Friday, July 26, 2013

Midnight Temptations with a Forbidden Lord

Midnight Temptations with a Forbidden Lord by Tiffany Clare R

Lady Charlotte Lynsday, daughter of the Earl of Ponsley, is unhappily engaged to be married to Mr. Warren, a political allay of her father. Mr. Warren is rude, judgmental, unkind, and downright awful to Charlotte, telling her he plans to leave her in the country to rusticate and he wants her as nothing more than a broodmare. She and her friend come up with a list of rogues to help her get out of her engagement and tops on her list is Tristan, Lord Castlereigh. Tristan has his own reasons to want Charlotte's engagement ended as Mr. Warren is set to inherit the estate and money that should have rightly gone to his friend Jezebel, the widow of the previous Earl Fallon and he knows that Mr. Warren isn't fit for any young lady. Charlotte approaches him at a dance and she makes it clear she wants out of her engagement and Tristan agrees to help her although neither of them know precisely how they will go about doing this. Both are intrigued by the other for more reasons than just the possible broken engagement and wonder if their friendship will lead to something more.

Meanwhile Charlotte's chaperone has found herself in a scandal and it forces Lord Ponsley to insist on moving up the wedding date and he is deaf to Charlotte's pleas to cancel the wedding or give her more time. She once again goes to Tristan and he asks Charlotte to marry him having decided that the two of them could make something out of their friendship. Charlotte is determined never to marry and turns him down, but days later with her wedding approaching she goes to his house and asks him to ruin her, still thinking that she will avoid marriage with anyone. Tristan is not about to let that happen and insists upon their marriage and while she is upset at being cornered like this, she knows that she does not really have much of a choice even though she knows her father would never turn her out. Their marriage proves that Tristan was right and the two get along well right from the start and Charlotte fits right into his family. Not everyone is happy about their marriage and it takes a brush with death for both of them to admit that they have fallen in love.

Wow. Lady Charlotte is one of the worst characters I have ever read in a romance novel. She is, at best naive, but I would really tend to call her stupid and she had absolutely no common sense. She had no idea how to go about getting out of her marriage even while it was the only thing she ever thought about and after she finally did have sex with Tristan she refused to marry him thinking that everything would be all right. She didn't think that no one would find out- she wanted people to find out so the wedding would be called off- but she just didn't think there would be lasting consequences. And I was not exaggerating when I said that getting out of her engagement was the only thing she ever thought about. For the first 2/3 of the book she literally doesn't do anything, say anything, or think anything that does not directly relate back to getting out of the engagement and this does not make for a very interesting character at all. She also came across as very selfish in the previous book in the series and in this one as she completely disregarded her chaperones feelings or concerns.

Tristan wasn't as unlikable and at least I better understood his motives, but perhaps the most baffling thing about him were his feelings towards Charlotte. He admirably took care of his illegitimate children but I could not really admire the way he was so adamant that his new wife accept them as her own. He also had ulterior motives for wanting to ruin Mr. Warren, some familial, and some because of his friend Jez. While I understood the familial motives, the revenge for Jez's sake that carried over from the previous novel is beyond old and tired by now and wasn't even that interesting or believable to begin with. Their relationship started off as friendship apparently but I really did not get that feeling at all and I didn't feel like there was any basis for a romance at all. There was very little sex and by the time it occurred I was so tired of their story I found myself skimming it. The writing was plodding and very slow moving and there were many sections in the beginning that felt like boring information dumps.

Rating: A terrible novel with a horrible romance featuring the worst heroine I've ever encountered.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lord of Wicked Intentions

Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath L

Evelyn Chambers is the illegitimate, but much beloved, daughter of the Earl of Wortham and is entrusted to her brother, Geoffrey, when her father dies. But Geoffrey is in dire need of cash because of his gambling addiction and has no familial feelings toward the girl who made his own mother's life miserable and he decides to sell her off as a mistress to one of his friends. He invites Rafe Easton to the auction, never intending for him to bid on Evelyn, but Evelyn immediately catches Rafe's eye and he is determined to make Evelyn his own. Rafe is one of the lost Lords of Pembroke and as the youngest was left at a workhouse and has never gotten over his feelings of abandonment or inadequacy. He has worked his way up to own a prominent gambling establishment but he hasn't done so without making enemies. Evelyn is under the impression that Geoffrey had found her a husband and she is horrified when Rafe reveals to her that he intends to make her his mistress. She had always wanted respectability, a family, and children, and she knows that this will ruin her chances, but she also knows that she has no other choice and nowhere else to go.

Rafe intends to have a mutually beneficial arrangement and they agree that after their affair is over she will maintain the house as well as any items, including jewelry that he purchases and he decides to give her time to get used to him before consummating their relationship. Even though he had no plans for Evelyn to be anything more than a mistress he finds himself spending more time at his house, more time engaged in fun pursuits with her, than at his gambling hell. Evelyn knows that Rafe has a dark past and has a fear of becoming close to anyone, but the more she gets to know him she realizes that there is a good person underneath it all and wants their relationship to be more. Rafe cannot bring himself to admit that his feelings have changed and he risks losing Evelyn just as someone he thought gone from his life reappears and threatens him and all he holds dear. It is Evelyn who comes to his rescue and they both know that they want a long and happy life together; a life based on love.

The Lost Lords of Pembroke series have all featured a seriously tortured hero and a heroine who is almost too good (kind and understanding) to be true. Evelyn is naive in the beginning and I found her development so well written as she came to understand more about the world and more about her own past. I liked that she was a fighter and wanted the happy ending, but still faced reality without becoming bitter or overly proud. Rafe was incredibly hard and definitely projected an untouchable facade, but his cracks began to show early as he couldn't bring himself to abandon Evelyn. We learned more about his good deeds and about the bad things in life he has done (and of course how bad he feels about all of them) which make it clear that he is just waiting for the right woman to come along to help him work through his demons. Evelyn and Rafe work well together, but I found myself concerned that she was in a situation without any real choices and thus she wasn't truly free to make informed decisions. This gave her developing feelings for him a tinge of coercion (Stockholm syndrome a la Beauty and the Beast) and was more than a little icky for me.

Rafe and Evelyn did spend a lot of time together, going to his club, walking in the park, and discussing their pasts which was something they both needed to work through. A lot of this time was spent with just the two of them, which normally I liked, but because of the reasons stated above made me a little uneasy. Eventually other people began to play a part in their lives, namely his brothers and their wives and I was so happy that she was expanding her life beyond him that the character dropping didn't bother me here. There were a few sex scenes between them and they were all rather tame. Literally dropped in to the very end of the story was a big problem and it came out of nowhere, but was resolved rather quickly and really just served as the impetuous for both of them to realize and admit their feelings. Heath's writing is always fun and fast and easy to get through and this book was no exception.

Rating: An enjoyable book with great character development and an interesting relationship that held a few problems for me.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Forbidden by Nicola Cornick

Margery Mallon is a ladies maid who has served some quite scandalous ladies of the ton and she hopes one day to open her own confectionary shop. Her family consists of three older brothers, two of whom are engaged in questionable business dealings but she loves them and is content with her life. Henry, Lord Wardeaux, is heir to Lord Templemore, which is one of the few titles in Britain that can be passed down through the female line. Twenty years ago a horrible carriage accident left Lord Templemore's daughter dead and his grandfather missing, but a locket has appeared that leads them to suspect that Margery is actually Lady Margaret, Lord Templemore's heir. Henry decides to investigate myself and arranges to meet Margery and even take her out for an evening on the town where he realizes she is someone quite special who he would like to get to know better. Margery is horrified when she discovers who she is and feels as though Henry has lead her on and tricked her. She moves in with her grandfather and finds herself spending more time with Henry, and her new family, then before.

Even though Henry was set to inherit he does not begrudge Margery her newfound fortune and tries to ignore his mother's insinuations that he should marry her to maintain the estate. He agrees to show Margery around the land and introduce her to tenants and accidents begin to happen as an arrow is shot remarkably close to her head and then her bed curtains catch on fire while her door is mysteriously locked. Henry wants to discover what truly happened to Margery and her mother all those years ago and begins to worry that whoever hurt her mother has come back to hurt her. Margery is still confused about her new status and distrustful of Henry after the way they met, but he is convinced that marriage is the right thing for them as he knows that both of them will be happy together and be good for the estate. He is willing to do whatever it takes to convince her of the same, but first he must fend of those who wish to harm her and discover the secrets behind her mother's death.

Like most people I love a rags to riches story and so I was immediately attracted to the premise of a servant elevated to the peerage and this book pulled off that feat in a surprisingly realistic manner. While the murder of a her mother and her kidnapping was a tad melodramatic it was resolved and explained enough that I could believe it, at least in a romance novel world, and I also liked that Margery underwent an adjustment period as she got used to her new life. Margery was independent and strong and I really liked her and the dedication she had towards being an successful woman on her own. I could really empathize with her and truly felt like she was a real person that I would like in real life. Henry was incredibly strong, noble, and self-sacrificing and had a great sense of responsibility towards those important to him. I really liked the way that he treated Margery, even if she did become a little upset about him hiding the truth from her, because it was respectful and he did not go about doing what was best for her in a heavy handed, domineering fashion.

Margery and Henry worked incredibly well together as a couple and I really enjoyed reading about their relationship and watching it progress. They spend a lot of time together, some while she was still a servant, and I liked the wide range of interactions they had in different circumstances. There was not very much sex between them at all and it was towards the very end of the book, but it was pretty hot. Because the rest of their relationship was so fleshed out and completed the sex was really just a nice little bonus. The mystery of what happened to her mother was a wonderful side plot to the book because it was important and worked throughout the book, but it did not detract from the relationship. The resolution was a complete shock to me and served as a nice surprise, but there was a hostage situation that kind of fell back on romance novel staples. Cornick's writing is always spot on; easy to read with a fun, fast pace and previous characters made cameos without overwhelming the main story.

Rating: A very enjoyable romance between two likable and realistic characters who worked so well together with an interesting little mystery to solve.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Handbook for Handling His Lordship

The Handbook for Handling His Lordship by Suzanne Enoch R

Nathaniel Stokes, Earl of Westfall, retired from his job as a spy for Wellington when he inherited his title unexpectedly upon his cousin's death. He finds that he cannot adapt to the lifestyle of a do nothing lordling so he decides to help other members of the peerage find items that have gone missing such as jewelry. He is enlisted by Lord Ebberling to find Rachel Newbury, his son's former governess, who went missing with a valuable diamond necklace the day his wife was murdered. Nate has no leads since the disappearance was years ago but when his young brother, Lawrence who is home after being suspended from Oxford, suggests a visit to the infamous Tantalous Club he realizes it might be the perfect place for a genteel young lady of education to hide in plain sight. Emily Portsman has been working for the Tantalous Club for three years and has taken pains to hide her true identity. When Lord Westfall shows up and his brother makes it clear that Westfall might be looking for someone she decides to figure out who he is searching for, but her interrogation turns into a night of passion.

Emily intrigues Nate and while he wants discover who she really is he cannot deny that there is something so much more than that that makes him want to get to know her. Emily is terrified that Westfall will discover who she is and that her past will finally catch up to her, but she cannot deny that she doesn't really want to avoid her. Luckily she has made quite a few friends in the last few years and she enlists their help in finding ways around Westfall's investigation. For the first time in years she leaves the gambling club and finds that time with him is quite enjoyable and that she might have finally found someone to trust. but it is still inevitable that he will realize who she is. Once he does his focus is on learning the truth and determining how best to protect Emily from the man who is obviously determined to do her harm. Together they must find a way to thwart Lord Ebberling and a way for them to reconcile the differences in their station. It takes big risks and a big sacrifice before Emily and Nate find their happily ever after.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed to find out this was a Tantalous Club book as I am getting a little tired of the gambling club trend in romance novels lately. I also did not appreciate that there were so many appearances by previous characters from other books, especially toward the end when they were present as often as the main characters of this story. Emily was a difficult character to understand as she seemed to be changing so often throughout the book, however I did admire how she took herself from poacher's daughter to an exalted position in a Lord's house through sheer force of will. Her running away from her past was understandable but considering where she ran to also rather stupid and her actions after Westfall appeared were not those of someone who was truly terrified as she should have been, and claimed to be. Westfall was a humorous character to me because of the actions he took to hide his own past as a spy from the world and I admired his determination to find out the truth about Emily and his willingness to rethink his opinions and trust her.

Nate and Emily worked very well together and I appreciated the few moments we did get to see them enjoying themselves. Unfortunately most of those moments were about both of them trying to investigate each other's motives or, later on, trying to find away to get Lord Ebberling. That part of the story was really the main focus of the novel and really a big part of their relationship as well, so while it worked and was engrossing enough, I didn't particularly get into the story or the relationship because of it. There was plenty of sex between them but it was very short and perfunctory and really not exciting at all. The Lord Ebberling plot took over and dragged on in my opinion for far too long and then ended in a completely unbelievable and ridiculous way that had me rolling my eyes. The ending of the novel itself was really interesting and the way that Nate and Emily chose to overcome the difference in their stations and avoid a complete scandal completely shocked me, but was much closer to realism than many other romances end. The writing was, as expected from Enoch, fun and fast and very well done.

Rating: A fun, fast read with two fun characters it was easy to admire and while they worked together I wish the relationship had taken more of a central role in the novel.