Saturday, December 31, 2011
Lady Elaine Warren has been a wallflower ever since her debut was sabotaged by Evan, the Earl of Westfield, took it upon himself to lead the ton in making fun of her very loud laugh. She did not know that Evan was secretly enamored of her and her confidence and the way she laughed with her whole soul and his cruelty was to avoid anyone guessing his true feelings. Ashamed of his actions Evan left for the continent for years and took up mountaineering and Elaine managed to find a few friends of her own and avoid Evan's comrades in teasing. When Evan returns he finds Elaine jus as amazing as ever and wants to apologize and attempt to make up for all the damage he caused, but he finds that his feelings for her have not changed. Elaine discovers Evan's feelings for her and while she can see the possibilities that a friendship with him offers, she does not think she will ever be able to completely trust him or forgive him enough to have a relationship with him. She underestimates Evan's feelings for her and the depths he will go to to prove himself to her and she realizes that she can trust him and she does love him.
I really enjoyed this book and certainly far more than I've ever enjoyed a short story. First off the plot grabbed me right from the beginning and I completely got into it and could not wait to see what was going to happen and how they would learn to forgive and move past what had happened. Elaine and Evan were both perfect for each other and complimented each other so nicely as he became a better person for her and she learned to trust and accept society for him. He was mean to her in the past and while it was awful and caused a lot of harm, Milan did an amazing job of showing through his words and actions that he regretted what had happened and really did love her. He really did do some amazing things, standing up for her and her family, and I felt like he redeemed himself completely. It took a long time to forgive him and I felt like the process moved realistically and there was even a minor little hiccup that they had to work through that added a great element of tension to the story. There was a little steam; really just the perfect amount for a story and it was pretty hot.
Rating: A perfect plot that I was a sucker for and I fell in love with the characters and completely enjoyed their relationship. A perfect little novella.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Violet Winterbotom is a wallflower who escaped to Spindle's Cove after she fell in love with her next door neighbor, gave him her virginity, and he promptly left to go exploring. She finally found her voice and a place where she feels welcome and accepted but her family wants her to come back and marry. Until one day a French farmer appears at a ball, bloody and weak, bearing a striking resemblance to the man Violet had named The Disappointment. She uses her skills with languages to try to find out what the man is hiding something and when she is left alone with him the truth inevitably comes out. Christian had fallen in love with Violet but when his brother was killed in the war he saw it as a sign that he needed to do something more, but leaving Violet was the hardest thing he ever did. Hearing of her family's marriage plans he comes back to make one last desperate plea for a future with Violet even while knowing he cannot give up his career. Both of them have a lot to work through but together they can move beyond their past and start a new life that suits both of them.
The story was incredibly short but it was enough time to fall in love with Violet as a character because she was so intelligent and quick thinking, not to mention quite caring for a man who could have been the enemy. Christian's motives were well explained but I did not really enjoy not knowing who he was until about halfway through a really short book. They had fallen in love with each other before the book began but throughout the course of the novella their feelings changed because the person they had fallen in love with had changed as well. I really enjoyed that they both had to get to know the new person and how it added to their feelings because it was a nice change from many short stories. There was a little bit of steam, nothing major but I did not feel like anything was missing and it fit well in the story and in the progression of their relationship. There was a lot of intrigue in the book because they had to escape from the people in Spindle's Cove and it was not my favorite thing because it took up a lot of space in an already short story but it was an interesting little addition.
Rating: A good little short story that continued the story of a very interesting little town about two people who were well suited to each other but the shortness did mean some things were left out.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Marcus, the Earl of Rule wants to marry into a well established and respected family and he decides that the eldest Winwood daughter, Elizabeth, would be a perfect wife. But Elizabeth is in love with a military man, Mr. Edward Herron, and a the middle daughter, Charlotte has no interest in marrying him, so the youngest lady of the family, Horatia, Horry, decides she should be the one to marry him. Marcus enjoys the very young Horry, her personable and outgoing nature and has no interest in marrying someone who doesn't want to marry him. They both agree that they will stay out of each other's business and have a marriage of convenience even while both their families are excited at the joining of their two families. Their marriage is a grand affair and shortly after Marcus is called upon to take care of some financial matters as gambling runs in their blood and Horry's brother, Viscount Pelham, has run up a lot of debts. Marcus is very easy going and has no problem shelling out money for Pel or to cover the gambling debts that Horry soon begins to run up as well.
But there is one matter that Marcus is not lax about and that is Horry's growing friendship with Lord Robert Lethbridge. Lethbridge had once run off with Marcus' sister and while he will not tell the tale to Horry he makes it clear that she must end the friendship. Horry knows that Marcus has his own special friendship with Lady Massey and has no intention of giving up a friendship that means much to her simply to please who husband since they had promised not to interfere in each other's lives. Lethbridge is playing his own game to get back at Marcus and he knows exactly how to get under Horry's skin and convince her she desires his friendship. When things go awry though Lethbridge is forced to to resort to more dastardly means and Horry is terrified that Marcus will find out and turn to Lady Massey. But Marcus is one step ahead of Horry and of course comes to save the day and much mayhem ensues before she discovers the truth. They both realize that they want more than a marriage of convenience because they are in love with each other.
Horatia was certainly very confident and she appreciated her own failings and I loved that she was willing to marry someone to ensure that her sister made a love match, even if she admitted that she was getting a good deal. The problem with Horry was that she was incredibly young, 17, and while many romance novel heroines are quite young, she acted like a 17 year old in many ways. Her outgoing nature led her to become kind of a laughing stock, a source of rather mean amusement, for the rest of the ton and she did not even mind or think that her actions were inappropriate. She had a large gambling problem and seemed to have no respect for money or for common sense really. Her insistence on befriending Lethbridge also came across as childish, because even though she didn't know why Marcus did not appraise her of his reasons, it just made no sense that he would want her friendship unless their were ulterior motives and she just came across as incredibly naive for falling for it. Her immaturity was contrasted, rather harshly in my opinion, with Marcus' own 35 years.
Marcus was almost a non-entity in the book and all I really could figure out about him was that he didn't seem to have any problems with his wife gambling away his fortune, which bothered me, and was just very blase about everything. I personally do not appreciate this attitude and wanted him to show some actual emotion about something. He also had a knack for figuring out what was going on very quickly and always was one step ahead of everyone else. He definitely felt the need to protect his young wife which was an admirable quality and he looked out for his sister's reputation. Their relationship was hard to pin down because they spent almost no time together and I really could not figure out what made them each decide/ realize they were in love with the other. Their marriage seemed to be them just co-existing together and not really being engaged in a relationship. The writing was very peppy and fast but it was a very long novel and there were very long stretched told from the point of view of third parties that did not really have much to do with the romance and it got old quickly.
Rating: A peppy read but the characters were not suited for each other and that was only part of the reason their relationship was not well developed.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sir Mark Turner has become the most popular man in England after writing The Gentleman's Practical Guide to Chastity. He was knighted by the Queen, he is beset by every matchmaking mamma and papa in the realm, and he has reporters writing about every move he makes. His book has spawned the Male Chastity Brigade which has taken Mark's words and twisted them to make an exclusive organization that sees women as the impediment to male chastity. After being offered a position on the Poor Commission in the government, George Weston decides to ruin him by hiring his former courtesan, Jessica Farleigh to seduce Mark. Jessica has survived as a courtesan after being thrown out by her father, the vicar, but that is all she has done; merely survived. She hates Weston but is desperate for a way out of this life and the only way she sees to make enough money to never need a protector again is to take him up on this offer. Mark retreats to his small hometown of Shepton where he quickly runs into the widowed Mrs. Farleigh.
He is angry that the town has spurned Jessica purely because she dresses more provocatively than the rector deems appropriate and is drawn to her outsider status and her subtlety. One incident, where she reveals she hates him because of his righteousness and his purity, makes it clear to him that she is special. And Jessica is finding it harder to stick to her mission because for the first time she has met a man who is not attempting to simply use her for his own needs. She feels guilty but does not know how she can get out of her agreement and worries about what his reaction will be when the truth comes out. As she lets seduction fall by the wayside and her relationship with Mark becomes about so much more than physical lust, Jessica knows that she cannot do anything that will lead to Mark's ruin. Mark feels betrayed and hurt but he understands what Jessica has been through and knows that she is the one he is meant for. It is up to him to convince her that she is worthy of finally finding happiness and that he is someone who will always stand by her side.
Jessica is a courtesan and the book makes many apologies and excuses for her career choice and it is clear throughout the book that she detests her profession and it has killed her soul. Normally I dislike being so judgmental of prostitutes and their profession but Milan did a really great job explaining why the lifestyle really did not work for Jessica without completely trampling on all courtesans. It also went towards giving some justification for the horrible actions she was taking against Mark. I really felt like she underwent many changes throughout the book a she went from being desolate to being full of life and love and finding someone that she was willing to do anything for and who truly loved her for herself. It was moving really. Mark was wonderful because he was so conscious of who he was and was completely comfortable with himself. His virginity was not even a big deal to him, he handled fame very maturely, and his dealings with Jessica were spot on for a man who was falling in love and lust but who still wanted to do things the correct way.
Their relationship progressed in both a rational and a passionate way; he used her to illustrate his dedication to not treating women as whores and he did manage to abstain but it was clear throughout all their interactions that their was a connection sizzling just under the surface. They worked well together and they spent a lot of time together, including a lot of quality time getting to know each other. There was not very much sex between them and while it made sense because of the characters and the plot I still felt like these characters needed it. What brings the book down is the length and the very ponderous writing that went on and on with big, and even little, misunderstandings abounding and one thing after another popping up to keep them apart. The villain in the story was interesting but his plot against Mark held a pal over the whole novel and prevented me from feeling any enjoyment for them and in the book. I also could not help but feel like the idea of a man writing a book like that so utterly ridiculous that I wanted to laugh every time it was brought up.
Rating: While I felt like their relationship was well written, I could not get over the almost depressed tone of the book and the incredibly long length.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Aidan York and Katie Tremont had been young and in love but her father had deemed the second son of a mere baron not good enough so he had refused his suit. He kept them apart through lies and deceit and after marrying Katie off to a much older and very wealthy coffee grower in Ceylon he told Aidan she was dead. A decade later Aidan is shocked to see Katie running a coffee shop and immediately all the old feelings rush in after so long lying dormant. But Katie is now Kate and she is much different; a year living in a place she hated with a man she had only the barest relationship with, has left her less vibrant and far more reserved. She is living in hiding, under a fake name, telling people her husband is still alive, when she left Ceylon under her stepson's rumors that she had killed her husband, and claiming to have lived in India to avoid having anyone make connections to her real past. He knows he should keep his distance, that he does not want to risk the same heartbreak he suffered all those years ago but he cannot stay away; cannot resist the temptation that Katie presents.
Katie and Aidan find themselves mutually unable to stay away from each other and soon they are going for walks and picnics and falling into the same pattern of courtship as when they were younger. It is not long before Aidan is looking towards the future and seriously contemplating a life with Katie even while thinking that she is married and while Katie herself protests that she does not want a future. Katie is terrified of the consequences; for herself if the murder charges ever come out and for him if he ever discovers the lies she has been telling him. They both allow themselves to imagine what life would be like if there was a future for them and they both realize that they made mistakes years ago and that they should have had more faith in each other. But when Kate's step-son shows up, claiming to be her husband, it throws both of them, and the legal system of England into disarray and Aidan worries that the hope he had been treasuring has been thrown away. Unlike when they were young they must trust in each other to work through anything to have the future they were always meant to share.
Katie was a rich, entitled little girl who fell in love with the wrong guy and whose very uptight father sold her to the highest bidder. She went through a lot in her life and I felt like the changes she underwent fit really well with what had happened to her. She was mature and responsible and I love that she took what life gave her and tried to use what had happened to make a life for herself by opening a coffee shop. She was obviously very intelligent and was not scared to stand up to people who were not giving her her due and I respected that. Aidan was wonderful because I love how he was so obviously in love with Katie and wasn't worried about risking scandal to ensure her happiness and wanted what was best for her even when he didn't have the entire truth. He took responsibility for what had happened when they were younger but also forced her to realize that she was also partly to blame and that they needed to work together to move past what had happened. He worked hard, he was handsome, and he protected what was his so really he was not the most original hero, but he worked.
Their relationship was not quite as developed as I would have liked and I felt like the book did rely on their past together and their memories than was warranted. They did spent time together, getting reacquainted and finding out how much they had each changed and coming to grips with what had happened and how their pasts had affected them. I felt like there was so little happiness in their interactions though because either he was bitter about the past or she was concerned with what would happen when her past in Ceylon caught up to her and it was kind of a downer. I also really did not like how she waited so long to tell him the truth because it just seemed like a very poor way to prolong the novel and was a misunderstanding that didn't have to be. I did enjoy how the villain of the story was not completely evil and his motives made him almost sympathetic but I just could not get over how awful Kate's entire family was and I would really have liked them to have some sort of comeuppance. The writing was fast, if not precisely fun and I found myself easily engrossed in the book.
Rating: Two characters I easily got a feel for but I cannot say I entirely enjoyed the romance or the development of their relationship.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Susan Stanton was exiled from her very wealthy family's London home after she escaped her imprisonment for eavesdropping and nearly got herself killed. She is sent to live her with her distant cousin, Lady Beaune, in the very quiet seaside town of Bournewell and shortly after her arrival she knows that there is something eerily wrong with the town. For starters, Lady Beaune is nowhere to be found and her husband, the giant Oliver and his manservant/ scarecrow valet do not seem to mind her disappearance. The dress shop is owned by a beautiful porcilen doll and her witch-like friend who take an immediate dislike to Susan and do all they can to alienate from the very few other townspeople. The only place to meet people is at the local tavern and there she meets Evan Bothwick, whom she is desperately attracted to but whose residence in Bournewell and lack of a title make him completely ineligible. Unknown to Susan Evan is a smuggler whose brother, Timothy, has just been murdered but his body disappeared before help could be summoned and now Evan is determined to find the killer.
Ever since her brush with death Susan can see ghosts and one of the first ghosts she sees is Timothy Bothwick who forcibly enlists her help to find a jewlery box that Oliver and his manservant are also desperate to find. But Susan wants out of the town and believes the only person who can help her is the local magistrate, Mr. Forrester, since there are no horses in town and her parents are not eager to rescue her. Evan knows Susan is up to something and while he has his own investigation to launch, he cannot help but want her near him at all times even while refusing to admit that he could ever have feelings for a woman. Danger lurks around every corner as more bodies turn up and Oliver and all the townspeople become even more hostile and Evan is the only person that she can trust, especially when Lady Beaune shows up chained in the dungeon. Now Susan needs to save her cousin and get out of this town, but she does not know if that will mean having to leave Evan behind or turning him into the authorities. Evan does not want to risk his own neck but to gain Susan's love he is willing to do and risk anything.
I felt like for both Susan and Evan I learned a lot about them and what they did and liked doing, but I still felt like they weren't completely developed and I didn't get a sense for who they were. Susan was outgoing but rather selfish and spoiled at times and yet she did things that were completely out of character and she was deeply caring about the situation Lady Beaune was didn't seem to care about the feelings of the ghosts. Evan was a smuggler who seemed to just do it because he was bored and he seemed only to think about his brother after he was killed and seemed to just halfheartedly go after his killer. I just did not get into the characters really. They did not spend all that much time together, they had a lot of business to take care of on their own about their own mystery and I felt like their relationship was crammed into kind of a short amount of space even though the book was long. There was some pretty hot sex, but not that much and I felt it would have been better if there had been more of a connection that I could really feel between them.
This book was mystery upon mystery all building on each other and causing my quite a bit of confusion from the giant and his scarecrow henchman to the pirates to the missing dead bodies to the lady chained up in the basement to the women who work in the dress shop to literally everyone in the entire town and it was quite engrossing. I admit I am not the biggest fan of novels where the mystery is the main focus, but even though the romance really did take the back seat here I was so caught up in what was going on and wondering what was going to happen next and it was really so well written that I did not mind. However, I definitely did get the feeling like the romance was not as well developed as it would have been otherwise and I would have enjoyed seeing Susan and Evan spend time together that wasn't being shadowed with murder and craziness. I think it takes a lot to pull off a mystery that I can enjoy and the writing style was fun and engrossing while still being informative and sexy while keeping a genuine mystery that left me guessing until the end.
Rating: A really great and intriguing mystery but the relationship was lacking and I would have preferred some more development on that end.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Thea Bainbridge has never thought she needed more in her life than being sister to the local village vicar and helping him write sermons and help run the town as needed. But when she learns that Gabriel, Lord Morecombe, has suddenly become a landowner in the area and moved into his new house she can't help but remember their brief kiss nearly a decade ago when she had been in London for her sister's come out. Thea herself had never had a come out and had thus been relegated to spinsterhood, but she is still embarrassed and upset that Gabriel does not even recognize her. Gabriel has relocated to the country with the company of several of his friends, including Thea's cousin, Ian who is eager to escape his new wife, Emily, for the holiday season. While readying the church for the nativity scene Thea discovers a baby in the manger and, after seeing a brooch with the Morecombe crest, immediately assumes that he is Gabriel's son and wastes no time in confronting Gabriel and in the ensuing argument her hurt over their forgotten kiss is exposed.
Gabriel recognizes the brooch as belonging to his sister, Jocelyn, who absconded from her fiance, Lord Rawdon, a year ago and has not been heard from since. He teams up with Thea to help discover who left the baby in the manger, who the parents are, and where Jocelyn is. Matthew is an easy child and it does not take long for both Thea and Gabriel to fall in love with the cutie and they find themselves in each other's company quite a bit. Gabriel does remember Thea and cannot figure out how she could ever think she was forgettable and he has every intention of making sure she knows precisely how unforgettable she is and how much he desires her. When Matthew is kidnaped they have to race to save him from the kidnapper and a night spent alone in a cabin brings them even closer together. Even as they raise Matthew and work to find out what is happening, Thea believes that she will never be anything more than a distraction. When all is said and done they are left together to discover how they will make a life together work so that they can share their love with everyone, including Matthew.
Spinster sister's of vicars have been appearing a lot lately in romances I feel like and I admit that I don't really have a problem with it because I like the idea of a woman who has had responsibilities and work to do, finally finding love with a man who is equal to her and who appreciates her even while she has gone unnoticed for so long. Thea was intelligent and polite and respected by her community and wanted a family but had convinced herself she was fine with her life because she didn't believe she had a chance for anything more. She had built up the kiss between her and Gabriel because it was the closest she had come to intimacy and she was crushed when he did not remember it. She was obviously very caring because she took in Matthew and wanted what was best for him even if it meant she would have to give him up to his biological family. Gabriel was a town rake although we didn't really get too much evidence of this, which is fine with me, but he proved himself with his dedication to Matthew and his sister and with the way he treated and behaved so lovingly to Thea.
Their relationship was very well established as they spent a lot of time together and got to know each other and proved that they would work so well together. I really enjoyed reading about them together because there were just so many little moments that all added up to a really compatible couple who belonged together. They complimented each other very nicely as she grounded him and brought out the best in him and he gave her confidence in her own numerous abilities. There was some sex, not too much, but enough to give some much needed steam and establish some serious physical connection between them and I felt like it was a really important part of their relationship. The baby plot was a very important part of the story and was well blended with the romance but I did not get the sense that it was taking over and overshadowing the romance at all. It was a huge mystery and they just built on each other until I was very much confused but I really liked that I could not guess right away what was going on and the resolution was a complete shock to me.
Rating: A very enjoyable book with two compatible characters and a great mystery plot that was near perfect if it had been a little more fun or sexy.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Katherine Chamberlain left her life in Boston where she acted as servant and legal extraordinaire to her wealthy relatives, to marry adventurer Tobias Maxwell. Damian de la Sola, a native Californian whose Spanish ancestors had come to California years before, sees the beautiful Katherine and knows instantly that she is meant for him but Tobias is his best friend so he makes no move to intercede. Only a few short weeks into the marriage, Tobias is murdered in public and Katherine is left a widow with no one to turn to. Damien takes Katherine into his home and gives her a position in his household so that she will feel like she is doing something worthwhile and decides that the best thing is to let Katherine do her grieving and then step in when she is ready. He is furious when he learns that Katherine intends to leave Monterey and wastes no time in telling her that leaving is impossible because their destiny lies with each other.
Katherine cannot deny the attraction she has for Damien but his life is so far removed from everything familiar to her and she knows she will never be entirely accepted by the proud Californians who have reason to distrust and dislike Americans. She runs away but Damien's family is powerful and they manage to delay her leaving, but in doing so give the person who killed Tobias the opportunity to come after her and reveal that Tobias was killed to try and find the lost treasure of the padres. Damien is able to save Katherine but realizes that she will not really be safe until the treasure is found or proven a myth so he decides to find it; but not before marrying Katherine. Katherine knows that their marriage will be difficult to negotiate because she is a proud American and he is an equally proud and controlling Californian but together they must work to solve a century old mystery to save their lives and give them a chance for a future.
Katherine was very intelligent and proud and I admired that she took control of her life and took a risk and wanted to be self sufficient. I especially liked her realistic look at her relationship with Damien as she realized that it would be very difficult and that it would take massive amounts of compromise on both their parts, including her own. She was willing to work on this and did not accept Damien just being who he was and insisted that he see her for who she was. One of my favorite moments every came when he was trying to run her life and she asked him how he fell in love with her if he doesn't seem to like any of the elements that make her who she is and he realized that he was in the wrong and did not want to change the woman he loved. Damien was not as well developed although there was a definite sense of pride and the knowledge that Katherine was the woman for him and while he was at times frustrating I liked how at the end he realized he would have to compromise in order to love Katherine.
Their relationship progressed nicely and I really like when the characters have a real problem that they need to work out, in this case their pride clashing, and it was handled so brilliantly and really made it clar that they would be able to work through other things in the future. There was some sex between them, not very much, and it was just so-so and kind of swallowed up in the rest of the immense book. The treasure hunting was really the focus of this book and while I wanted to get into it because it was almost California history, I just couldn't and did not like it. This book was incredibly long and sat in my to be read pile for a nearly a year and when I finally did get around to reading it I decided that the easiest way to get through it was to do it in very fast 50 page bursts so it did take me a long time. It was certainly not a fast read, there was not very much dialogue and had lots of descriptions and long narratives and back story, and had no funny moments to break up the monotony.
Rating: Too long and too slow with too much that didn't interest me but what was there in the romance department held my interest and I did enjoy.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Elizabeth married William, the Duke of Westhaven when she was a gawky girl and fancied that he was her prince charming until he left a month into their wedding; leaving her to face the gossip and scandal. William believed that he was a hero rescuing the orphaned girl who was living at the mercies of her cruel uncle and never imagined that his leaving to explore the world would cause any problems for Elizabeth. When he returns he finds her much changed and is confronted with all the pain he has caused her over the years and Elizabeth does not know if she can forgive him. When two cartoons appear that depict two different scenarios involving one of them scorning the other the rest of the duchesses of London, and their husbands, are all thrown together to try to determine who is trying to destroy their reputations and their marriages. So much has changed and each of them is a different person than when they were younger. Elizabeth must discover if she can forgive William and he must help her move beyond their past and see that their future together is full of hope and love.
I am a sucker for stories like this where the characters have so much emotional turmoil between them and so much to work out especially when it involves two characters who are secretly harboring strong feeling for each other but just don’t know how to express it. Elizabeth and Westhaven were both fun and well developed characters, and not just for such a short novel, but completely. It was clear that they were both hurt and confused by past actions and they both had a lot to learn with the others’ help. Their relationship progressed nicely throughout the course of the book and it helped that they spent so much time in each other’s company and talked about their issues and I was glad that it was not stretched out as it would have been in a longer romance. There was only a little bit of sex between them at the very end and it was rather disappointing since it had been building up for a while and they talked about it a lot. The plot involving the cartoons was not as well integrated in this novella and came to an abrupt end and took up a little too much space for my taste.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Annabelle married her husband Thomas knowing that he did not love her and knowing that many would think her unworthy of the honor since she was an untitled, but wealthy American, and he was heir to a dukedom. That does not stop that pain when a vicious cartoon is published that shows her husband with another, very young woman, and two children; insinuating that he married her for her money so he could support his other family. Thomas is horrified at the cartoons and knows he should have told his wife the truth before their marriage; the young woman and oldest child are his children from a previous marriage when he was very young and the baby is supposedly his grandchild. Thomas and Annabelle dance around the issues between them but the problem serves to bring them closer together as they get to know each other better, mostly in the bedroom, and bond over the experience of being gossiped about. Suddenly each of them discover feelings for the other and they both want more than the marriage of convenience they had entered into.
This was another short story but it certainly managed to pack a lot of emotions and problems into so short a space and while I enjoyed the angst and turmoil that accompanied the issues in the story I did feel like some back ground was sacrificed and I am not really a fan of books where the relationship picks up halfway through. I did not feel like Annabelle or Thomas was very developed, perhaps because they already knew each other and thus it was not as necessary. Annabelle was incredibly strong in the face of such a horrible experience and held her own against the gossips and her judgmental father-in-law. Thomas was more difficult to like because of the secrets he had been keeping- especially since it seemed so unnecessary for him to have kept them. The experience definitely brought them closer together and I could see how their former, rather distant relationship had stagnated, while this forced them to discover feelings they had for each other and fall in love. There was a lot of sex for so short a book and it was really hot and spread throughout the book.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Linette, the Dowager Duchess of Doveshire, does not appreciate the rumors and the cartoons claiming that she is having an affair with the new Duke of Doveshire, even if the rumors do happen to be true. James and Linette had grown up together and she had been in love with him, he had been her first lover, and they had sworn to marry. James did not feel like he deserved Linnette so when her parents told her to scram he left and Linette had no choice but to marry her betrothed. Years later James inherited the title and the two picked up right where they left off and James wonders if he can ever make up for abandoning her all those years ago and hopefully create a future for them. Linette's friend, Elizabeth, had hoped to take James for a lover and she feels betrayed to discover that Linette is having her own affair with him. Their feud culminates in a fight in the park where Linette manage to lay blame on Elizabeth and prove that she is not pregnant. Even with the feud going on there is still the matter of how she and James will be able to move beyond what happened in their past, forgive each other for the mistakes that were made, and finally achieve their happily ever after.
I really wanted to admire Linette since she was very confident and competent and was secure in her sexuality while forging her own rules and still being on top of society. However I felt like her character was not developed entirely, not enough about her was explained and there were times when she came across as mean. James was fairly well done and his motives were very clear and he so obviously wanted to make up for the mistakes he had made and make Linette happy. Their relationship seemed to be built a lot on the past that they had together and not much of it was made in the present and I never really like that. There was some hot and scandalous sex in this book, but definitely not what I would consider a lot, rather a lot of it was just hinted at. The feud between Elizabeth and Linette just appeared in this book with little explanation as to what was happening or how it started so it confused me. The relationship between the women was also very prominent in this novel and we got to see all the little bits of drama they had going on between them.
Rating: A heroine I had trouble liking in a romance that was missing romance and friendships that were rocky for reasons I couldn't understand.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Kathryn, the Duchess of Harrington, is the perfect duchess; she is polite and proper and has a very cordial relationship with her husband. But beneath the surface both she and the duke are suffering after a horrible miscarriage and since then Robert has only infrequently come to her bed and she worries that their relationship will be far too proper. She is sheltered and unsure how to show her husband that she wants to improve their relationship and so she enlists the help of her lifelong friend, Linette. Robert has noticed the distance that has grown between him and Kathryn but is also unsure to bridge it; he worries that she has not recovered from the loss of their child and does not want to hurt her by pushing the issue. Finally Kathryn works up the courage to try to take her marriage to the next level when a horrifying cartoon appears that implies Harrington and Linette are having an affair and a child. Suddenly her relationship with her friends and her husband are thrown in jeopardy and she must work through them with the help of her husband.
This first book in the Duchesses series introduces how all the women came to be friends through a cartoon hung in a shop window and their relationship to each other progressed very naturally as they got to know Annabelle and each other in a whole new light. Kathryn and Robert were wonderful together and it was so great to read about a married couple falling in love and working through some very difficult emotions and problems. I admired how well the miscarriage was handled and not brushed aside but not completely bringing down the tone of the novel. It was really perfect for a novel of this size and there was nothing superfluous or dragged out. There was not very much sex but what was there was well written, if not exactly awe inspiring after waiting so long and reading about how in lust these two were with each other. They worked well together and I felt like their relationship was on very solid footing and that they would continue to be friends as well as helpmates and I enjoyed the little, very tiny, problem that arose in the form of the cartoon and that they handled it like adults.
Rating: A very good emotional storyline featuring two people in a relationship I was very much rooting for with a well done little bump in the road.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Lady Alexa Hendrie goes to the Wolf’s Liar, London’s most notorious brothel and gaming hell, in search of information about her younger brother, but she is unprepared to confront Connor Linsley, the Earl of Killingworth, but better known as the Irish Wolfhound. Connor doesn’t need some milk and water English miss butting into his life but Alexa is anything but the typical young lady; she is not afraid to confront the Wolf in his Liar and he can’t help but challenge her to a kiss. Neither of them can get their moment of passion out of their head and Alexa decides to ask her family for a London season in the hopes of discovering that passion in a potential husband. She quickly learns that no one else inspires the same feelings as Connor and when she dresses up like a man in another gambling hell she is shocked to find that she has won a half stake in Connor’s gambling hell. Connor has recently had a run of bad luck as someone is obviously trying to destroy his business; stealing from his safe, cheating at cards and destroying his stock of brandy and he needs to discover who is beyond everything.
When next Alexa goes to visit Connor his enemies try to do away with him and in the process discover her identity. She turns to his fellow Hellhounds for help and they decide that the safest place will be at Connor’s seaside childhood home, Linsley Manor and Alexa accompanies the unconscious man. Connor is not pleased to be at the home that holds so many unhappy memories of his childhood where his father gambled away all their money. Alex quickly sets herself the task of trying to fix up the decrepit manor and find a way to make it profitable and Connor can’t help but wonder how she is working her way into his life. The sexual attraction between them never goes away and when Connor finally lets loose his iron control he believes he is left with no choice but to marry her because he is not willing to give up the last shred of his honor. Alexa worries that he is marrying her for all the wrong reasons and wants him to love her as much as she loves him. Finally they both are forced to go back to London to confront Connor’s enemies and they will find themselves fighting for their lives and for each other.
Alexa was intelligent and naïve, confident and yet unsure about herself in society, and affectionate and scared of her emotions all at once. I found these qualities about her so relatable and I really wanted to like her because she was being stifled by the society around her and I wanted her to spread her wings and find her place. However she behaved in ways that were just so impossible to believe, such as going into a gambling hell or brothel or dressing up like a man, that while I admired her motive of wanting to be something other than what society prescribed, I just could not help but feel she was acting ridiculous. There was also an incident at the end where she VERY clearly became too stupid to live and it made me lose a lot of respect for her. Connor was incredibly austere, living up to his nickname by growling at everyone and being very cold and removed from everyone. I liked that he was a working-man and that he was a caring employer but felt like he did not show any softer side, or lighter side, to Alexa and I could not see falling in love with someone who was dark and brooding all the time.
His darkness, his brusque manner, made a romance very awkward in my opinion because Alexa was throwing herself whole heartedly into their relationship and I did not see what she was getting in return or how she could fall in love with him. There was a lot of sexual energy between them but I felt like the actual sex was rushed and rather bland. A very big deal was made throughout the book about the connection Connor had with his friends, the fellow Hellhounds, and it is clear that there will be sequels featuring those characters. While I found the idea of the group laughable I really liked that he had genuine friends who he laughed around with. The Hellhounds were of course there to help him discover who was behind the attacks on his person and his business and I felt like that plot was well integrated into the story for the majority of the book. It was important, it was interesting and it did not get overwhelming and take over until the very end when it became a matter of him having to save her from the evil dude in order to realize his true feelings for her.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Because of You by Cathy Maxwell 1125
Samantha Northrup is unhappy about the changes she knows are coming her way because her father’s death has left her with little recourse. She has been living at her the vicarage in the tiny town of Sproule but the villagers have made it clear that she is expected to move out soon and that means moving in with the local spinsters and become their nursemaid and unpaid companion. One night a stranger appears on her doorstep demanding the keys to the Ayleborough vault and after a brief visit he goes to the local inn where he checks in as Mr. Marvin Browne and promptly falls sick with influenza. Yale Carderock is the son of the former Duke of Ayleborough who left when he was disinherited after blowing his entire inheritance and he has spent the last decade determined to make money and show his father he is worthwhile. But upon returning to England he discovered his father dead and realized that his chance for redemption are long past. As the healer in the village Samantha is called upon to care for Yale, but when he recovers he appears naked in public and everyone demands that they marry.
Seeing how the villagers have turned their back on Samantha after everything she has done for them over the years Yale decides to marry her, take her away from Sproule and reveal the truth before setting her up in a nice house on her own. But things go awry and the two end up spending the day and night in the bedroom and an annulment is no longer a possibility. Before he can reveal the truth Yale’s brother, the current Duke, Wayland, shows up and springs the surprise on his own. Samantha is furious and hurt as she was beginning to fall in love with her husband for how he had stood up for her and done what was right. Yale is still determined to take care of Samantha but he also intends to return to his shipping business in Ceylon and leave Samantha in the care of his family. Wayland tries to intervene to help both of them realize that their future is in England and there are family issues that Yale has to work through before he can feel worthy of the love and affection Samantha is offering. For both Samantha and Yale it does not matte where they are as long as they are together.
Maxwell has a knack for writing satisfying and fast stories that don’t exactly stand out but do leave a reader with the warm fuzzies and the feeling that it was a small number of hours well spent. This book follows that pattern with two fun to read, if unremarkable, characters engaged in a well developed and realistically formulated romance, with a big misunderstanding or problem that is concluded in a timely manner and does not become irritating in its’ intensity. I did really like Samantha because she was so brave despite the desperate situation she was in and how she wanted so desperately to fit in with the villagers and give them the benefit of the doubt even when they were so undeserving of her care. I even found her abilities as a doctor more believable than most because she did grow up in a vicarage where she was put in that situation and because she did consult with a genuine doctor and it was not just developed through some intuition of hers. I especially liked the nuances that Maxwell bestowed upon the villagers of Sproule; although they were mean and unfeeling at times their actions were well explained.
Yale was also well written as the prodigal son who was a rake when he was younger and then spent the rest of his life trying to prove himself to the family who turned their backs on him. It was made even more poignant because his father passed before he could confront him and because it was obvious that the bitterness he had built up over the years was unwarranted since the family regretted his actions and actively wanted to make it up to him. I really liked the scenes where he had to confront the fact that everything he had believed, and indeed everything he had worked so hard for, was wrong and he had to come up with a new motive and reason for success. He and Samantha had an interesting relationship because there was a big emphasis on the “spark” they had and it often took the form of little arguments and banter which I am not a fan of. They spent a lot of time together and it was clear that they both cared for each other and had the others best interests at heart. There was a decent amount of sex, not too much and not too hot but it was okay.
Rating: A fun, and very fast paced, book with two well suited characters in a fun little romance that was satisfactory and not too sticking.