Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Lord Gray's List by Maggie Robinson

From duchesses to chamber maids, everybody's reading it. Each Tuesday, The London List appears, filled with gossip and scandal, offering job postings and matches for the lovelorn--and most enticing of all, telling the tales and selling the wares a more modest publication wouldn't touch. . .

The creation of Evangeline Ramsey, The London List saved her and her ailing father from destitution. But the paper has given Evie more than financial relief. As its publisher, she lives as a man, dressed in masculine garb, free to pursue and report whatever she likes--especially the latest disgraces besmirching Lord Benton Gray. It's only fair that she hang his dirty laundry, given that it was his youthful ardor that put her off marriage for good. . .

Lord Gray--Ben--isn't about to stand by while all of London laughs at his peccadilloes week after week. But once he discovers that the publisher is none other than pretty Evie Ramsey with her curls lopped short, his worries turn to desires--and not a one of them fit to print. . .

I read three of Ms. Robinson's four Courtesan Court novels and enjoyed two of them.  Since those aren't bad odds, I decided to give her new series a try.

In order to really enjoy Lord Gray's List properly, I think one must maintain a sense of the unbelievable.  For example, you have to believe that Evie can have womanly curves despite her height and still get away with impersonating a man at the offices of The London List.  You have to believe Lord Benton Gray can overlook her large nose (which is commented on often).  You have to believe that even young Evie might have lead with her heart when she first became entangled with a young Ben and that she impacted his life enough for him to carry a torch for her, yet not enough to pursue her.

Ben and Evie are great characters and their banter is quite enjoyable.  And given that I look for reading material to entertain me, Lord's Gray List certainly did.      

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: Bungalow Nights by Christie Ridgway

Return to USA TODAY bestselling author Christie Ridgway's Crescent Cove, California, where the magic of summer can last forever…

Combat medic Vance Smith made a promise to a fallen officer: to treat the man's young daughter to an idyllic vacation at Beach House No. 9. One month, some sun and surf, a "helmet list" of activities to check off and Vance will move on. But the "little girl" he's expecting turns out to be a full-grown woman. With silky hair, big brown eyes and smelling sweetly of the cupcakes she makes for her mobile bakery, Layla Parker is irresistible. And Vance shouldn't lay a finger on her. Honor—and one heck of a scarred heart—says so.

To Layla, Vance is a hero who was injured trying to save her father's life. She intends to spend their month of lazy days and warm nights taking very good care of the gorgeous soldier—inside and out….

While Bungalow Nights is set in Crescent Cove, the hero and heroine are not in the core group of characters introduced in Beach House No. 9.  That may be the only reason I didn't enjoy the second book of this series as much.  

Vance Smith made a promise, one he intends to keep.  He's taking his commanding officer's young daughter on a beach vacation to Crescent Cove for one month.  He's not sure what he'll do with a child, though he's hopeful the little girl's mother or another female relative will tag along.  When Vance meets Layla Parker, he's not expecting a full-grown woman, so he has no idea how to proceed or fulfill his promise.
A new cast of characters are introduced -- Vance's cousin, Baxter, Layla's uncle, Vance's brother, Fitz, Vance's ex, who is now Fitz's girlfriend, Vance's parents, Addy -- and returning characters such as Skye, who manages Crescent Cove, Griffin and Jane.  Addy is onsite to study the silent films once made and produced on the property, and she becomes engaged in a mystery.  At times, the relationships are almost overwhelming; then again, I wanted to know more about Skye's skittish behavior more than I wanted to know about Vance and Layla falling in love.

But romance is a good reason to return to Crescent Cove, and I'm glad we will visit it a third time in The Love Shack.   

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Bungalow Nights.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Lord's Fall by Thea Harrison

In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two mates find themselves on different paths, torn between their duty to the Wyr and the passion that binds them… 

Before she met Dragos, half-human/half-Wyr Pia Giovanni was alone and on the run. Now she’s mated, pregnant and heading south to repair the Wyrs’ frayed relationship with the Elves. Being separated from Dragos is painful, but for the good of the Wyr demesne they need to figure out how to be partners—in more places than just the bedroom.

In New York to preside over the Sentinel Games, Dragos is worried about his mate, but knows that finding two replacement sentinels is essential to show the rest of the Elder Races just how strong and brutal the Wyr demesne can be. But as the Games heat up, Pia’s negotiations with the Elves take a turn for the dangerous, straining her bond with Dragos and threatening everything they hold dear…

I hate to say this book is "filler" when I loved the first book of this series, Dragon Bound, so very much and Lord's Fall revisits Pia and Dragos, the two characters who helped to hook me on this series.  Maybe the reason I claim "filler" because I didn't savor this book and read it slowly.   Whatever it is, I will be honest and say that I didn't enjoy Lord's Fall as much as I had thought I would.  Oh, it has its moments, particularly the final chapters, but speeding through 280 pages with a teensy bit of payoff in the last third isn't what I've come to expect from Ms. Harrison, especially when Pia and Dragos are the main characters of the book.  Still, those final moments did give me a happy sigh. 


Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

The second in the incredible new Rules of Scoundrels series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean.

Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled, brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby cares more for books than balls, flora than fashion and science than the season. Nearly engaged to Lord Castleton, Pippa wants to explore the scandalous parts of London she's never seen before marriage. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming, quick-witted bookkeeper of The Fallen Angel, London's most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross.

Like any good scientist, Pippa's done her research and Cross's reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion—the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it's more than tempting . . . and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts—and giving the lady precisely what she wants.

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is an amazing book.  Simply wonderful.  Everything that I love about historical romances can be found within its pages.  And because I inhaled it -- and loved every minute of it -- please note that proper gushing and accolades may not come through in the written word.  

"I need someone"--she paused, then reframed the statement--"I need you to teach me how to be normal."

With that begins Lady Philippa Marbury's sexual education.  Cross, despite being a notorious womanizer, doesn't want to take part in Pippa's request, yet he cannot seem to rid himself of her.  She's haunting his thoughts and his dreams; she appears when he least expects it. 

She was everything he'd never known he wanted.  

The sexual tension between Pippa and Cross is off the charts.  What begins purely as an experiment, a way for Pippa to gain more knowledge as she prepares for her upcoming marriage, develops into something much, much more.     

The bottom line is I loved One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, completely and wholly.  

(A very special thank you to Avon Romance, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of One Good Earl Deserves a Lover.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: Tart by Lauren Dane

USA Today bestselling author Lauren Dane serves up a sweet, sensual, and hot-to-the-touch novel in which one woman’s most intimate desires are stirred by two very special ingredients…

Juliet Lamprey is having the time of her life running her successful bakery, TART, when Gideon Carter comes back into her life. Returning home to help his grandfather run the family farm, Gideon is back for good. When they meet again, the spark between them is immediate, and it isn’t long before the former childhood friends play catch up—in bed.

That’s not good news for local lawyer Cal Whaley. Though the sexually open but strictly monogamous Cal has loved Jules for a long time, he’s hardly ever taken it further than friendship. When he sees her start to fall for Gideon, he knows he has to make his move or risk losing her forever.

Who would have anticipated that all three of them would connect on such an intimate level? The trio’s scalding liaisons take them places they’ve never dreamed. But such an intensely passionate and unusual relationship comes with equally as complicated emotions, and when Jules must suddenly leave town, she wonders if she’ll have a choice to make when she returns…

I really enjoyed The Brown Siblings series by Ms. Dane, so I was interested to see if I would enjoy the spin-off series as much.  I have not yet read "Delicious," the novella which introduced Gillian Forrester's friends, Daisy, Juliet, and Mary, so my knowledge about the women -- who've nicknamed themselves Delicious -- is limited by what's been mentioned in Never Enough.  

I loved Juliet and Gideon together.  I felt there's was a great chemistry and the beginnings of a wonderful happily-ever-after; then Cal came on the scene.  Juliet, because she's been a friend of Cal's sister, Mary, has lusted after Cal for years.  As soon as she's settled, comfortable, and has the chance at real happiness with Gideon, Cal decides to stake his claim.  Ain't that just like a man?  

Juliet, Gideon, and Cal never achieved the success of Erin, Todd, and Ben in Laid Bare.  I felt Cal acted on his feelings toward Juliet out of jealousy that another man had her.  The fact that Cal was bisexual -- and the fact that Gideon was also -- seemed too convenient for the plot.  I didn't believe in their mutual love for each party within their triad.  It seemed very forced to me.  

When all the members of Delicious plus Raven are on screen to help prep for Gillian's wedding to Adrian, the individual women and their respective personalities blended together.  I wondered about Gillian and her friends being so accepting of Raven.  Raven had been a source of contention within the Brown family -- Erin likes her; Adrian doesn't -- so how was she able to bond with Gillian and her friends so quickly and easily?  

Tart would have been a great read for me had the romance solely focused on Juliet and Gideon, so I am disappointed I didn't like it as much as I had hoped. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: The Chieftain 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.

A Warrior's Heart

Connor, chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat, holds the fate of his people in his hands. Rival clans are plotting to take over his lands, and duty determines whom he will fight, trust . . . even marry. Seeking guidance, Connor turns to Ilysa, a young lass with the gift of foresight, who reveals an approaching danger-and a passion that burns only for him. But the warrior must make a powerful marriage alliance, and Ilysa's bloodline is far too humble.

With her powers to heal and see evil where others cannot, beautiful Ilysa dresses plainly, speaks softly, and loves her chieftain from afar. Yet when Connor finally stokes the embers of desire that have so long burned within her, Ilysa feels bliss unlike any she's ever known. Now as he is forced to place duty before happiness, Ilysa senses Connor is in grave peril. Can she find a way to prove she is the woman he needs by his side?

The Chieftain is the final book of this series, and I wondered how I would like Connor as the sole focus of the narrative.  While he is chieftain of the MacDonalds, he tends to blend into the background versus Duncan, Ian, and Alex.  Ilysa, Duncan's sister, is unlike any of the heroines previously seen in this series.  She's strong, yes, but it's a quiet strength; the characteristic of a woman used to being in the background as well.  

There is a lot of tension between Connor and Ilysa, for many different reasons.  Connor is intent on making a love match for his marriage, yet he refuses to imagine such a match with Ilysa.  There are several twists and turns, and finally Connor is able to see he can have a love match which will be good for the clan as well.  

The Chieftain certainly ends the series on a high note.      

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

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eagerly Anticipating -- March 2013


Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Sultry with a Twist by Macy Beckett

Welcome to Sultry Springs, Texas: where first loves find second chances...

Nine years after June Augustine hightailed it out of Sultry Springs with her heart in pieces, one thing stands between her and her dream of opening an upscale martini bar: a bogus warrant from her tiny Texas hometown. Now she's stuck in the sticks for a month of community service under the supervision of the devilishly sexy Luke Gallagher, her first love and ex-best friend.

If Texas wasn't already hot enough, working side-by-side with June would make any man melt. Luke wants nothing more than to strip her down and throw her in the lake-the same lake where they were found buck naked and guilty as sin all those years ago. In their heads, they're older and wise. But their hearts tell a different story...

I'm a sucker for a reconnected lovers trope, so Sultry with a Twist was perfect for me.  These books have a similar feel -- it's the small town, I think -- to Katie Lane's books, yet aren't as over-the-top.  Sultry with a Twist is a sweet and sexy romance.  I cannot wait to read the remainder of this series.  
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