#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.

Review & Excerpt: His Hand Me Down Countess by Sorcha Mowbray

HIS HAND ME DOWN COUNTESS
Series: The Lustful Lords #1
Genre: Historical Romance, Erotic
Author: Sorcha Mowbray
Release Date: September 20, 2017

His brother’s untimely death leaves him with an Earldom and a fiancée. Too bad he wants neither of them…

Theodora Lawton has no need of a husband. As an independent woman, she wants to own property, make investments and be the master of her destiny. Unfortunately, her father signed her life away in a marriage contract to the future Earl of Stonemere. But then the cad upped and died, leaving her fate in the hands of his brother, one of the renowned Lustful Lords.

Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere, is far more prepared to be a soldier than a peer. Deeply scarred by his last tour of duty, he knows he will never be a proper, upstanding pillar of the empire. Balanced on the edge of madness, he finds respite by keeping a tight rein on his life, both in and out of the bedroom. His brother’s death has left him with responsibilities he never wanted and isn’t prepared to handle in the respectable manner expected of a peer.

Further complicating his new life is an unwanted fiancée who comes with his equally unwanted title. Saddled with a hand-me-down countess, he soon discovers the woman is a force unto herself. As he grapples with the burden of his new responsibilities, he discovers someone wants him dead. The question is, can he stay alive long enough to figure out who’s trying to kill him while he tries to tame his headstrong wife?

AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N | KOBO | GOOGLE PLUS 

London, May 1860Stone heard the butler intone his name and title loudly enough for all of London to hear, let alone the population of the Devonses’ ballroom. Had anyone suggested three years ago he would bear the family title, Earl of Stonemere, never mind be contemplating his future nuptials, he would certainly have laughed. True, he never actually laughed anymore, but he certainly would have found such a claim incredulous.

It was no longer an amusing matter.

Having survived the receiving line, he eased through the crowded ballroom. Every few feet, he stopped to speak with one acquaintance or another. Not so long ago, these same people would have been running for the hills and hiding their daughters. But fate, a fickle mistress to say the least, had other plans.

Moving with a quickness born of desperation, he barely acknowledged the next three men as the heat from the crowd paired with the stench of perfumes and body odor to choke him. After his service in India, crowded entertainments such as a ball had grown difficult to endure. The press of bodies and the loud murmur of conversation punctuated by the occasional shrill laugh smothered him, too similar to the roar of battle and the cries of the dying.

Moving past a swarm of silk skirts, he spotted a dark, hidden alcove, an oasis from the overwhelming onslaught, both real and imagined. If he could shut it down quickly enough, he wouldn’t embarrass himself. If he failed, all of London would learn just how broken he was.

He was an earl. Not a soldier. Never again a soldier.

Once the cool darkness enveloped him, he opened his mouth and drew a breath. His pounding pulse eased as the vise around his chest released and his damp skin dried. After another quarter hour spent tucked away, he believed he could manage the crowd long enough to find his betrothed.

As any good officer would, he had a strategy. Find her, claim his dances, and then await each one either on the balcony or on the dance floor, if required. Even the cardrooms at these soirees bordered on disabling.

He reached for the drapes to his hideaway, but hesitated as two women tittered in the immediate vicinity.

“Why, Gladys, I heard his name announced earlier. I’m certain Matilda invited Stonemere despite all the gossip.”

“I simply cannot imagine what she was thinking,” the one called Gladys said.

“Can’t you? Having one of the Lustful Lords in attendance at your ball? I daresay everyone who is anyone will wish to be able to say they were here. It’s all so deliciously scandalous and yet possible now the unmitigated rake is off the market.” Gladys’s friend sighed with a bit more drama than anyone in their right mind or otherwise would deem necessary.

“Well, one should hope that man can contain himself what with all these poor young virgins parading around. It would serve Matilda right if he debauched each and every one of them while here under her auspices.”

“Oh, do be sensible, Gladys. He could perhaps ruin four or five in one night, but all of them?”

Past ready to find his fiancée and escape his hidey-hole, he stepped out next to the ladies in question, turned to them, and bowed over each of their hands. The shock on their faces far outweighed any notion of good manners on his part. “Why, ladies, you both give me far more credit than I deserve. Even in my heyday of debauchery, I could only service three ladies in a single evening.”

As the two ladies sputtered, he departed their corner. The temptation to turn and wink at the gossipers won out, which caused another round of tittering and sputtering from behind him. Of course, he was well aware of what proper Society called himself and his friends. But the Marquess of Flintshire, Earl of Brougham, Baron Lincolnshire, and Viscount Wolfington—as well as himself—held little regard for polite society. Each of them had learned the hard way that they had no place amongst their peers.

He hadn’t claimed her as truly his, and he did not suspect he ever would in any way that satisfied his sexual hunger. He doubted his pretty wife would appreciate how he wanted to strap her to his bed and demand she acknowledge him as her lord and master in the most primeval of ways.

I love a sexy historical romance, and Sorcha Mowbray has me hooked with book one in her Lustful Lords series. The series title is definitely appropriate, because this book isn’t just hot, it’s SCORCHING.

Aptly dubbed as one of the Lustful Lords, known for their sexual debauchary, Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere is anything but proper.

His brother’s death leaves him forced to take a title he never desired, and wed a woman that would likely be scandalized down to her bones if she ever learned his true nature. Shy and sweet Theodora Lawton was once his brother’s finance and in Stone’s opinion, was a better match for his brother than him. But duty is duty and The House Of Lords made their decision and he has a duty to uphold.

But sweet and soft spoken Theo is not at all what she seems. Beneath the manners and the innocent beauty is a tigress; a woman that has a wild streak as large as her independent one. She knows her new husband isn’t giving her everything that he is, and she’s determined to bring the beast out.

This was a ridiculously sexy romance with a delicious mix of BDSM elements. Stone is controlling, domineering, protective, and if it takes a proper spanking to make his sassy wife see reason, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Theo is not afraid to give as hard as she gets, and let me just tell you, she gets it HARD. Uhem. *dirty grin*

While the sex was super hot, at times it was a bit much and distracted from the story. Though if you like super sexy reads, you definitely won’t be complaining. I’m just pickier than most *sheepish grin*
The suspense part of the story felt a bit on the slow side, but I appreciated the way the author resolved it. She wrote one empowered heroine with Theo and I got to love that.

Sorcha definitely has a new fan in this reader and I can’t wait for more in this series and more of deliciously kinky Lusty Lords (particularly since one hints at an MMF situation). If you like super hot historical romances, this one will definitely hit the spot.

Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, “Like” Sorcha on Facebook and follow her on TwitterInstagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She’s loves hearing from her readers. Email her directly at sorcha@sorchamowbray.com

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Review: The Scandal Of It All by Sophie Jordan

THE SCANDAL OF IT ALL
Series: The Rogue Files #2
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Sophie Jordan
Release Date: July 25, 2017

It takes two to make a scandal…

What kind of woman ventures into London’s most notorious pleasure club? An outsider like Graciela, the Duchess of Autenberry, snubbed time and time again by society because of her Spanish roots. Ela longs to take a lover for a single, wild night, and within the walls of Sodom there are gentlemen to suit every forbidden taste. If only she were not so drawn to the smoldering Lord Strickland…a dangerous man who sees beyond her mask, and could ruin her reputation with a mere whisper.

Lord Strickland never permitted himself to fantasize about the sultry, off-limits lady, but then he never expected to find Ela in a place so wicked, looking for what he’s more than too happy to give. She may not be to the ton’s taste, but she suits him perfectly. First, however, he must convince her to trust in this dangerous desire—and in the promise of forever unleashed by one wild, scandalous night.

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Somehow, in a short time she had become his sole desire. He wanted her with an intensity that would not go away until it found its release.

This was my first book by this author and I’m an instant fan! The Scandal Of It All was wickedly delicious and sinfully swoony. Not having read the first book in this series (quit side eyeing me, OCD police), I wasn’t sure how smoothly I’d be able to jump into the story. Turns out, I had no problem at all. The heroine of this book is the step mother of the Duke of Autenberry, who had a very big secondary character role in the previous book. And while you can definitely see the happenings of the previous book carried over into this one, the author gives plenty of background that a new reader wouldn’t be even remotely lost.

Graciela, the Duchess of Autenberry, is a widow that’s tired of having no passion in her life. Her daughter is almost of marrying age. Her step daughter and step son are fully grown. After a loveless marriage with a cold and calloused man that took every opportunity to put her down, she’s not a woman of confidence. Her coloring and Spanish blood ensure that she always gets looked down at by the ladies of London’s ton. Yearning for the touch of a passionate lover, she caves to her best friend’s nagging and goes to a club known for it’s darker pleasures. Only the man she meets the attention of is not one she expected.

She felt as though she were facing a stranger, contrary to the nonsense she was spouting. A man who was stripping her of her clothes with his eyes to see all that lay beneath.

Lord Strickland is her step son’s best friend and several years her junior. But that never stopped him from fantasizing about the beautiful Graciela. Now that he knows that she’s interested in the same darker desires, he’ll stop at nothing to have her.

I fell hard and fast for Collin. This is a man that knows what he wants and goes after it with a single minded intent, damn the consequences. His grandmother is on his back to pick a finance but the one woman he craves is the one that he can’t have.

What begins is a back and forth laden with enough sexual tension to really set things on fire. It was utterly delicious. As much as I wanted to be frustrated with Ela at her adamant refusal of Collin, I can understand why she was the way she was. This is a woman beaten down by what society expects of her and what her husband engrained in her to believe. It took a while for her to clear the fog. I loved the way that Collin goes after her and the passion brimming between them.

There was a little bit of drama at the end that seemed just a bit over the top, but it also served to tie everything together nicely. The epilogue even managed to make me tear up. And while I wished for a bit more closer with Ela and her step son, it looks like we’ll be getting that side of things in his book next and I already can’t wait!

Jenn’s Review: The Duke Meets His Match by Tina Gabrielle

THE DUKE MEETS HIS MATCH
Series: The Infamous Somertons #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Tina Gabrielle
Release Date: July 10, 2017

The daughter of an infamous art forger, Chloe Somerton grew up poor. Desperate to aid her sisters, she’d picked a pocket…or two. Now circumstances have changed, and Chloe has a chance to marry a young, wealthy lord. Only his mentor—a dark, dangerous duke—stands in her way.

The duke knows about her past, and she’ll do anything to keep him from telling.

The moment Michael Keswick, the Duke of Cameron, sees Chloe Somerton, he recognizes her as a fraud. The stunning beauty with sapphire eyes and golden hair now appears to be a proper lady, but he knows better. What begins as a battle of wills soon escalates into a fierce attraction.

In Chloe, Michael finds peace from the memories of war, but he refuses to marry…and she won’t settle for anything less.

 

AMAZON

It isn’t often that I read historical romance author that I have never read before….and enjoy it! I am pretty picky when it comes to HR authors, typically sticking to my favorites. But I know I need to branch out, and I’m glad that I did!
à la Mode St. » fashion

He had the power to ruin everything.

à la Mode St. » fashionsuzanne4u: “His princess ”Chloe has a past that no one knows about, except the Duke of Cameron. She is determined to put her past behind her and marry a title because she knows what it is like to go without money or food, and she is determined to never live like that again. The Duke is in her way of getting what she wants. Chloe is a strong-willed character with a hint of innocence, but she does not go quietly. I loved how determined she was through the whole book to go after what she wants.

Michael made a promise to a friend to protest his son, and that is exactly what he is determined to do. When he discovers that Chloe has set her sights on the young man he is protecting, he makes it clear that it will never happen. Michael is immediately attracted to Chloe, but he believes her to be a thief who is just trying to use the man he vowed to protect. His suspicions of Chloe’s character drives him to seek out the truth, but he doesn’t expect to be seduced.

The beginning of this book was wonderful! I loved how much they hated each other, and I wish that the animosity between them kept going. The sparks fly between these two!
à la Mode St. » fashion

”You may be a duke, but you are not a gentleman.”
“There’s no room for chivalry in war.”
“And this is war?”
“Only if you don’t obey.”
Blue sparks flashed in her eyes. “So be it, Your Grace.”

à la Mode St. » fashionIt was only when the story became sweet that it began to falter for me. But I still wanted to keep reading about these fantastic characters to see what happened in the end. This was my first book by Tina Gabrielle, and I am definitely intrigued.

Geri’s Review+Excerpt: The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Sarah MacLean
Release Date: June 27, 2017

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…

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Chapter 1
DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, ParliamentShe’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.
Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.
August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.
Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.
He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.
January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.
His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.
April the seventeenth, 1833.
The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.
He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.
Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.
Where had she gone?
The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.
And they had.
March the first, 1833. The day they met.
So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.
If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?
That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.
And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.
Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?
Where had she gone?
The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.
Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

Tell me, Seraphina. If there were no one—no sisters or god or goddess to protect, no American, no aristocracy to watch and judge? What would you do if I pursued you?”

The Day of the Duchess is one of those books that makes me go, “This is the reason why I read romance!” Does it have a healthy dose of angst? Yes, it does. It also has one of the best grovels I’ve read in a while. The satisfying ending was worth every single heartache I, and the characters, went through. And every emotional moment in this book was earned.

Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, is back from exile with a single mission: get a divorce from her estranged husband, Malcolm Bevingstoke. The Duke however won’t let her go without a fight. He has regretted his actions in the past and is willing to do anything to win his wife back. But he has to contend with a lot of obstacles before he can even begin to fix what he broke years ago. So he concocted a crazy plan. Ask Sera to accompany him on his estate to help him choose her replacement and then she’ll get her divorce.

It’s a crazy plan from a man who’s desperate to win back his wife and atone for his sins in the past. What he didn’t know is Seraphina is desperate, too. But for different reasons. And it’s something that I totally could relate to. It’s something that we take for granted now but was totally not an option for women back then. And this is important to the story and to Sera’s character arc and it made me understand her motivation and sympathize with her.

I have dreamed of you here. Look up. Look at us. Look at how beautiful you are. Watch how I worship you.”

The tension between them was unmistakable. These are two people who clearly still love each other desperately but are so desperately broken that they can’t see beyond their own pain. Sarah MacLean did a phenomenal job at writing both of these characters at their darkest moments. They both made mistakes. Malcolm’s transgression would have been a deal breaker for me if not for the fact that the author was able to convince me that he truly regretted his actions. And some of his actions were not immediately known to Sera. She didn’t know what he’s done to make it up to her after she left.

And that’s one of the beauty of this book. I went through it knowing that these two are still desperately in love and that they deserved each other. I want them to work out their issues because them not being together would be a tragedy. But man, did they have to work for it.

But she remembered every note, every word, as though it were a prayer. And perhaps it was. Perhaps she could exorcise the past with it.

I mentioned above how much the satisfying ending was so earned. And this is the reason why. Both characters had to find a common ground first before they could even move on.

I don’t blame Sera for not trusting Malcolm at his word. What she went through was heart-wrenching. At the same time, as much as I hated what Malcolm did, it was impossible not to be moved by how genuinely sorry he was for the past. And he suffered as well. I loved, LOVED how their relationship evolved.

I shall have to be happy with finding you in the stars, at night.”

Apart from Sera and Malcolm, the Day of the Duchess are full of interesting characters. Of course, Sera’s sisters, the Soiled S’s are by the far the most interesting ones. But there were characters here who really stood out as well. Caleb and the ladies that were supposed to vie for the title of the next Duchess of Haven were charming and wonderful. I’m so looking forward to reading Caleb’s book. I won’t tell you his potential partner. You’d have to read this book to find out. But man, that’s going to be another angsty one for sure.

Overall, I LOVED this book. The romance was just top-notch. And the grovel…*swoon* It took me quite a bit of time to recover after I finished it because it was that good. Well done, Ms. MacLean. Well done!

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