Saturday, September 23, 2017

Review: Blackthorne's Bride (Joan Johnston)

Blackthorne's Bride (Mail-Order Brides #4)Blackthorne's Bride by Joan Johnston

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: A rogue nobleman, a rescued lady, and revenge undone by romance all play a part in New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston’s irresistible novel of best-laid plots, delicious deception, and unexpected passion.

Two years have passed since Josie Wentworth was bought from the Sioux for a gold watch and whisked back to England by Marcus Wharton, the Duke of Blackthorne. When Marcus breaks his promise to return Josie to America, she ends up as a maid in the home of his charming but neglected nephews. Once Josie’s long-lost family finds her, however, the suddenly wealthy heiress sets out to save the two boys from their indifferent uncle—and teach the duke a lesson in honor.

Learning that Marcus is seeking a rich American bride to save his estate, Josie plots to catch his eye—certain he’ll never recognize the beauty she’s become as the ragged captive he rescued. But Josie doesn’t wager on her marital charade taking a tender turn, as the nobleman she’s despised for years proves to be a very different man than she’s imagined. And there’s no denying his passionate caresses, as she falls deeper under the spell of a husband determined to claim her heart.


My Thoughts: This was an author I have not had much exposure to in the past, primarily because her main focus has been historical westerns, a genre that for whatever reason just doesn't typically enthuse me. When I saw the opportunity to review one of her books through NetGalley that was set in England, I thought I'd give it a try.

Overall, I just couldn't work up much excitement as the book progressed. I think that was in large part between it read like a western to me, and a lot of the book referenced the previous books in the series (with chapters actually involving the heroine's siblings over in the U.S.). The initial premise had hope for me...the rescue of a young woman who was then taken to England to heal, and then our hero loses track of her (but never forgets her) as we returns to his planned life and marriage. The story picks up a couple of years later after the death of Blackthorne's first wife. He's in desperate financial straits and has advertised for a bride...with the plan of marrying an American heiress.

We then meet our heroine again, who has fully recovered but has spent the past years toiling as a maid in one of our hero's remote properties (without his realization), living a meager life and doing her best to protect the Duke's two young nephews who also life at this property under the care of a feuding governess and housekeeper. To say she has negative feelings for the Duke, whom she believes abandoned her and his nephews, is an understatement. Long story short, turns out she's an American heiress and that her siblings who live in America have been searching for her for years.

From there it becomes a story of enemies to lovers, with Josie hiding her identity from the Duke, marrying him instead of immediately returning home as a way to protect his nephews and get some sort of revenge. The scars on Josie's back eventually give her away, and the miscommunication and misunderstandings continue.

The premise had potential, but I think because of not having read the previous books in the series and the feel of reading a western set in England (I have no idea why I'm so biased against westerns!), it just never worked for me. I didn't feel much sympathy for our hero or heroine overall, although from time to time they seemed to pull it together. If you like Johnston's previous books, I think you will no doubt enjoy this one as well. I do definitely recommend reading the first three books in the series though to more fully understand the backstory and various siblings that are in some ways central to this particular story.

From Goodreads: A rogue nobleman, a rescued lady, and revenge undone by romance all play a part in New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston’s irresistible novel of best-laid plots, delicious deception, and unexpected passion.

Two years have passed since Josie Wentworth was bought from the Sioux for a gold watch and whisked back to England by Marcus Wharton, the Duke of Blackthorne. When Marcus breaks his promise to return Josie to America, she ends up as a maid in the home of his charming but neglected nephews. Once Josie’s long-lost family finds her, however, the suddenly wealthy heiress sets out to save the two boys from their indifferent uncle—and teach the duke a lesson in honor.

Learning that Marcus is seeking a rich American bride to save his estate, Josie plots to catch his eye—certain he’ll never recognize the beauty she’s become as the ragged captive he rescued. But Josie doesn’t wager on her marital charade taking a tender turn, as the nobleman she’s despised for years proves to be a very different man than she’s imagined. And there’s no denying his passionate caresses, as she falls deeper under the spell of a husband determined to claim her heart.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: The Bad Luck Bride (Janna MacGregor)

The Bad Luck Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #1)The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A man of honor, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he exacts revenge on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece must fall into place for him to succeed he needs to convince his enemy s fiancee, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.

Lady Claire s curse has always left her one misstep away from social ruin her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth is headed in the same direction. . .until Alex, a man she barely even knows, shocks the ton and Claire by announcing their engagement. What begins as a sham turns into something deeper, and more passionate, than either Claire or Alex could have imagined. But when their secrets are revealed, will the truth behind their union scandalize them both or is their love strong enough to break the curse and lead them toward their happily ever after?


My Thoughts: The author had me wondering at first with this hero, who schemed and plotted and was so arrogant it was hard to sympathize...yet in the end he managed to redeem himself and we were left with an interesting story of finally learning that perhaps one isn't the center of the world and responsible for everyone in it. You couldn't help but feel for our heroine, and she was easy to cheer for and champion. Overall a well done story of redemption and self discovery.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Between Books: Learning Amigurumi

I find myself lately going back and forth between wanting to use every quite moment to sit down with a book...or to create something.  Lately, the creating has won out over reading, especially once my oldest discovered I had a Star Wars amigurumi crochet kit sitting in the house unopened.  His excitement was contagious, and now I'm working my way through the set.  This is my first time trying this type of project, and I feel myself getting better as I go, but I really, REALLY need to work on mastering a smooth color transition!

I started with Yoda and the Storm Trooper, than went to C-3P0 (the smile is a bit out of control on him).  Darth Vader was the most recent, and my favorite so far :)

 In between, big bro decided little bro needed a special toy too, so I started in on some animals...elephant and giraffe so far, I'm waiting to see what he picks next.  In the mean time, I'm working on a new Star Wars one!

Review: The Pleasure of Passion (Sabrina Jeffries)

The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors, #4)The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went back and forth on this book overall, but did enjoy it. I think in some ways, I might have preferred this as a novella (and frankly, I'm not a novella fan!) but at times it seemed like the angst and drama could and should have ended a bit sooner between the two. That being said, there was a lot of history between our hero and heroine, a lot of outside interference, and yet overall, in the end there's finally some communication and understanding that leads to the happy ending.  (Review copy provided by NetGalley)

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Review: My Fair Lover - Nicole Jordan

My Fair Lover (Legendary Lovers, #5)My Fair Lover by Nicole Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Nicole Jordan's irresistible Legendary Lovers series continues in this sizzling twist on My Fair Lady, as a bewitching beauty and a rakish sea captain trade favors . . . and tempt fate.

Lady Katherine Wilde believes she has crushed any lingering romantic feelings toward Brandon Deverill, who spurned her six years ago. And now that the rough-edged rogue needs polishing to claim his inheritance, she's willing to strike a practical bargain: Kate will mold the brash privateer into an acceptable English nobleman if Deverill will safeguard her from brigands on a voyage to recover lost family treasure. However, the soul-melting kiss that seals their agreement just may reignite blazing passion.

Brandon's fortitude was sorely tested when he turned Kate away from his bed all those years ago. Even a rake such as he wouldn't seduce an innocent beauty before sailing into battle. But now that he's inherited a title and must take a suitable bride, he sets his sights on Kate. Though he fiercely desires her, true love is a notion that baffles him--until their adventure turns perilous and Brandon realizes he'd gladly trade his life to save the woman who has captured his heart.


My Thoughts: When, after a long day of sick kids, I sat down thinking I'd read just for a little bit before going to bed, I didn't expect to be sucked into an enjoyable story that kept me up for hours, unable to put the book (ok, phone) down. I have to admit, it had been quite a while since I had read earlier books in the Legendary Lovers series, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Ms. Jordan's storytelling. Strong heroes and heroines, a good story and likeable cast of characters. It's definitely helpful to have read earlier books in the series to have some of the backstory, but I would say not necessary.  I appreciated the opportunity to review this book through NetGalley!

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Sinful Scottish Laird (Highland Grooms, #2) by Julia London - NetGalley Review

Overall review: 3.5 / 5

This was my first chance to read a book through NetGalley in a long while...and I appreciate that opportunity.  As always though, I will give my honest thoughts here.

The story surrounds a young widow, Daisy, escaping to Scotland with her young son - the new Earl due to his father's death.  Daisy is a bit disenchanted of love and romance after this marriage, made even worse when she learns a condition of her husband's will was that she marry within a year.  After receiving a letter from her childhood love, she takes off for Scotland to try to escape the pressure and in hopes he will return in time.

Englishmen aren't well regarded in Scotland at the time, and Daisy's neighbor, Cailean, is not exactly inclined to be friendly.  That, of course, changes over time (otherwise how would we have a hero for our heroine here).  What seems like it would have been a simple take of overcoming differences and two people coming together takes on a twist when the childhood love appears in Scotland, and may have ulterior motives.

This is one of the books where the further removed I am from reading it, I find myself thinking about it and enjoying it almost more after the fact than when I was initially reading it.  It stuck with me, rolling around in my head for the first few days after I completed the read, and I think that says good things about the story and characters overall.

I found it a bit slow to get started...and maybe that was part of my initial issues.  I wanted to like the characters, but instead found myself at times wanting to give them a swift kick.  Sometimes a little too much self-inflicted angst maybe, or just too much of a self-imposed sense of duty might be more fair.  But either way, they grew on me, the story grew on me, and I eventually got to a point where I couldn't put it down and had to sit and finish it (which of course meant I had to do it late at night so there were no interruptions!).  While I can't say this was one of my favorite Julia London books, I do enjoy her characters and how she develops them.  She also includes some interesting secondary characters and tells a strong story.  Worth the read, and if you find yourself needing to put it down for a bit, be sure to pick it back up and keep going.

Testing the Waters...

Ah, it's been a while.  Kids keep me busy, reading and crafting took a backseat to life, and here I am years later :)  I'm working on finding some me time again, hitting the library and utilizing Kindle books because it seems like reading on my phone at random intervals is the new norm.  Crafting has moved from quilting and sewing to crochet and now cross stitch...things that are mobile and easy to do in short bursts of time. But, while life is crazy and stressful and sometimes all I want to do is curl up and lock the door and read or do something crafty, the truth is most any day I do have that choice and instead I choose to watch Minions for the 8000th time or read Little Blue Truck or play trains.  I'm hoping for an early spring so we can get outside and play basketball and ride bikes and have more fun there too.  Life happens, and I'm enjoying it while I can.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: Sight Unseen

Sight Unseen
Sight Unseen by Iris Johansen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: The #1 New York Times bestselling author and the Edgar Award winning author are back with a new a new novel featuring Kendra Michaels—hired gun for both the CIA and FBI

A deadly multi-vehicle pile-up on San Diego’s historic Cabrillo bridge is thought of as a horrific accident–until Kendra Michaels arrives on the scene and perceives it as something much more sinister. Blind for decades and now sighted, Kendra's unusual skill for observation is highly sought after by both the FBI and CIA. Now her amazing conclusions open up a multi-jurisdictional investigation that once again teams her with the FBI and federal agent Adam Kyle as they investigate a conspiracy so explosive that someone will kill again and again to protect it. As the killer casts a deadly web of lies, Kendra’s life hangs in the balance, as do the lives of those she holds most dear.

My Thoughts: While the Johansen books follow a bit of a formula, this one wasn't quite as obvious and I found myself really enjoying it and trying to guess at the various twists and turns. The writing wasn't as stilted as I sometimes feel it has been at times in the more recent books, and I ended up reading this in one sitting! The story was good and I enjoy Kendra as the heroine. The mystery part itself wraps up a bit abruptly, but sets it up great for the next installment. I'd have liked a bit more focus on Kendra's relationships, particularly with Adam, as it seems like we'll be seeing more of him in Kendra's books! Overall, a good story, interesting characters, a disturbing bad guy, and enough entertainment value to thoroughly enjoy.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: When the Marquess Met His Match

When the Marquess Met His Match
When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: What happens when a carefree, disreputable, stone-broke bachelor is forced to find a wife in a hurry? He hires a matchmaker, of course. What happens when the matchmaker doesn’t want to help him? Well, that’s when the fun begins…

Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, loves his life just as it is: dissolute, scandalous, and deuced good fun. His father, the Duke of Landsdowne is not amused, and when he cuts off Nicholas’ trust fund, the fun-loving marquess is forced to find an alternate source of income—in other words, he has to marry an heiress.

Every new-money American heiress knows Lady Belinda Featherstone is the key to social acceptance. Once a new-money nobody herself, Belinda discovered first-hand how heartbreaking the game of love and matrimony could be after a reprobate British earl married her for her money. Now a respectable widow, Belinda has become England’s most successful matchmaker, guiding young American heiresses through the hazards of the London season and helping them to find husbands worthy of them. To her mind, the Marquess of Trubridge is nothing but a fortune-hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of allowing him to charm his way into any American girl’s heart, including her own.

My Thoughts: One of the things I like about Ms. Guhrke's books is her time period (a bit later than many historicals) and her independent, modern heroines. That continues here, although the story, or perhaps maybe the hero, didn't grab me as much as some of the past books have. It was still an enjoyable read, setting up the next book well, and parts of the book were very enjoyable. I like seeing England through the eyes of the Americans at the time, it is a different angle than many books take, and makes for stories that are new and different, which I enjoy.

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Review: The Sum of All Kisses

The Sum of All Kisses
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't care that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless ...

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn's enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

My Thoughts: I adore Julia Quinn and everything I have read of hers. This was no different and came through with a wonderful story with entertaining characters and a hero/heroine who both come to know themselves a bit better, in both good and bad ways. Moments in her books always make me giggle out loud, and that trend continued. This was one I quickly read and enjoyed from start to finish. I can always count on Julia Quinn for a quick, enjoyable read.

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Review: The Wicked Wallflower

The Wicked Wallflower
The Wicked Wallflower by Maya Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Maya Rodale's captivating new series introduces London's Least Likely—three wallflowers who are about to become the toast of the ton…

Lady Emma Avery has accidentally announced her engagement—to the most eligible man in England. As soon as it's discovered that Emma has never actually met the infamously attractive Duke of Ashbrooke, she'll no longer be a wallflower; she'll be a laughingstock. And then Ashbrooke does something Emma never expected. He plays along with her charade.

A temporary betrothal to the irreproachable Lady Avery could be just the thing to repair Ashbrooke's tattered reputation. Seducing her is simply a bonus. And then Emma does what he never expected: she refuses his advances. It's unprecedented. Inconceivable. Quite damnably alluring.

London's Least Likely to Misbehave has aroused the curiosity—among other things—of London's most notorious rogue. Now nothing will suffice but to uncover Emma's wanton side and prove there's nothing so satisfying as two perfect strangers…being perfectly scandalous together.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this first book in a new series by Ms. Rodale. I have not read many of hers in the past, but this may have me hooked! I loved the three main female characters, their friendships, their quirks and personalities. They were definitely relatable, even though we're talking about generations ago :) Our hero had work to do, but most good heroes do to earn the title. The story was fun, but what really shined here were all the characters involved in the story, from minor to major. Definitely a series I will be looking to follow!

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Review: The Ruin of a Rogue

The Ruin of a Rogue
The Ruin of a Rogue by Miranda Neville

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Charm, wit, and nerves of steel have helped Marcus Lithgow gamble his way across the Continent. But when his heart is at stake, all bets are off for this most perfect rogue...

It's been years since Marcus set foot in England—why toy with the ton when he can fleece wealthy fools in Paris and Rome? Yet everything changes when he inherits a ramshackle estate. Marcus's first and only chance at a respectable life needs funding . . . the kind Anne Brotherton can provide. Such a wallflower should be ripe for the picking. So why does Marcus feel like he's the one hanging by a thread?

Anne Brotherton is sick and tired of being an heiress. She cannot bring herself to marry a fortune hunter. Why can't men like her for her sharp mind and kind hearts rather than her impressive dowry?

She nearly falls for Marcus's smooth seduction. But when Anne realized she's being strung along, a lust for payback empowers her like never before. Two can play the game of deception. The game of love, however, has its own rules.

My Thoughts: A slow start had me putting this down a few times, but I typically really enjoy this author (and enjoyed the first in the series as well and so I was determined to finish. I'm glad I did, the last half read much faster and with more entertainment in both the story and the characters themselves. The bit of a twist at the end was a plus. I don't recall enjoying this series quite as much as some of Ms. Neville's in the past, but she is still an author you can count on for a good read.

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Review: The Governess Club: Claire

The Governess Club: Claire
The Governess Club: Claire by Ellie Macdonald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: For fans of Christina Dodd and Elizabeth Boyle.

Claire Bannister just wants to be a good teacher so that she and the other ladies of the Governess Club can make enough money to leave their jobs and start their own school in the country. But when the new sinfully handsome and utterly distracting tutor arrives, Claire finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance that could change the course of her future.

Jacob Knightly has a secret. He is actually the notorious Earl of Rimmel. He's just posing as a tutor to escape his reputation in the city. He never expected to fall in love with the kind and beautiful governess. She is the first person to love him for himself and not his title.

But when Jacob's true identity is revealed, Claire realizes she has risked her reputation and her heart on a man she doesn't truly know. Will Jacob be able to convince her that the Wild Earl has been tamed and that she is the true countess of his heart?

My Thoughts: A great author to watch! This was the first I rad of Ms. Macdonald and I will most definitely look for more. One of the best examples I've seen recently of how to write a short story/novella. The story felt complete, and I actually feel like there was character development...most of the time I feel like one or both is lacking/rushed. That wasn't the case here at all, and I really enjoyed the story, the characters, and the prelude of what is to come.

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Review: The Governess Club: Bonnie

The Governess Club: Bonnie
The Governess Club: Bonnie by Ellie Macdonald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Miss Bonnie Hodges, governess to the Darrow family, is desperately trying to hold it together. Tragedy has struck, and she is the sole person left to be strong for the two little boys in her care. When the new guardian arrives, she hopes that things will get better. She wasn't expecting her new employer to be the most frustrating, overbearing, and…handsome man she's ever seen.

Sir Stephen Montgomery is utterly distracted. He should be trying to figure out how his two best friends were killed in a suspicious accident and why the new young viscount seems destined to be the next victim. But he can't concentrate on anything but his growing infatuation with the beautiful, mysterious, and utterly captivating governess.

Together they're doing their best to save the two boys, but will Stephen's feelings for Bonnie get in the way of their search for a killer?

My thoughts: Another good example of how to write a short story and still be able to actually tell a story. I didn't quite like this one as much as the first in the series, but I have had a hard time decided if that was the story or the characters (which for some reason I just never quite connected with). Definitely an author I'll watch and look for further stories.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: The Devil's Heart

The Devil's Heart
The Devil's Heart by Cathy Maxwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell returns with her most unfortgettable novel about the Chattan family yet…

They call her the Unattainable. Lady Margaret Chattan spurned every suitor for her hand, vowing never to marry. The only way to break the curse plaguing her family for two centuries is this ultimate sacrifice. But now her brothers' lives are in danger. Determined to save them, she risks her very soul by traveling into the heart of the highlands to battle a force that has transcended time.

Heath Macnachtan is not superstitious. Laird of the most independent, nonconforming, madly infuriating clan ever to grace Scotland, he believes he has his hands full. And then, a woman lauded as one of the most beautiful in England, arrives on his doorstep with wild accusations and a mystical quest . . . one that just might help him discover who murdered his own brother.

But the real danger for Heath and Margaret is not a supernatural foe, but a very real love that could destroy them both.

My Thoughts: Devil's Heart is the third book in the Chattan trilogy and wraps up the tale regarding the curse affecting the Chattan family. Our heroine is the first female to be born in her family since the curse...our hero is the last male in the Macnachtan family (the curse originators). I liked the story overall very much, and enjoyed the entire trilogy. However, something about the story kept me from saying I "loved" it. I think the issue nagging in the back of my mind was that there were too many side story lines going on that in the end I felt weren't given a full account or space. Instead, I would have preferred that some of the side stories have been dropped to all the ones that remained to have more room for development. In addition, I felt as though the ending didn't quite wrap up the ties back to the origination of the curse and whatever happened to Fenella and Rose. It was another one that was somewhat addressed, but I might have like a bit more. Overall though, a lovely story of forbidden love (think Romeo and Juliet in a sense) with a bit of the mystical thrown in as well.

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