Review: The Duke Who Lied

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 Duke Who LiedThe Duke Who Lied (The 1797 Club Book 8) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #8
Published by Passionate Pen on Jul 24, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-stars

 

“So Amelia would come to Hugh with hate and desperation. With heartbreak and resistance.”

FINAL DECISION: A solid addition to the series. I enjoyed the characters but the lie that sets their relationship in motion and the secret Hugh is keeping didn’t work well enough to support the plot of the story for me.

THE STORY: Hugh Margolis, Duke of Brighthollow, has been suffering with his own sense of honor. His sister was seduced by a wicked man and Hugh found himself keeping silent and paying the man off rather than seeking revenge. This lack of action has been eating at Hugh for a year. Now Hugh discovers that the villain is after his next victim. Hugh cannot allow him to ruin another woman’s life. Amelia Quinton thinks she has found the man of her dreams, when her father tells her she must marry the Duke of Brighthollow to settle his debts. Amelia and Hugh begin a marriage with lies and deception between them. What will happen when the two strangers begin to have feelings for one another with the lies Hugh told to force the marriage between them?

OPINION: The characters in this book were really nice. I liked them both and I thought that they had a nice rapport with one another. I book is as sexy as I would expect from this series and overall I enjoyed this entry in the series.

The part of this book that really bothered me was how quickly Amelia turned to trying to make her marriage to Hugh a good one. I just wasn’t convinced. She was too quick to think Hugh a good person and too quick to want and participate in a passionate marriage. A woman is forced to wed a complete stranger and only days later is taking the initiative in their sexual relationship. Nope, just didn’t work for me. I did enjoy the characters and only wish that the initial part of their relationship had been dealt with differently.

I also really didn’t understand why Hugh kept the secret after he and Amelia were married and continued to lie. He clearly could have told her the truth and it would have made their relationship better. Without the buy in to the storyline, everything else felt okay but a little bland.

WORTH MENTIONING: I want the story of Hugh’s sister as well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DUKE WHO LIED is the eighth book in the 1797 Club series. This book can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters and relationships between secondary characters that are developed over the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

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

 

three-stars

Review: Getting Schooled

Review: Getting SchooledGetting Schooled (Getting Some, #1) by Emma Chase
Series: Getting Some #1
Published by Emma Chase, LLC on June 26, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 300
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved, loved this book. A story of second chances, of rediscovering a love you thought you had moved behind. The story is funny and sweet, emotional and just amazing.

THE STORY: In high school Garrett Daniels and Callie Carpenter were a serious thing.  But when college took them in different directions, they broke up. Now Callie has returned to their hometown on a temporary basis and things are still hot between them. Garrett is now a high school teacher and football coach and things seem to be going well for him. Callie’s arrival, however, brings up the feelings he never got over. Callie remembers that there are some things she still misses about her hometown, including Garrett. But is history about to repeat itself as the two have separate lives across the country from one another.

OPINION: I just loved the romantic feeling of this book. The characters of this book are so normal that all the small moments feel real and romantic at the same time. This is a book about relationship on a small scale. There isn’t a secret billionaire or a horrible past or a murderer stalking the couple. There are just two people who turned away from one another years ago, lived their lives in the middle, and then meet again and have to see if the future can be different from the past.

I liked these characters. They are good people, the choices they have to make are hard, but not over dramatic. There is a great deal of heartwarming sweetness in this story.

The characters have a great deal of chemistry between them.  Things seem so fall in place so easily for them…until it doesn’t. The story is a manifestation of the phrase — those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. For most of the book, the two seem hurtling towards repeating their own personal history. Because of that the book gets energy because it always seems like something is just waiting to go wrong because these two can’t have it that easy — and they don’t.

I loved seeing how these two go a different way, how maturity and experience has changed them and made them recognize what matters.

Finally, I’ve been a fan of Chase’s male POV since the first book I read by her. She just seems to capture that male voice — or at least my idea of a male POV.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is told in alternating first person.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GETTING SCHOOLED is the first book in the Getting Some series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Wicked Sinner

Review: Wicked SinnerWicked Sinner (Regency Sinners, #7) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Sinners #7
Published by Carole Mortimer on July 19, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the series, this one works because of the existing relationship between the characters and the development of the heroine, which I enjoyed very much.

THE STORY: Dominik Sinclair, Duke of Stonewell and spymaster, has run out of suspects. In searching for the traitor, there is only one woman left — his wife. Now he has returned to his estate to accuse his wife and find out her secrets. Angelique has known something is wrong as Nik has become distant in recent months. Now he demands her surrender to his passions and his suspicions.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this one. Nothing is too deep, but because the characters have a pre-existing relationship, things are more focused emotionally. The two have an adventurous sexual relationship. While the important moments in their relationship are explored through their sexual moments, this works better between the married couple.

Nik’s suspicion of Angelique is in conflict of his feelings for her. (I do have to wonder about a spymaster who has so much that is happening without his knowledge). Angelique won’t allow Nik to get away easy with his distrust. The power dynamic between these two was interesting in this book.

While short in length of the story, this couple worked the best for me. I liked their interactions and how the storyline helps develop their relationship.  The story isn’t a particularly deep one, but for someone who spent much of my early romance reading days devouring category romances, this one fits right in (if a lot more explicit in its sex scenes).

WORTH MENTIONING: There is going to be another wrap up book with all the characters from the series. Since we don’t get to see the characters together enough, I’m happy for this.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED SINNER is the seventh book in the Regency Sinner series. This romance is self-contained but there is an overarching storyline that runs through the series about a traitor. This book resolves that storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: A Regency Duo

Review: A Regency DuoA Regency Duo by Angelique Armae, Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Lovers #1,
Published by Angelique Armae on June 22, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-stars

This book contains two separate short novellas that are the first book in their series.

INDECENT by Carole Mortimer: Miss Emma Harris rejects the idea of marriage to the Adam Stirling, Duke of Harkwood. He proposed to her and then flaunts his affair with another woman on the same day.  When Emma discovers she was mistaken, she is contrite, but Adam intends to teach Emma a lesson about jumping to conclusions — a very erotic lesson.

I enjoyed this story. It is short and easy to read. The characters are not complex and the facts of the story feel completely unrealistic. But this is a good easy read that is really focused on the sexual exploits of these characters. Fans of Carole Mortimer’s more sexy series will instantly recognize this situation and this story is one of the better stories.

This is the first book in the Regency Lovers series.  Rating: 3.5 stars.

PRINCE OF SCANDAL by Angelique Armae: Lady Elizabeth Littlefield must figure out how to save her work on her orphanage in face of her brother’s insistence that she wed a man she has no desire to be associated with. When an old friendship with the youngest prince Freddie is renewed, Lizzie and Freddie end up in a compromising situation that threatens to ruin Lizzie and put her in danger from the secret work that Freddie is doing.

This story had promise, but there is too much plot for such a short book to be combined with an actual romance. The story might have been better as a longer book. But because there is so much plot to explain, the relationship suffers. Even worse, the plot has a lot of inconsistencies which cause more problems. One example is that Lizzie won’t disobey her brother in order to protect her orphanage, but yet she still has to send all the children away because the man she will marry won’t approve of the orphanage. If the focus had been on the relationship, I might overlook these plot problems, but when the plot is the focus, I tend to concentrate on these types of problems.

This is the first in the Seduced by Scandal series. Rating: 2 stars.

three-stars

Review: A Gathering of Secrets

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: A Gathering of SecretsA Gathering of Secrets (Kate Burkholder, #10) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #10
Published by Minotaur Books on July 10, 2018
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 308
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

“Some people say murder is a senseless act. I don’t agree. There’s no doubt murder is a brutal act. It’s a cruel act. An immoral act. It’s wrong in the eyes of the law. A sin in the eyes of God. Murder is an unthinkable deed in the mind of any decent human being. But murder is rarely senseless.”

FINAL DECISION: A great mystery that is deeply grounded in character and relationships rather than forensics and clues. Kate is deeply involved emotionally in this one and I really like seeing how her character has grown in the series. This one has lots of twists and turns and I couldn’t put it down.

THE STORY: The burning of an Amish barn brings Chief of Police Kate Burkholder to the scene, but the arson case turns to a murder investigation when the body of an eighteen year old boy is found inside. As Kate tries to determine who would want to kill a young man who by all accounts was a hard worker and a good person, Kate begins to discover that there are secrets that no one wants to talk about which might be a motive for murder.

OPINION: This one was a page turner. The book has lots of twists and things are not what they appear. This book is deeply entrenched in the personal. The secrets that people keep and the fears and shame and guilt that surround those secrets. As the story winds its way through to its conclusion, I liked that the sense of right and wrong is challenged on all sides. People who seem sympathetic might not be. People who seem good make terrible choices and take terrible actions.

These books work best for me when Kate is deeply involved not only on a professional, but also a personal level and this book succeeds in that. Kate is fully engaged as the mystery brings out many parts of her life. The story feels personal even if Kate doesn’t know the people involved.

I thought the mystery was very good and while I had glimpses of the ultimate resolution, I really didn’t put it together until the end. And there were plenty of shocking surprises along the way to keep me glued to the pages.

Beyond the mystery, there were also several developments with the ongoing characters that I enjoyed. And there is a real sense of growth of these characters which I appreciated. For readers of the series, it is nice to see that events and time change these characters and they are not kept in stasis to just solve crimes.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has some good moments between Kate and Tomasetti for those who are interested in their relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A GATHERING OF SECRETS is the tenth book in the Kate Burkholder series. This is a series of separate mystery stories. There are overarching character developments, but this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 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.

 

four-half-stars

Review: Scandal Above Stairs

Review: Scandal Above StairsScandal Above Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #2) by Jennifer Ashley
Published by Berkley Books on July 3, 2018
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this one more than the first in the series. I really enjoyed learning more about the characters and developing the backstories of the cast of characters.

THE STORY: Kat is called to help investigate the theft of artwork from a friend of her employer. Kat is soon drawn into a series of thefts including ones being investigated by her friend, the mysterious Daniel McAdam. Open doors in the home she is working in and breaking in a new assistant are some additional challenges for Kat while also preparing meals for the household. Kat’s investigations lead her into the uncomfortable position of moving in the world of the upper household.

OPINION: This book allows times to delve into the relationships between the characters and also presents a whole series of mystery situations. I liked that we got to move through various stories at once. Things overlap and it is not clear what is relevant and what isn’t. In other words, it is a good mystery set up.

I really enjoyed how the mystery is both evidence and personality. And we get to know a lot about the characters surrounding Kat. Some of the information and facts are misdirection but all are interesting. The emphasis in this book is relationship and I especially enjoyed that we get a lot more of Kat and Daniel. They make a cute couple and I like seeing them reveal more to one another.

The book is interesting and I wasn’t sure where the story was going until the end which is enjoyable in a mystery.

I look forward to more from this series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Who knew how much work was involved in Victorian kitchen work?

CONNECTED BOOKS: SCANDAL ABOVE STAIRS is the second book in the Below Stairs aka the Kat Holloway Mysteries series. This is a self contained mystery that can be read as a standalone, but there are ongoing character developments that continue through the series and for that the books should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Devoted to Pleasure

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: Devoted to PleasureDevoted to Pleasure by Shayla Black
Series: Devoted Lovers #1
Published by Berkley Books on July 3, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: I loved this bodyguard and star book. Hot and sexy, I loved how these can be combined with a sweetness between the main characters.

THE STORY: Bodyguard Cutter Bryant has agreed to protect his dearest friend by committing to a marriage of convenience between them. But before things are finalized, Cutter is off to Los Angeles to serve as a bodyguard for Shealyn West, one of the hottest new television stars. Cutter is thrown off balance by Shealyn from the moment they meet. Shealyn is being threatened by a blackmailer. Wary of revealing her secrets to Cutter, Shealyn is strongly attracted to the man she has hired to protect her. Deciding that there can be nothing long term between them, the two struggle against their feelings and their attraction while trying to find out who is threatening Shealyn.

OPINION: For some reason, I really like a good bodyguard/star story. It might be watching The Bodyguard or perhaps reading Silhouettes with similar stories in the 1980s. For whatever reason, I really was inclined to like this book from the start — and thankfully, this book exceeded my expectations.

I could have done without the “like a sister” best friend who Cutter has to protect, but that is one of the dramas keeping the couple apart so I think it works as a plot device. What worked much better for me was the blackmailer story. I liked just about everything about it. It was suspenseful, the resolution was dramatic and good. Just good stuff.

I also really, really liked these characters. Both Cutter and Shealyn are wary but oh so willing to fall for one another. Shaelyn is a great combination of strong and independent and sweetness. At times she seems naive, but she is also savvy and determined.

Cutter is a genuinely good guy which is what causes him so many problems. He wants to solve the problems of his friend and doesn’t know how to deal with having to take his own happiness.

I liked the relationship between Cutter and Shaelyn. They manage to pack a lot into what turns out to be only a few days. Of course, the danger and drama forces them into confessions that might have taken other longer, but I felt the connection between these two from the moment they met.

This is a good start to a new series. I haven’t read the stories of some of the characters who appear here, but I didn’t feel that I missed anything (although now I’m tempted to go back and read their stories).

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a whole bunch of characters introduced who I hope get their own stories in this series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEVOTED TO PLEASURE is the first book in the Devoted Lovers series. (There is a prequel DEVOTED TO WICKED that is a crossover with the Wicked Lovers series.)  Prior books are not necessary. I haven’t read any other than DEVOTED TO WICKED and I didn’t feel I missed anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 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.

 

four-half-stars

Review: The Risk of Rogues

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 Risk of RoguesThe Risk of Rogues (The Sinful Suitors, #5.5) by Sabrina Jeffries
Published by Pocket Star on July 2, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Nice little story that wraps up the series but isn’t particularly deep. I enjoyed it and seeing the characters from the series.

THE STORY: Captain Lord Hartley Corry lost the woman he loved years ago when her father refused his suit and he joined the army. On the verge of getting a promotion to spymaster, Hart meets Lady Anne at a houseparty with his friends. Hart is determined to claim that woman he has never forgotten but he has to convince her that he is not the reckless and irresponsible man her father believed he was. And he has to do it while keeping secret his work as a spy.

OPINION: This is a nice little story. It isn’t particularly deep and there aren’t many surprises, but I enjoyed the characters — especially the quirky Anne with her hats. This second chance at love story springs from youth and misunderstanding, but these two are so clearly meant for one another that I knew that they would always work things out. I think this story works best as a wrap up to the series because knowing all the characters makes this little story more meaningful. I liked that we get to see Hart having his happy ending. I enjoyed the story and I recommend that those who have followed the series read this little coda.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE RISK OF ROGUES is book 5.5 of the Sinful Suitors series. The story can be read as a standalone although there are lots of characters from the series that a new readers might be puzzled by.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 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.

 

three-stars

Review: Loving the Secret Billionaire

Review: Loving the Secret BillionaireLoving the Secret Billionaire (Love at Last Book 1) by Adriana Anders
Series: Love at Last #1
on April 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
one-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Disappointing and banal after a great description of what the setup for the story is.

THE STORY: Veronica Cruz is a teacher turned political candidate when she wants to be active in her community. A big underdog, Veronica is out campaigning door to door when she arrives at a house with a mysterious occupant. Zach is a reclusive man. Blind, Zach lives in his own world. But Veronica touches something in him and begins to bring him out. But Zach has lots of secrets including why he has secluded himself.

OPINION: This novella was disappointing on just about every level. The connection between the hero and heroine was boring and didn’t interest me at all. The reasons for Zach being secluded were not persuasive. After we learn the lengths that Zach would go to help Veronica’s candidacy and which she found objectionable, she was still willing to continue on. A person so concerned with the morality as her would have withdrawn herself. Instead, she basically benefits from what he did and allows herself to claim she is not tainted by what he did — but she clearly did benefit. Then she completely forgives him in the end. And he escapes all punishment for his actions. And did I mention that there basically was not connection between the characters.

I read this novella because it came highly recommended on by an author that I love. Just goes to show me that just because I love an author doesn’t mean we have the same tastes in books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Hero is a virgin.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOVING THE SECRET BILLIONAIRE is the first book in the Love at Last series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 1.5 stars.

one-half-stars

Review: In Dark Company

Review: In Dark CompanyIn Dark Company (Kate Burkholder #9.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #9.5
Published by Minotaur Books on May 29, 2018
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 60
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A little mystery that is centered in the characters. I always enjoy seeing Kate doing her work. Wish there was a little more Tomasetti.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is awoken with a call about a woman who has run out of the night fleeing a mysterious man. The woman claims to have amnesia but knows that someone is trying to kill her. Kate has to find out who the woman is and discover if she is the victim or a criminal herself.

OPINION: I enjoyed this story but I missed the interaction between Kate and Tomasetti. While I appreciate that she is the main character and I expect in the large books that she will be acting as Chief of Police and an independent woman, I’ve liked the short stories the best when we get to see the two of them working together.

The story was a well crafted mystery with a definite and clear arc in the story. The characters were well designed for such a short story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short story that focuses on a mystery with no romance involved.

CONNECTED BOOKS: IN DARK COMPANY is book 9.5 in the Kate Burkholder series.  This is a standalone mystery can be read without knowledge of any of the other books.

STAR RATING: I give this story 4 stars.

four-stars