Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: His Sinful Touch (Candace Camp)

His Sinful Touch (The Mad Morelands, #5)From Goodreads: A lost identity. A dangerous mystery. And a deep love that can conquer it all.

When a mysterious gentleman arrives on his doorstep, Alexander Moreland is astonished to discover that the stranger is not a gentleman at all, but a beautiful young woman disguised as a man, and in great need of assistance. The woman remembers nothing except her own name, Sabrina, and has only the contents of her pockets as clues to her identity: a handkerchief, a pocket watch, a leather pouch, a torn scrap of paper and a gold ring.

Sabrina is certain that she is on the run from someone, or something—how else to explain the bruises on her face and the pervasive sense of dread she feels? She’s also certain that she trusts Alex to help her, and she can’t deny the sparks that fly between them. As they race through the English countryside, Sabrina and Alex must solve the mystery of Sabrina’s past—before whatever she’s running from catches up to them.


My Thoughts: I've read a number of Ms. Camp's books, but had somehow missed this series (earlier books were released 10+ years ago, this is a new addition to the series).  I REALLY enjoyed this book, so much so that I read it all in one day and could not put it down.  What made the book for me was the characters and this unconventional family for this time period that is the heart of the series.  I picked up the series here with Book 5, and despite that it is easily a standalone read.  (That being said, I'm working on finding the others to get the backstory!)

Sabrina and Alex are the focus of the story, and the book starts with a bang as we get glimpses of Sabrina's story, just enough to intrigue and set the tone for what's to come as she starts the search for herself in more ways than one.  As she finds Alex, we see him step outside his normal "role" and comfort zone to do what needs to be done to protect and help the woman he quickly is coming to love (it's always amazing how quickly that happens).  While the end result is never really in doubt, Ms. Camp makes the getting there interesting and not always predictable.  An enjoyable way to spend the afternoon, I'm anxious not only to read the next in the series, but the previous as well.  The Mad Morelands are wholly entertaining. (Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to review this!)

Review: Wallflower Most Wanted (Manda Collins)

Wallflower Most Wanted (Studies in Scandal, #3)From Goodreads: THE PICTURE OF ROMANCE
A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overhead conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…

Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?

My Thoughts:  I had only vague recollections of the first in this series and realized I had not read the second.  Despite that, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the third book in this series, full of smart (very smart) heroines and of course, the men who love them.  There are elements of mystery in each book in the series, and with each addition we learn a bit more about the benefactress of the four heiresses.  The mystery is always key to the romance within, but I also value reading about the struggles of being a woman in this period that had to justify talents and knowledge and abilities beyond the norm.  While not to the same extreme today, many parallels can be drawn between then and now when it comes to how women and knowledge and expertise are viewed and judged.  A fun, quick read that may also get you thinking about bigger issues, I recommend the series overall (I went back and read book two after this and look forward to the next!). Advance copy obtained through NetGalley - thank you!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review: The Duke (Katharine Ashe)

The Duke by Katharine AsheFrom Goodreads: Katharine Ashe continues her lush and sensual Devil’s Duke series with a sweeping story of unbreakable love

Six years ago, when Lady Amarantha Vale was an innocent in a foreign land and Gabriel Hume was a young naval officer, they met . . . and played with fire.

Now Gabriel is the dark lord known to society as the Devil’s Duke, a notorious recluse hidden away in a castle in the Highlands. Only Amarantha knows the truth about him, and she won’t be intimidated. He is the one man who can give her the answers she needs.

But Gabriel cannot let her learn his darkest secret. So begins a game of wit and desire that proves seduction is more satisfying—and much more wicked—the second time around…


My Thoughts: I've found this series by Ms. Ashe to be unique and interesting with strong characters and good story lines.  The Devil's Duke, the mysterious person we see in the previous books in the series, get his turn here.  We've gotten the idea going into it that he's not what rumors would have him to be, and here we get the full story.  We see a much different side of our Duke here and learn how and why he became what he is now.  The same is true of our heroine, Amarantha.  More than what she appears to be, you see her internal strength and determination and independence start to shine as they work towards their happy-ever-after.  The interesting cast of characters helps throw a few twists and turns into the story, and in the end we find a story of lovers reunited, looking at people beyond what you see on the surface, sacrifice for others, justice served, and two people finding themselves before they could find another.  

I need to go back and re-read the previous books in the series now, especially with the context this one provides.  I think it's a story one could enjoy independent of the other books, but having the background may help bring out some nuances and a better understanding of the story and the people.

(Advance copy provided by publisher)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: The Texan Duke (Karen Ranney)

The Texan Dukespins the tale of a reluctant duke who must choose between his life in America—and the Scottish woman he’s destined to love…From Goodreads: New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney’s third book in her Duke series

As the ward to the late Duke of Lothian, Elsbeth Carew resides at the ancestral estate of Bealadair. Fiercely attached to the manor, she loves it more than anyone else. When Connor McCraight—the new Duke of Lothian—arrives, Elsbeth does not quite know what to make of the American who has inherited the title but has never even set foot on Scottish soil. The tall, ruggedly handsome Texan sweeps through Bealadair with an air of authority Elsbeth has never encountered.

Connor has no intention of making Scotland his home and hopes to sell the estate as soon as possible. But his plan is jeopardized when he meets Elsbeth. A sweet, gray-eyed beauty, she tempts him in ways no other woman has. As word spreads of Connor’s intention to sell Bealadair, his life is threatened—and the only woman who can save him may be the one he has hopelessly lost his heart to.


My Thoughts: Not too far into this story of the unexpected and unwilling American heir to a title, I started to make assumptions about the future of the story, the characters, and the inevitable resolution of the angst.  I sort of worked my way through the book in a few sittings, and the more I read, the more I realized that I perhaps I DIDN'T in fact know where all this was going and "know" the characters as well as I thought I did.

 Connor, our unwilling Duke from Texas, has no plans to stay in Scotland any longer than it takes to sell the land and settle the estate.  Of course, it's never that simple, and the story follow his path to understanding that there's some positives in his inheritance and new role.  Elsbeth is the former Duke's ward now trying to find her place in a world where she no longer feels part of the family.  There's a lot of family dynamics and drama involved, and in the end the resolution isn't what I expected from this theme.  Some danger, some drama, and some unexpected character development made this a much more enjoyable read in the end than I expected at the start.

(advanced copy obtained from publisher)

Review: It's Hard Out Here For A Duke (Maya Rodale)

It's Hard Out Here for a Duke (Keeping Up with the Cavendishes, #4)From Goodreads: In the fourth novel of Maya Rodale’s tantalizing series, a newly minted duke spends one night with his perfect woman...but can he win her for a lifetime

Some Mistakes…

When American-born James Cavendish arrives in London tomorrow, he’ll become the Duke of Durham. Some might be ecstatic at the opportunity. Not James. He’s a simple man, fond of simple pleasures. And right now, nothing could be more pleasurable than spending his last night of freedom with a beautiful stranger.

Are Far Too Good…

One wild night, Meredith Green, companion to the dowager Duchess of Durham, said yes to a man she thought she’d never see again. Suddenly, they’re living under the same roof, where Meredith is expected to teach James how to be a duke—while trying not to surrender to temptation a second time.

To Be Forgotten

For a duke and a commoner, marriage would be pure scandal. Yet nothing has ever felt as right as having Meredith in his arms…and in his bed. Soon he must choose—between a duty he never desired, and a woman he longs for, body and soul…


My Thoughts: I started this book one night when I couldn't sleep...and that was a huge mistake as it turns out I also could not put the book down.  This has been a fun series, and I've been waiting for this final book to turn to the story of James and Meredith.  You catch glimpses of potential story of these two characters in other books, but the focus on them in this story was much more enjoyable and emotional than I expected.

James is the unplanned Duke, and the previous books focused on his sisters and their trials and tribulations meshing with British society.  This book in particular though really brought out the emotions of this situation...the love and frustration between the family members, their struggles, sense of duty to each other and the situation, and just a well done story of the pain that love sometimes puts a person through.

It's a romance novel and you now there isn't really any option other than a HEA in the end.  This one though, I found myself wondering if the happy ever after I envisioned was going to be the end result.  I found myself actually crying at points in this book, not a normal situation for when I read this genre. 

All in all, I'd say Ms. Rodale is quickly moving up the list of authors I will seek out.  From start to finish I was hooked in the story, in the emotions and the characters.

Review: The Trouble With the Twelfth Grave (Darynda Jones)

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda JonesFrom Goodreads: Grim Reaper Charley Davidson is back in the twelfth installment of Darynda Jones’ New York Times bestselling paranormal series.

Ever since Reyes escaped from a hell dimension in which Charley accidently trapped him, the son of Satan has been brimstone-bent on destroying the world his heavenly Brother created. His volatile tendencies have put Charley in a bit of a pickle. But that’s not the only briny vegetable on her plate. While trying to domesticate the feral being that used to be her husband, she also has to deal with her everyday life of annoying all manner of beings—some corporeal, some not so much—as she struggles to right the wrongs of society. Only this time she’s not uncovering a murder. This time she’s covering one up.

Add to that her new occupation of keeping a startup PI venture—the indomitable mystery-solving team of Amber Kowalski and Quentin Rutherford—out of trouble and dealing with the Vatican’s inquiries into her beloved daughter, and Charley is on the brink of throwing in the towel and becoming a professional shopper. Or possibly a live mannequin. But when someone starts attacking humans who are sensitive to the supernatural world, Charley knows it’s time to let loose her razor sharp claws. Then again, her number one suspect is the dark entity she’s loved for centuries. So the question becomes, can she tame the unruly beast before it destroys everything she’s worked so hard to protect?


My Thoughts: To be honest, I'm probably going to read everything that comes out in this series because our heroine makes me laugh.  She's snarky, she's a coffee addict, and she'd do anything for her best friend...what's not to like?!  That being said, while I've enjoyed the series, I wasn't sure where it was going and thought maybe it was losing a bit of its punch after 11 books.  I was hitting the dreaded series fatigue, and while I was still a fan, I wasn't sure the eagerness to dive into the next book was quite the same.  I take all those thoughts back after reading book 12. Wow. Hit me in the emotions in ways I didn't expect, and definitely sets the series up for some new and interesting directions.  I don't think there's ever a true doubt about where Reyes falls in terms of good vs evil in this book, but the story itself, the buildup, it all comes together to keep you wondering and eventually in tears and then angry that you have to wait for the next book to come out to find out what the heck happens next.  Well worth picking up, even if you found yourself in a bit of series fatigue up to this point.  

(advanced copy obtained through Edelweiss)

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.