Review: Someone to Trust

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Someone to TrustSomeone to Trust (Westcott, #5) by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #5
Published by Berkley on November 27, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This is a gentle sweet romance that takes its time developing the characters relationship. This is grand passion restrained in true Mary Balogh fashion.

THE STORY: At Christmas, Elizabeth, Lady Overfield decides that it is finally time to remarry after a disastrous first marriage. This time she wants stability and trust. Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, also decides that he wants to marry to establish a family as close as the Westcotts after a childhood with a highly dysfunctional family. Elizabeth and Colin enjoy one another’s company but since Elizabeth is nine years older than Colin they know there can be nothing but friendship between them. They do agree, however, to dance a waltz together at every ball during the season.

OPINION: This is a quiet slow developing story based completely on the relationship between Elizabeth and Colin. I really enjoyed how the two of them build a friendship. There is always an underlying attraction between the two, but the two fight against it believing that a relationship is impossible.

I very much enjoy these stories. By the time these two marry, I completely believe that the two of them can build a lasting relationship. Those looking for big passionate romances might not enjoy this book, but I appreciated that these two have a quiet romance but one built on laughter and friendship and yet still the passion of falling in love.

The sexual content was also dialed way back in this one which completely fit the characters. Respect, friendship, companionship and trust all come before the sex in this story which was a nice change.

My one complaint is that I wish I had gotten to see some glimpse of their future. I’m sure we will see more of them in future books in the series, but I missed some confirmation that their marriage will manage to work for both of them and they will achieve their mutual goals.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved seeing Avery who has a vital role at critical points in this story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SOMEONE TO TRUST is the fifth book in the Westcott series. The romance here is self-contained and thus it can be read as a standalone. However, new readers should be aware that the book is filled with characters from the prior books and knowledge about them is largely assumed so this book is probably better read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley which was used to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-stars

Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton

Review: The Other Miss BridgertonThe Other Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys, #3) by Julia Quinn
Series: Rokesbys #3
Published by Avon on November 20, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I so much wanted to love this book, but in the end I found it pretty banal. It was okay but I didn’t feel any real heat between the hero and heroine and I thought it was well written but utterly forgettable.

THE STORY: Poppy Bridgerton inadvertently comes across a smuggler’s hiding place and finds herself kidnapped aboard ship. Left on the captain’s bed, she meets Captain Andrew James Rokesby who is masquerading as a privateer as a cover for his work for the British government. Andrew has no choice but to take Poppy with him as she threatens his current mission. What Poppy doesn’t know, however, is who Andrew really is — his brother is married to her cousin.

OPINION: This book had great potential but ended up a boring predictable story with characters who were too perfect and made no missteps. They felt unreal and had no real connection with one another. At points, I wanted to love this story, but I never felt anything for the characters. As a result, I ended the book saying okay and promptly forgot just about everything about the book.

The story has potential — the heroine is kidnapped and taken aboard the ship to meet the captain who is masquerading as a privateer in order to cover his work as a courier for the British government. Of course, the hero is without any faults. The heroine is only taken because the government gives him no other choice! He treats her with great courtesy and respect at all times (with the exception of some mild teasing)! He gives her a puzzle to relieve her boredom! They spend the week talking about their hopes and dreams! When they are taken hostage, he makes sure to be a totally wonderful man and doesn’t take advantage even while she wants him! He has spent his adult life on the sea, but really wants to work on land so there won’t be any conflicts in their future!

The hero was just boring with no faults (except not telling the heroine his real name). And the romance is pretty boring and as expected as a result.

WORTH MENTIONING: This series certainly doesn’t live up to the amazing original Bridgerton series. In fact, I realized while reading this book that I couldn’t remember either of the other two books in the series when I read this one (even though when I looked at my reviews I gave them pretty high marks), but I can remember several of the original Bridgerton books although I haven’t read them for several years.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON is the third book in the Rokesbys series. Although there are overlapping characters, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: A Lady Awakened

Review: A Lady AwakenedA Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1) by Cecilia Grant
Series: Blackshear Family #1
Published by Bantam on December 27, 2011
Genres: Historical
Pages: 346
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: An intellectually interesting twist on the normal romance story, but ultimately I found the book too uneven to be a great book.

THE STORY: Martha Russel is newly widowed and determined to protect the people of her estate from her husband’s brother who stands to inherit. So she concocts a scheme: she will quickly get pregnant and pass the child off to as her husband’s heir. She approaches a temporary newcomer to the area, Theo Milkwood, with a proposition. She will pay him to impregnate her. Theo, sent by his father to learn some responsibility, is insulted by Martha’s offer, but is happy to take the widow up on a month of irresponsible sex.

OPINION: I wanted to really love this book. There was something fresh and interesting in the story. The relationship between the hero and heroine begins cold and through their interactions, I loved how the two of them change and find something special together.

That first part of the book, however, was pretty difficult to get through. There is a lot of unsatisfying sex to get through. Unfortunately, when things change for them, the satisfying encounters don’t really outweigh the two thirds of book that come before.

What I did like was the development of the heroine. I never really liked her much. She’s not a character that I came to really love, but I found her journey intriguing. This was an interesting exercise of a book to read, but it didn’t really seem like a book that I would voluntarily pick up again.

Parts were really good, and I didn’t really mind way the relationship between the characters develop, but I left the book really not feeling that the happy ending outweighed everything that went before.

WORTH MENTIONING: I think the book might have been better with an epilogue showing these characters happy together.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A LADY AWAKENED is the first book in the Blackshear Family series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Perfect

Review: PerfectPerfect (Second Opportunities, #2) by Judith McNaught
Series: Second Opportunities #2
Published by Pocket Books on December 1, 2002
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 704
Goodreads
five-stars

“I love you, Julie. I loved you in Colorado. I love you here, where I am. I will always love you. Everywhere. Always.”

FINAL DECISION: One of my all time favorite books, this book has action, suspense, mystery, a sexy leading man, a strong heroine, a full and complete story and a sense of romance and drama. I’ve loved this one for years and it doesn’t disappoint after decades of reading it.

THE STORY: Julie Mathison has done everything she can to do live an exemplary life after being adopted. On a trip out of her small town, she is taken hostage by Zachary Benedict, the former superstar Hollywood actor and director who was convicted of murdering his wife. Zach has escaped from prison and needs Julie and her vehicle to get to to the place he will be temporarily hiding. At first desperate to escape her kidnapper, Julie soon is convinced that Zach is innocent.

OPINION: I love this book. It is one of my all time favorite books. I love the heart of this story. Zach and Julie are such a wonderful couple.

This is a long book, and I enjoy every page. The story has time and space to breathe in these pages. We get to see what formed these characters before they even meet and then we get to see their relationship develop, the problems that almost tear them apart and then a resolution. And that might be what I love most about this book — when the “big problem” is resolved, the story is not over. Instead, we get to see the characters actually create their happy ending.

Julie could have been written as a stereotypical do-gooder, but instead, she has complexity. Her reaction with Zach mirrors other events in her life so it doesn’t feel like a stretch that she would turn her kidnapping into an advocacy for his innocence. I liked that she has morals even when she doesn’t live up to them all the time.

Zach is my favorite actor hero. I absolute loved how he is gobsmacked by his reaction to Julie. The cynical actor is enchanted with Julie who discovers Zach’s secret soft heart.

Not only is Zach and Julie’s relationship sweet and romantic, the book allows other relationships to be explored. Parental love, sibling relationships, and friendships are all important in this story. All the characters in the book have complexity and interest. (We also get some side romances.)

I especially enjoyed seeing Mathew and Meredith from PARADISE. They have significant roles in this book and the friendship between Zach and Matthew worked especially well.

This book was written in the early 1990s and the pop culture references are from that time. The book does, however, clearly point to taking place at a particular time.including dates and years for the events rather than being a book that could take place in current times.

WORTH MENTIONING: One of the significant twists in the story at the end has been negated by the subsequent changes from the original cover. The original pink with roses cover has an important role in the book itself so I’m rather sad that new readers might be left wondering what the characters are referring to at the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PERFECT is the second book in the Second Opportunities series. This romance here is self-contained and it is not necessary to read the first book in the series. The couple from that series does, however, make a significant appearance here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: My One and Only Duke

Review: My One and Only DukeMy One and Only Duke (Rogues to Riches, #1) by Grace Burrowes
Series: Rogues to Riches #1
Published by Forever on November 6, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 442
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I so much loved the hero in this book. Restrained and understated, this hero is incredibly kind and responsible. I loved how he treated the heroine with respect and dignity.

THE STORY: Self-made banker Quinn Wentworth finds himself framed for a murder he didn’t commit and sentenced to hang. While waiting for his sentence to be executed, Quinn generously marries a woman he barely knows. Jane Winston, a widow in desperate straights, marries a condemned stranger to provide for her unborn child. But on the way to the gallows, Quinn is saved from death by the news that he has inherited a dukedom. Now, of course, he also has a wife Quinn and Jane must determine if they can make their marriage a real one at the same time Quinn is hunting for who framed him.

OPINION: I really found this a lovely book. The beginning chapters, before Quinn is saved from hanging, were quite beautiful in how Quinn and Jane build a foundation for what will be their marriage. Quinn’s kindness is on display.

I especially loved in this book how these are restrained characters build a relationship based on their mutual respect for one another. I couldn’t put this book down despite it being a quieter book without an action packed plot. There are some exciting moments, but the focus on this book are these two strangers getting to know one another.

Quinn, especially, was a quite a wonderful hero. We get to see very early in this book his true characters as he spends what he thinks are his last days on earth helping as many people as he can. He is simply adorable and thus I was not surprised by how gentle he treats the heroine in their marriage.

My only complaint is that I wanted to know what happened with Jane’s child. I expect, however, that we will find out more in future books in the series. I think that Quinn will make a wonderful father.

I’ve never actually read an entire book by Grace Burrowes before. I picked up this one after reading a connected novella and I’m certainly glad I did.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book introduces the members of Quinn’s family who hopefully will have books of their own.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MY ONE AND ONLY DUKE is the first book in the Rags to Riches series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Paradise

Review: ParadiseParadise by Judith McNaught
Series: Second Opportunities #1
Published by Pocket Books on June 1, 1992
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 709
Goodreads
five-stars

“Either give me your hand,” he said, “or end it now, and put us both out of our misery.”

FINAL DECISION: Fabulous story with characters that I have remembered for almost three decades with a story that covers over a decade heartbreak, betrayal and transformative love.

THE STORY: Matthew Farrell is seen as a playboy corporate raider. A self-made man, Matt built his fortune always remembering the rich, spoiled girl he was briefly married to before they were torn apart. Now eleven years after their brief marriage, Matt and Meredith Bancroft are again in the same place. Meredith is no longer the eighteen year old girl Matt knew and she is on the precipice of finally heading her family’s department store empire. Eleven years hasn’t diminished the intense feelings between Matt and Meredith. Betrayal, heartbreak, fury, passion still swirl around the couple. Both have moved on in their lives but neither can forget all that was between them when they are face to face.

OPINION: This book reminds me of how there are only a few books that really are memorable. I might enjoy a book for a while, but this book I remember after years. I don’t think I’ve read this book 25 years, but I remember how much I loved these characters and their story. This book is my second favorite Judith McNaught book (surpassed only by PERFECT, the second book in this series).

Matt and Meredith’s story has a familiar story line. Two young people marry and then forces tear them apart. They meet again and all those second chance feelings: love, passion, fear, anger threaten any chance of a reconciliation. This is an epic book, it follows the two for fifteen years. The book takes a while to develop these characters, their situation, and their passion for one another, but by the time it ends, I was completely and utterly invested in their story.

Despite some dated references (especially to the cost of items), the relationship feels modern and fresh. Indeed, Meredith’s desire to run her family business and Matt’s unwavering support of her feels more relevant than ever.

Filled with regrets and mistakes and an intense desire to finally get things right touched my heart more now than when I was a young 20 year old reading this book for the first time.

WORTH MENTIONING: Two things in this book really transported me back to the first time I read it in the early 1990s. First, no cell phones so there are lots of plot points about not being able to contact people. Second, lots of mentions of how much things cost which is so late 1980s.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PARADISE is the first book in the loosely connected Second Opportunities series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Gifts of Love

Review: Gifts of LoveGifts of Love by Kay Hooper, Lisa Kleypas
Published by Avon on October 31, 2006
Genres: Historical
Pages: 326
Goodreads
three-half-stars

This is an anthology of two unrelated novellas.

HOLIDAY SPIRIT by Kay Hooper: Lady Antonia Wingate and Richard Allerton, Duke of Lyonshall were engaged and seemingly in love when Antonia abruptly broke off their engagement. Several years later, Antonia’s grandmother has invited Richard to a “house party” where he is the only non-family guest. While her grandmother attempts to rekindle Antonia and Richard’s romance, the two are privy to the ghostly romance of prior inhabitants of the castle. I really enjoyed this story. The romance plot is pretty standard, but the addition of the ghost story and the interfering grandmother gave this story some extra interest. Rating: 4 stars.

SURRENDER by Lisa Kleypas: Jason and Laura Moran are newly married but not happily. Jason believes that Laura is contemptuous of him because of his humble beginnings. Laura fears Jason’s coldness. The two have the chance to save their new marriage if they can speak their hearts to one another. I really like stories about married couples. This one, however, was just okay for me. Perhaps their problems needed more pages to be explored and solved or perhaps I didn’t feel that the characters were complex enough to explore the problems presented. For whatever reason, I liked the story but didn’t find it particularly memorable or remarkable. Rating: 3 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: The Last Duke

Review: The Last DukeThe Last Duke (The 1797 Club #10) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #10
Published by Passionate Pen Genres: Historical
Goodreads
five-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This book just made me happy. It was everything that a final book in a series should be. We got a great romance combined with getting to see characters from the series in their happy every afters.

THE STORY: Kit’s father finally passes and Kit is the last of his friends to take on the title of duke. Now the Duke of Kingsacre, Kit also is responsible for the care of his much younger sister. The problem with this is the governess that comes along with his sister. Sarah Carlton is a lady who has fallen on hard times after the deaths of her parents. Kit and Sarah had an unpleasant confrontation several years ago and now the two are under the same roof.

OPINION: This book closes the series about this group of friends. Appropriately, the book is filled with the characters from the series and it was especially gratifying to get to see all the couples together and happy with their children.

This story is more quiet than others in the series. The big event here is the death of Kit’s father and the effect it has on him and those around him. I really liked it because the quieter pace allowed for more of the relationships between not only Kit and Sarah, but also all the characters from the series.

Kit and Sarah talk, work through their relationship and build a family. The characters are good people. Kit is responsible and didn’t have great tragedy or drama in his past like the other dukes. Instead, his tragedy is now. I especially liked how the issue of his and Sarah’s past confrontation was addressed. His anger at Sarah is so wonderfully explained by his friends.

Sarah is a woman who is making her own way in the world. Her change in circumstances has been difficult, but she perseveres. Dedicated and sweet and such a good person.

This might have been a boring book — the characters are so nice without deep trauma or drama. Instead, I ended up loving this book best in the series. The characters are nice and good people. They have the normal loss and pain one might expect from life and it is so sweet how much they like one another. I especially loved in this book how all the other characters help to gently push Kit and Sarah together.

I ended this book just being happy. The book satisfied all my desires to see this series wrapped up.

WORTH MENTIONING: One of my favorite scenes is the duchesses acting as fairy godmothers. Just made me smile from start to finish.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE LAST DUKE is the tenth and final book in the 1797 Club series. The romance here is self contained and can be read as a standalone. There are, however, overlapping characters in the series and this book is much more enjoyable knowing all the characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

five-stars

Review: Aeran & Rhys

Review: Aeran & RhysAeran & Rhys (Dragon Hearts 7) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Dragon Hearts #7
Published by Carole Mortimer on November 9, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A good ending to the series. Because of the menage story, this romance ended up having some different twists which made it different. I was disappointed that the story didn’t have a concluding chapter wrapping up all the couples.

THE STORY: Dragons don’t share their mates. Aeran and Rhys are two brothers who are so different. One has totally adapted to the twenty-first century and one is closer to his ancient warrior roots. Things go haywire when Aeran and Rhys meet Cristina. Connected with the man who attempted to kill their brother’s mate, Aeran and Rhys find Cristina troublesome and exactly what the two dragon shifters want. The question is whether the two brothers can resolve their desires to each possess their mate.

OPINION: I really enjoyed the conflict in this book as the two brothers have to readjust their visions of their future when they have the same mate. The adapting that Aeran and Rhys have to do was the best part of this book because the challenge is more complicated. These two are brothers but they don’t necessarily mesh well together. Now they have to find a way to love the same woman.  Cristina is a good counterbalance to these two.

This is a crazy and fun read. Nothing big and complicated, but an enjoyable diversion.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has a menage relationship with two men and a woman.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AERAN & RHYS is the seventh and final book in the Dragon Hearts series about a group of dragon-shifter brothers who find their fated mates. The romance here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone, but the book assumes knowledge about the prior events and thus is better read after the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Misadventures with a Professor

Review: Misadventures with a ProfessorMisadventures with a Professor (Misadventures, #17) by Sierra Simone
Series: Misadventures #17
Published by Waterhouse Press on November 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Hot, sexy story combined with a rather sweet romance. The relationship between these characters made this book a winner for me even though the story line was fairly predictable.

THE STORY: On her way to start a research assistant job with an old stuffy professor, Zandy Lynch has a goal — to lose her virginity — and she has one night in London to accomplish it. Oliver Graeme isn’t looking for a woman but when he runs into a young woman looking for a one night stand with a stranger, he wants to protect her from her own actions. Of course, he ends up succumbing to her charms. By morning, Zandy and Oliver go their separate ways. But when Zandy meets her new boss, she’s shocked to find that the stuffy professor isn’t so old or so stuffy — and he just happens to be her one night stand.

OPINION: This was a hot and sweet story. Oliver is a really cute hero with lot of hangups based on his past. I really enjoyed their interactions with one another. Amanda is inexperienced, but not naive. She, in fact, pushes Oliver to confront his fears.

The story, like others in this series, is really focused on the sexual relationship. These two really enjoy roleplaying. Hot and sexy with the sweet but determined heroine and the grumpy brooding hero. The relationship between these two was a 5 for me.

The story was entirely predictable and while I still really enjoyed the book, I sighed a little at the predictable twists in the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: The story is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES WITH A PROFESSOR is the seventeenth book in the Misadventures series. These books, however, are completely independent stories and thus are standalones.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars