent.”
Thrust. Thrust. Thrust.
“And I am your slave, Pauline.”

I so enjoyed watching Pauline and Griff fall in love, as well as learning more of the secret Griff is keeping.  Pauline's care with the duchess was wonderful too.  She is exactly what this family needs!

So while I'm sad to leave Spindle Cove, I know I'll be returning time and time again.  Thank you, Ms. Dare.     

(A very special thank you to Avon Romance, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Any Duchess Will Do.)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: Thrown by a Curve by Jaci Burton

She thinks she knows this player—but he has a few surprise moves.

For Alicia Riley, her job as a sports therapist for the St. Louis Rivers baseball team is a home run—until she becomes the primary therapist for star pitcher, Garrett Scott. Out of the lineup with an injury, he’s short-tempered, hard to handle, and every solid inch, a man.

Right now, the only demand he’s making on Alicia is that she get him ready to pitch in time for opening day. Except the sexual chemistry between them is so charged, Alicia’s tempted to oblige Garrett just about anything. But both their careers are at stake—one bad move and it’s game over for both of them.

Garrett also feels the hot sparks between them, and the way he figures it, what better therapy is there than sex? Now all he has to do is convince the woman with the power to make the call.

Thrown by a Curve picks up with Alicia Riley, Cole Riley's sister, and pitcher Garrett Scott.  It is also the final Riley book and ushers in new characters who happen to be friends of Garrett's from college, now in various professional sports. 

Garrett has been injured and is slowly working his way back into pitching rotation.  His rehab isn't progressing as he would like it to, so when Alicia is observing his treatment, he asks for her opinion.  Shocking them both, as well as the staff of trainers, he decides to have Alicia oversee his rehab.   Garrett would like to push his relationship with Alicia farther, but she is adamant they maintain professional boundaries. 

What I liked about Alicia and Garrett was their banter.  It's brisk and lively with just a hint of sexual innuendo, especially once Garrett imagines having sex with Alicia.  I didn't like that Garrett stopped supporting Alicia's method of therapy once his shoulder became stronger and improved.  That this happens after they've started sleeping together was bad timing on Garrett's part. 

I am interested to see how the Play by Play series can move forward with no Rileys as one of the main characters, so I look forward to reading One Sweet Ride to see how Ms. Burton handles that issue.   

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Captain Durant's Countess by Maggie Robinson

Tucked amid the pages of The London List, a newspaper that touts the city's scandals, is a vaguely-worded ad for an intriguing job-one that requires a most wickedly uncommon candidate...

Maris has always been grateful that her marriage to the aging Earl of Kelby saved her from spinsterhood. Though their union has been more peaceful than passionate, she and the earl have spent ten happy years together. But his health is quickly failing, and unless Maris produces an heir, Kelby's conniving nephew will inherit his estate. And if the earl can't get the job done himself, he'll find another man who can...

Captain Reynold Durant is known for both his loyalty to the Crown and an infamous record of ribaldry. Yet despite a financial worry of his own, even he is reluctant to accept Kelby's lascivious assignment-until he meets the beautiful, beguiling Maris. Incited by duty and desire, the captain may be just the man they are looking for. But while he skillfully takes Maris to the heights of ecstasy she has longed for, she teaches him something even more valuable and unexpected...

Captain Durant's Countess is the story of an arrangement between the aging Earl of Kelby and Captain Reynold Durant.  Kelby found Reyn via The London List, and Evie (proprietor of The London List and heroine of book one, Lord Gray's List) solves Kelby's problem as only she can.  When Countess Maris Kelby arrives at Reyn's club to remind him of his agreement -- and payment -- the crux of the agreement between Kelby and Reyn is made known:  Kelby wants Reyn to provide him with an heir via Maris, and for Maris's sake. 

Reyn greets Maris crudely and rudely, yet she will not be swayed from the course of action set upon her by her elderly husband.  She does not agree with it as she believes she can convince Kelby's heir, his nephew, David, to act in good judgment once Kelby dies, but there's something about Reyn she cannot deny. Maris has been happy for ten years with Henry, though over the course of her relationship with Reyn, she learns there is much of life that she's missed out on. 

Some of the resolutions come too easily and conveniently for Maris and Reyn, but ultimately they do receive their happily ever after. 

(A very special thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Captain Durant's Countess.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Love Irresistibly by Julie James

A former football star and one of Chicago’s top prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cade Morgan will do anything to nail a corrupt state senator, which means he needs Brooke Parker’s help. As general counsel for a restaurant company, she can get a bug to the senator’s table at one of her five-star restaurants so the FBI can eavesdrop on him. All Cade has to do is convince Brooke to cooperate—and he’s not afraid to use a little charm, or the power of his office, to do just that.


A savvy businesswoman, Brooke knows she needs to play ball with the U.S. Attorney’s office—even if it means working with Cade. No doubt there’s a sizzling attraction beneath all their sarcastic quips, but Brooke is determined to keep things casual. Cade agrees—until a surprising turn of events throws his life into turmoil, and he realizes that he wants more than just a good time from the one woman with whom he could fall terrifyingly, irresistibly in love. . .  

The year-long wait for the next book by Julie James at times goes by quickly.  Like, say, when I haven't just finished a book she wrote.  And as with the previous books in this series, I find myself craving -- nay, needing -- her next book as soon as I've reached The End.  Love Irresistibly is no exception.

Cade Morgan is a dirty-talkin' man!  I wasn't really prepared for how sexy this book would be.  Ms. James writes some great heroines and her heroes are typically attractive, but AUSA Cade Morgan just lays everything on the line once Brooke Parker gets under his skin.  I loved their banter from the get-go. 

I wasn't sure if I'd like another attorney-attorney pairing, and I was also curious about how the romance would work if one half wasn't an AUSA (or with the FBI), but I'm happy to report this might be my favorite book by Ms. James.   And if I could offer a suggestion: Agent Wilkins totally needs his own book.   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: Lord of Wicked Intentions 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 . . .

Lord Rafe Easton may be of noble blood, but survival taughthim to rely only on himself and to love no one. Yet when he sets eyes on Miss Evelyn Chambers, an earl's illegitimate daughter, he is determined to have her, if only as his mistress . . .

After her father's death, Evelyn Chambers never imagined she would be sold to the highest bidder, yet circumstancesgive her little choice but to accept the lord's indecent proposal. Rafe is wealthy, as well as ruthless. Yet his coldness belies deep passion and deeper secrets. If she must be his, Evelyn intends to lay bare everything the Lord of Pembrook is hiding. But dark discoveries threaten to destroy them both until unexpected love leads the last lost lord home . . .

Rafe Easton is exactly the man we've come to know in the two previous books of this series, She Tempts the Duke and Lord of Temptation.  He's a loner, not ready to accept his brothers' return and fall back in the family way.  After escaping their uncle, Rafe experienced more on the streets of London than either of his brothers; they would be shocked to know what Rafe endured to survive. He rarely lets his conscience get the better of him, until he meets Miss Evelyn Chambers.  

Evie is on the auction block, thanks to her illegitimate status, at the hands of her half-brother who would sell her to the highest bidder.  She is confused at first, thinking the gentlemen in her father's home only wish to marry her.  Rafe tells her true and ends up saving her from the meat market.  She vows she will learn all of Rafe's secrets.  She never planned to fall in love with him.  

I'm glad we are able to learn -- finally -- why Rafe keeps his distance from his brothers.  It's clear from the two previous books that both Sebastian and Tristan are eager to have Rafe in their respective lives and to include him in their family once again.  Rafe's wariness is warranted, though, but I knew Evie would break down his defenses and reunite him with his brothers and their wives. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Lord of Wicked Intentions.)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: Wave Goodbye by Lila Dare

St. Elizabeth, Georgia, offers charm, Southern hospitality—and the occasional murder. This time, when a new hair salon tries to steal business, it’s someone’s life that gets cut short…

Violetta’s salon is up in arms. Business is dead. Snippets, a big box haircutting chain, has opened in St. Elizabeth, undercutting prices and luring away loyal customers. Violetta’s daughter, hairdresser Grace Terhune, is shocked to discover that it’s her old high school rival Lisa Butterworth who’s behind the big sweep—and Grace isn’t going to take this sitting down. Snippets’ cold-blooded prized employee is doing wonders with Violetta’s client list. According to Lisa, it’s just business—until a bitter confrontation leaves Grace more than frustrated, and Lisa less than alive. Now Grace is the prime suspect in her rival’s murder. And only her friends at Violetta’s can save her—before the charge proves permanent.

I've never read a series where the authors changed midstream, and while I found Wave Good-bye enjoyable, I didn't enjoy it as much as the three previous books.  I'm not certain if I will continue with the series or not because Grace lost some of her spunky-ness in this novel.  She was content to sit back and let events happen, and I don't believe the Grace Terhune I thought I knew would do that.  (As an aside, this kind of breaks my heart, especially if the original author conceived these characters.)  

Snippets is a chain salon offering steep discounts to St. Elizabeth's residents.  Grace isn't certain whether her mother's salon will be able to compete.  When her old rival, Lisa Butterworth, is killed, Grace decides to investigate, and Marshall John Dillon of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation returns to the scene of the crime.  

I was glad to have Grace and "Marsh" finally confess their love for each other.  They'd been dancing around it for three books.  Again, I didn't find it as rewarding as I had hoped, and I'll give the reasoning to the writing style.  

I was content to bid St. Elizabeth and Violetta's farewell after book 3, but Wave Good-bye was a good way to tie up loose ends leftover from Die Job.    

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare

At last, Diana gets a romance of her own! But with the last man anyone in Spindle Cove expects...

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman. At least, that's what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana's not excited by dukes and lords. The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. By birth and fortune, they couldn't be more wrong for each other...but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?

My problem with Ms. Dare's books (and novellas) is that I read them too damn fast.  I try to wait and stretch my enjoyment as long as possible, but once I begin, I simply cannot put it down.  That, alas, is the case with Beauty and the Blacksmith, which I finished in the blink of an eye.  Damnit.   

Now that I'm finished cursing, Beauty and the Blacksmith is a wonderful addition to Ms. Dare's Spindle Cove series.  Just keep writing about Spindle Cove!  Keep writing about moments like this: 

He propped one finger under her chin, tilting her face back up.  "If I were to kiss you, once wouldn't be enough.  I'd want to kiss you many times.  In lots of places."  

What I love about Ms. Dare's writing is the effortless way she choreographs a scene.  It can be something as small as fingertips touching, but it literally will have me on the edge of my seat wondering if the characters will touch or won't they.  

But I was very surprised to find Diana Highwood paired romantically with the blacksmith, Aaron Dawes.  Diana has been set apart throughout the Spindle Cove series as the highest of high, especially to hear Mrs. Highwood tell it.  All hopes of survival for Mrs. Highwood and Diana's two sisters hang on Diana's ability to (1) overcome her asthma, which has brought the family to Spindle Cove, and (2) land a duke or higher.  The pressure has lessened since Minerva married Lord Payne, yet Diana still keeps herself in check and presumes to go along with her mother's lofty goals.  In this novella, however, Diana finally stands up for herself, and she and younger sister, Charlotte, set about preserving Diana's happiness.  

Charlote's bow-shaped mouth quirked.  "This is my mother you're dealing with.  She's a dragon.  Arm yourself.  Gird your loins.  Gather your courage and your best steel.  And yes, formulate a plan of attack."

If you love historical romance, you cannot go wrong with Ms. Dare, and Beauty and the Blacksmith is a fine example of why. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Beauty and the Blacksmith.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Related Posts with Thumbnails