#DGRFave & Review: Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

A KINGDOM OF DREAMS
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Westmoreland #1
Author: Judith McNaught
Release Date (e-book edition): November 1, 2016

Let New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught who “is in a class by herself” (USA TODAY) sweep you off your feet and into another time with her sensual, passionate, and spellbinding historical romance classics, featuring her “unique magic” (RT Book Reviews)—now available for the first time on ebook.

Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as “The Wolf,” his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, no matter what he threatens. Boldly she challenges his will—until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. Suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering and seductive web of pride, passion, and overwhelming love. This beloved tale about two defiant hearts clashing in a furious battle of wills in the glorious age of chivalry “will stay in your heart forever and be a classic on your shelves” (RT Book Reviews, Top Pick).

AMAZON5 MILLION BAZILLION TRILLION STARS!!!!

“You are mad!” she snapped, her chest heaving. “And you are a devil!”
“And you, my dear,” Royce imperturbably replied, “are a bitch.”
With that, he turned to the horrified friar and unhesitatingly announced, “The lady and I wish to be wed.”

I’ve been dreading this moment. This moment that I’ve been saving for last. The very last historical book of Judith’s backlist that I knew I’d want to savor. I tried to pace myself. To truly get engrained and enjoy the experience of this magical world, and yet I ended up binging late into the night, completely unable to set this book down for even a second.

McNaught has given me some of my top favorite historical romances, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING compares to the experience that was this book. It was EVERYTHING. It was like someone took all of my favorite things and put them into one book full of emotion, swoony romance, and created one of the most unforgettable stories I have ever read. EVER.

It’s no secret that I love a good enemies to lovers trope, but every other book I’ve read in this trope pales in comparison to this book and Jennifer and Royce McNaught is a queen of creating these incredibly tortured and brooding heroes and throwing them into the path of even stronger heroines. Jennifer and Royce are easily my favorite characters I’ve read in my entire reading history. I’m not even kidding.

Why is it when you yield, I feel like the one who has been conquered?”

What happens when a strong beauty gets captured by her clan’s sworn enemy, a man known as The Wolf? One of the most swoony romances I’ve ever read. The only thing I loved more than seeing their wills clash was seeing their walls crumble. I loved watching Royce fall for Jennifer, no matter how much he fights it. And boy did he fight it. Jennifer is not the striking beauty that her younger sister is. But there’s something about her that calls to him. Her strong will, her strength, her bravery. All of it make up one incredibly striking woman that he finds himself falling for rather unwillingly.

There’s plenty of reviews that will give you more detail about this book and I don’t want to rehash more than need be to take away from the experience of this story to those that haven’t read it yet. What I will tell you is that I went through so many emotions reading it. I laughed, I cried, and I fell head over heels for the brooding and imperfect Royce. And if there’s anything I love more than Judith’s tortured heroes, it’s watching them fall and fall hard. I love the perfect layer of angst that spans the entirety of the book. I simply loved everything about this book. One of my top favorite romances I’ve ever read. Bar none.

Review: The Scoundrel In Her Bed by Lorraine Heath

THE SCOUNDREL IN HER BED
Series: Sins for all Seasons #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Lorraine Heath
Release Date: February 26, 2019

The bastard son of a nobleman, Finn Trewlove was a shameful secret raised by a stranger.

As Finn came of age he had secrets, too–the clandestine nights spent with an earl’s daughter.

But her promise of forever ended in betrayal.

Driven by a past that haunts her, Lady Lavinia Kent seeks redemption in London’s underworld, engaged in a daring cause inspired by the young man to whom she gave her innocence, and who then proved himself a scoundrel by abandoning her.

When their paths cross again, they can’t deny the yearning and desire that still burns.

As they discover the truth behind the deceptions that tore them apart, Finn and Lavinia must fight to reclaim what they’ve lost, no matter how dangerous—because love is worth the risk….

 

AMAZON

How could he be happy when all he’d ever wanted was her, and all she now wanted was the freedom to do as she pleased?

I’m a sucker for a good second chance romance, and this book definitely delivered on that front. Vivi and Finn’s story spans the course of several years. They meet when Vivi is just fifteen, fall in love when she’s seventeen, and fall apart in a devastating fashion only for their life to cross paths eight years later. But neither of them are the people they once were.

I loved the set up of the story. Finn, the bastard son of a nobleman meets and falls for a woman far beyond his poor reach. Vivi may be the daughter of an earl, set to marry a duke almost from birth, but titles mean nothing for her when she first lays eyes on Finn. The story unfolds in alternate flashes of past and present, allowing the reader to see how they met while they anxiously wait to see what caused them to ultimately fall apart.

Years later, Finn is no longer the starry eyed boy that fell in love with a girl beyond his standing. And Vivi is no longer the naive young woman that thought as long as she and Finn were together, nothing could harm them. Vivi has dedicated her life to hunting down of baby farmers and rescuing the young children and babies from a fate sometimes worse than death. I really loved her singleminded focus on finding these children. There’s a wealth of secrets hidden beneath the eight years they spent apart, but when their paths cross again, it doesn’t take long for those secrets to unravel and for the connection that was between them years ago to spark back to life. The mystery of what happens is stretched out in tiers, which I really enjoyed. You get one part of it fairly quickly, while the other part continues to unravel chapter by chapter.

I really loved the story and the characters, but ultimately I struggled to feel the chemistry between them. I just never fully bought into it. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it was a struggle from the moment they met to when they finally reconnect. I felt like I’m being told that they have this incredible connection rather than truly feeling it. And while I loved the two of them together, I couldn’t help but feel like I wanted something a little…more.

Did I enjoy this book? Absolutely! It was a page turner from beginning to finish. And while I did wish that I felt a little more of the passion, I still thoroughly enjoyed the romance.

Excerpt & Review: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

DEVIL’S DAUGHTER
Series: The Ravenels #5
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date: February 25, 2019

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of a beautiful, young widow who finds passion with the one man she shouldn’t…

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

AMAZON | IndieBound | B&N | B-A-M | iBOOKS | GOOGLE PLAY

“If you have any misguided thoughts about taking me into your bed, you would find it a vastly mediocre experience. I’d be on you like a crazed rabbit, and half a minute later the whole thing would be over. I used to be a proficient lover, but now I’m a burnt-out libertine whose only remaining pleasure is breakfast food. Speaking of which—”

Phoebe reached for him, brought herself up hard against him, and interrupted him with her mouth. West flinched as if scalded and held very still in the manner of a man trying to withstand torture. Undeterred, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him as passionately as she could, touching her tongue to his stiff lips. The feel and taste of him was exhilarating. Suddenly he responded with a primitive grunt and his mouth clamped on hers, wringing sensation from her with demanding pressure. Forcing her lips apart, he searched her with his tongue the way she remembered, and it felt so good, she thought she might faint. A whimper rose from her throat, and he licked and bit gently at the sound and sealed their mouths together in a deep, insatiable kiss that involved his lips, breath, hands, body, soul.

Whatever it might be like to go to bed with this man . . . it would be anything but mediocre

He kissed like a man who had lived too fast, learned too late, and had finally found the thing he wanted.

I feel myself fall into a perpetual state of bliss each time I crack open a Lisa Kleypas book. And this time was no different. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book, and now that I’ve finished it, quite frankly, I don’t know what to do with myself. Devil’s Daughter was everything I had hoped it would be, and trust me when I tell you that I hope a GREAT DEAL.

Devil in Winter was my very first historical romance. So of course Sebastian will forever hold a special place in my heart not only because of that, but because he also happens to be one of my favorite historical heroes. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book to see his daughter get her HEA. And my what a ride it was!

There’s nothing wicked about you, except your kisses.”

Phoebe, Lady Clare was a phenomenal heroine. She has a sweet and caring disposition, but beneath all that is one incredibly strong woman. Ever since she was a little girl, she knew that she’d marry Henry. Even knowing that their time together would be short, it was worth it. After losing her beloved husband to his illness, Phoebe is left to their slowly crumbling estate with their two children.

West Ravenel was a name she was all too familiar with, since he was the boy bully that made Henry’s life miserable at boarding school. Meeting the man is nothing what Phoebe expects. West is no longer the bullying scoundrel but a man that tempts her at every step. I adored the slow burn between Phoebe and West. It was a perfectly paced, swoony, and angsty ride that I couldn’t put down for even a second. West was everything that Phoebe needed and nothing what she expected. He was sweet and caring, protective and playful, and effortlessly charming.

And while you see Phoebe’s slow decent into love with West, he struggles with his feelings. Not because he denies it, but because after his past he feels himself underserving of someone like Phoebe. My heart ached for him and everything he’s been through. And I simply adored the way that Phoebe and her sons slowly but surely thaw his heart.

Of course one of my favorite parts of the books were getting more of Sebastian. I loved seeing him as a husband, father, and grandfather. Age does nothing to diminish his intensity and playfulness.

I, meddle?” His brows lifted, and he looked positively indignant. “Evie, what can you be thinking?” “That you’re meddling.”
“From time to time, I may adjust a situation to achieve a desired outcome for the benefit of my children, but that’s not meddling.”
“What do you call it, then?”
“Parenting,” he said smugly, and kissed her before she could reply.

This book had everything; romance, emotion, angst, and humor. It was everything I’ve come to expect from this incredibly talented author. I love getting snippets of some of my favorite characters from previous books. And of course I love the way she’s able to weave the Ravenels and the Wallflowers together.

West was this amazing combination of vulnerability with a side of broken. This is a man that continues to struggle with the demons of his past and it takes a strong woman to get him to see beyond what he thinks he deserves. And some meddling from her well-meaning father doesn’t hurt either.

I loved this book from start to finish and I’m already itching for my next fix in this series.

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She’s a RITA award-winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

Connect with Lisa

Website: https://lisakleypas.com/

Facebook: @LisaKleypas

Twitter: @LisaKleypas

Instagram: @LisaKleypas

 

#DGRFave Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

THE GOVERNESS GAME
Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Tessa Dare
Release Date: August 28, 2018

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart… without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling… and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

You are the worst example of false advertising. I was led to believe I was hiring a prim scold. Then I learn you’re remarkable and bold and interesting.”

ALL OF THE STARS!!!
All.
Of.
Them.

I absolutely LOVED The Duchess Deal, but I was so unprepared for just how phenomenal this book would be. I kept thinking nothing can top the first book for me, but this one managed to blow it right out of the water! The banter, the romance, the characters, I adored absolutely everything about it. This just may be my favorite Tessa Dare book now. I loved it so hard!

Let me start with Chase.

When it came to relationships, sensual or otherwise, Chase had one rule. No attachments.

For an irreverent rake, he was one of the most endearing heroes I’ve ever read. There was this boyish charm to him beneath the sexy exterior that I simply couldn’t get enough of. He was funny and all the while having this broken part to him that you can’t help but want to heal.

I’ll have you know,” Chase said indignantly, “I have been hard at work during your absence. Witness the renovation in progress around you. I built that bar myself, thank you very much. It only needs a few coats of lacquer. And if that’s not sufficient for you—in the past week alone I’ve gone through a decade of bank ledgers, given seven orgasms, and interviewed five governesses. And no, none of the governesses were recipients of the orgasms, although a few of them looked as though they could use one.”

When Chase inherits two quirky young girls who lost their parents, he can barely keep up with their antics. In a desperate search for a governess, he meets Alex, who goes to his home in search of a job. Alex immediately falls in love with the two girls, and they’re incredibly difficult not to love. I fell for them and their crazy antics right away. Their quirky personalities simply jump off of the pages at you.

When Alex takes the job as a governess, the slow brewing chemistry between her and Chase begins to build. And let me just tell you how incredibly delicious that chemistry was! Between their banter and sexual tension, I was riveted to my kindle and unable to tear myself away from the book.

What position?”
“Any position that requires insertion of my . . .” He waved vaguely toward his loins. “. . . male member.”
“Male member. Are we discussing a Masonic society, or are you referring to the penis?” He stared at her. “We are adults. If you’re going to discuss such matters, you may as well use the proper words. I would never have supposed you to be prudish.”
“I’m not prudish. I’m protecting your delicate feminine sensibilities.”
“I never acquired many of those. And considering that it was pressed up against me the other day, I should think we’ve moved beyond euphemisms. So go on, then. We were discussing your penis.”

I adored these two characters. I couldn’t get enough of them. Alex and her sweet disposition but with a spine of steel was a phenomenal heroine. I loved that she was shy but not a pushover. I loved the way she blossomed throughout the story.

Has he touched you?”
Oh, had he ever. But what happened between them wasn’t any of Ash’s concern. “Not in any uninvited manner.”
“Are you certain?”
“Absolutely certain.”
“Now, now.” Chase shifted forward in his chair. “Be honest, Miss Mountbatten.”
“I am being honest. Mr. Reynaud has not subjected me to any unwanted attentions, nor taken advantage of me in any way.” Ash looked suspicious, but he didn’t belabor the question.
“Regardless. His sexual escapades are merely the tip of the iceberg.”
“Oh, I haven’t even acquainted her with the tip,” Chase said merrily. “Not properly.”

I think I must have highlighted over 3/4 of the book. I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to highlight all of the banter. This book had a ridiculous smile on my face the entire time I was reading.

The romance was incredible! What starts as a bit of unrequited love with Alex’s crush on the mysterious stranger she once bumped into at a book store, soon turns into one of the most sizzling romances. The Governess Game was one of my favorite historical romances of the year! It was everything! Just everything! Funny, swoony, and full of banter that’s sure to put a smile on your face. I loved every single page of it and cannot recommend it enough!

#DGRFave & Review: Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

ALMOST HEAVEN
Series:
 Sequels #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Judith McNaught
Release Date: November 1, 2016 (release date for e-book)

In this classic novel of two willful lovers caught in a breathless adventure of deception and betrayal, #1 New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught has created a powerful and unforgettable masterpiece.

ELIZABETH CAMERON

The Countess of Havenhurst possessed a rare gentleness and fierce courage to match her exquisite beauty. But her reputation is shattered when she is discovered in the arms of Ian Thornton, a notorious gambler and social outcast.

IAN THORNTON

A dangerously handsome man of secret wealth and mysterious lineage, his voyage to Elizabeth’s heart is fraught with intrigue, scandal, and a venomous revenge.

Destined for each other, yet wary of each other’s motives, Elizabeth and Ian engage in a dance of suspicion and passion that tests the very soul of their star-crossed love. As a twisting path of secrets takes them from London’s drawing rooms to the mysterious Scottish Highlands, Elizabeth must learn the truth: is Ian merely a ruthless fortune hunter at heart?

AMAZON

There are four steps separating us and a year and a half of wanting drawing us together,” he said. Elizabeth swallowed. “Couldn’t you meet me halfway?”

All.
Of.
The.
Swoons.

This. THIS is exactly why I love historical romances. And it’s also why I’m currently kicking myself for only discovering this incredible author now. There’s only one thing I love more than a good bastard in a romance, and that’s a redeemable bastard that’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve when he finally sees the error of his ways. Even if that particular feet takes him the majority of the book to do.

Almost Heaven is the story of a young beauty just entering London society in search for a husband that will save her beloved estate, and a man that’s always been the source of most gossip within it. Ian is known as a scoundrel, a gambler, anything but the titled husband Elizabeth needs. He’s also a beautifully dangerous enigma that draws her like a moth to a flame. Until she gets too close and they both get burned.

This was a delicious tale of secrets and betrayal, of mistakes and forgiveness, but ultimately of a love that prevails against all odds. It was WONDERFULLY swoony.

At first I was a little concerned because Elizabeth and Ian get together so quickly. I’m not usually a fan of quick coupling. I was yearning for angst and emotion. I shouldn’t have been concerned, because their initial meeting was only the calm before the storm. And what a storm it was! Ian is a downright bastard to Elizabeth when they meet again two years after the fateful first time. GOD BUT I LOVED IT! But it’s no secret that I love the bastards. Elizabeth was an incredible heroine. She’s young and sheltered, but she’s clever and smart and so endearing. I loved her strength and her sharp wit. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself, but she also knows that sometimes the biggest fight requires a sacrifice. She was the perfect match to the broody and enigmatic Ian.

The story was phenomenal and kept me glued to the pages long into the night. I NEEDED to see how it all unveils and I couldn’t be more satisfied. This is going down as one of my favorite historical romances. And that epilogue?! SWOON!!!!

SIDE NOTE: The ebook version of this book had a RIDICULOUS amount of typos. For how big the publisher is AND the price point of this book, that’s pretty bad. I’m talking typos, missing quotations, missing punctuation points, etc. Luckily I loved the book enough to overlook it, but it’s fair to mention that your money may be better spent on the paperback version instead. 

Review: The Duke Buys A Bride by Sophie Jordan

THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE
Series: The Rogue Files #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Sophie Jordan
Release Date: July 24, 2018

A bride wasn’t in his plans . . .

The last thing Marcus, the Duke of Autenberry, expects to see after sleeping off a night’s drunken shenanigans is a woman being auctioned in the village square. Before he can think about the ramifications, he buys her, thinking he’s winning the girl her freedom. Instead, he discovers he’s bought a wife.

A duke wasn’t in hers . . .

Alyse Bell is almost rid of the shackles that bound her in a name-only marriage, but the day her friend promised to purchase her in a wife auction, he vanishes, leaving her to face a mob of unsavory bachelors intent on owning her body and soul. But the appearance of a wicked, wealthy stranger changes her path forever.

The road to ruin . . .

Marcus doesn’t know what to do with the impertinent chit who clearly isn’t duchess material! Insisting their marriage isn’t legitimate, they leave for his estate in Scotland, hoping to devise a plan to get rid of each other. However, on a journey fraught with misadventure, their attraction grows and Marcus realizes he’ll do anything to keep this fiery woman for his own.

AMAZON

You’re a witch,” he muttered. “From the moment I saw you, I’ve been doing things entirely out of my character.”

After the way things left off with Marcus in The Scandal of It All, I was more than a little eager to get my hands on his book to see just how this man will redeem himself. While a lot of his behavior shows him to be almost a spoiled and entitled brat at times, still waters run deep, and you just know there’s something underneath the appearance that he initially gives off.

After finding out his stepmother is in love with one of his best friends, he leaves everything behind and leaves his home. Waking up after a blackout bender in a town he doesn’t remember arriving in isn’t exactly in his plans. But then again, neither is rescuing a women from being sold like cattle for marriage in the town square. He can’t resist purchasing her when he sees the look of abject horror on her face. But he never intends to truly hold up his end of the deal and be anyone’s husband; merely purchase her freedom.

Alyse Bell has been stuck in a name-only “marriage” for years after the passing of her father when she was way too young. As his last deed before his passing, he arranged her contract with the man she’s been living with in name only. She’s essentially been his care-taker and nanny. The deal has always been that he will then sell at a wife auction to be purchased by her best friend. Only her friend is nowhere to be found when she needs him the most, leaving her to the mercy of the fates.

Marcus and Alyse are certainly an odd pair. Marcus refuses to acknowledge any chemistry between them. He runs hot and cold at the best of times, though his direct setting seems to be on cold. He passes off their “contract” as her being his housekeeper and nothing more, while fighting their connection at every turn. Admittedly, as much as I was looking forward to this book, it felt a little lackluster for me. Yes, the chemistry was there, but I also found the pacing to work against it. I enjoyed Alyse’s spark and backbone, but Marcus left me feeling underwhelmed. I wanted to love him, but sadly I just didn’t. His turnaround was too little too late for me, and while still satisfying, I couldn’t help feeling like I needed more from this story to bring it to a 4 star read.

I still enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it either. It was that middle of the road sort of feeling that had me feeling both satisfied…and not. I liked that we got a bit of closure with Marcus and his stepmother at the end, though I would have loved more of that as well.

Geri & Lana’s Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER
Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Sarah MacLean
Release Date: June 19th, 2018

When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion…

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired.

AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N

GERI’S REVIEW

Sarah MacLean’s new Bareknucle Bastards series is off to a strong start with Wicked and the Wallflower. It’s a passionate and intriguing tale of three brothers who’re bound by the secrets of their pasts.

“You don’t need lessons in fire. You are an inferno.”

Wicked and the Wallflower is about the first brother, Devon, known as Devil to everyone—friends and enemies alike. Devil immediately captures the attention. At the start of the book, his only goal was to uphold a promise from his past but it’s how he goes about achieving those goals that put him immediately in the anti-hero category for me.

In spite of that, Sarah MacLean was convincing in her campaign to show her readers that Devil deserves the heroine and a HEA. One of the reasons for this is the heroine Felicity Faircloth.

Felicity Faircloth was perfection—the first taste of it Devil had ever had.

She was Devil’s equal and his perfect foil. She is innocent but she’s far from naïve. Felicity is similar to Devil is some ways. She was relegated to the fringes of polite society, just like Devil. But unlike Devil, she wanted to be a part of it. So when Devil offered her a chance to be a part of the ton, she took the chance, not knowing that it’s going to bring her ruination once again.

“If I were going to take advantage of you, I would approach from the front, Felicity Faircloth. In full view, so you would have the joy of expecting me.”

I loved how Devil and Felicity interacted with each other. Brilliantly written dialogue is one of MacLean’s skill, and it’s on full display here. You could feel the sexual tension and the chemistry in each of those encounters. Aside from that, there’s a lot of longing in this book! One of the things that make for a grand romance is to have two characters who desperately want each other but their circumstances and their own fears are keeping them apart. Hence, the longing. Devil and Felicity’s longing for each other will make you sigh and swoon at the same time.

I also enjoyed how Devil’s interactions with his siblings. You can sense their shared pain and history together. Their dysfunction is evident and Sarah MacLean is a master at giving us a taste of what’s coming. And just based on what she showed us about Whit and Ewan and Grace, I’m already mentally lining up for the next books in the series.

“I’m going to steal you,” he confessed again. “I’m going to steal you and make you mine.”

Wicked and the Wallflower is very character driven. Yes, there’s a plot but it’s not what drives the story forward; it’s the characters and their motivations. There’s also a lot of intrigue and secrets that I feel would come into play in later books. The seeds are there, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

Fans of Sarah MacLean and historical romances will find plenty of things to enjoy in this book. The characters, the romance and the intrigue will keep you entertained and make you swoon like a romance novel should. I highly recommend it.


LANA’S REVIEW

Felicity Faircloth was perfection—the first taste of it Devil had ever had. She tasted like a promise.

Wicked and the Wallflower is the first installment in a brand new series that’s sure to be a new addiction for me from one of my favorite historical romance authors. However, I’ve been sitting on my rating for this book for a couple weeks now, somewhat stumped in how to rate it. I was completely enamored with the story in the first 15%, then somewhere along the way it began to lose me, only to reel me back in in the second half.

This world is all sin, Felicity, and I am the worst of it.”

I love a broody and broken hero, and Devil certainly fits the bill. This is a man that went through hell as a child, only to come up swinging. Now he’s one of the notorious Bareknuckle Bastards, as rich as he is ruthless, and running a crime ring in the heart of Covent Garden. For years, Devil has yearned for revenge against those that wronged him and his family, and he’s so close he can taste it now. But a woman just may throw a wrench into his hard built plans.

You wish to do the consuming.” She wished to be wanted. Beyond reason. She wished to be ached for. “You wish for him to fly into your flame.”

Lady Felicity Faircloth is in desperate need to wed a Duke. A mistake has now put her on the outskirts of the Ton, and made her into a social pariah. Her only recourse to help herself and her family is to wed a Duke. But Felicity is no vain or mindless twit. This is a woman of passion that will not settle for anything other than true love; no matter how much her incredibly selfish family pushes her otherwise.

For surely, no man on earth should be as handsome as this one. He looked remarkably like his voice sounded. Like a low, liquid rumble. Like temptation. Like sin.

A bargain with the Devil just may be the answer she seeks, but it doesn’t go quite as planned.

I was instantly hooked from the first chapter of this book. I was intrigued by Devil and his story, as well as those of his brothers and sister. This was also the reason for my later struggle. Because while the author paints a beguiling picture with this character, she doesn’t quite give the character development that I yearned for. There’s a lot backstory to him that seems to happen off the pages, things that the reader is told, but you don’t quite feel it. I struggled with this for the better part of the first half of the book. I wanted more of a connection to Devil and his past.

Felicity was a heroine I loved straight away. She’s full of spark and sharp wit. I couldn’t get enough of her. In a world of propriety beyond all, she stood out like a flame. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to voice it or to go after it. She was the perfect balance to Devil and I couldn’t get enough of their chemistry.

I’m going to steal you, instead,” he said then, knowing she’d hear the words as part of the story and not as she should—as the truth. “I’m going to steal you,” he confessed again. “I’m going to steal you and make you mine.” “It’s not theft if I allow it,” she whispered. Silly girl; of course it was. But it wouldn’t stop him.

The second half of the book is where it really hooked me. We get a lot more story on Devil (though never quite as much as I hoped for) and the romance truly begins to bloom.

Sarah MacLean has a way with words that I simply adore, and she has hooked me completely on The Bareknuckle Bastards. I’m captivated and already salivating to learn more about Beast, Cassie, and even more of the naughty Duke himself. The romance here was a slow burn but oh so satisfying. With plenty of chemistry to keep a reader yearning for Felicity and Duke’s HEA. So while it wasn’t quite what I had hoped, it still kept me glued to the pages and eager to see what happens in the end. I can’t wait for more in this series!

Review & Giveaway: Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

HELLO STRANGER
Series:
The Ravenels #4
Genre:
Historical Romance 
Author:
Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:
February 27, 2018

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of an unconventional beauty who finds passion with the spy who can’t resist her

A woman who defies her time

Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule

As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

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This woman owned the sum of him, his tenderness and violence, everything good or bad.

All.
Of.
The.
Swoons.
*dreamy sigh*

I am not typically a reader that enjoys the instant connection and road to love that was shared between Garrett and Ransom, but boy did it ever work for me here. I can’t even tell you why. I think it was a combination of several things, starting from wonderfully crafted and multilayered characters and ending with an engaging story and swoony romance. Whatever the case may be, I simply adored this book. ADORED IT.

Lisa Kleypas is almost always a guaranteed winner for me, and Hello Stranger definitely delivered on all sides.

Dr. Garrett Gibson is not your typical historical heroine. (side note: I love that she was loosely based on an actual person). This is a woman that’s not satisfied being the status quo. A brilliant doctor, her practice and career has always been her prime concern. She doesn’t want to be an accessory for a husband to be put away on a shelf when she’s no longer needed. But the last man she expects to draw her interest is the enigma that is Ethan Ransom.

Have I made you uncomfortable? I beg your pardon.”
Ransom lifted his head to reveal eyes glinting with laughter. “Not at all. It’s just that I’ve never heard a lady talk as you do.”
“As I told you . . . I’m not a lady.”

I love how these two characters balance each other out. Ethan is fiercely protective of Garrett, but Garrett can also hold her own like no other lady. They couldn’t be more wrong for each other. With his current dangerous mission, Ethan’s days are numbered. He knows he can’t offer Garrett the forever that she rightfully deserves. But Garrett knows what she wants, and she’s not afraid to go after it.

There had always been a cold streak in him, but he couldn’t seem to find it now, when he needed it most. He was breaking apart inside. He would never be the same after this. “Christ, you’ve ruined me,” he whispered.

Admittedly it took a little bit to fully get into the swing of things for me, but by 30%, I was completely riveted to the pages. The romance was equally swoony and heart achingly emotional. It was perfectly written and I couldn’t get enough of these two. It’s so charming to see a man as ruthless as Ransom brought to his knees by Garrett and showing his sweet side. And boy did this man have a sweet side. GAH!

A queen, you are,” he said softly. “I could travel the world the rest of my life, and not find another woman with half your ways.”.

Hello Stranger was an incredibly satisfying romance that was as swoony as it was gripping. It tugged at every single heart string I had, and I absolutely adored the fierce connection shared between these characters. Yet another winner from one of my favorite go-to authors, and I’m already craving more. I’m hoping West’s story is next because I was super intrigued by the little of him that we got in this book.


GERI’S REVIEW

“She was sunlight and steel, spun into a substance he’d never encountered before.”

One of the things I love Lisa Kleypas’ books is how vividly written her characters are especially her heroines. In Hello, Stranger, we see Garrett Gibson, the first female physician in England and Ethan Ransom, former detective of the Scotland Yard and current spy fall in love. It was glorious.

I liked their banter and how their relationship progressed. Garrett was intrigued by Ransom but was also suspicious about where his loyalties lie. Ransom for his part can’t help but be attracted to the doctor but because of the nature of his job, he felt that he can’t give Garrett what she needs. But they’re drawn to each other and even with the risks involved, a romance developed between them.

I simply adored Garrett’s character. If you follow Lisa Kleypas on social media or have read Devil in Winter, then you know that Garrett was inspired by a real living female doctor in Victorian England. Garrett was such an interesting heroine. Yes, she’s strong but she also shows vulnerability and isn’t afraid of showing it.

Ethan Ransom was a good Lisa Kleypas hero but not really an exciting despite the fact that he’s a spy. He’s definitely not my fave Kleypas hero. As much as I love how he’s all in with Garrett, I find some of his background problematic and convenient. I could do without the orientalism bit which may not bother some people but it’s definitely there. What I’m saying is, I wish his characterization is a lot deeper than what we got and less problematic. Other than that, he and Garrett are perfect together.

Hello, Stranger is another solid entry to Ms. Kleypas’ Ravenels Series. And speaking of Ravenels, I’m so happy we get to spend more time with West before his book comes out. I already adored his character. I can’t wait!

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

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Review & Lana’s Binge Read: Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne

THE HIGHWAY MAN, THE HUNTER, & THE HIGHLANDER
Series: Victorian Rebels
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Kerrigan Byrne

OMG, you guys! Did I have a binge of my dreams when I discovered this sizzling historical romance series! Anti-heroes, sexy romance, addicting stories and top notch writing, this series had EVERYTHING I love!


THE HIGHWAYMAN (Victorian Rebels #2)

The Highwayman (Victorian Rebels, #1)

 

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster…

STEALING BEAUTY
Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…

COURTING DESIRE
But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?

AMAZON

In this quiet, unfettered moment, she knew him, truly saw him for what he was. Hard, ruthless tyrant. Abused, wounded boy. An empty heart full of promise, and a soul of shadows in need of sunlight.”

Ermahgerd.
My heart. MY HEART!!!!
ERMAHGERD.

First of all, I am seriously kicking myself for taking this long to start this series. Like SERIOUSLY kicking my ass. What the heck was I thinking? I was crazy! Nuts. Loony bins, I tells ya! Because this book? It was everything. All of the things! ALL OF THEM.

It combines my obsession with anti-heroes and sexy historical romance, and weaves it all together into a story that’s truly spellbinding. I couldn’t bring myself to set it down for even a second. I was immediately hooked from the prologue, and as I kept reading, I grew more and more addicted to the words of Kerrigan Byrne.

Dorian Blackwell. The Blackheart of Ben More. The deadliest, coldest, and most lethal king of the London underground. His name is whispered in the shadows and renowned in fear. He’s scarred, both in body and soul, and knows only revenge.
Be.
Still.
My.
Ovaries.

Alright. So maybe I sound slightly deranged, but work with me here. There’s a lot more depth to the man, and when you get to the heart of him, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Farah Leigh Mackenzie. Beautiful, sweet, and a woman with a spine of steel. My god but I loved her. The things she’s survived and the secrets she’s kept would have made a lower woman than her wither away. But she persevered and lost none of her steel core. This is a woman that gives as hard as she gets and she’s not about to back down to a man that’s kidnapped her and essentially propositioned her into a marriage of…convenience?

Enter my other favorite trope.

But I digress yet again.

What you need to take away from my incessant rambling is this; I LOVED THIS BOOK. LOVED it. The romance was swoon worthy, the story was deliciously addicting, the characters full of depth, mystery and secrets. I devoured it like a starving lunatic and couldn’t get enough.
I immediately jumped right into book two. I can’t recommend this book enough for any lovers of steamy historical romance. Period.

READ THIS BOOK.


THE HUNTER (Victorian Rebels #2)

 

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the proper Victorian-era ladies who love them, a hint of danger only makes their hearts beat faster…

A scandalous proposal.

As one of London’t most elite hunters, Christopher Argent never misses his mark and always gets his man. But when his latest target turns out to be a woman—the popular, and stunningly beautiful, actress Millie LeCour—it turns his whole world upside-down. Overwhelmed by the heat that simmers between them, Christopher can’t complete his mission. On the contrary, he’ll do anything to save Millie’s life—even if it means risking his own…

A dangerous passion…

When she learns what Christopher was hired to do, Millie is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this dangerous man’s arms may be her only path to safety—but giving in to her desire may be the deadliest mistake she’s ever made. With both of their lives in jeopardy, Millie and Christopher must learn to trust the real feelings they’re hiding—to find the true love they’re looking for…

AMAZON

He didn’t fear death. Didn’t appreciate life. He was fond of nothing and therefore didn’t fear pain or loss.

Holy WOW! I’m obsessed with this series. I loved this book even more than the first and I freaking LURVED the first. If tortured anti-heroes are your thing, it just doesn’t get much better than Christopher Argent. A ruthless and cold blooded killer; his reputation is one of legend. But what happens when a killer for hire falls for his mark?

This must be what religious men felt as they fell to their knees at an altar. This unworthy rapture. This unholy desire. This need for redemption. Christopher became a pilgrim of her pleasure.

Millie LeCour is a talented London theatre actress. When she see Argent in the audience of her performance, she’s drawn to him like a magnet. Little does she know why he’s really there.

This story was utterly delicious. I loved watching the ice that is Argent’s heart slowly melt for the sweet and sassy Millie. Millie was such a wonderful heroine; full of spunk and courage. She was able to bring one of London’s most feared men to his knees.

He shut her door behind him, wondering to himself just what hour of the day she became less dangerous than him. He’d probably wake her then.

I read The Hunter in one gritty, action packed and delicious sitting. If you’re a fan of sizzling Historical Romance, this series is simply a must read.


THE HIGHLANDER (Victorian Rebels #3)

Can the fiercest master of battle conquer a woman’s heart?

They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent… in the game of love.

Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena—and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart… without surrendering his own?

AMAZON

He wanted all of it. All of her. He wanted to uncover her, body and soul. To lay her bare and wide and make a conquest of her. He wanted to own her. To claim her. To brand her skin with his mark.

Another amazing installment in what’s become my recent addiction of a series! Ever since Mena was first introduced in The Hunter, I’ve been eager for her story. After all the abuse she’d suffered at the hands of her vicious husband and cruel family, I was yearning for her to know love. Who knew she’d find it at the hands of the one they call The Demon Highlander? Yum!

Laird Hamish Mackenzie had wanted to craft a monster out of his son and heir. Someone like him. But monsters were mythical, the figments of superstitious imaginations and farcical stories of centuries past. Liam decided he’d be no monster. Nay, he’d do one better. He’d become a demon.

This was a delicious slow burn of a romance. I loved watching the battle-scarred war hero fall harder and harder for Mena, as she tried harder and harder to stay away from him due to her secrets.

There was plenty of action to be had, with fantastic secondary characters, and a romance that will make you swoon. Another winner from my new favorite historical romance series!

Geri’s Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

SOMEONE TO WED
Series: Westcott #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Mary Balogh
Release Date: November 7, 2017

A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford.

But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them.

He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . .

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It was not just her face that she had hidden from the world. It was the whole of herself. Her instinct was to hide behind veils within veils, and she had done it for so long that she did not know how to case those veils aside.

Someone to Wed is a story about two people who came together out of convenience but in the process, found not only affection but deep and abiding love for each other.

The romance was top-notch as is expected from a Mary Balogh book. Both characters are flawed, complex and relatable in a way that made you root for their happiness and their developing relationship.

Alexander has inherited a failing earldom and must marry for money in order to rebuild his estates. Wren has spent the better part of her adult life in isolation. She wants to get married and have a family but feels that her appearance (she was a huge port wine stain on her face) and time spent away from society made her less of an ideal candidate for marriage. The one thing she has advantage of is her wealth. She’s an independently wealthy woman and wealth is something that Alexander needs.

But he had glimpsed something tantalizingly fleeting behind the veil. Something – no, he could not find the word. But something that invited him to keep looking.

There’s plenty to love in Someone to Wed.

It’s a fantastic MOC story, something that Mary Balogh does really well. Great, well-developed characters. Wren is such a strong, layered character. She knows what she wants and while she presents this cold and aloof behavior on the outside, her heart is passionate. But years of self-imposed seclusion and loneliness did a number of her, which made her all the more endearing and likable in my opinion.

I really liked Alexander, too. I liked that at very beginning, there’s no feelings or even an attraction between them. Their relationship grew from chapter to chapter and I was swept away with the slow burn romance between these two characters.

If you’re a fan of both slow-burn romances and the marriage-of-convenience trope, I highly recommend this book.

Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling ‘Slightly’ sextet and ‘Simply’ quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

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