Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: The Duchess Hunt by Jennifer Haymore

Simon Hawkins, duke of Trent, is no stranger to scandal. Rumors and innuendo have darkened the House of Trent for decades, and it has fallen to Simon to restore his tattered family name. He lives by a strict code of honor, but when he is called home to investigate his mother's disappearance, the distinguished duke will tangle with temptation. For there waits the only woman he has ever loved--and the last woman he should desire . . .

Sarah Osborne has spent her life dreaming of Simon's touch. But dukes do not long for lady's maids-or so Sarah believes, until a stolen kiss sparks a passion that could be her ultimate undoing. As the couple begins a forbidden romance, a cunning enemy plots to destroy the duke and everything he loves. Now, caught in a blackmailer's web, Simon faces an agonizing choice: sacrifice his family's future or break Sarah's heart.

The title of Ms. Haymore's latest historical romance is a play on words: Simon Hawkins, duke of Trent, has decided it's time to marry, and is on the lookout for a bride; Simon Hawkins, duke of Trent, is also on the investigative trail of what happened to his mother, the dowager duchess.  The search for the dowager duchess isn't resolved in The Duchess Hunt, however.  It looks to be fraught with twists and turns as the House of Trent rallies to find the dowager before something grim happens. 

Simon's quest for a bride is just as emotional, though this plot is seen through to fruition.  

What I love about Ms. Haymore's writing is its richness and the sexual tension she can show between two characters with a simple look.  Simon and Sarah do not have an easy path to love -- they've loved each other for years, but Simon is a duke and Sarah is from a lower class -- but it's a believable one.  Dukes don't marry beneath their station.  And while the members of the House of Trent are shown to buck convention, his love for Sarah is one issue where Simon is at war with himself. 

I'll be interested to see how long the mystery of where the dowager duchess has gone can logically continue as we move through the remaining two books of this trilogy.  But I loved The Duchess Hunt quite a bit and am eager to learn more about the House of Trent. 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

True Love . . .

Joan Bennet has endured four Seasons without a single suitor or serious flirtation, let alone a marriage proposal. She's had just about enough of being a respectable wallflower and is giving serious thought to embarking on a life of sin, or at least lascivious adventure like the ones described in a popular scandalous book. When she meets her brother's favorite drinking mate, Viscount Burke, it seems her hopes of adventure might be answered . . .

Is Worth a Little Scandal . . .

Tristan Burke doesn't want a wife, and one can't trifle with a friend's sister without risking marriage. Even more, Joan's the last sort of woman he would ever choose: droll, sharp-witted, and always unfashionably dressed. If only he could stop thinking about her mouth. Or what she might look like without those horrid clothes. Or the way he can only win an argument with her by kissing her senseless . . . even though that just makes him want her more. But more could lead to a betrothal, which he fears—or does he?

Ms. Linden's previous series, The Truth About the Duke, was one of my favorites.  While Love and Other Scandals was enjoyable, the plot and outcome seemed a little too easy.  I like my historicals with a bit more angst and longing. 

Woman and her brother's best friend is a trope I love in contemporary romances, but here, Tristan seemed to have an easy time of wooing Joan.  The set-up was convenient, and once Tristan and Joan were "given permission" to be seen together, the rest of their romance fell into place. 

Love is here, yes, but very little scandal. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Love and Other Scandals.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: Lady Anne's Lover by Maggie Robinson

Lady Imaculata Anne Egremont has appeared in the scandalous pages of the London List often enough. The reading public is so bored with her nonsense, she couldn't make news now unless she took a vow of chastity. But behind her naughty hijinks is a terrible fear. It's time the List helped her. With a quick scan through its job postings and a few whacks at her ridiculous name, she's off to keep house for a bachelor veteran as plain Anne Mont.

Major Gareth Ripton-Jones is dangerously young and handsome on the face of it, but after losing his love and his arm in short order, he is also too deep in his cups to notice that his suspiciously young housekeeper is suspiciously terrible at keeping house. Until, that is, her sharp tongue and her burnt coffee penetrate even his misery—and the charm underneath surprises them both. Trust the worst cook in Wales to propose a most unexpected solution to his troubles...

Lady Imaculata Egremont is a valuable commodity to The London List.  Her scandals are notorious, yet they make for great reading (and great profit).  When Imaculata is in danger, she turns to Evangeline Ramsey, who turns Imaculata into Anne Mont.

Anne arrives in Wales with very little property and even less knowledge about how to be a housekeeper.  Major Ripton-Jones, however, is struggling also.  He's literally drowning in filth and alcohol.  Anne convinces him of her real identity, and they agree to help each other and help themselves in the process. 

I was a bit surprised by how quickly Anne proposes the scheme for she and Gareth to marry so Anne would inherit and Gareth could restore his home and lands, and how readily Gareth agreed.  He didn't seem like a desperate man, just a broken one.  The murder mystery subplot with all speculation pointing to Gareth as the culprit was an interesting one and offset the romance between Anne and Gareth nicely.  

Lady Anne's Lover is a fine ending to The London List series, and I will admit I'm going to miss what problems Evie manages to solve next.  
(A very special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Lady Anne's Lover.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

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