Good-bye summer, hello Autumn. This latest batch contains 10 mini-reviews, most of which were slightly above average, but no five stars in this batch. I'm still loving Lorraine Heath's Texas trilogy and scarred heroes though. I've got two Tessa Dare's, including her latest new release and I'm also continuing with the intriguing Amelia Gray, Graveyard Queen and cemetery restorer on audio...
The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens (audio)
Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town
name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been
commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina,
but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here.
Why is there
a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to
a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away
at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be
restored if I can uncover the truth.
Second in the Graveyard Queen series, Amelia's story continues as dark secrets of who she is surface as she
takes on a job to restore a cemetery in the isolated island town of Asher Falls. While there in this modern day ghost town, she
meets a slew of people who are all creepy and different in their own way
- except for Thane Asher, a tall, dark and handsome rakish type who may
or may not be all that he seems. The narration for this book is very good, by Khristine Hvam, I love the way she does the various Southern accents. I liked this macabre getaway from
Charleston, setting of the first book in the series, but I still want to see what's going on back at the ranch with
Devlin - that last line of the book hooked me for the next one in the series!
A Lady By Midnight by Tessa Dare
A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making...
years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and
acceptance in Spindle Cove - but she never stopped yearning for love. The
very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne.
The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But
when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward
as her fiance. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is
there smoldering passion in his kiss?
Long ago, Samuel Thorne
devoted his life to guarding Kate’s happiness. He wants what's best for
her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their
temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and
lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle
of this hardened warrior's life...and the first he seems destined to
Thorne and Kate's story - at last! I've looked forward to this one ever since discovering the series, but surprisingly, this was my least favorite of the Spindle Cove trilogy. Thorne is dark and granite-like. It takes all of Kate's ingenuity to break down the walls he has built up around him. The plot itself didn't have the usual humor as in the previous books, this was darker and bittersweet. Kate, an orphan, finds out after 23 years that she is actually a "lady" from an aristocratic family. At the same time she discovers this bombshell, she is thrown together with Corporal Thorne, who is entirely unsuitable for a lady to marry. But in Kate's eyes, Corporal Thorne is perfect and she soon falls in love with him over the course of the next few weeks while they are pretending to be engaged (to save her reputation). The conundrum in this love story is he believes he is not good enough for her now that she is a lady, and she must convince him otherwise. It doesn't help that her new family just seems to be getting in the way, complicating matters. A good story, but frustrating and I couldn't help thinking many of the eccentric characters we're introduced to in Kate's new found family are the makings of a new series, which sort of bothered me. They were distracting me from the main focus of the book - Kate and Thorne. I did enjoy seeing some old friends from the previous books though.
Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare
Benjamin Westfield is a powerful werewolf—until one full moon when he
doesn't change. His life now shattered, he rushes off to Scotland in
search of the healer who can restore his inner beast, only to find she's
not at all what he expected...
beautiful witch Elspeth Campbell will do anything to help anyone who
calls upon her healing arts. Then Lord Benjamin shows up, and she
suddenly discovers she may need him even more than he needs her...
is Benjamin's story, the youngest of the three Westfield brothers who are werewolves - but oh so refined ones. In the second installment of this Regency werewolf paranormal series, the story runs simultaneously with book one, A Certain Wolfish Charm, as
Benjamin goes to Scotland to find a healer who can cure him of not being able to
shift at the full moon. He meets Elspeth, a
witch in Edinburgh who can cure him. Instantly attracted to her, he chases after her shamelessly,
never suspecting he's actually falling in love. She reciprocates his ardor, plus
they have a special bond for she is half Lycan as well, though she
doesn't know who her father was. Can Ben help her find out who he is? Much happens and these
two have a hurried wedding, but shortly after that, the story turns angsty
when Elspeth overhears Ben talking with his brother Will, telling him he
can never love Elspeth. She only hears this part, and not why - for
he's afraid he'll hurt her when he claims her at the full moon. Aargh,
big misunderstanding - but the hot sexy moments make up for it.
Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath
Once a virtual prisoner
in her father's house, a lovely lady finds herself shamelessly traded
in a battle for land and water rights, and thrust into an unfamiliar
world as an unwilling bride. And as her husband - a man who aims to put
West Texas on the map - gazes into the eyes of his new bride, he
catches a glimpse of another ambition - the desire of the heart. Is
this the woman who will walk beside him as, together, they carve out a
future life rich with all the promises of love?
Wonderful sequel to Texas Destiny about an arranged marriage between Dallas Leigh and his arch enemy's daughter Cordelia so that they can stop feuding over water rights on Dallas' land. Some parts were exquisitely moving and sad, the author is tops at conveying bone deep emotion to her stories. Heartbreaking moments for Dallas and Cordelia, but such a good read! Various themes are touched upon, most poignantly the role of a father: Dallas' desire for a son to fulfill his dream and on the opposite end of the spectrum, we see "fathers" who are brutal and unspeakably cruel. I scratched my head over the last chapter on my kindle, is it the beginning of the next book or not, it sure seemed like it was to me!
Sweet Release by Pamela Clare
For five pounds in
cash, the convict was hers. Though Cassie hated the slave trade, her
Virginia plantation demanded the labor, and she knew this fevered man
would surely die if she left him. But as his wounds healed and his
muscled chest bronzed in the sun, Cassie realized Cole Braden was far
more dangerous than his papers had indicated—for he could steal her
breath with a glance and lay siege to her senses with a touch.
beaten, and given a new name, Alec went from master of an English
shipbuilding empire to fourteen years of indentured servitude in the
American colonies. There, he was known as Cole Braden, a convicted
ravisher and defiler of women. And while he longed to ravish the
auburn-haired beauty who owned him, he knew his one hope of earning her
love—and his freedom—was to prove his true identity. Only then could he
turn the tables and attain his ... Sweet Release.
wasn't overly bowled over by the story, a bit too angsty for my liking
and drawn out a bit too long for us to find out if the truth will ever
come out about Alec. English nobleman is kidnapped and sent to the
colonies as a convict (it's 1730). Turns out his brother planned the
whole thing so he could inherit. While in Virginia, Alec must try to
convince everyone who he really is while also falling in love with the
mistress of the plantation who has bought his indenture. I liked it overall, but
Geoffrey, the villain, was over the top with his awfulness, as the
same with Philip, Alec's brother. Still, not bad and the love scenes
England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch
Lucinda Barrett's best
friends ended up married to the men to whom they delivered their
"lessons in love." So Lucinda decides to choose someone who definitely
needs lessons, but someone who will not complicate her life. And that
person is definitely not Robert Carroway.
Robert is nothing if
not complicated, and though he is the brother of a viscount, he rarely
goes about society, and finds the weather and hat fashions ludicrous
subjects for discussion. Robert is attracted to Lucinda's unpretentious
ways, her serenity and her kindness. When she chooses someone for her
love lessons, Robert offers to help her deliver her lessons, but sets
out to convince the woman he has fallen for to take a chance on
love...and on him.
Last of the "Lessons in Love" series, but unfortunately it wasn't my favorite though I had such high hopes for Robert's story! Tortured war veteran, Robert (Bit) Carroway is having trouble getting used to being in society again. His only shining light seems to be Lucinda Barrett, who is attracted to him, but convinced she should be paired up with a different man. She and Bit slowly develop a friendship that soon turns to passion. Everything is further complicated when Bit is accused of stealing some important documents and being a traitor. I enjoyed the book overall, but it dragged at times and wasn't as amusing as the previous books in the series. Due to Bit's struggles with his captivity and post traumatic syndrome, the story had a melancholy feel to it, and I prefer humor in my romances, but it was still good. Georgie and Dare show up quite a bit in this one too, bringing the trilogy full circle.
Song of Susannah by Stephen King (audio)
The next-to-last novel in Stephen King's seven-volume magnum opus, Song of Susannah
is at once a book of revelation, a fascinating key to the unfolding
mystery of the Dark Tower, and a fast-paced story of double-barreled
To give birth to her "chap," demon-mother Mia has
usurped the body of Susannah Dean and used the power of Black Thirteen
to transport to New York City in the summer of 1999. The city is strange
to Susannah...and terrifying to the "daughter of none," who shares her
body and mind.
Saving the Tower depends not only on rescuing
Susannah but also on securing the vacant lot Calvin Tower owns before he
loses it to the Sombra Corporation. Enlisting the aid of Manni senders,
the remaining katet climbs to the Doorway Cave...and discovers that
magic has its own mind. It falls to the boy, the billy-bumbler, and the
fallen priest to find Susannah-Mia, who, in a struggle to cope - with
each other and with an alien environment - "go todash" to Castle
Discordia on the border of End-World. In that forsaken place, Mia
reveals her origins, her purpose, and her fierce desire to mother
whatever creature the two of them have carried to term.
Roland, meanwhile, tumble into western Maine in the summer of 1977, a
world that should be idyllic but isn't. For one thing, it is real, and
the bullets are flying. For another, it is inhabited by the author of a
novel called 'Salem's Lot, a writer who turns out to be as shocked by them as they are by him.
are the simple vectors of a story rich in complexity and conflict. Its
dual climaxes, one at the entrance to a deadly dining establishment and
the other appended to the pages of a writer's journal, will leave
readers gasping for the saga's final volume (which, Dear Reader, follows
soon, say thank ya).
can't say I was enthralled by this installment in The Dark Tower series. Susannah has been
kidnapped by Mia in order to deliver her chap and they wind up in NYC.
Eddie and Roland are in Maine and "meet" Stephen King, which was too odd
to get into and made my head hurt trying to take it all in. Jake and Don Callahan are on their own, ready to face
their last battle if need be. Everything ends up in the air with three
major cliffhangers and the last coda, King's diary, seemed like a cop
out to me. Overall, I'm a bit disappointed, though I do find the
premise fascinating how all his books seem to have this 'end world' and
'mid world' thread running through them. I wanted some resolution for the
katet in this book, but I guess I'll have to wait until the last. On audio it was confusing in parts, maybe it was just harder to follow
for me than in print, but the narration itself was fine. I didn't
realize until this book that the voice of Eddie Dean is supposed to
really sound like Stephen King's voice. Interesting... If you haven't read the previous books in this series, don't begin with this one, you'll be totally confused!
At the Bride Hunt Ball by Olivia Parker
To Gabriel Devine,
Duke of Wolverest, the bonds of marriage are nothing more than shackles.
But if he's to remain a lifelong bachelor, that leaves only his younger
brother to carry on the family name. Inviting the ton's most eligible
ladies to an elegant ball, Gabriel is certain any one of them would be
all too eager to become the next duchess and provide an heir - leaving
Gabriel to continue his ecstatic pursuit of pleasure.
Her social-climbing stepmother would give anything to have Madelyn
Haywood betrothed to a future duke. But Madelyn believes the brothers
Devine to be nothing more than heartless rogues - especially Gabriel,
whose rakish reputation precedes him. He is nothing more than a slave to
passion, and she will not be conquered by his caresses - and yet his
wicked ways tempt her so . . .
a bad Regency, but not very memorable either. Handsome and brooding Duke of Wolverest doesn't want to marry, so
he names his younger rakish brother heir to the dukedom - and holds a ball to find a bride
for him out of a select few young women lucky enough to pass muster.
Sort of a Regency "The Bachelor". Madelyn, a klutzy beauty is
an unwilling participant. The last thing the Duke thought would happen
was that he'd fall in love with her. I enjoyed their first meeting and ensuing crazy non-courtship. Fun book with some
sizzling moments between the two, but their misunderstanding toward the
ending was predictable and trying, but as in all romances - it all ends well eventually. Don't let the cheesy cover put you off, it's not half bad!
One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
The first novel in
Tessa Dare’s Stud Club trilogy—secrets and scandals tempt the
irresistible rogues of the Stud Club to gamble everything for love.
handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke
of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so
select it has only ten members—yet membership is attainable to anyone
with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a
prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing “Duke
of Midnight.” Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking
midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody
ever bests the duke—until Lady Amelia d’Orsay tries her luck.
a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke’s
dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer
forgive her scapegrace brother’s debts, she never imagines that her
game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy
proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the
shocking murder of the Stud Club’s founder. Will Amelia lose her heart
in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?
First book in her Stud Club series, Tessa Dare gives us a forced
marriage scenario in which an on the shelf spinster, Amelia d'Orsay
must marry the Duke of Midnight aka the Duke of Morland. Due to a series
of circumstances involving the death of a friend and thus saving Amelia's
reputation, the Duke proposes marriage and they are married in a day. One day.
At first glance, Amelia is not the Duke's type at all, but he is
unaccountably drawn to her, and as the story unfolds we learn that all
is not as it seems with him and these two have a strong connection
between them - in addition to a strong attraction. He is brooding and
gorgeous, and she is a plain Jane. But, Amelia blossoms as his duchess.
She gains confidence and poise and - beauty. This romance packs a lot into it: plenty of sizzling love scenes, a few different plot threads
regarding a horse farm, a wayward fifteen year old ward of the Duke, Amelia's
gambling addicted brother and the unsolved murder of the originator of
the Stud Club. I liked it, but it didn't have the endearing humor that
her recent Spindle Cove series has and there was this whole annoying "you must
choose me over your family" conflict that got in the way in the second half
of the book. Still, it was pretty good and I love this author.
Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke
Annabel is about to marry the perfect man . . .
The last thing Miss Annabel Wheaton desires is true love. She learned
the hard way that love makes a woman foolish and leads only to
heartache. That's why she agreed to marry an earl who needs her money.
He's got a pedigree and a country estate, and he won't ever break her
heart. There's only one problem . . .
Christian isn't about to let her marry that pompous prig . . .
Christian Du Quesne, Duke of Scarborough, thinks the stubborn heiress
is about to make the biggest mistake of her life, and he's determined to
stop her. Tempting beautiful women is Christian's forte, after all.
When her family offers him a nice sum of money to stop the wedding, he's
happy to accept.
Falling in love with Annabel was never supposed to be part of the bargain . . .
my favorite Laura Lee Guhrke romance, but it had it's moments. Set
in 1909, half of which is on board a large steam ship en route from New
York to London. Annabelle Wheatley, an American heiress with humble beginnings and no
pedigree whatsoever is determined to marry well and get herself a title
in the bargain. So what if she doesn't love her fiance? Marrying him
will make her legitimate in the eyes of society - until her uncle hires
the rakish scapegrace Duke of Scarborough to talk her out of it.
Unfortunately, they get drunk one night on moonshine in the backseat of
her Ford motor car while in storage (shades of Titanic). Let's just say,
it gets complicated. The wedding does not go off as planned weeks
later, and she winds up having to marry the Duke instead! But, is it
worth it if love isn't involved? Will these two ever realize they
really are in love with each other after all? I liked Guhrke's strong heroine here as well as her rakish hero, but there just seemed to be something lacking overall, though I can't put my finger on why.