Review: Lady Derring Takes a Lover

Review: Lady Derring Takes a LoverLady Derring Takes a Lover (The Palace of Rogues #1) by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #1
Published by Avon on March 26, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“I have perhaps seen more beautiful women, but the difference between them and you is like the difference between the grimy window and one rubbed clean, one though which the sun shines. It is about a certain quality of light.”

FINAL DECISION: A book about love and friendship and building a family, I loved this book. Long writes such beautiful prose about love and relationship that I just fell into this book and didn’t want to find my way out. A great start to Long’s return to historical romance.

THE STORY: Delilah Swanpool, Countess of Derring, finds out upon her husband’s death that not only was he in financial debt and has left her nothing but a useless building in a poor area of London, but that he also had a mistress. Delilah decides never to be at the mercy of man again and opens a boarding house in the building her inherited. One of her guests is Captain Tristan Hardy who, unknown to Delilah, is hunting a smuggling operation and Delilah and her new boarding house are under suspicion. Tristan begins to question his mission as he gets to know Delilah who touches a heart that he doesn’t believe he has.

OPINION: This is a wonderful book. As it began, I wondered if I would like it because the story and tone was different than I expected, but by the time the two central relationships in the book (Delilah/Angelique and Delilah/Tristan) were established I found myself relaxing into the sigh-worthy beauty of the text and the relationships.

The first book in the series tends to suffer as characters and places and situations are introduced. This book does have some of that in the first portion of the book, but I truly enjoyed the development of the friendship between Delilah and Angelique. Two women left penniless by the same man, find common ground. Their relationship is important to this story (and I expect this series). I especially appreciated how these women look at their lives and see how they are not “seen” or “known” by people and find a way to help themselves. I very much like seeing women take power into their own hands. These two women have an interesting story even without the romance and in essence are the “founding mothers” of the new family built in The Grand Palace of the Thames aka the Palace of Rogues.

Delilah is a darling woman. Nothing about who she is has mattered to those around her. Instead, she has had to play a role built for her. Tossed from all the protection of her life that she expected, Delilah refuses to continue on that path and seek another husband or a protector as is expected. Instead, she cuts a new path for herself. Despite the sadness and disappointment in her life, Delilah is a kind and optimistic woman. Indeed, she is the heart of the new operation.

Tristan is a man dedicated to his work when he arrives at the Palace. Delilah immediately draws Tristan. I loved how sensitive Tristan is even though he claims to be cynical and without a heart. Everything about why he does things comes from a place of doing right and care. He doesn’t search from smugglers because he wants riches or advancement. Instead, he feels responsibility for those harmed by the smugglers and is dedicated to the responsibilities placed upon him by the King.

I love the quiet development of the relationship between Delilah and Tristan which depends upon talking and appreciating and knowing. At the same time, there is intense passion which flares between them. But there is something very powerful in Delilah’s demand that what lies between them must be centered in knowledge and relationship rather than mere bodily passion. She is always willing to demand that she be more than the easy expectation.

This is a beautifully written book. As always, Long has such a lyrical and emotional power to her books. This book ripped my heart out at times and made it bleed but then also made it beat harder and soar with a recognition of the universal joy and power of love. I immediately began to re-read passages not only for the intense emotional parts, but just the beautifully written parts. Long has written another winner.

WORTH MENTIONING: The boardinghouse sets up an intriguing variety of potential stories that can be explored in this series, but I’m breathlessly waiting for the next book in the series, ANGEL IN A DEVIL’S ARMS, which will be about Angelique (Derring’s former mistress) and which will, thankfully, be out in October this year.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LADY DERRING TAKES A LOVER is the first book in the Palace of Rogues series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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



Review: A Hunger Like No Other

Review: A Hunger Like No OtherA Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, #2) by Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark #2
Published by Pocket Star on March 28, 2006
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 384

“He’d waited a millennium for a helpless parasite.”

FINAL DECISION: Fabulous story between a sexy werewolf and a half vampire/half Valkyrie. There is humor and paranormal adventure and pure sexiness and romance. Loved it.

THE STORY: Lachlain Macrieve has been tortured by vampires for over a century. A werewolf and the leader of the Lykae Clan, Lachlan escapes from his torment when he scents his mate. Having search for her for centuries, her appearance gives him strength. When he discovers her, he is shocked and dismayed to discover that she is a vampire — the mortal enemies of the Lykae. Emmaline Troy aka Emma the Timid, is half vampire and half Valkyrie. Young in immortal years, Emma fears pain and is highly protected by her adoptive family of Valkyrie. Her encounter with the wild Lachlan begins to transform Emma into the woman she was meant to be.

OPINION: I can’t believe that it took me so long to discover the Immortals After Dark series. Sexy, funny and exciting, this novel was a fast read because I couldn’t put it down. Lachlan is very close to his beast side when he meets Emma. He is frightening and demanding and definitely the alpha male. Emma is fragile and innocent and doesn’t believe in herself. Her progression throughout the book is amazing. By the time the ending of the book arrives, she has changed and changed Lachlan.

I like that this book really approaches the issues of the prejudices, lack of understanding, and old emnity between the different immortals groups. The characters are strong and well-defined and each character in the story has a separate identity and I want to know more about each of them. For me the fact that I was satisfied with this book and yet want more is the sign of a great series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Cole has created a very complex world and the overarching story is beginning to play out.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER is the second book in the Immortals After Dark series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Ain’t She Sweet

Review: Ain’t She SweetAin't She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published by Avon on January 25, 2005
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384

Book of Redemption, Forgiveness and Love

AIN’T SHE SWEET is a dangerous book. I started reading it at 11pm intending on only reading a chapter or two…next thing I knew it was 4:30am and I wanted to read it again. The story was complex and deeply satisfying with characters that were original and fascinating.

It is the story of dealing with pain and loss, complex motivations, revenge and forgiveness and how we all change. It is also the story of how the past changes depending on your perspective. Amazingly, it is also an incredibly funny book with witty dialog and one of the most amusing dogs.

Colin Byrne’s world was destroyed when he was in his early twenties. He had come to the US to write a novel and so he got the job as a teacher at a high school in the small town of Parrish, Mississippi. While he wasn’t the best teacher, he felt acceptance in the town for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, his life was destroyed by the queen bee of the high school who lied and accused him of sexually accosting her.

Ten years later, Colin returned to Parrish and now he has found a place in the community. He is a writer and is writing a series of non-fiction books about the history of the town. Everything is going well until the queen bee returns.

Sugar Beth Carey seemed to have the perfect life growing up in Parrish. She was the richest, most popular girl in town. She had the best looking guy. All that has changed in fifteen years. She has returned to town having been married three times. She is broke and is desperate to find a painting that is her only inheritance. The people in town who loved her now despise her but she is too proud and guilty to let them defeat her. Worst of all, her childhood home has been sold to Colin Byrne.

Colin begins the book wanting revenge. He hopes to humiliate Sugar Beth. As he gets to know her, however, he begins to begrudgingly respect her. There is no easy resolution to the pain that Sugar Beth caused others especially Colin. Colin’s character is the real center of this story. While Sugar Beth has changed through the years, it is Colin who has to accept and acknowledge her change. Sugar Beth cannot get on with her life without the forgiveness that Colin gives. The scene where Colin works his revenge upon Sugar Beth is the true turning point in the book. The subtle transformation of his thoughts in that scene make it a powerful moment in the book.

The complexity of this book is centered upon the characters. In order to see that Sugar Beth is not a bad person, we also need to see that all the other characters react, act badly, have their own prejudices and bad experiences that make them react in fearful and hurtful ways. Just as Colin has to forgive and understand what the driving forces are that form Sugar Beth, the reader goes on that same journey.

Honestly, I’ve had this book on my to read list for several months and while it was highly recommended the synopsis of the story repelled me. Sugar Beth sounded just like the type of character that I hated in high school and I really couldn’t imagine that I would be sympathetic to a character like her. I was so wrong. In many ways, my journey as a reader mirrored those of the characters in the book. I was introduced to a strong woman who had been hurt so much that she only knew how to protect herself from more pain. She hurt other people, but they had hurt her as well.

The secondary characters are essential to this story. The nice thing about the book is that ultimately all of the living characters are likeable. Many of them hurt each other and so they journey mirrors that of Sugar Beth and Colin. The book for me is about perspective. The more we understand others, the more their actions make sense. There is no justification of behavior. Sugar Beth knows that she had done horrible things. Colin knows that his revenge upon Sugar Beth is wrong. The secondary characters also have that journey to take. It is a redeeming book to see that all the characters can recover from mistakes and make a better life for themselves.

My ultimate determination is that this book is one that instantly is on my all time favorites. Sometimes I read a book that I keep thinking about and that I want to reread instantly. This is one of those books. When I awoke from my much delayed sleep, there were scenes and sections that just drew me again: Colin’s dinner party revenge, the repartee between Sugar Beth and Colin, Colin’s unfortunate marriage proposal, Colin’s ultimate plan to win Sugar Beth, and the wedding and honeymoon (which is at the same time both the saddest and the funniest ones I have ever read).


Review: A Rogue by Any Other Name

Review: A Rogue by Any Other NameA Rogue by Any Other Name (The Rules of Scoundrels, #1) by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #1
Published by Avon on February 28, 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 386

A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME is the first book of Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series. The four books of the series tell the stories of four partner who have been exiled from society. The four are partners in a fabulous gaming hell known as the Fallen Angel.

Each book begins with the story of the fall from grace of each of the partners. In A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME, we learn the story of Michael Lawler, Marquess of Bourne, who was orphaned at the age of 16. At the age of 21, he lost everything on a turn of the cards at vingt et un. Exiled from society, he has built a new life for himself as the games manager at the Fallen Angel.

The heroine of the story is Lady Penelope Marbury, who was the ex-fiancé of the Duke of Leighton from ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART. Penelope has spent the eight years since her broken engagement searching for the kind of love that the Duke found in that book. She and Michael were friends when they were growing up, but she hasn’t seen him in 16 years.

“[T]hey’d been friends once. Long ago, before he’d become handsome as the devil and twice as cold.”

The two meet again because Penelope’s father has acquired a portion of Bourne’s family estate and Bourne wants it. He compromises her and forces their marriage.

This book is much darker than MacLean’s previous Love By Numbers Series. Bourne is a dark, cold man when the book begins. He doesn’t try to disguise his motives but rather takes what he wants. What he wants is his land and revenge on the man who took everything from him. Bourne is obsessed with revenge and doesn’t really care who gets hurt in the process. I confess that I like dark, sexy, tortured heroes. Bourne is definitely of the dark and tortured variety and he is a jerk a lot in this book. I like that though because I love that he is redeemed by his love for Penelope.

Penelope has grown and changed in the eight years since ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART. I found it very interesting that it was the love story in that book that changed Penelope. It made her dissatisfied with the unemotional life that she had expected to live. It made her want love. I also really liked how strong Penelope is. Bourne tries to intimidate her and yet she refused to yield. Even when she cannot win against him, she is strong and makes the best deal she can.

I also really like that it is Penelope that is the heroine in the story. She is the one who takes the actions to help Bourne. She is the instigator of much of the movement in their relationship. She is the powerful one.

The secondary characters are strong and pull at the reader to know what their stories are. I also really enjoy that MacLean uses secondary characters from her other novels. It is always a nice surprise for a small character to make an appearance. The book also leaves small questions about the other partners in the series which makes me want to read the next book.

And speaking of the next book….This book has a fantastic epilogue that is really a prologue for ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER.


Review: Devil’s Daughter

Review: Devil’s DaughterDevil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas
Published by Avon on February 19, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“Phoebe had never met West Ravenel, but she knew one thing for certain: He was a mean, rotten bully.”

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. I finished in in one sitting (stayed up late at night) and then immediately began to re-reading passages. Phoebe and West are so sweet and sexy together, and I loved the story of West having to overcome his past — mostly in forgiving himself and trusting in the future.

THE STORY: Phoebe, Lady Clare, is a widow with two small children. When her family attends her brother’s wedding, Phoebe encounters West Ravenel who she has never met but knows all about. West was the childhood bully of Phoebe’s beloved husband. Despite Phoebe’s dislike of West’s actions, she can’t help but be attracted to the charming West. West realizes that his past makes him completely unworthy of Phoebe even as he cannot stop thinking about her.

OPINION: The story of two people who have an instant connection, but any romance is threatened by West’s past. I loved this book and the characters, and it will be one that I will put on my keeper’s shelf.

West Ravenel is a man who is just beginning to put his life right. In the two years since he has taken over managing his brother’s estate West have been seen by all as a compassionate, intelligent, thoughtful and hardworking man. But West has a past. Before finding his purpose, West was a wastrel on all accounts. He drank too much, slept with too many women, caused fights and generally just behaved poorly.  When he meets Phoebe, he sees her as completely above him. What she needs is a decent man who will be good to her sons and will be a role model. West knows that he cannot be that man because of his past.

Phoebe is a widow with two young sons. She married the love of her life, her childhood friend, and now out of mourning, she is ready to return to the family estate and protect her son’s legacy. When she meets West at her brother’s wedding, she is determined not to like him because he was the bully of her husband when they were children. But Phoebe cannot help but see the good in West — his kindness with her children, his respect for her intelligence by being willing to teach her about estate management.

This story is really about West and his demons and his inability to see himself clearly. He knows what he has done in his past and he cannot bring himself to forgive his own actions. To West, he is always on the precipice of being the drunk, bully, untrustworthy man he was. I loved seeing so many other people try and make West see that he is worthy of being loved, of having a full life with a wife and family of his own.

Readers of the Ravenels series know of West’s journey. Through the four prior books, he has become the rock and support of the other characters. I loved seeing him get a happy ending of his own after helping others get theirs.

Another thing that really worked for me here is how Kleypas shows West as a supporter of Phoebe’s taking charge of her life and her son’s estate. He supports her — he doesn’t take over and become her protector. Instead, he values her for who she is and acknowledges her opinions and intelligence. Indeed, West’s final capitulation to love in some ways a surrender to Phoebe’s view of him and their possible future.

Phoebe is a woman coming into her own. The death of her beloved husband has changed her and this book is about her finding out who she is going to be. A strong and compassionate woman (who else could the eldest daughter of Sebastian and Evie be), Phoebe was the strength in caring for her ill husband and now she is using that strength to protect her children. Despite her prejudices about West when they meet, she sees who he really is and is willing to put her judgment aside.

This book is also pretty hot between West and Phoebe but everything is grounded deeply in their relationship.

What really tips this book over the top is the number of characters from this series and the Wallflower series that make appearances. This book feels really grounded in the relationships between the characters. I am a sucker for appearances by favorite characters (and we even get a bit of Gabriel and Pandora’s wedding itself).

This series has been a real winner for me, and this book is a great addition.

WORTH MENTIONING: Can I fall even more in love with Sebastian from DEVIL IN WINTER? He is simply adorable at the matchmaking dad here. But he is always the scandalous rake and I love, love, love that Kleypas allows Sebastian and Evie to continue to have a loving and sexual relationship even as grandparents.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEVIL’S DAUGHTER is the fifth book in the Ravenels series.  This book is much better if read as part of the series, but a new reader should also include DEVIL IN WINTER which is from Kleypas’s Wallflowers series.  At the very least, a reader should read DEVIL IN WINTER, DEVIL IN SPRING before this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Connections in Death

Review: Connections in DeathConnections in Death (In Death, #48) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #48
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 5, 2019
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: A solid entry in the series. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Eve and Roarke in this one as the two have become comfortable with one another in their marriage.

THE STORY: Eve and Roarke are working on their new school and youth center intended for children like they were growing up. When the brother of the new head psychologist is found dead, it at first seems that his troubles with addiction have resulted in his death, but Eve soon recognizes it as a disguised murder.

OPINION: I’m a big fan of this series. Most of the books are really good and a few are middling. This one is a solid entry. It has some of the aspects that I enjoy most about this series: a personal connection for Eve, a lot of interaction between Eve and Roarke, and appearances by Eve’s friends and coworkers.

I also admit that I am always more interested in these relationships than the mystery. There isn’t a tremendous amount of mystery here as the crime is quickly solved, but Eve has to put the evidence together to get the criminals. That worked well here. This book was more like a crime procedural than a mystery.

What I enjoyed the most was the continued maturing of Eve and Roarke’s relationship. Readers who have followed the entire breadth of the series will see a deepening and the two dealing with one another in a positive manner. I love watching these characters move beyond their painful pasts.

There is also a nice smattering of the other people in Eve’s life. She has a whole menagerie of people in her life now and we get a glimpse of many of them. I enjoy seeing Eve connect with others. Her growth has been amazing from the woman who was so alone in the first book in this series to someone who knows how to ask for and receive help from others.

This is a good entry in the series. Not one of the most compelling, but quite enjoyable.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although there have been 48 books in this series, just about 3 years have passed in the series itself so a lot has happened in those years.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CONNECTIONS IN DEATH is the forty-eighth book in the In Death series. This one can be read pretty much as a standalone although I think a casual reader misses a lot of character development.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: Logan

Review: LoganLogan (Steele Protectors 1) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Steele Protectors #1
Published by Carole Mortimer on January 25, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 146

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable start to the new series. The story and characters will be familiar to Mortimer fans but it was a nice version of her typical story.

THE STORY: August Harvey comes to the Steele brothers because her roommate (and the brothers adopted sister) is missing. There she meets Logan Steele who is recovering from being shot. When August is found to be in danger, Logan must protect her.

OPINION: Putting aside the quick turn to love in this book, I really enjoyed the interaction between these characters. The story was simple and compact which allowed the characters to have some interesting interactions with one another.

These book tend to be premised on an intense event which thrusts the characters into close proximity for a short time. That pattern is followed here, but I enjoyed the rude and annoying Logan being taken to taste by the feisty August.

This book is of a shorter length so there isn’t really much character development, but I enjoyed it as an introduction to all the characters in the series and some really hot moments between Logan and August.

WORTH MENTIONING: Atticus and Jenna almost stole the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOGAN is the first book in the Steele Protectors series about six brothers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: When Snow Falls

Review: When Snow FallsWhen Snow Falls (Whiskey Creek, #2) by Brenda Novak
Series: Whiskey Creek #2
Published by MIRA on October 23, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 446

FINAL DECISION: Mixed feelings on this one. I really loved the blue collar romance between Cheyenne and Dylan. I didn’t like almost everything else around the romance. The story of the sister’s drug addiction was over the top. The mystery woman story was only a mystery to Cheyenne so it wasn’t a mystery at all. The friend and other man story wasn’t convincing.

THE STORY: Cheyenne Christensen is struggling caring for her mother who is dying from cancer. Cheyenne also seems to have childhood memories about a caring woman who is not her mother. On top of this, her best friend has decided to ask out the man who Cheyenne has secretly been in love with for years. Determined not to interfere with her friend’s potential romance, Cheyenne finds herself in the company of Dylan Amos, the oldest of the troublemaking brothers. Even the possibility of the man of her dreams can’t seem to get Cheyenne’s mind off the bad boy.

OPINION: This book was made up of so many different plot lines that it felt disjointed to me. I wanted more of the Cheyenne and Dylan romance and less of the 50 other side stories. The first half of the book makes such a big deal of the Cheyenne/Dylan/Joe/Eve plot and then it just dropped.

I really liked the Cheyenne and Dylan romance. It was nice reading a blue collar couple for a change. I really liked how Cheyenne begins to see that Dylan is more than what he did in his past. While I thought the beginning of their romance was strange because it occurred so quickly and without any real connection between the characters, I quickly enjoyed their growing and complicated relationship.

I wanted to like this book more because I liked the romance, but I thought that the book lost focus and kept diverting from a good romance to cover a bunch of other stories that just weren’t that interesting to me.

WORTH MENTIONING: I don’t really like that the heroine keeps secrets from the hero even at the end of the book. It’s not a good start for their marriage.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN SNOW FALLS is the second book in the Whiskey Creek series. Although there are characters from the town in each book, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.


Review: Mr. Hunt, I Presume

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: Mr. Hunt, I PresumeMr. Hunt, I Presume (Playful Brides, #10.5) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #10.5
Published by June Third Enterprises, LLC on February 8, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 110


FINAL DECISION: This was an enjoyable little story where two people who were always meant to be together get a second chance at love. The length of the story means that the story isn’t as developed as I would want, but I found it a quick and amusing read.

THE STORY: General Collin Hunt is forced to take a holiday so he goes to visit his brother, the Duke of Claringdon. What he doesn’t expect is that his sister-in-law, a notorious and successful matchmaker, has targeted him. She has hired a new governess who happens to be the woman Collin once (and perhaps still) loves. Erienne Stone didn’t expect to be reunited with the man who abandoned her a decade before but one meddling duchess is determined to give these two a second chance.

OPINION: I enjoyed this little story. As a novella, the story is compressed and the characters are not as fleshed out as one would expect from a full length novel. Despite this, I enjoyed this story which contained a great amount of humor brought by Lucy who is a determined matchmaker. Readers will have to accept that much of the story is compressed. Erienne and Collin are in love when we meet them although they have been apart for over a decade. Despite this, however, I enjoyed the chance to see these two who want so desperately to be together manage to find ways to stumble apart. There is a definite sweetness to this story even as it has some over the top dramatic moments. Some might be annoyed by the drama, but I found it consistent with the humor of the series in general and this story in particular. Unfortunately, the length of the story means that much of the emotional drama between the characters is resolved too quickly, but this is a quick read that made me laugh in places and gave me the chance to see familiar characters from the Playful Brides series again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story is almost more for fans of Lucy and Derek than those wanting a new story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MR. HUNT, I PRESUME is book 10.5 in the Playful Brides series. This novella can be read as a standalone although Derek and Lucy from THE UNEXPECTED DUCHESS play significant roles in this story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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



Review: Second Chances

Review: Second ChancesSecond Chances by Mary Balogh
Published by Class eBook Editions Ltd. on February 5, 2019
Genres: Historical

This is an anthology of four unconnected stories which were previously published.

ANOTHER DREAM: This is the story of Eleanor Thompson, an independent woman of almost forty. On the way to visit her sister, the Duchess of Bewcastle, she is forced to seek shelter at an inn because of the weather.  There she meets Michael Benning, Earl of Staunton and his two precocious children.  These two mature adults find sweet platonic companionship with one another but never expect to meet again.  When they do, at Eleanor’s sister’s home, they discover that Michael’s children already have plans for Eleanor to be their new mother.This story was reserved and sweet.  It is book 6.5 in the Bedwyn series and, for me, the best part was seeing all my favorite characters from that series again.  The relationship between Eleanor and Michael was not complicated and they are rather reserved characters, but I enjoyed their romance because it wrapped up some lose ends from the series and I like that these more mature characters also get their happy ending. The children in this story are simply adorable as well. Rating: 4 stars.

THE TREASURE HUNT: Jonathan Hayes, Viscount Whitley, has been sent by his brother to face Constance Manning. Constance has been waiting for Jonathan’s brother so that they can reveal their secret engagement, but her fiance has second thoughts and sends his brother instead. Jonathan has a secret as well — he has been in love with Connie for years. This story didn’t really work for me because of the short time frame involved and Connie changing from “loving” Jonathan’s brother to recognizing her own love for Jonathan. That being said, I loved the sweetness of the relationship between Connie and Jonathan and willingness to put her happiness above his own. Rating: 2.5 stars.

THE FORBIDDEN DAFFODILS: Kate Buchanan was banished by her father for refusing to marry the Marquess of Ashendon after they spent two nights alone together. Now Ashendon has traveled to Wales to see Kate and try again to gain her consent for them to marry. But Kate’s hate for Ashendon has not abated in the five years since her banishment. I really liked this story. It is short and somewhat old fashioned in its tone, but the characters actually have some interest here. I really did feel the two of them had something between them. Rating: 3.5 stars.

THE BETROTHAL BALL: Laura Melfort is the governess for the niece of the Earl of Dearbourne. Dearbourne intends on marrying and has his potential bride in attendance, but finds himself constantly intrigued by the bluestocking governess. This one was just okay. There were some funny moments which I enjoyed, but I didn’t really see the connection between the characters. The short length of the story felt more like a fairy tale than a serious romance. Rating: 2 stars.