Review: The Highland Earl

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: The Highland EarlThe Highland Earl (Lords of the Highlands, #6) by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the HIghlands #6
Published by Forever on June 25, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: This was a good book with good tension between John and Evelyn. I liked Evelyn’s dual purposes and how she is challenged in this book.

THE STORY: John Erskine, the Scottish Earl of Mar, is a widower who needs to find the appropriate woman to marry to help care for his children. After the death of the woman he loved, he just wants to find the right woman for a marriage that will be respectful even if he cannot love her. Lady Evelyn Pierrepont, an Englishwoman, seems to meet John’s requirements. Evelyn doesn’t wish to marry but it will allow her to continue her work as a spy. But her growing emotions for her new husband and his children disrupt her plans and make her question whether it is right to put her new family in danger.

OPINION: I thought the premise of this book was interesting and I liked the relationship between John and Evelyn. There were details that bothered me. I understand why John would need to remarry considering his financial condition and his need for a caretaker for his children, but considering his wife had died not long before this book begins, I really couldn’t get into his lust for Evelyn after losing the “love of his life”. It just felt off to me. I don’t mind lust to love stories, but I couldn’t quite believe the supposed intense love of John for his dead wife when he was lusting for a new woman so quickly. I guess I wanted some assurance that he actually loved his first wife by seeing the effects of her death.

John and Evelyn’s relationship is complicated and it takes time to work out their feelings for one another. That I really enjoyed as well.

What I really enjoyed beyond the romance was Evelyn’s work and the complicated political picture of the time. This is a period of time that I enjoy reading about and this book packs a lot of historical information and political intrigue into its pages.

WORTH MENTIONING: I enjoyed that the author placed this book in real historical context with real historical figures.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HIGHLAND EARL is book six of the Lords of the Highlands series. This book can be read as a standalone another there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book from 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.


Review: Attracted to the Earl

Review: Attracted to the EarlAttracted to the Earl (Imperfect Lords, #3) by Bronwen Evans
Series: Imperfect Lords #3
Published by Loveswept on May 28, 2019
Genres: Historical

FINAL DECISION: Intellectually satisfying with damaged hero and heroine that find happiness together and a secondary romance. The only negative is that I didn’t feel a great emotional connection between the hero and heroine until the last quarter of the book, but I liked the story anyway and it ended on a high note.

THE STORY: Abigail Pinehurst just wants to work to build a life for herself and her sister, but she is under the thumb of a man who wants her to spy on his cousin, Guy Neville, Earl of Argyle. The kind man she ends up meeting hides a secret that could threaten his ability to keep control of his estate and his life. The two begin a romance, but Abigail has secrets of her own that threaten any chance at happiness the two might have.

OPINION: This book begins with two characters who had very bad childhoods and both have secrets which could destroy the lives they have built. Abigail comes to Guy’s estate willing to rat him out because she is concerned about her own future. But she is a good person and quickly she has a conflict because she likes Guy and yet she is supposed to be working to destroy him. I found her admirable. She has managed to make a life for herself after horrible abuse. I also really liked that although she knows that society views her past as shameful, she has managed to have good relationships with men and also to build something valuable for herself.

Guy is also self-made. He was abused by his father because Guy was unable to learn to read. His disability is something that he has learned to deal with having become a military hero. At his kind older brother’s death, Guy unexpectedly becomes the earl and all his feelings of lack of worth overwhelm him. Worse, his cousin is sniffing around trying to find out anything he can use to take control of the estate.

These two characters find their worth with one another and with their friends and family.

My complaint is that the heavy emotional work between these characters doesn’t take place until late in the book when their romance seems doomed. At the beginning of the book felt a bit emotionally disconnected for these characters. I didn’t really get why these two wanted to be together other than sexual attraction — which was fine for that but Guy’s immediate emotional attachment didn’t feel right to me.

But by the end of the book, everything felt emotionally right between these two. The resolution of the serious problem keeping them apart felt contrived and too convenient, but since I don’t care about the plot as much as the characters, it was fine.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has a secondary romance that I enjoyed very much.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ATTRACTED TO THE EARL is the third book in the Imperfect Lords series. While the books have connecting characters, this book can easily be read as a standalone as the romance is self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC 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: The Hostage Bargain

Review: The Hostage BargainThe Hostage Bargain (Taken Hostage by Hunky Bank Robbers, #1) by Annika Martin
Series: Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers #1
on April 29, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 170

“We’re criminals, baby. Everything we do is inappropriate.”

FINAL DECISION: High energy, campy, and thoroughly entertaining read. The story setup is pretty silly, but the “anything goes” attitude of this book makes it a fun read with plenty of action and sex.

THE STORY: Melinda Prescott is working at a bank in order to save the family farm from the terrible man who holds the mortgage — and runs the bank. When three masked men come into the bank to rob it, Melinda is happy to help. Taken hostage by the men, Melinda ends up wanting to join the crew, but there are rules and some of them are sexy rules.

OPINION: I loved this book because it was completely bananas and embraced the craziness completely. There was definitely chemistry between the characters and I thought the twist of having Melinda come into the group where it complicates just about everything was good. There was nice tension and plenty of sexiness.

Yes, the premise of this book is over the top, but if a reader can just accept that and go with the story, it is hot and fun.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a reverse harem story with three guys and one woman. All the interaction is MFM or MF.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HOSTAGE BARGAIN is the first book in the Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers series.  The series continues with the same group, but this story is complete if you want to start and stop here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Oh Christmas Night

Review: Oh Christmas NightOh, Christmas Night by Jane Porter
Published by Tule Publishing on 5th November 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 252

FINAL DECISION: Sweet Christmas story that feels like it could translate well into a Hallmark movie. This was exactly what I needed for a holiday read, easy-going, nice people in an enjoyable story.

THE STORY: Rachel Mills, a hardworking California accountant has been passed over for a promotion again. When she is given a closed bookstore in a small Montana town by her aunt, Rachel travels there to get a look at the store. There she meets Atticus Bowen who has been wanting the bookstore building to open a restaurant. Although the two should be at odds, Atticus can’t resist helping Rachel try to reopen the bookstore. As Rachel has to confront what she wants in life, she draws closer to Atticus, but maybe she doesn’t want to commit to him either.

OPINION: I found this book exactly what I needed for this time. A sweet, Christmas romance that takes the characters seriously, has generally nice people as characters, no angst or serious drama, and a heartwarming ending.

This book felt like it could easily translate into a Hallmark holiday movie in the best way. The story is heartwarming and made me smile. I read it and felt happy when it concluded. It captured some of the best emotions of the holiday season. I liked that it avoided the dark and intense storylines (I love those as well, but this was a good holiday book).

Rachel is a woman at a crossroads in her life. I liked that the book doesn’t denigrate her choices but shows that our wants and desires and goals can change and that is okay.

Atticus is a sweetheart and I liked that he is supportive and is willing to change his own goals to build something with Rachel.

I haven’t read anything by this author before but would definitely try something else after this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a clean romance with kissing and implied more.

CONNECTED BOOKS: From mentions in this book and a look at the author’s backlist, it seems like this book is slightly connected to some of her series. It is not necessary, however, to read those books (I didn’t).

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: Death at Brighton Pavilion

Review: Death at Brighton PavilionDeath at Brighton Pavilion (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Book 14) by Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #14
Published by JA / AG Publishing on 17th December 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 269


FINAL DECISION: I loved this one. The mystery strikes right into the heart of Captain Lacey — his past, his wife, his view of himself. The detective investigating whether he himself is a murderer is a grand plot and this one kept me turning page after page.

THE STORY: Captain Lacey awakens with a sword in his hand, a dead body, and no memory of what happened. As Lacey tries to figure out what has happened, he has to contend with his past with the dead man and the possibility that he might have committed the murder.

OPINION: This was one of my favorite of the series. The close connection between the mystery and Lacey’s past made this one compelling. I also love the twist of Lacey not being sure whether or not he committed the murder especially with a definite motive that he possesses.

Captain Lacey must seek the assistance of all of his friends to help him find out what happened. Once again, I loved seeing all the supporting characters who have their own developing stories in the series.

This book nicely works on the relationship between Lacey and his wife. There are complications which stretch the characters and give them more depth.

The connection between the mystery and the personal always makes the story more compelling for me. This one kept me guessing throughout and Lacey’s dealing with his own past and his own impetuous personality that gets him into trouble made this compelling.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are loose ends here that are left open nicely leaving possibilities for future books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEATH AT BRIGHTON PAVILION is the fourteenth book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series. Each book, including this one, is a self-contained mystery. It is not necessary to read the other books to jump into this one. There are continuing character storylines that go through the entire series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC from the author which was used in the preparation of this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: The House of Pleasure

Review: The House of PleasureThe House of Pleasure (The Scandal Sheet, #6) by Jess Michaels
Series: The Scandal Sheet #6
Published by Passionate Pen Genres: Historical


FINAL DECISION: One of my favorites in this series. I loved how Hannah and Duncan both are dreading their marriage and end up finding something special together. The book is short, but with the quick setup, the story ends up working. For such a sexy book, the romance is pretty sweet.

THE STORY: Hannah Blankenship is desperate as her father has done what he has long threatened — made a contract to marry her off to a loathsome man. Deciding to subvert her father’s wishes, Hannah goes to the Donville Masquerade to find a man to rid her of her virginity. Hannah meets a compelling stranger and she accomplishes her goal. The next day, however, she is shocked to find out that Duncan Cavendish is the man she has been engaged to — and he also happens to be the stranger she met the night before.

OPINION: This was a sexy and sweet romance. It is a novella so the story is more condensed, but this one worked for me. I really enjoyed the connection between Hannah and Duncan and how they navigate their relationship.

Hannah is a strong woman who is going to take control of her own life. The story is well written and fast-paced which makes this a good quick read. This book has several tropes which I especially like — finding a stranger to get rid of pesky virginity and then that guy is not a stranger, marriage of convenience with a bargain (these two agree to sexual relationship without feelings) that goes wrong, and a marriage in trouble (as the bargain backfires on both of them).

This was an easy and enjoyable read.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved the integration of characters from previous books who are important here including Sophie and Rowan, and, of course, Marcus.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HOUSE OF PLEASURE is the sixth and final novella in the Scandal Sheets series. The story is a standalone but there are appearances from characters from other novellas in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Return to Christmas

Review: Return to ChristmasReturn to Christmas by Anne Stuart
Published by Impeccably Demure Press on November 12, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Time Travel
Pages: 316

FINAL DECISION: This was an enjoyable story that felt “old fashioned” in a good way – perhaps classic is a good word. The time jump to the 1940s and getting a mix of modern and history was a fun read. The story made me happy and is a definite feel good holiday story.

THE STORY: Madison Simcoe finds herself living an unfulfilling life and she’s had enough of the harassment she has had to deal with at work. She decides to visit Macy’s during the Christmas season and finds herself in transported 1947. There she meets Johnny Larson who has returned from the war haunted by what he did there. Johnny works at Macy’s and is grumpy towards the woman who invades his life. Madison needs to find a way back to 2020 but finds a deep connection to the people in the past.

OPINION: This book had the comfort of watching one of those old holiday movies. Iconic imagery, a sweet romance with characters who are good people, and a special magical bit of help in the end. It’s the kind of story that feels like it should be read on a cold winter’s day in front of a fire with a cup of hot cocoa.

I liked these two characters. Madison/Molly is a woman who feels empty in her present place and time. After traveling to the past, she finds meaning in her life with the right person. I especially liked how she sees parallels in her challenges in both times.

Johnny is a man who is broken but does his best to do good even while being a crusty recluse. I thought that the interactions with Molly and Johnny were the smart interactions that are in classic 1940s films.

The story was fun and definitely festive. Lovers of classic romantic films or time travel romances will like this. While there is definitely some heat, it is not as explicit of some of Stuart’s other stories. I will add this book to my holiday story rotation.

WORTH MENTIONING: Content warning for sexual harassment and attempted sexual assault.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: A Madness of Sunshine

Review: A Madness of SunshineA Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley Books on December 3, 2019
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 352

“Everyone has hidden corners of their life, even the people we think we know inside out.”

FINAL DECISION: A thriller/suspense story about the secrets that rest in small towns where everyone thinks they know everyone but where there are dangerous secrets. I found this book compelling and it kept me turning page after page wanting to see the secrets being revealed.

THE STORY: Anahera Rawiri returns to her hometown in New Zealand. A hometown that she is reluctant to return to and yet is drawn back. There are dark secrets in this town and even more secrets among the people who live there. Will Gallagher is the new cop in town who was sent there after an incident in Christchurch. It was a way of putting him on ice. The town of Golden Cove seemingly is a dead end job without any need for Will’s detective skills until a young woman disappears. Then the dark secrets of the town begin to be revealed.

OPINION: Nicely centered in the community relationships and characters (which is an area that Singh excels in her romances), the story kept me guessing throughout. As varying stories are slowly revealed, there is no doubt that everyone is deeper than what is known at the outset. Nicely, that is also true of the two main characters in the story. As readers, we know some of the pasts of these characters, but their story is slowly unwound even as the mystery unfolds as well.

Although not overly creepy, there is something unsettling about the town and its surroundings. The overwhelming feeling that everyone has secrets and some of those secrets are dangerous makes this book compelling.

I liked both Anahera and Will. Both out of sync with the town…Will an outsider and Anahera a local who has spent a decade away and thus straddles the line between being a part of the town and being a stranger. This gives them a nice connection as they are the “outsiders” doing the investigation while both have one foot in the town.

I enjoyed this story because I kept changing my mind about what was going on and how it was connected with the past. I kept reading page after page because I wanted to know more about Will and Anahera — not just the mystery. That nice balance made this a really good read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is not a romance. Please don’t read it looking for a Singh romance and then complain that it isn’t a romance. It is also not a paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi book. The book does have romantic elements, but romance is definitely not the focus here. There is sex but it is pretty much all off screen.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 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.