The Secretary is suitable for a particular job

secretary

The Unsuitable Secretary (Ladies Unlaced, #4) by Maggie Robinson

Overview by Amazon:

Harriet Benson takes her work at the Evensong Agency seriously, but lately, between convalescing from an illness and tending to her father and two young brothers, she’s had to shorten her hours. So when a promising position opens up for part time work, she immediately accepts, despite the fact that her new boss is scandalously indecent—and dangerously appealing.

Though his reputation paints him as a scoundrel, Sir Thomas Featherstone is more proper than anyone would guess. But Harriet’s wit and luscious curves are driving him to distraction. She’s the perfect woman to fill his office requirements, and other desperate needs he’s been ignoring…

Harriet has always held firm to the rule that a secretary must never fall in love with her employer. Only Thomas is determined to win her affections—and he’s willing to risk any cost to make her his…

Harriet and Thomas are complete opposites. So when they say, opposites attract, this would be a very good example. Harriet is studious, serious, responsible and poor. Thomas is witty, gregarious, grandiose and wealthy. At the end of the novel, Harriet thinks Thomas reminds her of a Labrador dog. This is probably the most app description of him. He runs circles around people, yapping about all sorts of things (some of it nonsense) and wanting to be loved.

When I first started reading this book it reminded me of Lisa Kleypas’ book Suddenly You. The characters, the enterprises involved the main character’s virginity and figure. However, the similarities end there.

Harriet comes to Thomas in service as a secretary. He is immediately taken with her. In fact it is love and lust at first sight. Thomas has a reputation of being surrounded by loose ladies and it seems preposterous that he would be interested in serious Harriet. Thomas is a great patron of the arts. He has an artist sensibility of life – nudity, alcohol and creativity are all known to him. He’s the kind of guy that would be at every art opening, have his blackberry full of all major players in the art world and a beautiful model on his arm every night.

The plot gets interesting once we learn that Thomas has a certain problem. For all his worldliness he is a virgin. Nearing the age of thirty, he has never sought to solve this problem, until he meets Harriet. She of course is a virgin too. They strike a bargain for her to be his mistress for a week and they can educate one another.

The week they spend together involves the Kama Sutra, lingerie, lots of kisses. Not surprising they are a great fit for one another and the enjoy sex with each other immensely. The sex scenes are graphic as the two virgins figure things out together. Harriet is not a waif thin woman and Thomas revels in her glorious curves. The thing I liked most about their sexual encounters was how much they liked each other and were so happy with their secret.

The secondary plot points are interesting as well. Thomas is creating an artist colony and the details surrounding this are interesting to the reader. Harriet had surgery for an appendectomy months ago, yet is still recovering and has to care for her brothers and father in near poverty. The fish paste sandwiches she feeds her father almost had me retching.

This story takes place in 1905, a different historical period then I normally read. It was a little funny to hear about telephones, cars, buses and subways. There is some description of the clothing the two wear, but I had a harder time imagining it as most novels are set in Jane Austen’s time.

I enjoyed this book, but to be honest I found Thomas exhausting. Always on the go, always talking, dreaming, and scheming. I know he was wealthy, but it got excessive how much money he would be throwing around. My only issues with Harriet, was that they called her ‘Harry’. Harriet is a terrible name and Harry is even worse. It’s hard to get into the romance when he’s calling her Harry. I would even find a really hot guy named Harry hard to be attracted to because the name is such a turn off. I know that an author has to build a story, but WHY would Harriet turn down Thomas’s proposals? She lived in a flat with her horrible father; a sheet draped between her and her twin brothers and didn’t even have indoor plumbing. The food they ate would have made me camp out on Thomas’s doorstep alone. Maybe I’m mercenary, but if a hot, eligible and fun man wanted me forever and I’d be secure. Sign me up. It was the beginning of the suffragette movement, but lord almighty, the continued rejection of Thomas was getting on my nerves.

I will read more books in this series as I would like to get to know the author’s style and there were elements of this book I really enjoyed.

Lord of Regrets makes it right

lord of regrets

Lord of Regrets by Sabrina Darby

Overview by Amazon:

Despite the love and sensuous addiction they shared, Lord Marcus Templeton could never marry Natasha Polinoff. Not while he remained under his grandfather’s vise-like control. But when Natasha announces her out-of-wedlock pregnancy – which would destroy his inheritance – Templeton explodes into a rage. One that sends Natasha running into the unforgiving night, never to return…

Now five years have passed, and Lord Templeton has finally found his beloved. And this time, the viscount will have her.

However, Natasha has settled into a new life with her young daughter. Lord Templeton’s arrival fills her with terrible fear… and undeniable longing. He has come to claim her. Yet even as her body still longs for his touch, her anger still burns. She is no mere possession. But Lord Templeton will do whatever it takes to bring her back into his arms and back into his bed. Even if it means resorting to blackmail to make Natasha his wife…

The main theme of this book is regret. Regret makes people angry. It makes them resentful. It makes them do things that are shameful. This story pulls heavily on the regrets of the two main characters and the mess their lives have become. But from this regret, they try to build a new life while learning to let go from the regrets they harbour.

Natasha at the age of 18 fled her family to be Marcus’s mistress. After reading hundreds of historical romance novels, it was a little hard to believe that a well brought up young woman would throw away a future to be a mistress to a young buck on the town. In flashbacks, we learn of a heady, sensual time the two shared. It was idyllic until the reality of an unexpected pregnancy changed everything. Natasha fled in the night to avoid a forced abortion from a furious Marcus. By the time he came to his senses quickly, it was too late.

He spends the next 5 years building up his wealth, looking for ways to avoid the machinations of this grandfather and searching desperately for Natasha. He had a long time to let his regret ferment and grow. He grew up and realized the enormity of his mistake.

When he finally locates Natasha, he has worked through the stages of grief of loss and regret. However this regret is buried once he finds her and he is so eager to resume their love affair. He offers carte blanche – marriage, a title and a home for their illegitimate daughter.

Natasha has had to fend for herself and child for the past 5 years. Alone, pregnant and afraid, she drifted from place to place until she found a small village where she assumed the identity of a widow. She is lonely and sad and angry too. She carved out a meaningful existence for her daughter and with the shield of widowhood, some respectability. This is gone once Marcus returns like a tempest.
He tries wooing her, he makes demands and eventually he blackmails her into marrying him once she tries to run from him again. This happens in the first third of the book, so the reader knows that they have a long road to reconciliation.

Natasha and Leona enter into Marcus’s London world. It is a struggle to fit in. His prickly mother is not pleased, but she puts the good of the family name first. Leona adapts as well as any four year old would. She begins to bond with her father and make London her home.
The problems lie between Marcus and Natasha. He is still so remorseful and begs her frequently to move on, get past it and start fresh. Natasha harbours so much anger and resentment that she can’t adjust to her new life. She fights all of Marcus’s overtures and refuses to give him her heart and body (except for a few occasions when lust overcomes). It is a tale of two people with a very sad history learning about each other and learning to trust and love again.

Marcus is eventually worn down. He can’t handle her rejections anymore and takes a diplomatic mission to France to help with the Napoleon problem on behalf of his autocratic grandfather. This leaves the introduction of Natasha to society to Marcus’ mother Kitty and his grandfather. She experiences the inevitable discovery that she played mistress before marriage and hides the knowledge of Leona away from the world. She makes some new friends from the grandfather’s entourage who help her and guide her. Lord Carlisle makes fast friends with her and wishes to have an affair. Natasha flirts and enjoys that attention, but ultimately realizes that she wants the promise of marriage, not an affair.

Marcus floats around Europe doing diplomatic work. This was less interesting as it was really his moment of running away. He becomes injured in Italy, setting the stage for a reunion between the two. Natasha travels to see him and the two make their vows to start fresh and make this a marriage in truth.

I liked Natasha, she demonstrated great determination that most people would have collapsed under in today’s modern world, let alone England in the 1800s. She is a fighter. I found it very believable that she couldn’t and wouldn’t forgive Marcus. No matter how sinfully handsome he was and how much she physically ached to have sex with him.

Marcus as a youth was callow and unlikable. To ask a young unmarried woman to be his mistress without thinking of any of the consequences made me wonder what on earth Natasha saw in him besides a drinking buddy, a great time in the sack and an adventure. However, the five years have matured him. He is profitable in trade, works his estates and undertakes the task of finding Natasha with zeal. He is regretful, mourns what could have been and tries every tactic he knows to win her back.

The sex scenes between the two are spicy. Since they have clearly done the deed before, there is no hestiation on either part. They know what they like. When Marcus dreams of burying his face between her legs and she rides his hard, you feel the sexual compatibility between the two. Since they spend most of the book at odds with each other, there are not a ton of sex scenes, but when they happen they are torrid.

Overall this was a good read. It was a little melancholy since some much emotional baggage followed the characters around. The secondary characters lent some relief from the constant turmoil between the two. What hooked me as a reader was how the eventual reunion would happen. After all this is a romance novel and there must be a happy ending!

This book is a MUST read! Why did I wait so long?

duke kiss

A Duke’s Wicked Kiss by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Overview by Amazon:

While on a secret mission for the Crown, a proper duke falls for an improper daughter of an Indian royal and British noble.

Miss Suri Thurston knows the pain of abandonment. Intent on confronting the grandmother who tossed her to the lions, she travels from England to her birthplace in India. Her plans run afoul when she encounters the man who, ten years prior, left a mark on her soul with one stolen kiss. But he is a duke, and far beyond the reach of even her dreams.

The Duke of Ravenswood, secret head of the British Foreign Service, has no time for relationships. His one goal is to locate and eliminate key insurgents involved in an uprising against the British East India Company before it’s too late. But when Suri appears in Delhi, his resolve is tested as he finds his heart forever bound to her by the one haunting kiss they shared once upon a time.

With Suri’s vengeful Indian family looking for her death, and insurgents intent on mutiny tearing their world apart, can their love rise above the scandal of the marriage they both desperately want?

It took me a while to get to this book and I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. This was such a wonderful book. My emotions ran the full gamut – fear, happiness, frustration, disappointment, elation. The story is so masterfully told that you feel that you are in the great palaces of India, the lush fields of England and in bed with these two lovers.

Suri is an illegitimate daughter of an English duke and a high caste Indian woman. She was raised with her English family after her father saved her from an honour killing in India by her own family. She has lived a life of privilege and wealth, yet not quite fitting in. Her sister Marguerite is very close in age and the two are inseparable. As young ladies, they encounter a handsome man in their stables who teaches them about kissing. This sets the stage for the lifelong love between John and Suri. His kisses enflame her and she seeps into his blood and consciousness.

Ten years later, the story picks up as Suri goes to India to visit her sister who has moved there with her husband. When reading about the British life in India, I was conflicted about colonialism and what it meant to the average India person who had to bow and scrape to survive with the foreigners who tried to rule their land. The author addresses this and more. From the moment Suri arrives there is danger in the form of a rebellion by the sepoys. This coming rebellion puts a time limit on how long Suri and family can remain in India.

I loved how the author described the beauty of India, from the furniture to the verdant foliage to the beautiful clothing native to the country. She really made India seem as exotic and beautiful as it truly is.

At a gathering to welcome Suri, she encounters John, now Duke of Ravenswood and his pet Cheetah Shahira. Smouldering, intoxicating, breathtaking are just some of the emotions that you feel as a reader as the two of them discover one another. John is widowed and Suri has remained unmarried and he is eager to kiss and love her body after seeing her again. She fires his blood like no other and we discover that he did have honourable intentions after the kiss in the stable and was denied. Now that she is in India and her sister is practically throwing her at John, only Suri’s pigheadedness is holding them back. When they do finally spend the night together it is magically and perfect. It’s the kind of night of sex that you remember for a lifetime. One that you look back fondly on years later and remember swollen lips and being stiff and sore the next day from being insatiable in your need for your lover.

John is not merely a business man in India; he is a spy for the crown, along with Suri’s brother in law and others. His job is to stop the uprising and determine who is behind it. Suri’s motivations in going to India were to see her sister, but also to find her family that abandoned her. She makes contact with Ravi-ji, a beautiful Indian man who reveals him to be her cousin. He promises to help her reconnect with her family. But he is also a man who John is investigating.

Ravi-ji arranges for Suri to attend a royal wedding with him. Tensions are high in India and John is adamant that Suri not attend, however she is seen as a valuable asset as she can spy on him and keep the English abreast of the situation. John reluctantly allows it, but wants her to marry him as fast as possible. Suri declines, as she has her heart set on remaining a maid and opening a school for illegitimate children in England, those not as fortunate as her situation in life. While I understood this plot point and it made sense, part of me wanted to shake her. This gorgeous man who loves her and makes her toes curl with passion (and a Duke no less) wants her desperately. Maybe I am a selfish person, but I’d be saying ‘I do’ with alacrity.

As Suri leaves for the wedding she begins to sense that all is not well. And it isn’t. Ravi-ji has lured her away to appease his grandmother that the honour killing will indeed take place. She becomes a prisoner in the palace and even with escape plans plotted out ahead of time, she is trapped. Ravi-ji also captures John and beats him badly. The two are hidden together in the palace before they are to be killed – Suri to lions and John stabbed in the heart.

A faithful servant of John’s (who we later learn is actually a Welsh spy) saves her along with Shahira. John is stabbed by one of his spy counterparts. Suri is whisked away to England with her nephew Jeremy, her brother in law dead and sister missing. This is the part in the book where you are itchy. What happens next? Did John really die? Where is her sister? WHAT HAPPENS NOW??

Suri returns to England only to be turned out by her brother, now the Duke. She has no money, no home and has to care for Jeremy who is traumatized. Suri is deeply, deeply grieving for John. She feels that if she had married him and done what he asked, he would be alive. Thanush/Trenton whisks her away to John’s family estate, Ravenwoods. They are taken in by the new Duke and John’s mother. They remain there to heal and hopefully hear word of what has happened to Marguerite.

Back in India, John is alive, although very injured, due to a clever weapon that only made a shallow cut, rather than killing him outright. He is determined to find Suri and misses her escape from India by a few days. Monsoons keep him trapped in India until it is safe to travel. Another element in the book that made me long for the reunion of these two. Very well written as I felt frustrated and sad, yet so hopeful there was a future yet.

Suri has settled into life at Ravenswood and is still grieving. She builds a shrine to John and is trying to help Jeremy past his trauma. The new Duke, Edward is a drunk and looks remarkably like John. After months there, Edwards proposes to Suri. He reckons she is destitute, on the shelf and illegitimate. His argument is more eloquent than that, but the reality is she has to make a choice. She agrees to wed him if he can stay sober for six months. So a new normalcy has been established. And then all hell breaks loose!!!!

John returns with Marguerite in tow. He immediately claims Suri. He claims her with his words, his heart and his body. Their reunion is so bittersweet. They cherish each other and the passion makes sparks fly off the page. I love how they try to seduce each other, but the physical desire to consummate their love makes for some fierce loving. The sex scenes are so well written. They aren’t on the level of erotic, but rather exactly how the reader would wish their lover would entice, seduce and treat them.

There is some subterfuge between Edward and John, stemming back to childhood jealousies that prolongs the proper reunion of Suri and John that you wait for so anxiously. But as this is a romance novel, all works out in the end.

I immensely enjoyed this book. It was a sweeping tale of new and foreign lands. Of lust sparked that turned to love. Of old hurts put to rest for both characters. I thought John was an amazing hero and Suri was sometimes frustrating, but that is what made the plot so thoroughly engaging.

I really hope the author does more with the secondary characters. I’d like Marguerite to find love again and I really, really want to read a story about Thanush/Trent.

A Plaid I’d Like to Lie On

plaid

Once Upon a Plaid by Mia Marlowe

Overview by Amazon:

A wife may be courted, too. . .

Many would count Katherine Douglas fortunate indeed. Laird William Douglas is broad-shouldered, gentle-handed, everything a lass could dream. But after four years of marriage, Katherine still knows little of what goes on in his heart. And she has yet to bear him an heir. The distance between them is too great–and so she flees over the snowy highlands to Glengarry Castle, home of her childhood, to set her husband free.

But William won’t let his wife slip away without a fight. Before long, he’s at her father’s threshold himself, witness to the rumbles of discontent in Glengarry, the bright joy of Yuletide at a family hearth, and the hidden needs of his own beloved. . .

This story starts with Katherine returning home, abandoning her marriage to William after a still born birth and many miscarriages. Infertility must have been very common in historical times, but it’s not always the main plot of a historical romance novel.

Through the telling of the story, you get to know that William and Katherine love each other deeply. The main problem besides the infertility is an inability to communicate. For a modern woman, this was a very relatable plot point. William can’t understand why Kat has left him and longs for her to be his wife again. Kat despairs at not giving William his heir and grieves deeply for her lost children. We discover through the book that the two were married for four years and had a passionate marriage. They were each other firsts and delighted in exploring the intimacies of marriage.

When William returns to Glengarry to retrieve Kat, it is Christmas time, so it adds that element of hope and renewal to the story. William is dogged in his attempts to woo back Kat, but she is so conflicted. She longs to go back to her husband, whom she loves deeply, yet she can’t help but feel like a failure. Her failings are what keep her from reuniting with him and telling him she loves him.

These two are very passionate. Through flashbacks, we learn about how steamy and sexy their bedroom adventures were before the pall of miscarriages and a still birth change their relationship. Once they are reunited at Glengarry, William not only voices his love and desire, but he shows her as often as he can. It isn’t a simple story of him chasing her to just get under her skirts. There is love and desire to have an emotional connection. In one encounter, when he realizes she has been faking orgasms, he is angry, yet determined to put her needs above his own. There are quite a few steamy scenes in this book, but they work toward repairing the relationship and are well placed within the plot.

William has not grieved for his still born son, and when he finally does it felt so cathartic to the reader that you knew there was more than hope for this couple. His grieving helped Kat heal emotionally and it was what she needed all this time, instead of careless comments people make when they don’t understand the emotional trauma of infertility.

The reunion between the two is not the only story happening. The castle fool, Nab, has quite a story line of his own. In modern times, I would hazard to say he has Aspergers Syndrome. He has accepted his lot in life, for it is not a bad one, but just limiting to his hopes and dreams. He meets a kindred spirit in Dorcas, the maid. The story between the two was sweet and hopeful. It was the perfect balance between the heavy emotions of William and Kat. Sometimes I am frustrated as a reader when a secondary plot takes away time from the main characters, but I greatly enjoyed seeing Nab’s life take a wonderful turn.

When William arrives at Glengarry, there is the matter of the bully Ranulf. Ranulf is the Laird’s nephew who openly has designs to take over the castle and rule. With Donald, the heir away at court, there seems little challenge as the current Laird is suffering from strokes. With cunning and brute force, Ranulf makes his stand and the battle for the castle is fast paced and an exciting read. Ranulf has discovered a trebuchet and uses the siege engine to attack the castle. The author is very descriptive and skilled at detailing the elements of war. I actually read as fast as I could to see what would happen. The battle definitely kept me on the edge of my seat!

This book was a great read. I wanted to shake Kat at times for being so uncommunicative to Will. I wanted to shout at her to just tell him how she feels instead of being silent and avoiding the topics at hand. I also liked how this book didn’t follow the typical recipe for sexual encounters. It was refreshing to see a married couple learn to love one another again and to rekindle the sexual heat they once had for once another.

de Valery is a delight

de valery

The de Valery Code by Darcy Burke

Overview by Amazon:

Miss Margery Derrington and her dear aunts are in dire straits. Their discovery of a rare medieval manuscript will hopefully stave off their creditors—if it’s worth what they hope. Margery reluctantly allies with a reclusive scholar to use the book to pursue a treasure that could exceed her expectations. Amidst danger, secrets, and an insatiable attraction, is Margery gambling just her financial future . . . or her heart?

Academic Rhys Bowen can’t believe he has his hands on the elusive de Valery text. Solving its hidden code and unearthing its legendary treasure would establish him as one of Britain’s leading antiquarians, finally casting him out of his brilliant late father’s shadow. But when a centuries-old organization convinces Rhys of the perils of disturbing the past, he must choose between his conscience…and the captivating woman he’s sworn to help.

This story has adventure, mystery, a secret society and steamy love scenes. In essence a perfect historical romance. I enjoy stories that take the main characters on a quest. In this story they are on a quest to discover the secrets of the de Valery code.

Throughout the journey Rhys and Margery embark upon, we meet a host of interesting characters. The secondary characters enhance the plot and provoke the infatuation and romance between the two.

Margery was orphaned at the aged of 10. The author goes to great lengths to describe how this has deeply affected her ability to make a lasting connection. She has been raised by her two great aunts. They are quite the characters. One married for love and was disappointed and widowed, the other chose to become paramour to the man she loved. So Margery has a different take on marriage. At the age of 24, she has not chosen to marry and lives a quiet existence with her aunts. This may be a major factor in her excitement for the adventure of solving the mystery of the de Valery code.

She meets Rhys when she comes to him to sell a precious book her aunts have that details King Arthur. They are not parting with this possession lightly. They need the funds and the other alternative is for Margery to marry. When she meets Rhys she is surprised by how handsome and well-built he is for a secluded, scholarly man.

We get some indication that Rhys is a solitary figure, but he does have friends and participates in an 1800 version of a bachelor party right before he meets Margery. Rhys is the perfect historical romance male. Handsome, compassionate, thoughtful and honest. He is even arrogant, which Margery seems to find enticing.
The two circle around one another for the two thirds of the book. He is intrigued and interested, but is unsure if his scholarly lifestyle would fit with a wife. Margery is hesitant about forming any attachments and is prickly and indigent with him about almost everything.

Eventually Rhys can’t help himself and kisses her a couple of times. He apologizes repeatedly and she accepts this as due course. I wanted to yell at them to stop being stupid and get it on! Neither of them had anything to lose! She’s on the shelf and has zero marriage prospects, so why not enjoy a hunky, brainy man. Once they have experienced some drama and violence, they give way to passion. Apparently Margery’s aunt who was a mistress schooled her in how to please a man (although I don’t know why considering her station in life and lack of suitors), and this greatly enhances the sex scenes. Not only was England experiencing a heat wave at the time, but these two were burning up the sheets with each other.

I liked how the author described the historical aspects of the hunt for the de Valery code and the history of King Arthur. It was an intricate plot and well thought out. The two of them disagreed many times on the best course of action to take and sometimes I was frustrated by their gullibility. However, I love a story that includes a secret society determined to protect history from those who would exploit it for their own gain. For much of the book, the two are not only interested in cracking the code, but finding the supposed treasure. Rhys is interested from a historical perspective and Margery for the adventure and the monetary freedom it will grant her family.

At the end of the novel, Margery comments,”I cast all of my reservations to the wind when I decided to solve the de Valery code with you. The adventure itself, not the end result, is the true treasure.” This was a well written book. Sometimes the lead characters frustrated me, but when they finally figured out the code and their relationship, I was very glad I went along for the ride.

A Fun Novella

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Misadventures in Seduction by Robyn Dehart

Overview by Amazon.com

With five siblings to care for, Prudence Hixsby’s duty comes first, even if it means becoming a spinster. When the eldest – and most cherished – of her younger brothers decides to join the war, however, Prudence is determined to keep him safe. So she strikes a bargain with an old acquaintance: her body in exchange for her brother’s safety.

In the dead of the night, she slips into the bed of a man whose touch is both fierce and passionate… little knowing she’s just seduced the wrong man.

Harrison Carlisle, the Duke of Sutcliffe, never imagined that the lovely Prudence would honour his bed, or just how bewitching those lush curves could be. Yet he keeps a gentleman’s silence. After all, a spy for the Crown can ill afford to marry. But when Prudence’s brother is killed, they find themselves uniting to track down the traitorous murderer. And while death lurks within the shadowy world of espionage, there is also passion… and the unbidden thrill of a seduction!

When I think of reading a novella, it reminds me of watching a half hour tv show. It’s a quick story, some plot development and then a fast finale. A full length novel is more like a tv series or movie. There is more time to develop characters, setting and an intricate plot.
Reading Misadventures in Seduction should have been like a half hour tv show, however for a novella I was more than pleasantly surprised. The author develops the characters, a mysterious plot and lots of action for a short book.

Prudence Hixsby is a top shelf spinster, who cares for her five younger siblings. The story opens with her desperately trying to stop her younger brother from joining the war against Napoleon. She attends a gathering with wealthy and powerful men and decides to beg for help. One gentleman (a term I use loosely), suggests that he will watch out for her brother if she spends the night in his bed. She is horrified at the thought, but after being rebuffed by the Harrison, Duke of Sutcliffe, she feels there is no other alternative.

So off she creeps at night into Fenton’s bed, but makes a slight error and ends up in Harrison’s room. Harrison is the man she wishes she was visiting, as he is the stuff of heady dreams. She consummates a passionate evening never knowing that it was not Fenton’s attentiveness that brought her pleasure. However Harrison does know who he is bedding. When he overhears Fenton’s brush off to Prudence because the bargain was not met, he steps in to help Prudence’s brother secure a post that will allow him to keep his eye on him. This may have been caused by feelings of guilt or of affection since he truly enjoyed his one night with Prudence.

I think it’s four years later and Prudence’s brother has been murdered. She drags the whole family to London to search for the truth behind his death. This is where the plot really gets going. Immediately upon encountering Harrison, their lives are in jeopardy. This is where a novella can be really great. With all due haste, the children are shipped off to a friend’s estate and Prudence and Harrison are at liberty to investigate who killed Johnston, Prudence’s brother and is framing Harrison for treason.
There is some interaction with other characters from previous novels and reference to how they came to be established in their current roles and relationships. It was intriguing background information, but not enough that it detracted from this fast moving story.

While hunting down leads and investigating tips, the two establish an easy working relationship. However Harrison can’t forget what it was like to have sex with Prudence. He longs for her again. He desperately wishes he could tell her who she actually slept with. Prudence has the hots for Harrison. She also wishes that he had been the stranger she had seduced as she finds him irresistible. A few stolen moments here and there keep this romance going in the right direction.

Prudence proves to be a worthy sidekick to Harrison as they navigate the investigation and she tempts him like no other. The author makes the point repeatedly that she is so far on the shelf one must get a step ladder to access her. Therefore you feel a sense of doom about this relationship, even though it is a romance novel and a novella at that, so you know something will have to change the situation.
Being on the shelf gives Prudence the hutzpah to take matters into her own hands and this time she knows whose bedroom she is going to. They have a passionate night in bed that is well written and vivid. The author is very descriptive without being lurid. Harrison treats Prudence with tender care and he is inflamed by having her once again – and this time she knows who she is with.

The culprit they are chasing eventually comes to them (remember this is a novella and must be wrapped up quickly) and they are able to overcome the villain. The epilogue is exactly what you would expect from a romance novel, but that doesn’t make it any less sweet.

There was enough plot and substantial characters in the story to have written a full length novel. I liked both the main characters and would have liked to spend more time getting to know them and have them tease and flirt more with each other to build up the tension to smoking hot. The only thing that bugged me was the name Prudence Hixsby. It is the perfect spinster name and I felt that it was used as an adjective to lend credence to her position in society. But once you got to know Prudence, the name didn’t seem to fit her as she had spirit and fire.

This book was a good read. Like I said, I wouldn’t have minded if it had been a full length novel because all the necessary pieces were there to make it a great full length book. If you are looking for a quick read, then give this a try.

An Absolute Treasure!!!

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Must Love Breeches by Angela Quarles
Overview by Amazon:
HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.

Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home–as well as her heart–lies.

The moment I started reading this book I immediately thought of Outlander by Diana Gabaladon and Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Vierra Rigler. The concept of time travelling to one of my favourite time periods. I immediately fell in love with the concept and the plot! This book was amazing! A definite top ten contender and I can’t wait to re-read it as I breathlessly read as fast as I could to learn what would happen next.

Isabelle is a modern day American who has moved to London for work and a fresh start. She adores her work at the British museum and is attending a period costume ball when the most amazing thing happens. She strokes a silver card case she is carrying while wishing she was actually at a ball in 1834. She all of a sudden ends up at a London ball in 1834 having no idea where she is and how she got there. She quickly befriends Lady Ada Byron (daughter of that Lord Bryon) and the delicious Lord Montagu. I thought it was hilarious how she navigated her foray into this new world. Snapping a cell phone picture of Lady Ada, insisting on walking home and using foul language.

I adored how the author treated the differences in societies. Isabelle wears contact lenses and eventually had to trade them in for spectacles. I loved how the author described the visit to the eye wear shop. I have always thought about what it would be like to be alive during this time and since I wear contacts, I’ve shuddered with dread at the idea of not having access to them. I liked how the author addressed old fashioned solutions to our modern day conveniences. When Lord Montagu is injured and Isabelle treats his wound, she applies modern day medical knowledge including washing hands. She is treated like she has three heads for suggesting such a thing, but we know how imperative it is not to spread germs. It was fascinating to view England in 1834 from Isabelle’s modern perspective. When Isabelle is not allowed to eat alone in an inn, open a bank account or stroll down the street alone, her indigent attitude is exactly what a modern day woman would feel. So often historical romance novels make this a normal part of a lady’s routine, but Isabelle chafes at the restrictions.

For such a modern woman, Isabelle learns how delicate and precarious her situation has become. She cannot support herself. Therefore she relies on the charity of Lady Ada and Lady Somerville. She reluctantly agrees to pretend to be affianced to Lord Montagu in order to help him with a problem (which he doesn’t want to reveal).

Unlike the book Austenland by Shannon Hale, Isabelle isn’t play acting at being a lady in 1800 England. She must figure out quickly how to navigate society in order to survive. Mistakes made by the characters in Austenland would have been ignored, but when Isabelle makes a foible or slips, it is immediately noticed. One thing that caught my attention was Isabelle’s use of contractions. Apparently in England in the 1800s no one used contractions when speaking. They excuse her language since she is from America and the colonies do things so very differently. I guess I never noticed in all the books I have read in this genre that the characters don’t speak in contractions. They certainly don’t swear like Isabelle.

The book highlights the scientific achievements of the time and is one of the first books I have read that details the Scientific Societies of the time. The author makes sure to include the contributions of women and how a learned woman was not always labelled a bluestocking. Considering there was no tv or movies, trips to the opera or plays and attending meetings at things like the Scientific Societies were the main forms of entertainment for the day.

One thing that doesn’t change regardless of the date or setting is attraction between a man and a woman. Or for that matter friendship. Isabelle’s relationships with Phineas (Lord Montagu) and Lady Ada could happen in modern times, although I would wager that most women don’t invite a virtually stranger into their home, protect, feed and clothe them to the extent Lady Ada does for Isabelle. The relationship between Phineas and Isabelle starts off rocky as he finds her attractive but strange. She speaks in riddles and language that he doesn’t quite understand. However, as he is in need of a pretend betrothed, she is the perfect fit. The growing attraction between the two gets stronger and stronger, especially when she discovers that her modern day London home actually belongs to him in 1834.

I was so curious how a modern woman and a gentleman from the 1800s would fit together in the bedroom. It seems time travel doesn’t erase the basest instincts humans possess. It was amazing when they kissed and as the reader I wanted more. I worried how her lack of virginity would impact the relationship, but when the heat turns up, it doesn’t matter. The scenes are hot and sort of a blend of what you would expect from a historical romance novel and a Nora Roberts modern day book.

Lord Montagu’s investigation takes over the last third of the book and adds some mystery and spice to the story that has Isabelle forced to make a difficult choice – to stay in 1834 or go home to her life in modern England. Once Phineas story is finally told, it makes you like the character even more than you already do because of his treatment of Isabelle and generally being a great catch.

This book was just so much fun! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and can’t wait to re-read. I will definitely be sharing this book with others so they too can laugh, cry and marvel at the wonderful story Angela Quarles has created!

Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.

Seducing Scoundrels

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How the Scoundrel Seduces by Sabrina Jeffries

Overview by Amazon:

The third deliciously sexy novel in the New York Times bestselling Duke’s Men historical romance series, featuring an investigator who sets out to find gypsies—and unexpectedly finds love.

Investigator Tristan Bonnaud has one aim in life—to make sure that his half-brother George can’t ever ruin his life again. So when the pesky Lady Zoe Keane, the daughter of the Earl of Olivier, shows up demanding that the Duke’s Men find a mysterious gypsy woman, he seizes the opportunity to also hunt for a gypsy friend who knows secrets about George. Tristan doesn’t expect to uncover Lady Zoe’s family secrets, as well…or end up falling for the woman who will risk all to discover the truth.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

I read all of the author’s books. She writes great stories with attention to intricate details and historical accuracies. This book is consistent with her previous efforts. This is the third novel in the Duke’s Men series. It’s the tale of Zoe and Tristan and how they work through a mystery while falling in love.

What I liked about this book was the interconnectedness of their lives. She is searching for a gypsy, he is
friends with gypsy folk, her parentage is in question, he is a bastard, she loves her estate and would do anything to keep it, and his secret wish is to be a land agent, and so on. The characters spar and insult each other repeatedly, but it’s really just foreplay to the action. They lust after each other and the sparks make it electrifying to read. The author creates combustion between the two and when they connect it’s burning hot. The love scenes are passionate and just a kiss is scorching. Leaving these two alone in a room is likely to burn it down!

Due to the fact they are on a quest to discover her parentage, you get to know a lot about Zoe. Her morals and desires and mostly what she stands for. She keenly feels the responsibility of the tenants at her family’s estate as her responsibility and is willing to marry her rather odd cousin to keep it in the family. Her cousin, American painter Jeremy Keane, is a welcome addition to the series. He provides comic relief and through his interactions with both Zoe and Tristan we get to know more about them and their motivations. He also provides parallels and laughs about the differences between Americans and the English, often mocking the formal ways of the ton. I really enjoyed the scenes with him and hope he will be making an appearance in the next book in the series.

Often gypsy’s are used in historical romance books, like Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaway series, and are romanticized into something other than reality. I enjoyed how the author took the time to get the facts straight and to give honour to the way of the gypsy life and dignify the treatment of them by the English. She boldly states the precarious situation gypsy people live every day in England at that time in history and through Tristan’s words fights to defend ignorance about their culture.

The love story is well written and believable. I truly understood how the couple went from antagonizing one another repeatedly to falling in love. Both struggle with the circumstances of their birth and the value they bring to the match. Tristan is a seductive lover. I enjoyed his background story and the motivations behind his actions. Zoe could be at times frustrating to like as she was a little different in her ideas and often said rather harsh things, but she is the reason Tristan confronts his past and is able to move on.

This book is a good addition to the series. I enjoyed how the author set up the romance between Dom and Jane and look forward to reading their story soon.

Reviewed for Kiltsandswords

Enticing Read

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Enticing Miss Eugenie Villaret by Ella Quinn

Overview from Amazon:

But nothing has the power to change a single man’s mind like a captivating woman . . . William, Viscount Wivenly, plans to remain the most eligible of bachelors. He refuses to surrender to the schemes of husband-hunting ladies and matchmaking mamas. Fleeing the pressure of the ton, he’s bent on finding refuge in the West Indies. What he finds instead is a fascinating stranger, a woman so unlike those of his society that he can’t resist such a beguiling distraction . . . Determined to let nothing complicate her mission to protect her family’s livelihood while covertly rescuing orphaned slave children, Miss Eugénie Villaret does her best to evade suitors. But when dashing William lures her down a path of forbidden adventure and delicious danger, she may be convinced that business can indeed be mixed with pleasure-and persuaded to add passion to her priorities . . .

It took me a couple of days to read this book, not because I didn’t like it, rather because there is a lot to take in. The author makes the Caribbean islands sound so beautiful and perfect. It made me want to visit St. Thomas and Tortola during the 1800s, instead on a cruise ship with the equivalent of 5 times the populations of this timeframe. The food, the weather, the water, the trades were all so well described and accurate. The author must have spent a lot of time doing extensive research to make sure she captured the essence of the Caribbean perfectly.

If you have ever visited the Caribbean you know there are islands with associations from the colonist times. Martinique with the French, The British Virgin Islands, St. Martin is half French and half Dutch, Jamaica to the British and so on. This mini European invasion allows the author the freedom to have many cultures mix within the story. She references through the main character William that so many settlers recreate the society they left behind, from the housing styles to servant clothes and the wardrobe nobles wear – not always appropriate for the humid climes. The heroine, Eugenie, lives in a house that is representative of the local cultures and it was interesting to hear the characters compare England to St. Thomas.

The love story between the two gets started due to a mutual interest in Nathan Wivenly’s shipping company. Nathan is presumed dead after a pirate attack and his company starts to flounder. Enter William, Nathan’s nephew who sails from England to figure out what is going on and help out his aunt. Will is looking forward to this adventure with his friend Andrew as he is being hunted and stalked by the silly misses of the ton and their marriage minded mama’s.

When Will and Eugenie meet, it is mutual sparks. Will makes an assumption that she must be a widow and pursues her for his carnal delights. He learns that he is very much mistaken and the book proceeds for nearly two-thirds with him trying to win her over. It helps that he is actually related to her (although she is a step-relation), her best friend and his best friend instantaneously decide to marry and there isn’t a huge society on the island for them to distance themselves from one another.

Eugenie leads Will on a merry chase. He is forced to court, woo and bend to her will. I liked both the main characters. Eugenie had legitimate concerns about marrying Will. By the time she capitulates you feel as though all her grievances have been well addressed. Will can be the typical Lord of the Manor type, with his entourage and throwing his name around to get what he wants. But chasing after Eugenie humbles him. It makes him a more likable character that he can recognize and correct his flaws.

The mystery of the floundering shipping company weaves its way through the romance. It merits the actions the characters take to save the company, find out who wishes to harm Eugenie and pushes the impending nuptials closer. The villains are introduced quite early and you follow along with what they are doing so it actually created a suspenseful journey. Wondering when and how they were going to launch their dastardly plans.
Unlike most historical romance novels, this one doesn’t follow the familiar recipe for physical intimacy. In all likelihood it’s because Eugenie is uncertain about Will and his intentions and for his part he has promised his friends not to seduce her to make up her mind. When they do finally consummate their relationship, it’s intense. The sex scenes are well written and tender. Although they are passionate, there is love underlying their relationship so it had a poignancy to it. By the time the book ends, Eugenie is well loved, in her heart and in her bed.

The secondary characters enhance the story. It seemed a little farfetched that two best friends marry two best friends, but there may have been slim pickings for these girls. The author does create the backdrop that Will is hounded and harassed by the London ladies and therefore it does make sense that he would welcome a woman who isn’t overly impressed with his title.

This is the first book I have read by this author. There are more books in this series and after this read, I’d be interested in reading more by her. A solid book, especially if you like pirates, sailing, the Caribbean and a bit of English society thrown in too.