Triumph and Treasure with really, really good characters!

triumph and treasure

Triumph and Treasure (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series #1) by Collette Cameron

Overview by Amazon:

A disillusioned Scottish gentlewoman.

Angelina Ellsworth once believed in love—before she discovered her husband of mere hours was a slave-trader and already married. To avoid the scandal and disgrace, she escapes to the estate of her aunt and uncle, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford. When Angelina learns she is with child, she vows she’ll never trust a man again.

A privileged English lord.

Flynn, Earl of Luxmoore, led an enchanted life until his father committed suicide after losing everything to Waterford in a wager. Stripped of all but his title, Flynn is thrust into the role of marquis as well as provider for his disabled sister and invalid mother. Unable to pay his father’s astronomical gambling loss, Flynn must choose between social or financial ruin.

When the duke suggests he’ll forgive the debt if Flynn marries his niece, Flynn accepts the duke’s proposal. Reluctant to wed a stranger, but willing to do anything to protect her babe and escape the clutches of the madman who still pursues her, Angelina agrees to the union.

Can the earl and his Scottish lass find happiness and love in a marriage neither wanted, or is the chasm between them insurmountable?

You know what was great about this book? The lead characters are really nice people. They don’t snipe at others, argue or yell. They care about their families and each other. They want what is best for those that they love and when tragedy is upon them, they deal with it together. It’s rare to read a historical romance novel with such lovely main characters.

Angelina has been duped by her brand new husband. She flees to England to wait out the scandal and perhaps start a new life. When she arrives in England to stay with her aunt and uncle, she finds out that she is pregnant. She isn’t actually married, as her ‘husband’ Charles, is actually a married man named Pierre, who also happens to be a slave trader. It’s a disaster, but her family is protecting her.

Flynn is experiencing just as many problems as Angelina. His father got drunk, gambled away everything that wasn’t entailed and then killed himself. His mother experienced a stroke at the same time and he has to find a way to keep his father’s enemy from claiming his marker from the gamble his father made. The author writes Flynn with such compassion. You feel for him as he is such a caring son and desperately wants to save his family.

A solution comes from Angelina’s uncle Ambrose, who is the man Flynn’s father gambled with. He tells Flynn that if he marries Angelina he will forgive the debt. Flynn can’t understand how marrying Angelina is a problem that must be solved. He finds her lovely and beautiful. He doesn’t believe that Ambrose isn’t cooking up something to trick him, but he can’t fathom what.

I loved how Angelina and Flynn are honest with each other. Angelina doesn’t shy away from telling Flynn the truth about her circumstances and what he would be getting himself into. Flynn also is completely honest with her about what transpired between his father and her uncle. They come to their own terms and agree to try marriage for at least a year. The only slight deceit in the book is that Flynn thinks that the terms he created with Angelina can’t be enforced by law.

Everything that was wrong with Angelina’s first marriage is better with Flynn. He treats her so well and she is happy with him. When things inevitably go wrong, they lean on each other and trust in each other to solve the problems. I totally loved that. I enjoyed that they didn’t turn away from each other and were a source of support. There are some amazing twists and turns in this book – things you see coming and some that you don’t. There is great drama along with the beautiful love story.

I really enjoyed this book because the author made Flynn and Angelina such wonderful characters. It was fresh and original that they were so good and that you could root for them and the adversary they faced, without having to overcome some character flaw like arrogance or temper.

This was my first book by Collette Cameron, but it won’t be my last!

Master of Pleasure, Tamed by his woman

master of pleasure

Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry Book #5) by Delilah Marvelle

Overview by Amazon:

After Miss Leona Olivia Webster had allowed herself to fall in love with a dashing childhood friend who had left her scorned and pregnant, she is done chasing her happily-ever-after. Shunned by society, she dedicates herself to raising her young son and putting money in their pockets. She doesn’t expect to be drawn to her latest master, a brooding man of hulking presence who carves random messages into walls with his Persian blade as a means of starting a flirtation.

Malcolm Gregory Thayer, the earl of Brayton, may have dedicated himself to a life of religious virtue after leaving the monastery due to dark tendencies, but after meeting Leona, he begins to yearn for the life that had never been his. When he meets a retired French courtesan who invites him to embrace what he has long feared, he seizes the opportunity to become the man he always wanted to be. His new mission is clear. He intends to finally serve the one thing he never had: his heart.

Whew! This book was STEAMY! It’s the first book I have read in this series, but it can definitely stand alone. This story is really about Malcolm and his journey to self-discovery.
We meet Malcolm doing penance for a religious crime he didn’t commit in a monastery in France.

Corporal punishment is a regular occurrence for him, but it is his attitude towards pain that is fascinating. He is a man with two very deep sides. On one side, he is compassionate and selfless, to the point that he protects many whom most would deem unworthy. On the other side is the brutal man who not only delights in dishing out violence, but likes the feeling pain brings him.

We learn how this dynamic came to be through his traumatic childhood. He has kept himself locked away from the world and his responsibilities as an Earl for over thirteen years. He feels emotion through pain. He seeks it out, he needs it and it feeds his soul. Yet at the same time, he is a devout Christian. It’s these dualities that make him so fascinating.

He meets Leona on one of the worst days of her life. Creditors are stripping her of all her meager possessions. She is an unwed mother to an adorable little boy, Jacob. Malcolm steps in and saves her from the realities of her life. Although she was raised well, she trusted her fiancé with her virtue and he ran off with another woman. She does the best she can, sacrifices all for the wellbeing of Jacob, yet she never seems to be able to get ahead.

She is a woman who calls to Malcolm. He likes her. For a man who has avoided women for almost all of his life, this is a startling revelation. He is unwilling to leave her alone. He has found his woman and wants to be with her.

The rest of the book is dealing with his ‘beast’ inside of him. He doesn’t know how to be with her sexually without hurting her. His need for pleasure with pain is a need he can’t force upon her, yet he needs her to understand him. The sex scenes are unlike anything I have read in a historical romance novel before. They are torrid and explosive. Raw and gritty, this is not a gentle wooing of a timid lady, rather a vicious claiming. Smoking hot and very visceral.

The secondary characters in the story add perspective and comedy. His roommate Andrew was a funny character who provided a laugh with his foul words and self-absorption. Malcom’s twin brother was mostly a character from his memories, but when they reconnect, he is the key to Malcolm’s evolution.

This is a story about the man Malcolm wants to become and the life he has been desperate to find for himself. I enjoyed reading about his evolution. Even when he was being demanding and heavy handed, there was something so compelling about him and I adored how Leona stood up to him and made him face his deepest fears to build a union worthy of them both.

Stages of Desire – An Unbelievable Ending

Stages of Desire

Stages of Desire by Julia Tagan

Overview by Amazon:

To be or not to be—in love…
As a ward of the Duchess of Dorset, Harriet can hardly expect more from a match than the ringing endorsement of “from what I’ve heard, the man is financially secure and his teeth are quite regular.” After all, she’s only the lowly daughter of traveling actors, not the actual daughter of the duchess.

William Talbot, Earl of Abingdon is set to marry the duchess’s daughter. After his elder brother’s scandalous death, his family’s reputation is paramount, and he’ll allow nothing to damage it again. But when Harriet disappears to save her father from debtor’s prison, the scandal threatens William and his intended’s family. The simple task of fetching the duchess’s runaway ward turns complicated when Harriet insists on traveling with her father’s acting company. William’s forced to tag along, and finds himself entranced. The stage transforms Harriet into a free-spirited, captivating beauty. But, someone’s been sabotaging the theater company, and instead of facing scandal, William and Harriet discover a threat not only to their growing passion, but to their lives…

I have had this book on my to read list for a while. I wasn’t resistant to reading it, but pressing publication dates for other books kept me from reading it. I’m not the biggest fan of stories of acting in historical novels, but this book changed my perspective. This was a really well developed book with strong characters, challenging situations and passion. I am kicking myself for not reading this book weeks ago, as it was a great read that pulled me in and kept me on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next.

We meet Harriet as she is facing her future. As the ward of the Duchess of Dorset, she has been treated well and cared for, but she has never forgotten that she is not a member of the ton. She is to be matched with an older man who deflates the excitement of the future. He would make a financially secure future, but Harriet would be bored within days. We learn how Harriet came to be with the Duchess and her daughter, Marianne. She used to live with her father and his travelling acting production when Marianne found Harriet and wanted her as a companion.

Harriet’s father gave her over to the Duchess to raise and has never talked to her again in six years. Harriet has a child’s memories of her young childhood, a lively and fun time filled with interesting people and time with her father and brother. She also remembers being cold, hungry and trooping from place to place in horrible weather. She knows how lucky she is to be raised in comfort, yet there is the niggling feeling that something is missing in her life.

Her companion, Marianne, is about to become engaged to the staid Earl of Abingdon. He’s a handsome man who recently came into the title after his brother’s death. He is the typical ton snob – sobriety, propriety and responsibility are the hallmarks of his existence. He never intended to be the Earl, studying to be a physician at Oxford, but those ambitions are put on hold as he must manage the Earldom. Marianne seems the perfect society wife and he knows of the financial restraints the Duchess is experiencing and the marriage will solve all these problems.

Essentially he is a man who shows no passion or excitement for life beyond his duties. The only glimmer that we have of the man he really is comes when he is searching for a cure for malaria for his sick sister.

Harriet is approached by a former member of her father’s players company. Adam shares that her father is sick with drink and about to go to debtor’s prison. Harriet is horrified. She wants to help, but her position in society will not allow her to do anything to help him. The more she thinks about this, she longs for her real family and runs off to help the rest of the players support her father in Birmingham. Her London family is horrified, as her actions reflect on them. Actors and actresses are enjoyed by the ton, but are considered some of the lowest of character.

William sees that Harriet’s rash actions will affect his match. He leaves London in a huff to bring her back and mitigate the damage to reputations. He finds her at Adam’s house and finds himself unable to deny her the opportunity to see her father and try to help him.

The journey to Birmingham is dangerous and fraught with problems. Harriet is convinced there is a curse on them because William said “Macbeth” out loud. They deal with a devastating fire, an impromptu performance, a highway robbery and reluctant players. I have to say, the journey was so much fun to read, even with the peril. There were some laugh out loud moments and I totally enjoyed the incredulous experiences that William faces. Once outside of London, he is eminently more enjoyable. He also agrees to let Harriet go to Birmingham because an acquaintance of his is working on the cure to Malaria and he wants to compare notes.

The time travelling and spent in Birmingham gives William time to get to know Harriet. He surprises himself by realizing how much he likes her. He finds her strength attractive and he acts rashly towards her. Passion erupts between the two, but they know that he will marry Marianne and do his duty to his family and society. However, that doesn’t mean that the reader and the characters don’t enjoy the growing intimacy between the two.

Harriet finds Birmingham a disappointment when she gets there. Her father is a drunk and she realizes that she remembered her childhood with rose coloured glasses. However, since she is there, she will help him and put on the performance that will save him from debt and get the Farley Player’s up and running. Calamity continues to plague them and the lead for Shakespeare’s play is found dead right before the performance. Harriet must go on and take her place. William can’t believe he is allowing this, but seeing Harriet on stage is amazing to him. She takes his breath away and he realizes how much he wants her. After the performance, the one in her dressing room is just as thrilling. William and Harriet have great chemistry and imagine that there is no other obligation in life other than each other.

However, you know that this is not the final curtain on the story. The mysterious events that have plagued the troupe seem more like conspiracy than coincidence. William puts the clues together and realizes that someone has been deliberately sabotaging Farley’s Players and Harriet’s efforts. It’s shocking who the culprit is, but more shocking is that the sojourn from reality comes crashing down. William clears his head from the haze of the theatre and Harriet and the two part on terrible terms, just when they were on the cusp of love.

It seems like all is lost. The Farley Player’s will be fine, so Harriet returns to her life in London and the punishment she must endure for her actions. She is demoted to house maid at the Duchess’ residence, Marianne has turned on her for being away with her intended and Mr. Hopplehill is back in the picture as a future husband. Harriet has no reason to expect anything from William, but it is devastating when he gets on with his life and plans.

The events that occur once Harriet returns to London are astounding. To share the events would be giving away the best parts of the story. Just when everything seems hopeless and depressing, the most miraculous events occur. As a reader, I couldn’t even dream up an ending like this that is so impressive and shocking. As if the fun journey to Birmingham wasn’t enough, the final chapters in London make this book complete.

I used to avoid books with stage actors and actresses, as they are usually portrayed as mistresses or scoundrels, but this book erased my preconceived notions. I enjoyed the passion Harriet had for Shakespeare and the theatre scenes were exciting and interesting. The love story between William and Harriet was fresh and original. It was very different from any other historical romance novels I have ever read. This is a book made for a reader that likes to laugh, fret, worry and feel immensely satisfied at the end of the story.

A Warrior Princess

In love with a warrior

In Love With A Warrior (A Gunn Guardsman novel) by Kara Griffin
Overview by Amazon:
Besotted by the Princess

James Gunn knew his heart would forever be hers when she bested him in combat. Never had he met a formidable foe such as Emlyn. Mayhap it was the way her body felt above his when she pinned him and he had no choice to submit to her …

A love coveted but forbidden

Princess Emlyn would allow no man to victor over her on the field, especially the arrogant, sexy highlander. It would do well for him to know she wouldn’t fall at his feet and worship him. Aye, he was God-like in his appearance, strong, capable, and a protector: all the things she said she didn’t want in a man.

All it took was one kiss

Neither could deny their attraction. When Emlyn is betrothed to her clan’s enemy to save her people from being besieged, she beseeches James for help. The only way she can escape her ill-fated destiny and have the man of her dreams is to wage war and triumph. Not so easy a feat for a warrior such as her.

What I really liked about this book was the strong female character Emlyn. She thinks of herself as a warrior, not a princess. She is a strong woman who thinks she knows what she wants. The book is centered on her ideas of who she is and what she thinks she should be doing with her life.

She comes by these ideas naturally as the daughter of a powerful Welsh Lord; her life is not hers to command. She lives to please her father and trains as hard as his warriors every day. She wants to be seen as a warrior, not a woman. She loses her fiancée due to a feud with a neighbouring Laird and that sets in motion events that will change her life.

War seems inevitable and Emlyn will be the bargaining chip. The evil Marshall wants the ‘warrior princess’ as his intended in order to keep peace. Emlyn has been given to a horrid man and her clan is thrilled she will go, especially her mother. Her mother is a complete shrew. There was nothing redeemable about this woman. Her father, however, does not want to give her to Marshall. He conspires with Emlyn to find one of the Scottish guardsmen to take her away and break the betrothal. She is astounded that her father would tell her to do this and yet relieved because one of the guardsmen has definitely caught her attention.

We meet James before we even meet Emlyn. He is a guardsman for the Gunn Clan and we learn a lot about his history. He is a good man, an excellent warrior and lonely. He has never found a woman to settle down with and in his heart he is searching for that. When he arrives to escort Emlyn to Marshall, he can’t take his eyes off her. He wants her with an intensity that he can’t believe.

Lucky for him she feels the same way. Taking heed of her father’s advice to do whatever it takes to secure a man to take her away, she goes to his tent and has very passionate sex with him. Unfortunately for him he is dead drunk – not drunk enough to not be able to perform, but not enough to remember it. While drunk she gets him to agree to take her away, but the next day he reneges on the deal as he won’t go against his Laird. Only after Emlyn’s father speaks to him and his Laird with his plan, he agrees to disappear with Emlyn. In fact, her father has given him permission to marry her to keep her out of Marshall’s clutches, which will bring war to his doorstep.

Emlyn and James are highly sexual together. It gets pretty steamy between the two. The author doesn’t hold back and it’s great to see a female character who enjoys and initiates sex with a man she isn’t married to.

They escape from the party heading to Marshall’s and head north to Scotland. Emlyn doesn’t know it, but James has separated her from her weapons. He will take care of her – he doesn’t want her fighting. But quickly they are set upon by Marshall’s men and taken to his holdings. Emlyn is safe as Marshall wants her as a bride, but James is tortured. Emlyn tricks Marshall with all her ingenuity and coyness and once she can, she escapes with James who is totally broken. The description of what has happened to him is quite gruesome, but it is used as the catalyst to show how deeply Emlyn cares for him. She is almost beside herself getting him to safety.

They go to James’ estranged father’s farm as it is the only safe place for the two of them. James’ leg is broken very badly. His mother wants to remove it, but Emlyn insists on keeping him whole, knowing that being a guardsman is the most important part of his life. They stay there until his Laird sends for them. James is still much wounded, but somewhat mobile. He tries to get Emlyn to marry him, but she refuses as she still wants to be a warrior in her father’s army now that the ruse she pulled has been discovered.

The two of them part badly. The rest of the story revolves around the decision Emlyn has made to leave. There is deep heartache on James’ part. He grieves so hard for his loss that his friends are extremely concerned for his welfare. The only thing that can heal him is getting over Emlyn. He takes the time to heal his body and leg and ponder what he will do with his life, as he many not be able to physically resume his guardsman duties. Life seems like such a mess for both of them.

The resolution of the plot is really well conceived. Humility is a trait that often makes its way into the ending of a story in historical romance novels. I enjoyed how the story progressed and I really liked the characters. This was a story set in an interesting time in history and I found the Welsh politics a nice change from English and Scottish interests.

If you are looking for a solid book to read with engrossing characters, a strong plot and steamy love scenes than this is a book to add to your pile.

Exciting News – Jessica Peterson Q & A

On December 8th, Jessica Peterson will be featured here on Kiltsandswords to talk about her new book coming out The Millionaire Rogue. Read my review of the book here.

Not only will she be answering questions about this awesome book, there will be a contest for a copy of her book and some swag!

I’ll be posting hints for the contest over the next week…stay tuned!the millionaire rogue

The book is now available for pre-order from all major book sellers! Make sure to get your copy!

The Heiress and the Duke – An Amazing Book!

duke of thorns

Duke of Thorns (Heiress Book #1) by Sara Ramsey

Overview by Amazon:

A devil who won’t be denied…
Too powerful to care for such petty things as morals, the Duke of Thorington lives as he pleases. And it pleases him to be known as a cruel, heartless blackguard — one no sane woman would dare to marry. But when his fortunes suddenly crumble, he must find a way to save his family from ruin. To succeed, Thorington must secure an heiress for his younger brother. There’s only one problem…

A lady who can’t be contained…
Bold, daring Callista Briarley has survived riots, plagues, and revolutions while building her own privateering enterprise, but the sharks of English society are an entirely new challenge. It will all be worth it if she wins Maidenstone Abbey — a house her ancestors spent centuries killing each other for. To succeed, Callie needs a husband — preferably one who can be easily controlled. There’s only one problem…
Two hearts destined to ignite…

You know what’s really great? When you read back to back to back books that are great! It’s an awesome feeling when you start reading another book and get SO excited because you know that you are about to be swept away by a story that is perfect. This book is a wonderful story. I fell in love with the characters, the witty dialogue, the intriguing plot and a story that fully engages all of your emotions.

Callie has been living in Baltimore running her deceased father’s shipping business, but has turned to privateering against her misgivings. She decides to head to England to reunite with her titled family there. There is an unusual arrangement happening – the Maidenstone Abbey is being given to one of the three female relatives who makes the best marriage match. She has nothing holding her to Baltimore, so she decided to head to England and possibly find a marriage of convenience with a man who won’t interfere with her shipping business.

When she reaches Maidenstone after a delayed voyage, she meets cousin Lucretia (and competition) who is not pleased to see her. She thinks Callie is a wild colonial and is desperate to keep Maidenstone for herself. Her rude arrival spurs Callie to steal a horse and explore the estate. She finds the Maiden Stone, part of the family history and feels the magic of the place. While she is exploring she meets a man in the clearing. He intrigues her and yet mocks her lack of manners and ability to fit into the ton. It’s an introduction that clearly will stay with both of them.

Thorington thinks Callie is wild and spirited. When he meets her in the clearing, he is taken with her. He has invited himself and his family to the party for the ladies hands. He is flat broke, the duchy in dire straits and he wants his family taken care of. He is widowed after a marriage of convenience and doesn’t think of Callie for himself, but his baby brother Lord Anthony. He has instructed his siblings that they must marry within a month or they will be left destitute. His sisters and brothers are astounded, as Thorington had turned around the failing duchy after his father’s death, yet it seems his good luck was due to a curse from an Egyptian dagger, and now that the spell is broken, so is every venture he has money invested in.

The house party begins and immediately Callie is warned away from Thorington by pretty much everyone at the party. They call him the devil and the way he taunts Callie, she has to agree. However, there is something about him that is alluring and calls to her. It’s like a moth to a flame, she can’t keep away – even when his manners are horrible and he makes her resort to childish antics.

After getting to know Callie for a day or two, he decides she is the perfect match for Anthony and approaches her with a proposition. Marriage to Anthony and she can maintain her interest in her shipping company. Thorington expects some reluctance on Anthony’s part, but he is downright rude and horrified at the prospect of marrying her. Granted he is only 19 and in a world with money, he should be a young buck around town and going on his Grand Tour. He appalling lists all of Callie’s faults and says that she will never cut it in society. So Thorington becomes her ‘governess’ to teach her all she needs to know.

I loved this plot line. It gave Callie and Thorington a reason to be together. Although they are chaperoned by his family most of the time, it allows them time to get to know each other. Callie is not the horrible ragamuffin Anthony makes her out to be, she has some decorum from society in Baltimore, but not enough polish to rub noses with dukes and earls. I loved how Thorington puts her through her paces and teaches her about English society. Callie takes his tutelage, but also thumbs her nose at him as often as she can. Every time she calls him sirrah instead of your grace, it brought a smile to my face.

As the days pass by, Thorington has fallen under her spell. He starts to imagine kissing her, undressing her, being in bed with her, but he has nothing to offer her as his financial situation gets worse every day. On top of that Ferguson, the other duke at the party, has been given the roll of judge of who gets the estate. He has made it abundantly clear that Callie will never win Maidenstone if she marries into Thorington’s family.

Thorington has also started to make inquiries into her shipping interests, as the Terror of the Caribbean has been menacing English ships and he wants to know what happened to his own ships as well as Callie’s involvement in privateering.

Things take a turn between the two when Thorington asks her to tea. It’s like no tea party I’ve ever been to and you get the feeling that his family is trying to set them up and spare Anthony who has been missing every time Callie is around. They drink tea and then whisky while playing cards. This was one of those really fun scenes to read. Something memorable that will stick with you for a long time. They play cards, betting on each hand for an honestly answered question. I adored how they get a little drunk in an abandoned room and tell each other the truth. There is no denying the attraction between the two and Callie forces him to admit that his brother isn’t interested. She also asks for a kiss, her first kiss. Thorington gives into his raging impulses regarding Callie and gives her what she wants. It was such a memorable scene and I loved how they spar and interact with each other.

The next couple of days get intense, the third cousin shows up, Callie has lost contact with her captain and is seriously worried about her fleet, Thorington gets word that his ships were lost to a privateer ship Nero and suspect Callie and worst of all, a disgraced sea captain is invited to the ball. All of these things force reactions by all. Callie and Thorington can’t continue in secret anymore – there is too much at stake, including her life.

I loved how he took charge of the situation. Even though Callie was spitting mad about how he handled things, she shouldn’t have been surprised as Thorington (or Gavin as she is getting to know him as), is an alpha male and taking command is as natural as breathing to him. He turns out not to be the devil everyone thinks he is and shows that he is deeply capable of doing good for others. His resolve to help Callie is so amazing. You see the man you knew was hidden deep the whole time. As a reward his bad luck run seems to be balancing out.

I adored the relationship between Thorington and Callie. I loved how she but this autocratic duke on his heels. For a man used to getting everything he wants and making others bend to his will, being with Callie is a life altering experience. He thinks she is magnificent and realizes how much he wants her.

This was such a great book. I don’t know if I am doing it justice as the story was so well written. It’s a five star book for sure. It captivates you and takes you to the mysterious Maidenstone to the strangest house party. You want to smack Thorington at times and yet you want him to sweep Callie off her feet. It’s a book that is full of emotions and energy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Captivated By You Review

captivated by you

Captivated By You (Crossfire Series) by Sylvia Day

Overview by Amazon:

Gideon calls me his angel, but he’s the miracle in my life. My gorgeous, wounded warrior, so determined to slay my demons while refusing to face his own.

The vows we’d exchanged should have bound us tighter than blood and flesh. Instead they opened old wounds, exposed pain and insecurities, and lured bitter enemies out of the shadows. I felt him slipping from my grasp, my greatest fears becoming my reality, my love tested in ways I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to bear.

At the brightest time in our lives, the darkness of his past encroached and threatened everything we’d worked so hard for. We faced a terrible choice: the familiar safety of the lives we’d had before each other or the fight for a future that suddenly seemed an impossible and hopeless dream.…

It seems like everyone and their sister is currently reading this book. I pre-ordered it and started reading it today. In the midst of a boring meeting, I secretly pulled it up on my phone as I was anxious to see where Gideon and Eva were headed. It’s been a long time since the third book was published and a big shock that the original trilogy was now a series of five books. This was met with some very harsh criticism online, but I enjoy the characters, so I didn’t mind reading more about them, I just didn’t like how long the wait was between books.

We pick up where the last book left off. Gideon and Eva are secretly married and just coming out of the shadows from hiding their reunion. This is a relatively quiet time for them. They spend time together simply enjoying and savouring each other.

One thing that is very different with this book is the alternative narration between Gideon and Eva. The author said on her website that the next two books would be Gideon’s story to tell, so I guess this is her way of making him more accessible to the reader. We know his thoughts and feelings much deeper than just through Eva’s perspective.

There is a lot more we learn about Gideon. We learn about his abuse and his nightmares. His family plays a larger role in this book. We get to know his sister, mother and step-father where in the past, they were mere glimpses. We also get to see how much he loves Eva and what he fears about their relationship. I loved getting to know more about the business empire that he runs and the never ending schemes and plots he is involved with. It helped flesh out the billionaire business man tag he fulfills.

Eva has stopped running for most of the book. We see more strength in her than we have in the past. She is like a tigress protecting Gideon and also pushing him to open up to her. She hates that he manages situations and then tells her later about them. She has brought some normalcy to his life. They hang out with friends, go sing karaoke, have movie nights and chaperone his sister. They spend their nights together and settle into domestic bliss – as much as they can.

They still have problems. They fight; they make up, and then fight again. It also appears that Gideon’s many enemies have discovered ‘the chink in his armor’, Eva. There are a lot of people coming at the couple, trying to destroy what they have built together. It kind of felt overwhelming and I don’t know how Gideon can possibly manage all the threats coming at them.

As usual with this series, it is highly sexual. The therapist they share says that Eva uses sex to get closer emotionally and Gideon uses it to forget. The scenes are very hot and steamy. These two have amazing chemistry and truly mind blowing sex. It kind of ruins you for real life, because who wouldn’t want a sex god like Gideon in their bed. I have no problem with how graphic the sex scenes are as sex is a very important part of who they are as a couple. It’s their touchstone and a valuable method of communication between them.

I think this book was worth the wait. I really enjoyed where the story headed. Some loose ends were tied up and I’m glad the author was able and willing to do this within a series and not drag it out. I know that I read this book super-fast and I will definitely go back and re-read it to savour the story over the next week. Now I just have to find out how long until the final book One for you is released…let’s hope it’s not as long as last time!

Here’s my review of the series to date!

A Great Final Chapter for The Ladies Book of Pleasures!

a measure of deceit

A Measure of Deceit (The Ladies Book of Pleasures #3) by Jess Michaels
Overview by Amazon:

Even Society’s most scandalous writer couldn’t have predicted this.

The Ladies Book of Pleasures, Book 3

The Ladies Book of Pleasures, now credited with two marriages and countless other affairs and liaisons, has Society all aflutter. The one person not benefitting from its scandalous advice? The author herself.

From the safety of her anonymity, Lady Grace Hollis, Duchess of Jameswood, enjoys the blissful results of her handiwork—and pretends she does not miss the passionate proclivities she penned. But when her handsome editor begins making the rounds of Society parties, she wonders how long her secret will be safe.

Connor Sheridan wants—needs—to know the answer to the one burning question on everyone’s lips: the mystery writer’s identity. And it’s not just because their correspondence, delivered via untraceable couriers, has made him smile, frown, or imagine her engaged in erotic escapades—with him.

Other letters have begun landing on his desk, letters written by a decidedly unfriendly hand. And though it may threaten her reputation, the safest place for her could very well be his arms. Whether she likes it or not.

When I started reading this book, I realized it was the final book in a series that I had already read the other books. I read A LOT of books, so while I couldn’t remember the particulars of the previous books, I remember that I really enjoyed them, so I settled in for what I hoped would be a great read.

I was right. This book was a lot of fun and very, very steamy. The premise is around a scandalous book that has been making its way through the ton like wildfire. The Ladies Book of Pleasure, talks openly about the wonderful experiences a woman can have in a sexual relationship. The book has its devotees and some that are horrified and scandalized by written words.

Lady Grace Hollis is the writer of the book. She has corresponded with her editor, Connor for a couple of years as she worked on the book. Through their letters and notes, an intimacy developed and after Connor pressures the ‘mysterious lady’ to write a sequel she cuts off contact. This forces Connor to venture into society – something he swore he would never do – in order to find her.

Grace and Connor meet in person, yet he has no idea that the beautiful, composed and somewhat frosty woman before him is actually his lovely pen pal and bestselling author. Grace’s friends can’t understand what has rattled her iron composure over the couple days of meeting Connor. Grace won’t share her secrets with her friends as she is too used to keeping her feelings and thoughts bottled up. No one really knows the real Grace, except for Connor.

In the advice of keeping your enemies close mantra; Grace calls Connor to her home and proposes an affair as it is obvious they are attracted to each other. This starts the most torrid affair. The sex scenes between the two are scorching hot. Connor is a dominant man and for once in her life, Grace relinquishes control and has the best, toe curling orgasms of her life. The sex scenes are vividly written and definitely not run of the mill. There is ingenuity in the settings, the positions and the emotions the characters experience. If you like your historical romance novels with a lot of passion, well described scenes and a touch of kink, then this series is for you.

What I really liked about this book was the perspective Connor brings. He is the bastard son of a Lord and has lived his life on the fringe of society. Along with his partner, Adrian, he has spent years slagging the wealthy and their useless lives. Adrian wants to print more seditious works, but Connor has mellowed with age. Getting to know the members of the ton has led him to the understanding that not all are like his sire and he receives genuine offers of friendship from Grace’s friends. For such a steamy book, it had an interesting grounding in the difference of the classes and the opinions of the day.

Connor makes a major blunder with Grace. He forces her hand and things don’t end well for both of them. He is a prideful man who made an error in judgement, but the results are losing the confidence of Grace and giving her number one enemy an advantage.

Not only does this book have great sex, good friends, and a realistic take on society but it also has a daring and dangerous ending. You couldn’t ask for more in a book!

I really liked the end of this series. Things tied up neatly for Grace and her friends. The
Lady may be retired, but her legacy of pleasure will live on.

Six Months of Blogging – What I Have Learned

Blogging1

Happy Six Months of Blogging!

It’s been six months since I started up this blog. It’s been an incredible journey so far! I sometimes feel pressured to get books read as quickly as possible, but I heartily enjoy reading all the wonderful books that are out there. These are just a few of a few things I have learned since starting up in June…

1. I get to read authors that I may not have come across before. I have found so many new authors to love, like Lauren Smith, Christi Caldwell, Angela Quarles and Abby Broadfield. If I relied on Amazon’s recommendations, I likely never would have found some of the amazing authors I have had the privilege to read.

2. Sometimes it feels like I am writing only for myself. I have been reading historical romance novels and contemporary for years and years. One night on my porch, I thought I should review the books as I have always read the reviews before I bought a book. And so began my journey into blogging and Netgalley and the publishing world. It’s only human to check the stats on your blog or the twitter feed and sometimes be disappointed. Sometimes a book I just LOVED doesn’t get attention and yet a silly post gets tons of hits. But not everything in life is supposed to make sense right?

3. Authors are really great people and very proud of their work. Whether they are just getting started or very established, they like to hear from fans. All the authors I have reached out to have been so kind and willing to work with me to promote their latest work. I try not to squeal at the breakfast table or a boring meeting when I see that one of my favourite authors has retweeted my review or I get an email from an author thanking me for taking the time to write a review. I feel bad when I give a three star review and I think long and hard before I do. I know how competitive the publishing world is and on one hand, I never want to hurt someone’s career, yet I can’t advocate for a book I don’t think is worth the money. Honesty is hard.

4. Rejection hurts…I get most of my reading material from Netgalley. It is a little blow when I get rejected for a book I really wanted to read before publication date. It happens often and by certain publishers and it’s disappointing when it does. I am totally open to authors sending me their books to review (open call!) and often they do which takes the sting out of the rejection. But it still sucks when I have my heart set on reading a book I’ve been waiting months to read, only to have to wait a couple more until it’s published.

5. Being on Twitter or Facebook really helps authors and bloggers. We are tied to the social media machine to promote and share what is new and exciting. I am good at tweeting, but fall behind with my Facebook account regularly…oops!

6. The difference between a four star and five star books is an ambiguous and very difficult to qualify. It’s like a mysterious element that has to do with feelings. When I read a book that may even follow a typical recipe for the plot, but yet I can’t put it down because I am so enchanted by the characters, the story and the writing. It’s not every day that I read a five star book. Most books tend to be four stars – which is amazing and totally respectable. A five star is a book that makes sense to your emotions; it pulls you in and leaves you sorry that the book is over at the end.

7. It’s my blog and I can do what I want…not all the books I read make it on the blog. Sometimes I get books that look interesting and then I read them and I wouldn’t recommend them. I decided early on that I was only going to post on four and five star books. I want people who actually take the time to read my reviews to know that I would recommend reading any of the books I highlight.

8. I don’t have a rating system on my blog. That’s because I pretty much scream it from the treetops when it’s a five star and everything else is a four star. See above regarding books I didn’t really care for.

9. The welcome I have received from other bloggers and reviewers has been so kind. Any questions I have had have been met with knowledgeable responses. The feedback I have received has been generous and appreciated.

10. I have had so much fun blogging about books! I have been reading them for so many years and I have loved sharing and conversing about the genre with other people around the world. It makes you realize that there is a reason the romance genre is so popular.

Beguiling a Duke – A Five Star Read

how to beguile a duke

How to Beguile a Duke by Ally Broadfield

Overview by Goodreads:

The spirited Catherine Malboeuf has just arrived in England to reclaim her ancestral home, Walsley Manor, and a valuable missing heirloom. Nicholas Adair, the attractive and frustratingly inflexible Duke of Boulstridge, however, is quite unwilling to sell the estate back to Catherine.

Unless, of course, she accepts a small wager…

Nick will sell Walsley Manor if—and only if—Catherine secures an offer of marriage from an eligible member of the ton before the end of the London season.
Of course, Nick is certain he’ll win. After all, no proper gentleman would ever marry a woman who conceals a cutlass in her skirts. Yet something about Catherine’s unconventional disposition seems to ignite a need deep inside him. A need that won’t just cost him the wager, but the very heart he swore to never give away…

I love when I start a book and I know how it is going to end. That may sound strange, but with historical romance novels, you KNOW there has to be a happily ever after. We meet Catherine and Nick and you know they will end up together, but it’s the pieces of the puzzle that is so exciting. How will their adventure play out? Will he chase her? Will she chase him? Will they have exploding passion? Will they have insurmountable odds to get over in order to be together? That is what was running though my head when I started this book…so I hope that doesn’t spoil it for anyone, but within the first chapter, you know these two are fated for each other.

We meet Catherine who has a wonderful past. She was raised in the Bahamas and New Orleans and is not a shrinking violet. She is familiar with weapons, is bold as brass and has an irresistible spirit. She has come to England for a couple of purposes. She has come for the London season to look for a husband as her family is quite wealthy, yet not titled. She has also come to find her Grandmother’s diary and the missing tiara heirloom hidden in the ancestral home Walsley of her English mother. She also has instructions from her father to purchase the estate at any cost the new owner will name.

Nick is the new owner of Walsley and he has no interest in selling the estate he has restored to perfection. I immediately recognized that he was that kind of Duke. Imperious, staid and very concerned with conventions. Their first introduction was hilarious and I loved the sparks that flew off the two of them. Nick is not the kind of man to make a wager, but something about Catherine makes him reckless. He gives her the diary with the promise it’s a joint investigation. He also makes an outrageous wager with her. If she can secure an engagement with a titled gentleman, he will sell her Walsley.

Both arrive in London for the season and are in contact with each other as much as they can be with the restrictions placed by society on unmarried young ladies. Catherine is being chaperoned by the Hartley’s. They are to introduce her to the whirl of the season. Rumours swirl that Catherine’s father was a pirate who kidnapped her mother, which makes for great gossip, but not the best recommendation to suitors. Nick believes that even though she acts the perfect lady, her true nature will explode out of her before the end of the season. That she is too full of life to be contained. She does have a few touch and go moments of faux pas that make you realize how hard it must be to fit into the rigid nature of the ton.

Nick is a frequent visitor and companion at the society events. They meet up to share clues from the diary. As they investigate however, it becomes apparent that someone else knows about the diary and is out to get Catherine. Nick swoops down like a hawk to protect her. It brings them closer and they move from adversaries and reluctant partners to interest in each other.
We learn that Nick is not without his own baggage. His father was a beast, who flaunted his mistress so flagrantly around ton events, that eventually he was discarded by the ton. Nick lives a controlled life in order to never be like his father. He has determined that he will never marry and procreate so that his father’s genes die with him. So it throws a kink in the attraction and interest he has for Catherine. He is fighting a battle with himself.

Catherine’s hunt for a groom isn’t going as planned as her past keeps the titled gentlemen away. She finds it humiliating and thankfully Nick is there to pick up the pieces. What I liked so much about these two was that they spoke to each other as a man and woman. Catherine was not impressed with his title and rarely showed him deference. The two of them spar and insult each other, yet they watch out for each other and develop a care that intensifies as the story progresses.

There are not a lot of love scenes in the story, but the few are so lovely. It made you want the inevitable ending that you expect. They are so perfect for each other. You want Nick to bend and propose to Catherine and they can live in Walsley together. She makes him loose and laughs and he is finally fascinated by a woman who has intelligence and beauty.

The plot about the diary and tiara is interesting and moves the story along. There are villains and tense moments, but you never really worry because you know that Nick will protect Catherine.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a mysterious qualifier when a book is rated a five. There is just something special about the story, the characters, the adventure that makes you breathless to read more and then sad when the story is over. This is that kind of story. I couldn’t wait to keep reading and when I finished I had to sit back and savour the story, but still felt like I wished the adventure of Catherine and Nick wasn’t finished. That’s when you know it’s a special book.