Wednesday, July 24, 2013

June, 2013 Reviews - Part II

Slowly but surely, I'm catching up with my reviews from June, some of them I really loved - an unexpected surprise Western from Teresa Medeiros and a quirky contemporary from Rachel Gibson set in Idaho!  Also, a dazzling sequel to one of my all time series!  I'm realizing I'm leaning more and more towards Westerns and contemporaries now.  I'm still reading plenty of English historicals, but now I can barely get through most Scottish Highlander and Medievals.  Interesting...

He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan

Book Description:
Marketing exec Lucy Cunningham is thrilled when her firm lands The Palm Club account. The campaign concept for Miami's hottest fitness club was Lucy's idea: take one fitness-challenged woman, put her in front of TV cameras, and into the hands of the club's top personal trainer, Theo Redmond. And there's a big cash reward for each pound shed. It seems like a brilliant idea-until Lucy gets picked to be the guinea pig. It's obvious she needs to drop the pounds, but the idea of letting it all hang out in front of some Malibu Ken jock has her choking on her Milk Duds before she even begins!

After one meeting, Theo knows Lucy will be his toughest client and one of the most unforgettable women he'll ever meet. Smart-mouthed and stubborn, it's clear she isn't fond of marching to anyone's drumbeat but her own. But she shocks Theo by rising to the challenge like a pro. And he finds his heart in jeopardy long before Lucy starts to slim down and turn heads.

As Lucy sweats her way into a whole new life, things start to heat up between her and Theo. But trust doesn't come easy for either of them. They've both been burned by romance in the past. Now Lucy and Theo are about to discover that appearances can be deceiving-and in the end, true love lies somewhere between pizza and Pilates...

I simply loved this contemporary romance about a very overweight young woman who goes on TV as an advertising campaign to lose 100 lbs in a year. With the help of her gorgeous trainer, Theo Redmond, will she do it? Great story and the romance that develops between Theo and Lucy was sweet, albeit, far fetched, IMHO. Still, a quick and very enjoyable read. The characterizations were good and a thoughtful side story involving Theo's brother.  I've liked everything I've read by this author and am definitely checking out the rest of her back list.


Stolen Kisses by Suzanne Enoch

Book Description:

Jack Faraday, the Marquis of Dansbury, is rich, titled, and handsome as sin. A scandalous rake who's charmed a long string of ladies, he finally meets his match in Miss Lilith Benton, known as the Ice Queen.

Intent on restoring her family's good name, Lilith wants only to make a respectable marriage. So when the tempting but notorious Jack begins to woo her, she is determined to ignore him. Then their accidental involvement in a duke's mysterious death forces Jack and Lilith to become conspirators to clear their names - and suddenly cold disdain gives way to hot desire. Now Lilith may find his passionate stolen kisses too tempting to resist ...

Not a bad early historical romance by Enoch (notice the cover) that involves the handsome scoundrel, Jack Faraday who receives the cut direct from Lilith Benton, the beautiful Ice Queen of the ton who is out to make a spectacular and respectable match.  Jack vows revenge and wants to ruin her out of spite, but things get in the way, such as the death of his relative, a duke who is bent on compromising and marrying her in order to force her to marry him - only the old goat drops dead instead!  In her drawing room!  Jack winds up being Sir Galahad and helps her out of a pickle but only succeeds in implicating himself.  Some funny bits and plenty of drama surrounding the death of the duke and the passion that erupts between Jack and Lilith as she tries to clear his name.   Entertaining and frothy.


Somewhere I'll Find You by Lisa Kleypas (audio)

Book Description:
The toast of the town...

All London is at Julia Wentworth's feet—and anything she desires is hers for the asking. But the glamorous leading lady guards a shocking secret: a mystery husband whom she does not know, dares not mention ... and cannot love.

For years Damon Savage has been searching for the stranger his parents wed him to without his consent, hoping to legally free himself from matrimony's invisible chains. And he is astonished to discover his "bride" is none other than the exquisite lady he'd hoped to make his mistress! But though his wife by law, Julia will never truly be Damon's—until he conquers her fears, his formidable rivals ... and her proud, passionate, and independent heart.

An early Kleypas historical, it's the story of an aristocratic young woman, Julia Wentworth, who disguises herself and becomes an actress in London. Secretly she is married to a handsome duke, Damon Savage, who doesn't know who she really is.  Their marriage was arranged when they were children and they haven't seen each other in years - they don't even recognize each other!  There is a lot of drama (no pun intended) and back story in regard to Julia's career leading up to when she and Damon finally come together and fall in love - yet, all the while, he still doesn't realize she is really his wife!  Eventually he finds out the truth but the big deal is will he require that she leave the stage and her career? He's so controlling and he keeps on calling her "mine", it was borderline annoying. Still I thought this was pretty good for an early Kleypas and I am interested in seeing what happens with her boss, Logan Scott's story in the next book in the series. On audio, well done by Rosalyn Landor, as always.


Fairest of Them All by Teresa Medeiros

Book Description:

She was rumored to be the fairest woman in all of England. But Holly de Chastel considered her beauty a curse. She had already turned away scores of suitors with various ruses, both fair and foul. Now she was to be the prize in a tournament of eager knights gathering from across the land, each more determined than the last to win her hand. Holly had no intention of wedding any of them, and concocted her most outrageous plan yet: to disguise her beauty from their avaricious eyes. But she never planned on Sir Austyn of Gavenmore.

The darkly handsome Welshman had come looking especially for a plain bride, and Holly seemed to fit the bill. Suddenly she found herself in the possession of this mysterious stranger, ensconced in his castle, and forced to keep up her carefully planned illusion. Why did this electrifyingly passionate male, who could have any woman he wanted, desire a homely bride—and what would happen when he learned he'd been tricked? By the time Holly found out, it was too late to avoid the searing fires of passion—and the dark curse of Gavenmore.
This is a Medieval historical romance of beautiful maiden, Holly, who has the harebrained idea of disguising herself as homely to avoid being married off by her father.  Little does she realize, Austyn, a Welsh knight, is in need of an ugly wife due to a curse on the long line of men in his family (involved story) in which they've killed their beautiful wives - out of jealousy.  He takes her back to his castle as his bride having no idea she's really a beauty underneath.  So much of this book was far fetched and plodding, it took a long time for me to even get into it.  I disliked Holly's deception from the beginning and the long drawn out disguise and expected betrayed feelings of Austyn when he learns the truth just only made me think he was so stupid he deserved what he got!  Plus, his anger just went on much too long, locking her in the North Tower of his castle?  All because he resented her beauty, it was so ridiculous!  I just wanted to get this over with!  I've found this author hit or miss - this was a miss.  Read on, and you'll find a hit!

Nobody's Darling by Teresa Medeiros

Book Description:
Billy Darling never enjoyed being a wanted man until the day Miss Esmerelda Fine marched into the Tumbleweed Saloon and pointed her derringer at his heart. Lucky for him, she's a mighty poor shot. Instead of killing him, she hires him to find her runaway brother. He should turn down her offer. He should resist her charms. But he doesn't. Because there comes a time in every man's life when he's got nothing left to lose...but his heart.

I love, love, loved this western historical romance - it was so much fun!  It has everything I love - spinster heroine, Esmerelda Fine comes to New Mexico to track down the man she thinks killed her brother. At first sight she can't stand the charming cowboy she nearly murders in the saloon, but he eventually wins her over.  Plenty of laughs, sexy, heart stopping love scenes and - cowboys! A great story, one of my favorites by this author now!  I wish she'd write more Westerns, this is the only she has written as far as I can tell.  Remember what I said about this author and hit or miss?  This is a hit!  A real keeper!


Roaring Midnight by Colleen Gleason

Book Description:
Amid the glitzy age of Jazz, when gangsters and bootleggers control the cities, there lies another, more insidious threat ... the undead.

Macey Gardella is a typical young woman of the Roaring Twenties: she works a job, has her own flat, and loves to dance the Charleston. But when a mysterious man named Sebastian Vioget informs her she belongs to a family of vampire hunters, Macey is stunned and disbelieving.

Yet, strange and frightening things begin to happen, and when Macey comes face-to-face with one of the fanged creatures, she has no choice but to believe Sebastian. And when she learns his own soul depends on her willingness to carry forth the family legacy and hunt the undead, Macey capitulates and joins the fight.

As she begins to learn about her new life, Macey meets the handsome newspaper reporter known as Grady - who seems to know more about vampires than he should. When he begins to ask too many questions, she has to juggle her strong attraction to him with the need for secrecy.

Slipping into speakeasies and sampling bootlegged whiskeys, dodging gangster gunfire and trying to keep her nosy landlady from finding the stakes in her flat, Macey Gardella must navigate through a world of stunning violence, passionate romance, and dark betrayal...

Ah, it's nice to be back in the Gardella world again.  I fell in love with Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles a few years ago and I was thrilled when I found out she'd come out with a sequel to that series set in the roaring 20's!  A very satisfying addition to the Chronicles, featuring Macey Denton, descendant of Victoria and Max who has now taken on the mantle of Venator in the gangster-ridden 20's of Chicago.  Like her g-g-g grandmother Victoria before her, Macey has to be convinced first of her Calling.  Then she undergoes her training of how to kill the vampires that are sweeping through Chicago and cozying up to Al Capone.  Like Victoria, Macey is torn between her "real" world which involves the new man in her life, an Irishman reporter named Grady, and her "new" world as a Venator, where she must prowl around all night killing vampires with her new mentor Chas.  There's quite a lot of similarities to the old series - but that's a good thing!  We meet some old friends like Sebastian and new ones like Grady and Chas.  I really loved it!  Bring on some more!


The Trouble with Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson

Book Description:
Dumped by her boyfriend, stressed out by her job, Kate Hamilton needs to regroup and get back some self-esteem. She moves from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the wilderness of Gospel, Idaho for some small-town fun. But when her first attempted seduction of a hunky stranger is completely rejected, she wonders what else could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters she quickly realizes that the Mountain Mama Crafters Original Poetry reading is about as good as it gets on a Friday night. Then she comes face to face with Rob Sutter, former ice hockey madman, owner of Sutter's Sports—and the hunky stranger who told her to get lost!

Rob's been more than burned by love—but then he and Kate find themselves in an ultra-compromising position in the M & S Market after-hours, giving the phrase "clean-up in aisle five" a whole new meaning, and cause a whole lot of gossip in Gospel...

OMG, I loved this story so much of ex-NHL player, Rob Sutter, getting over some bad times and a divorce.  He unexpectedly finds love in the unlikeliest of places - Gospel, Idaho, yet he's too stupid to recognize it. Great story with lots of heat, although I could kick him for being such a horse's ass after one particularly crucial moment in the book! Grr! Men!  Otherwise I loved him.  *grin*  Lots of humor and plenty of loving and good old fashioned romance.  He and Kate's courtship was a pleasure to read about.  A keeper for me!  Best in the series so far.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

June, 2013 Reviews Part I

I have been remiss in posting my reviews, I'm just having a very busy summer and I'm loving reading all my books!  So without further ado...

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Book Description:
What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season—or any season—but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training”… and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure—a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess—can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?

I simply loved this Regency story of Pauline Simms, a pretty tavern girl who is swooped up by Griffin York, the Duke of Halford and his granny-driven mother.  Taken to London to become his duchess, the duke has no intention of marrying her, but wants to teach his mother a lesson - yet, he falls hard - and not in the way he expected. Hottest of the novels in this series so far - the scene on his desk - whoa! *fans self* Tons of chemistry and loved both Pauline and Griff  - his mother was great too!  This whole series is fantastic!  I can't recommend it enough, it's sexy, full of humor and cleverly written, a real pleasure!


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (audio)

Book Description:
The gifted young Swiss Victor Frankenstein discovers the secret of renewing life where death has apparently devoted the body to corruption, and makes a creature of his own - the most celebrated monster in the history of literature. 

Starting out handsome and cultured, deterioration turns this intelligent freak into an appalling creature, spurned by his maker, shunned by his fellow citizens. Victor wants nothing but company and affection, but instead learns to kill as he encounters only rejection and loathing. When his demand for a female counterpart is turned down by Frankenstein, the grim tale moves towards its horrifying climax as the monster tells his creator "I will be with you on your wedding night!"   To put it simply, the gist of the story is "don't mess with Mother Nature" because playing God is never going to do you any good. Poor Victor Frankenstein learned this lesson the hard way when he creates the "monster" who, because of his feelings of alienation from his "creator" goes about killing all of Victor's closest and dearest friends and relations. A depressing story overall and quite a lengthy lead in, but interesting philosophically on the theme of responsibility of the creator of what he "creates".  A classic I'd never read before.   Narrated by Simon Vance who did a fine Swiss sounding accent for Victor, and a very good monster.    


My Lady Notorious by Jo Beverley

Book Description: 
Desperate to help her widowed sister and baby escape a deadly pursuer, Lady Chastity Ware dresses as a highwayman and captures the first coach to travel down the road. Coming face-to-face with its occupant, the arrogant aristocrat, Cyn Malloren, she orders him to drive her to a remote cottage.   Little does Chastity realize that after long months of recovering from his war wounds, the handsome Cyn is looking for adventure, and being abducted by a cocky highwayman—obviously a lovely woman in disguise—is even more than he had hoped for. Willingly he is drawn into her devilishly reckless plan...and helplessly he is seduced by her wonderfully wicked ways. 

My goodness this book had me up and down and all over the place!  First of the never-ending Malloren Series, I really enjoyed the chemistry between Chastity and Cyn and they had some very sexy moments - boy! Food sure is their thing! I also really liked Cyn's brother Rothgar - I can't wait to read his story! (sort of like a Wulf, Duke of Bewcastle).  Still, I was very uncomfortable with their first sex scene since it was not honest because she is in disguise, even though he knows she's disguised.  It just didn't sit well with me. Also her father was awful and a bit over the top about what he did to her. Really made me squirm.  The orgy they attended was a bit too much too, but overall a good story and vintage romance.    


Forever a Lord by Delilah Marvelle

Book Description:
Lady Imogene Norwood lives a sheltered life of quiet respectability and routine...until she debuts at her first Season. There among London's elite she meets the wild and broken Lord Atwood. And the very shy English rose suddenly realizes that a little chaos might just be what her heart desires.

Lord Nathaniel James Atwood doesn't believe true love exists. Since scandal tore him away from his family at an early age, he has spent his life fighting for what he wants. That attitude has made him a rising star in bare-knuckle boxing, and now leads him back to London to reclaim the life that was stolen from him. But upon meeting the innocent Imogene, his beliefs are guarding his heart against her proves to be the fight of his life.

I think this last installment in The Rumor Trilogy is the best of the three, although I really enjoyed the first a lot as well.  Imogene and Nathaniel make a good - albeit unorthodox team.  Nathaniel, kidnapped as a child in NYC, learns he is a lord as an adult and is not taking to it too well.  While in London, he is going for the title of the best prize fighter in England.  He trains for while romancing Imogene.  A quick read with a touch of trendy bondage thrown in to please the latest romance craze.  I enjoyed it, but not the most unforgettable romance.


That Summer in Cornwall by Ciji Ware

Book Description:
A different latitude…a different world…

Meredith Champlin unexpectedly finds herself the legal guardian of a child she’s never met: Janet Barton Stowe, an unruly eleven-year-old “Beverly Hills brat,” whose mother – Meredith’s cousin-- has died in a private plane crash.

At the urging of the child’s Anglo-American aunt, Lady Blythe Barton-Teague, Meredith and her Welsh Corgi decamp from Wyoming to spend the summer at Barton Hall, a shabby-chic castle perched on the remote cliffs of Cornwall, England.

Taming the wild child proves a handful, but Meredith’s summer escape gets even more complicated when former British Army Lieutenant Sebastian Pryce, veteran of a bomb-sniffing K-9 squad in Afghanistan, proposes they establish the Barton Hall Canine Obedience Academy and that she join him on the Cornwall Search and Rescue Team. She wonders whether their instant attraction is an unexpected blessing or the prelude to another heartbreak like the one she left behind in the Rocky Mountains.

Even with an assist from a novice search dog named T-Rex, the odds seem long that three months in the land of Meredith’s Cornish ancestors can transform her troubled ward into a happier child, heal the wounds suffered by her soldier-turned-rescuer, and save the Barton-Teague estate from pending insolvency.

As a friend of Meredith’s confides, “It all sounds like a stretch, but we never rule out miracles.”

It was a welcome return to Cornwall and the Barton-Teague family in this sequel to Ware's A Cottage by the Sea, though this one has no time traveling or supernatural hopping around from century to century.  Meredith Champlin flies to Cornwall, England with her bratty niece who has just lost her mother (sister to Ware's heroine from the last book, Blythe) in a plane crash. Her father, a film director is too busy to take care of her. While in Cornwall for the summer, Meredith finds love in a hunky search and rescue veterinarian who is also an Afghan War vet. Lots of different plots going on and overall I liked it, but Meredith's pushiness when it came to having Sebastian (the vet) reveal all his past irked me. She knew she needed to lay off - but did she? No! and it sent him scurrying. But, eventually they find their way back to each before she leaves for Wyoming at the end of the summer. I liked this a lot, but it lacked the emotional oomph I have found in some of her earlier books and most recent A Race to Splendor.  Still, it really makes me want to go to Cornwall myself and see this area of the world.


Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (audio)

Book Description:
You met star quarterback Kevin Tucker in This Heart of Mine. Now get ready to meet his shark of an agent, Heath Champion, and Annabelle Granger, the girl least likely to succeed.
Annabelle's endured dead-end jobs, a broken engagement . . . even her hair's a mess! But that's going to change now that she's taken over her late grandmother's matchmaking business. All Annabelle has to do is land the Windy City's hottest bachelor as her client, and she'll be the most sought-after matchmaker in town.

Why does the wealthy, driven, and gorgeous sports agent Heath Champion need a matchmaker, especially a red-haired screw-up like Annabelle Granger? True, she's entertaining, and she does have a certain quirky appeal. But Heath is searching for the ultimate symbol of success -- the perfect wife. And to make an extraordinary match, he needs an extraordinary matchmaker, right?

Soon everyone in Chicago has a stake in the outcome, and a very big question: When the determined matchmaker promised she'd do anything to keep her star client happy . . . did she mean anything? If Annabelle isn't careful, she just might find herself going heart-to-heart with the toughest negotiator in town.

This was sensational on audio! I laughed and laughed so much! It's definitely one of the funniest in the series and the incomparable Anna Fields voice-overs were priceless!  I won't go over the whole plot-line, but some scenes were a riot, like the the book conversation on the golf course between the men - hilarious!  Another favorite was the scene at Annabelle's house with both teams settling in for pizza and Chinese and all that ensues, I felt like I was there in the midst of it!  I loved Bodie as well, his voice was a scream!  An odd coupling there with Portia, but I was happy for them in the end, but kind of weird.  Dean Robillard was hysterical too, I'm gonna love his tale.  Overall, a great book and on audio even better!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July and my May, 2013 Reviews to boot!

Happy 4th of July!  Sorry folks, I have been lax in posting, but since I have the day off today, I'm actually getting some reviews done!  These are the books I read in May.  I've been so busy and have been loving the books I'm reading, I haven't had time to get in any posts - so without further ado!

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Book Description:

In town, they called her "Crazy Widow Dinsmore." But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule--she had been an outsider all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys to raise, and a third child on the way.

He drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he'd never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.

Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED - A husband. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore's cluttered yard, Will Parker knew he had come home at last ...

This was a fantastic book!  My first by this author, I couldn't wait to read it every chance I got.  An oldie but goodie, I'd heard LaVyrle Spencer's books were great, but I had no idea how great, I'm sorry it took me this long to discover her.  A simple yet touching story, set during WWII in Georgia of an ex-con, Will Parker who answers a newspaper ad from a young, pregnant widow who needs a husband to help her take care of her farm.  This is his chance to start over with a good, decent, hard working life.  Such a wonderful story!  The characterizations were straight on and well handled, everything was just right, I can't think of a thing wrong with this book! Perfect!  I was shocked to see it had been made into a movie back in the 1990's with Christopher Reeve and Deborah Raffin, but apparently it wasn't that great, so I think I'll skip it.  I am eager to read more and more by this author and savor each of them.  A keeper!  


Beast by Judith Ivory

Book Description:
American heiress Louise Vandermeer has agreed to marry a European aristocrat. Her intended is rumored to be a hideously ugly man, a prospect that propels her into a reckless shipboard affair with a compelling stranger she never sees in the light of day. Unbeknownst to Louise, her mystery man is actually her betrothed, Charles d'Harcourt, whose romantic prank backfires when he becomes smitten with his own fiancee.

This book had me up and down.  I loved the first part on board the ship and the affair that begins between Louise and Charles.  Yet, I was afraid to continue, dreading the inevitable upset and had to stop at times once they arrived in Marseilles and they say good-bye and Charles becomes himself - the real Charles.  I was in knots over his dilemma and the way Louise treated him at first.  Then, when the truth is finally revealed, it was a let down for me and their reunion.  Overall, I love Judith Ivory, but this book is not a favorite, although it was still an intricately, well woven plot and a unique idea, yet it left me unsettled.  Plus, I was curious to read it, since another of my favorite authors Sherry Thomas has stated this is a favorite book of hers and the inspiration for her Beguiling the Beauty?  'Nuff said, I had to read it.


How the Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long

Book Description:
The Scandal Sheets call him Lord Ice.

Ruthless, cold, precise, Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, tolerates only the finest - in clothes, in horseflesh, in mistresses. And now he's found the perfect bride, the one whose dowry will restore his family's shattered legacy and bring him peace at last: the exquisite heiress Lisbeth Redmond.

She's about to play with fire...

But one unforgettable encounter with Lisbeth's paid companion, Phoebe Vale, and the Marquess is undone. This quiet girl with the wicked smile and a wit to match is the first person to see through the icy facade to the fiery man beneath. But their irresistible attraction is a torment as sweet as it is dangerous, for surrendering to their desire could mean losing everything else they ever wanted.

Another fantastic read, I really enjoyed this book, my favorite so far in the Pennyroyal Green series.  I found it endearing and very funny in some parts - the cat was a hoot!  I loved Julian, Marquess Dryden and how everyone followed him and did everything he did (the forelock was hilarious).  I could have scratched Lizbeth's eyes out - glad the cat got her instead!  Also, I love the title, assuming Marquess is pronounced "Mar-kwess" - the British way.  My only gripe - awful cover!  Her dress makes her body look so loooooong!  Otherwise, great book with vivid characterizations and lots of humor - my favorite combination!  Each one in this series is better than the last - and eager for Adam's story next! A real winner - six is a charm!


What Darkness Brings by C.S. Harris (audio)

Book Description:
The death of a notorious London diamond merchant draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his new wife Hero into a sordid world of greed, desperation, and the occult, when the husband of Sebastian’s former lover Kat Boleyn is accused of the murder.

Regency England, September 1812: After a long night spent dealing with the tragic death of a former military comrade, a heart-sick Sebastian learns of a new calamity: Russell Yates, the dashing, one-time privateer who married Kat a year ago, has been found standing over the corpse of Benjamin Eisler, a wealthy gem dealer. Yates insists he is innocent, but he will surely hang unless Sebastian can unmask the real killer.

For the sake of Kat, the woman he once loved and lost, Sebastian plunges into a treacherous circle of intrigue. Although Eisler’s clients included the Prince Regent and the Emperor Napoleon, he was a despicable man with many enemies and a number of dangerous, well-kept secrets—including a passion for arcane texts and black magic. Central to the case is a magnificent blue diamond, believed to have once formed part of the French crown jewels, which disappeared on the night of Eisler’s death. As Sebastian traces the diamond’s ownership, he uncovers links that implicate an eccentric, powerful financier named Hope and stretch back into the darkest days of the French Revolution.

When the killer grows ever more desperate and vicious, Sebastian finds his new marriage to Hero tested by the shadows of his first love, especially when he begins to suspect that Kat is keeping secrets of her own. And as matters rise to a crisis, Sebastian must face a bitter truth--that he has been less than open with the fearless woman who is now his wife. 

Someone has killed an elderly yet dastardly diamond dealer and the newly married Sebastian St. Cyr heads off to find out who it is. But at the same time, Russell Yates who is married to Sebastian's former love, Kat Boleyn, is accused of the murder and going to hang. How ironic for Sebastian, yet he's says he loves his bride, Hero. So who knows? Lots of suspects. Good book and I enjoyed it on audio, narrated to perfection by Davina Porter, but the story itself was not as riveting as previous books in the series.  Still, I'm eager for the next, due out in March, 2014.


Never Love a Cowboy by Lorraine Heath

Book Description:
"I would not make a good husband. I do, however, make an excellent lover..." 

Harrison Bainbridge, the second son of an English earl, left his home seeking a scandal-free life away from society's stuffy restraints. Then he arrives in Texas, never expecting that a sassy saloon-keeper's daughter would capture his eye. With her outspoken ways and flashing eyes, Jessye Kane is more than tempting. But although she is willing to be his partner in a daring business venture, she is unwilling to take the passion he offers.

Jessye knows that noble-born Harrison isn't for the likes of her, but beneath his devil-may-care exterior, she senses a deeper vulnerability. Then he's suddenly injured, risking his life to save her from mortal danger. And Jessye vows to do anything to make him whole again - forcing this rugged scoundrel who claims he has no heart to take the greatest risk of all...on love.

I wasn't really into this story about Jessye and Harry.  Harry is one of three Englishman come to the West to "grow up" and he's the big gambler of the three.  Harry's investor is Jessye, the daughter of a saloon owner.  Together with his other friend Kit, they lead a cattle drive to Kansas to make a lot of money.  Harry's big problem is he believes he is incapable of loving someone.  Jessye is falling for him, but knows he's no good for her.  Then calamity befalls Harry and his legs are broken and he must make the long recovery and he's not sure if he'll ever walk again.  I was fed up with his bitter, tortured, self-pitying attitude and didn't have much sympathy for him. I barely liked him! Jessye was okay, but not my kind of heroine either.  Overall, the book was meh.  Dull in parts and when it wasn't dull, I was tired of all the grumbling on the part of both the hero and heroine. The coincidences were a bit too much too. Frankly, I couldn't wait to finish this and move onto something else.  Will I continue in the series - definitely!  Lorraine Heath's Western have me by the collar. I. Must. Read. Them. All.


Soul of a Highlander by Melissa Mayhue

Book Description:
Nine years ago, Faerie Magic saved Mairi MacKiernan at the cost of her dreams of happiness, snatching her from her life in 1272, and depositing her in the twenty-first century. Now, she must save the last Daughter of the MacKiernan family...who was murdered in 1295. Transported back in time at her request, Mairi finds herself captured by the same evil men as before! Is this the price the Faerie Magic requires of her this time? Ramos Servans has dedicated his dreams to service as a Guardian, but when he discovers the evil unleashed on the Mortal Plain by his father and their people, he swears he will atone by ridding the world of Nuadian deceit. Part of his mission involves rescuing a lovely Highland lassie, and in the passion that grows between them, Ramos and Mairi find a new dream.

But falling in love can be dangerous when Faerie Magic is involved. Dreams may not be the only cost....

After returning to this series after about four years, I realized I just really couldn't get into this book! I think I've outgrown my love for highlander romances. Ironically, my visit to Scotland two years ago sort of cured me! I could barely get through this one, which was so dull - apart from a few battles, nothing really happens! Mairie, our heroine, goes back in time to rescue her niece from the 13th century, who turns out to be a spoiled brat. Ramos Navarro, a newly made Guardian is ordered to find Mairie while back in time and return her to the present day. Ramos has his own agenda as well, for he wants to find his father back then and destroy him somehow (but he's a Fae, so it's tricky). Ramos and Mairie of course are attracted to one another, but as much as he enjoys bedding her and there are a few hot moments between them, he cannot let it happen again for he is committed to being her Guardian! Of course, Mairie is not too happy with this idea, so they were always bickering, which made their "non-courtship" annoying! He kept thinking he was not worthy of her because of his past history as his father's son. No humor, no real chemistry, some battle scenes, and some loose ends all made for a less than satisfying book. Still, I will continue with the series, for I've heard it gets better. Sigh.  The things we do for kilts and Scottish accents.


Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen (audio)

Book Description:
Penniless and thirty-fourth in line to the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch finds herself in a truly draining state of affairs. To escape her hateful sister-in-law and clueless brother, Georgie accepts an invitation from the Queen to represent the royals at a wedding in Transylvania. But at the macabre- looking castle, Georgie finds the bride with blood running down her chin, and a wedding guest is poisoned. Now it's up to Georgie to save the nuptial festivities before the couple's vows become: to love and to cherish, till undeath do them part...

Royal Blood is a hoot and a send up to the ubiquitous vampires appearing lately in literature, TV and the screen.  When Georgie must be in a royal wedding in Transylvania and stay in an eerie castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler, odd things begin to happen.  Not only does she have the worst maid in the world, but she is convinced there are vampires roaming around the castle, one of whom could be her old school friend and bride to be!  There are lots of funny moments amidst the dead bodies.  Best friend, Belinda and Georgie's mother are on hand to add to the humor, and Darcy is around for romantic interest.  These two are getting warmer and warmer and I must admit, I'm growing very fond of the Irish devil, but they're not all the way there yet.  I'd love to know what his real story is.  I am loving this series and on audio it is delightful, narrated by Katherine Kellgren who makes listening to it a real treat!

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