Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 2013 Reviews

I'm still at it with more books to review... this month seemed to be a preponderance of cruel husbands!

When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

Book Description:
What happens when a carefree, disreputable, stone-broke bachelor is forced to find a wife in a hurry? He hires a matchmaker, of course. What happens when the matchmaker doesn’t want to help him? Well, that’s when the fun begins…

Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, loves his life just as it is: dissolute, scandalous, and deuced good fun. His father, the Duke of Landsdowne is not amused, and when he cuts off Nicholas’ trust fund, the fun-loving marquess is forced to find an alternate source of income—in other words, he has to marry an heiress.

Every new-money American heiress knows Lady Belinda Featherstone is the key to social acceptance. Once a new-money nobody herself, Belinda discovered first-hand how heartbreaking the game of love and matrimony could be after a reprobate British earl married her for her money. Now a respectable widow, Belinda has become England’s most successful matchmaker, guiding young American heiresses through the hazards of the London season and helping them to find husbands worthy of them. To her mind, the Marquess of Trubridge is nothing but a fortune-hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of allowing him to charm his way into any American girl’s heart, including her own.

Cute story of rakish marquess who is in need of a rich wife.  The only thing is he's attracted to London's best matchmaker - who has it out for him - despite the mutual attraction.  After virtually ruining his chances of making a "material" match, she re-considers and tries to help him, only to find she's sabotaging her own matchmaking!  Not up to Guhrke's earlier novels, but it was fun, though I tired of the constant battling between the two before Belinda gives in and admits Nicholas isn't nearly the ne'er do well she thought he was. 


The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

Book Description:
Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth, is The Ideal Gentleman, a man all men want to be and all women want to possess. Felix himself almost believes this golden image. But underneath is a damaged soul soothed only by public adulation.

Louisa Cantwell needs to marry well to support her sisters. She does not, however, want Lord Wrenworth—though he seems inexplicably interested in her. She mistrusts his outward perfection and the praise he garners everywhere he goes. But when he is the only man to propose at the end of the London season, she reluctantly accepts.

Louisa does not understand her husband's mysterious purposes, but she cannot deny the pleasure her body takes in his touch. Nor can she deny the pull this magnetic man exerts upon her.  But does she dare to fall in love with a man so full of dark secrets, anyone of which could devastate her, if she were to get any closer?

I enjoyed this romance as it hearkens back to Thomas' first book, Private Arrangements, which I loved! But, I had issues here with the hero. The way he treats Louisa after their wedding night is too cruel and selfish on his part and I really had a hard time forgiving him for it, despite how he gets his comeuppance later on. He was needlessly unfair to Louisa, who was in the dark as to why he was doing it.   It's not like in PA, where the bride actually did something awful. Still it was a good book (albeit, short) and had plenty of angst and sensuality and I could barely put it down. Loved seeing Lady Tremaine from PA too and this glimpse of her after her trip to Copenhagen. 


To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney

Book Description:
Suave, cynical, and too handsome for his own good, Sebastian Verlaine never expects to become a magistrate judging the petty crimes of his tenants and neighbors. Nor can the new Viscount D’Aubrey foresee that, when a fallen woman appears before him, he’ll find himself beguiled against all reason to alter her terrible fate....

Rachel Wade has served time in prison for her husband’s violent death, but she soon discovers that freedom has its own price. For no one will offer her a second chance but a jaded viscount who needs a housekeeper. Scorned by the townspeople of Wyckerley as D’Aubrey’s mistress, tempted beyond her will by the devilish lord, Rachel risks all she had to claim a life of her own...and a love that will last for all time.

I really had trouble with this story line and could barely finish the book, but I persisted.  It was hard for me to get into it and Sebastian was so unlikeable at first.  I cringed over the way he treated Rachel.  Not really my cup of tea, much too dark and angsty and the spectre of what happened to Rachel by her husband just creeped me out too much.  Obvious what the real story was, but I kept reading to the end to confirm it.  By then, it seemed anticlimatic.


The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale

Book Description:

Wealthy, powerful and majestically handsome, he is a man of dark secrets--a master of the ancient martial arts of an exotic distant land. Scarred by a childhood of shocking degradation, he has sworn to love chastely... but burns with the fires of unfulfilled passion.


Lovely, innocent and nearly destitute, she is drawn to him by a fevered yearning she could never deny -- following her enigmatic "shadow warrior" into a dangerous world of desire and righteous retribution.

This book really sneaks up on you by starting out kind of slow and then before I knew it I couldn't put it down! Story of near destitute young woman who through a series of strange circumstances winds up working for an enigmatic, handsome young man in London. She comes to know his adopted family and falls in love with him, but he is aloof and has many secrets. Their life becomes entangled together through an arranged marriage. A bit convoluted at the end while in Hawaii and Japanese secrets, etc. Still, I really enjoyed it and now I've finally read this book I've heard so much about over the years.


The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes

Book Description:

Gifted pianist Valentine Windham, youngest son of the Duke of Moreland, has little interest in his father's obsession to see his sons married, and instead pours passion into his music. But when Val loses his music, he flees to the country, alone and tormented by what has been robbed from him.


Grieving Ellen Markham has hidden herself away, looking for safety in solitude. Her curious new neighbor offers a kindred lonely soul whose desperation is matched only by his desire, but Ellen's devastating secret could be the one thing that destroys them both.

Together they'll find there's no rescue from the past, but sometimes losing everything can help you find what you need most.

Finally we get Val's story and I really enjoyed it.  Burrowes always has a way in this series of having her leads fall in love with someone who takes care of them in some way.  Usually it's been a housekeeper, but here it's a helpful neighbor who is a widow and the former resident of the estate he has just won in a card game (convenient.)  Val, a musical protege with the piano has found he's losing the ability to use his hands and he must stop playing the piano to avoid losing them altogether.  He and his friend, Darius go to his new, crumbling estate and start fixing it up (though he appears to be doing more damage to his hands this way than playing the piano!)  There he meets Ellen, who has her own crushing secrets that need to remain hidden.  As they begin to fall for one another, we have the usual trope, I can't marry you because I'm not good enough for you, but it was all done very well, and somewhat heart breaking.  Val suspects that something has happened to Ellen in her past and he asks her to tell him, but she won't for fear he'll never want to see her again.  Instead she puts a halt to their affair and sends him away, which I really didn't understand why, for I felt it was unnecessary, but I still really liked it.  Now I'm caught up on the Duke's sons, and now it's onto resume the series (I started with the daughters first) with the rest of the daughters. 


Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh

Book Description:
All of London is abuzz over the imminent arrival of Wulfric Bedwyn, the reclusive, cold-as-ice Duke of Bewcastle, at the most glittering social event of the season. Some whisper of a tragic love affair. Others say he is so aloof and passionless that not even the greatest beauty could capture his attention. But on this dazzling afternoon, one woman did catch the duke’s eye—and she was the only female in the room who wasn’t even trying. Christine Derrick is intrigued by the handsome duke…all the more so when he invites her to become his mistress.

What red-blooded woman wouldn’t enjoy a tumble in the bedsheets with a consummate lover—with no strings and no questions asked. An infuriating lady with very definite views on men, morals, and marriage, Christine confounds Wulfric at every turn. Yet even as the lone wolf of the Bedwyn clan vows to seduce her any way he can, something strange and wonderful is happening. Now for a man who thought he’d never lose his heart, nothing less than love will do.

With her trademark wit, riveting storytelling, and sizzling sexual sparks, Mary Balogh once again brings together two polar opposites: an irresistible, high-and-mighty aristocrat and the impulsive, pleasure-loving woman who shows him what true passion is all about. A man and a woman so wrong for each other, it can result only in the perfect match.

I really did enjoy this final book in the Bedwyn Series and Wulf's story, yet as much as I adore Pride and Prejudice, I was a bit disappointed that Wulfric's storyline was not more original. Yes, yes, this was obviously an homage to Jane Austen, and I loved all the nods to her throughout, but I couldn't help comparing so much of the book to the original story.   It was basically a P&P fanfic except that their encounter by the lake at the ball just seemed shabby to me and his first offer - well, Mr. Darcy would never!  Still, this was a very good romance and a fitting ending to the series and my second favorite - Freyja's being my favorite!


A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

Book Description:
She rose to spectacular heights…

From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He never expected to fall so hard…

He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation…and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven...or make outcasts of them forever?

Not bad, not great. I had looked so forward to reading Adam Sylvaine's story and it was disappointing.  I was surprised at how it was so slow going and even dull sometimes, but it did have some nice touches and the ending was sweet.  Still, I have a thing about fallen women, I'm sorry I'm a snob!  I wish Adam got a better story, this just did not live up to some of the latest books by this author. A miss in the Pennyroyal Green series.


The Care and Feeding of Pirates by Jennifer Ashley

Book Description:
Honoria Ardmore has a secret. Four years ago, the notorious pirate Christopher Raine, arrested and condemned for stealing a ship full of gold bound for Napoleon, makes one last request of Honoria. She grants it, and Christopher is taken out to be hanged. -- Or was he?

Honoria couldn’t have seen him alive again in the rather thick fog outside Covent Garden Theatre, could she? Christopher is long dead and gone, Honoria’s secret with him. Her life has moved on, and now she’s betrothed to a respectable English gentleman.

Christopher has other ideas. His sentence commuted at the last minute, Christopher was press-ganged onto a ship bound for Asia, and he's spent the last four years working to return home and get everything back—his crew, his treasure, and Honoria Ardmore—his wife.

Meet the crew of the Starcross, and revisit the crews of the Argonaut and the Majesty for more pirate fun and adventure!

This was just okay, though best of the trilogy. What started off well, really dragged in the last third of the book and I skimmed it to the end. No pirates for me, I'm just not into them and never really seem to like pirate related storylines.  This is the last one I read - ever!


Dreams of Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

Book Description:
He Vowed He'd Come For Her...

Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past lives.

She Awaits His Return...

When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals—unaware that he belongs to their world.

To Sate A Desire More Powerful Than Death...

Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan’s torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared—even if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?

This was gooood! Another action packed riveting installment in the IAD Series. Regin finally gets her story - and her man. Or does she? Hot and steamy and I was wondering how will Kresley Cole make it better for Declan and Regin for I was stumped about how they'd avoid the curse. Great as usual. I didn't think I'd like this for Regin has not been one of my favorites, but I was won over to her side, she's a great character.  Now onto the next - on audio!


Truman by David McCullough (audio)

Book Description:
The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters -- Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson -- and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man -- a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined -- but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman's story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman's own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary "man from Missouri" who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.

I am now an expert on this man. As usual, McCullough brings his subject to life - every single nook and cranny. Fascinating, behind the scenes life and observations of this plain speaking man from Missouri.  Truman was much smarter than anyone realized, under appreciated when he was president and an astute politician.  Very, very interesting biography and glimpse into this time period of the last part of WWII and through the Korean War.


Silent Night by Deanna Raybourn

Book Description:
'Tis the season for an investigation! Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane return for a Christmas caper at Bellmont Abbey—

After a year of marriage—and numerous adventures—Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together—until they find themselves at her father's ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals.

Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering—but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs. There are missing jewels, new faces at the Abbey, and a prowling ghost that brings back unwelcome memories from a previous holiday—one that turned deadly. Is a new culprit recreating crimes of the past? And will Brisbane let Julia investigate?

To kick off the Christmas season...

I liked this Christmas Novella in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series.   Not much of a mystery in it, but I enjoyed this glimpse of the mad March's at Yuletide with many familiar faces at Bellmont Abbey.  Short and sweet - quick read.


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