Saturday, May 11, 2013

March & April Reviews - I'm Late!

I have been remiss in posting my reviews of late, mostly because real life is pretty hectic these days.  Of course, it doesn't stop me from reading, but alas, actually posting my reviews is another thing.  So, without further ado, let's get to it, no five star reviews I'm afraid.  This is the first of two posts today:

Forever a Lady by Delilah Marvelle

Book Description:
Lady Bernadette Marie Burton  may be the richest widow in England, but like her dreams of finding true passion, her reputation is deteriorating. Cruel gossip, loneliness and hoards of opportunistic suitors have her believing Society couldn't be more vile...or dangerous. So when an attacker threatens her life, she finds safety in the most unseemly of places: the arms of a mysterious, Irish-American gang leader. His fortune stolen, young Matthew Milton is done playing the respectable gentleman. In the slums of New York, only ruffians thrive. But from the moment he arrives in London and encounters the voluptuous Lady Bernadette, he can't help but wonder about the finer pleasures he's missing. Or just how much he's willing to risk-not only to bed her, but to prove his worth...

This story, second in The Rumor series, picks up where the last one left off with Bernadette, Lady Burton, a widowed Englishwoman now living in NYC in the early 19th century. She becomes involved with Matthew Milton, a once prosperous son of a newspaper owner who lost everything. Now he lives in the wretched 6th Ward and is the leader of a vigilante type gang called The Forty Thieves. He falls in love with Bernadette at first sight but much happens and he wants to elevate himself in the world before he can hope to every marry her. I liked their story but found it slow in parts.  I can't say I was really into either the hero or heroine, neither one was really likable or had me rooting for them.  There's something missing from this romance that left me with a meh feeling. Still, I will continue with the next in the series.


Seeing a Large Cat by Elizabeth Peters (audio)

Book Description: 
In this ninth book in the Peabody series, it's 1903, and Amelia and her clan-irascible husband Emerson, fearless son Ramses, gorgeous ward Nefret-are in Cairo, dealing with everything from mummies (both the ancient and more recent varieties) to affairs of the heart.

I really enjoyed this latest installment of the adventures of the Emerson Family in Egypt. Here we see Ramses - grown up! Or, rather, close to grown up with a mustache and silently in love with Nefret, who most likely returns his feelings, but neither one of them knows it! The whole family takes part in the investigation of who killed the wife of an American Southerner who turns up in a tomb several years after running off with another man. The mystery thickens and suspects abound. I had a really good time with this one on audio, especially with the Southern accents of Col. Bellingham and his daughter, Dolly who drove Ramses crazy! A favorite of mine in the series!


Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Book Description:
Annabel Winslow is in a pickle. Having newly arrived in London for her first season and being in possession of a voluptuous figure, she is being openly courted by the Earl of Newbury, who is at least 75 and a nasty brute to boot. Annabel does not want to marry him, of course, but feels that she has no choice since her father has recently died and left the whole family, including Annabel's mother and her seven siblings, almost destitute.

Then, while attending a party in the countryside, Annabel met Sebastian Grey, the Earl of Newbury's nephew. And suddenly she found herself not only courted by the lecherous uncle, but also the charming young nephew. Should she follow her heart so that she can be with the one she loves, or should she marry the loathsome earl just so she can put food on the table for her family and make sure that her brothers get to stay in school?

I loved Julia Quinn when I first discovered her and fell in love with her Bridgerton series, but lately her books are just too "fluffy." They don't have that emotional pull in them that made me love her. Now they just don't have much substance, they seem to be romances with one long joke and a catchy title. This one has been on my TBR List forever, mostly because of the lackluster feeling I've gotten from JQ's most recent books.  Here we have Annabel Winslow who is doomed to marry an elderly earl in need of an heir. The earl disgusts her and it would be a fate worse than death to marry him. Because of her broad hips and bounteous breasts she is considered the ideal baby making machine (this is the one long joke of the book.) The earl's heir, Sebastian Grey, happens to meet Annabel one evening on Hampstead Heath and they have a unexpectedly romantic moment, two strangers meeting in the night. Neither one knows who the other is until after a long and memorable kiss. When Annabel finds out who he is, and that he's the nephew of the man everyone expects her to marry - well, she is... confused. And so is the dilemma. Sebastian is to-die-for handsome, yet he has trouble with his wartime memories. His character is a bit shallow at first, except for his deep dark secret that he is the bestselling Gothic novelist who writes under the pen name of Sarah Gorley (lots of inside author jokes abound). Will Sebastian have a chance at happiness and lose his rakish ways? Will he ask Annabel to marry him so she won't have to marry his detestable uncle? Inquiring minds want to know, but I found I was really only halfheartedly interested in this tame regency.  Awful cover as well, I really dislike it!


Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Book Description:
The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew that it was her house. And now that she’s at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason.

As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love.

Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past...until she realizes Mariana’s life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.

This was a memorable time travel story with incredible yet quiet emotion all the way to the last page. Fantastic ending. I loved it and I believe it's my favorite book by this author.  Julia is drawn to an old house she first saw as a young girl and on the spur of the moment buys it as an adult.  Her friends and family are surprised at her sudden decision to move from London to this out of the way country house, but to Julia is just seems right.  She becomes the latest sensation in the small village and makes friends easily with the local squire that lives nearby in Crofton Hall, a charming female bartender who teaches her the lay of the land and the quiet enigmatic local, who helps her with her garden and anything else that needs done.  Before long, Julia begins having "spells" in which she is transported back in time two hundred years to the same area, and falls in love with the lord of the manor.   Yet, there is danger for him and soon she learns the reason why she feels so sad in the one of the rooms in Crofton Hall, rumored to have a ghost.  There's much more to this story and I loved it and the surprises at the end.  All the characters are likable and real to me.  I was sorry when I finished for I wanted to continue reading about them.   A keeper.


Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (audio)

Book Description: 
After the discovery that her late husband, a popular televangelist, embezzled five million dollars from his ministry, Rachel Stone, the televangelist's widow, is an outcast—broke, unemployed, with a five-year-old son to raise. Fate and a dead car engine leave her at a shabby drive-in theater owned by Gabriel Bonner, the hostile black sheep of the town's most prominent family. Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina, where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. 

Story of Gabe Bonner, Cal Bonner's tortured brother, who lost his wife and son in a car accident.  Cal is the main hero from the last book in the series, Nobody's Baby But Mine. Rachel Stone, the widow Snopes, returns to the town of Salvation with her young son, Edward, to try and find her dead husbands lost fortune. Destitute, Rachel talks her way into working for Gabe at his drive-in theatre that is due to open in a month or so. She is hated in town and is facing several up hill struggles to get by. Gabe, a walking ghost, has trouble adjusting to her and the fact she's the first woman he's been attracted to since the death of his wife, Cherry. To sum it up, both Rachel and Gabe have a lot of baggage to deal with, yet finding each other is probably the best thing that could have happened to each other. The other side story (SEP's romances always have one) is about Ethan Bonner, the youngest of the brothers who is a pastor in town and his plain secretary, Kristy, who has secretly loved him forever.  But, alas, Ethan has never noticed her. Determined to get noticed, she transforms herself into the kind of woman Ethan likes - tight jeans, lipstick and a hot body. I loved their storyline, which was reminiscent of my favorite so far in this series, Heaven, Texas. Rachel and Gabe's storyline was much more serious and often sad to read about. It ended well, but their struggles that needed to be overcome left a feeling a melancholia over the storyline. Still, a good book on audio. The narrator is great, especially with children's voices.


The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Book Description: 
Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly - so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don't get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he's up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he's determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match...

Only available as an e-book, this is a short historical romance that I had trouble getting into and following the storyline, though I did like the endearing hero. Unfortunately, the story kept jumping around so much, though I found the premise intriguing.  After a while I caught on (maybe I was just too distracted while reading this), but the main gist of the story, Robert's great dilemma, seemed so easy to solve and not worth all the worry on his part.  I kept thinking it was so obvious as to what he should do.  Finally by the end of the book, I liked the story and the revelations of Minerva's past and childhood, but overall it was not as good as I had thought it would be.  Still, I will continue on with the series.  I definitely find this author to be hit or miss with me.


Between the Devil and Desire (audio)

Book Description: 
The ladies of the ton won't stop whispering about deliciously wicked Jack Dodger—once a thieving street urchin, now the wealthy owner of London's most exclusive gentleman's club. There's no pleasure he hasn't enjoyed, no debauchery the handsome scoundrel won't provide for the lords who flock to his house of carnal intrigue.

Olivia, Duchess of Lovingdon, would never associate with such a rogue. So when Jack is named sole heir to the duke's personal possessions, the beautiful, well-bred lady is outraged. Now, Olivia is forced to share her beloved home with this despicable man.

But Olivia's icy disdain is no match for Jack's dangerous charm. His touch awakens desire. His kiss demands surrender. She will struggle to bar Jack from her heart...but her body, coveting divine release, will not let her bar him from her bed.

I really had a hard time with this one, though usually I like Lorraine Heath.  I can't understand it, her regencies just don't grab me emotionally the same way her American Westerns do.  But, I think the main reason why I didn't enjoy this book was that I listened to it on audio.  Big mistake. The narrator, Susan Ericksen, made the heroine's voice much older than someone in their mid-twenties and I didn't care for her version of Jack's voice either.  I thought Anthony Ferguson was going to do Jack's voice for the most part (as he is credited as one of the narrator's) but he only did the voice for Jack twice in the prologue and the epilogue!  The rest was all by Ericksen.  I cannot understand why they did it that way, I was very put off by it.  It actually really ruined the book for me!  Plus, Olivia and Jack were both so prickly for most of the book, and then miraculously falling in lust and so forth, I just rolled my eyes over their storyline.  I really couldn't believe how Olivia just let him control her so much as well, she is a duchess after all!  Show some back bone! Too bad, for Jack was interesting in the first book of this series and I had high hopes for his story.  Oh well, c'est la vie.


An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

Book Description:
Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he's back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife's love may be the greatest battle he's faced yet.

I've really enjoyed the two previous romances in this series, but this wasn't nearly as good, I'm afraid.  I really like this author, but this one didn't seem to have any oomph to it.  The first part of the book is the background of why they got married in the first place and then their separation while Jack is in Canada and Elizabeth receives all sorts of reports about his affairs from gossiping neighbors.  Once Jack return from Canada, he is instantly attracted to Elizabeth and there wasn't enough build up to show why.  He just came off as a randy soldier home from the war.  He wants to bed Elizabeth too quickly and once she begins to warm to him and forgive him for his misdeeds in Canada, she soon becomes of the same mind set.  They want to do it, but constant delays prevent them from doing so.  I also felt Elizabeth came around too easily, so there wasn't enough teasing to make it interesting.  The many delays only succeeded in being frustrating and their fight before Waterloo was entirely too expected.  Overall, it was not compelling enough for me, compared to her previous books in the series, but it was good for those are interested in Waterloo and it's battle scenes. 


When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris (audio)

Book Description:
When Gabrielle Tennyson is murdered, aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his new reluctant bride, the fiercely independent Hero Jarvis, find themselves involved in an intrigue concerning the myth of King Arthur, Camelot, and a future poet laureate...

As Sebastian and Hero get to know one another better in the early days of their marriage, a young and beautiful friend of Hero's is found dead in a boat in a moat that has ties to the fabled Camelot. Hero and Sebastian investigate the murder that involves the Tennyson family and Sebastian meets someone who could very likely be his brother - yet still no word on who his real father is. Lots of possibilities abound.  I am curious to know how things will ultimately develop between Hero and Sebastian and where his former love, Kat Boleyn will fit into the scheme of things... On audio, good as usual with Davina Porter narrating.  It can't get any better.


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