Review: The Other Lady Vanishes

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 Other Lady VanishesThe Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Burning Cove #2
Published by Berkley on May 8, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368
Goodreads
three-half-stars

“He knew that Adelaide was not telling him everything but he also sensed that she was not lying to him. Fair enough. She had a right to her secrets. He was keeping a few from her.”

FINAL DECISION: More mystery than romance, I liked the story but I really wish we got to know the characters more than on a surface level.

THE STORY: In 1930s California, Adelaide Blake escapes from a private sanitarium and arrives in Burning Cove with a new identity. Burning Cove is the trendy escape for the rich and famous of Hollywood and Los Angeles. Working as a waitress in a tea shop, Adelaide meet Jake Truett, a widowed businessman who has come to Burning Cove to recover after his wife’s untimely death. The two end up mixed up with a murder and must work together while the secrets each is keeping threaten them.

OPINION: This is a book focused more on plot than the characters. We know some about Adelaide and Jake, but I finished the book still not feeling like I know the internal life of these characters. The characters felt just too generic and lacked personality and interest to me. I certainly understood their attraction, but I didn’t get the mad passion which would make these two declare love for one another after such a short period of time. The book ended up feeling like the beginning of a story rather than sustaining the entire resolution. I thought the characters were okay, but I wish that there was more depth and interest to the characters.

The story was good and I really like the time period and setting. The story might have been better with a couple less twists and more character development of the villains. This was a good, but not great read and was not as interesting as last year’s entry in this series.

That being said, there were some period moments that I really liked. I really enjoyed the interaction between Adelaide and Jake as they navigated people’s assumptions about their relationship. The episode in the auto court was like a period movie and I really enjoyed the time focused on their relationship. I just wish there was more.

WORTH MENTIONING: I miss the old Amanda Quick books which were primarily romances with some suspense and mystery tossed in. The newer books focus almost exclusively on the mystery and suspense elements and add the romance as an after thought. The books are okay, but not memorable or ones that demand to be re-read by me.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE OTHER LADY VANISHES is the second book in the Burning Cove series. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of the 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-half-stars

Review: Wicked Temptation

Wicked Temptation (Regency Sinners 6) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Sinners #6
Published by Carole Mortimer on April 27, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Completely unrealistic but hot romance. I wanted more character development rather than sexual escapades.

THE STORY: Lord Titus Covington, Viscount Romney and his friend were assigned the job of investigating the Germaine twins to determine if one of them is the traitor that the “Sinners” are seeking. When the traitor orchestrates a carriage accident killing Titus’s friend and Lady Prudence Germaine’s twin sister, Prudence blames Titus. But Titus needs to clear Lady Prudence so he is insistent on getting closer to her — of course, he also is attracted to her as well.

OPINION: This book follows the formulas of the prior books in the series. This book, however, didn’t have a strong couple at its center. I never really got the connection between Titus and Prudence since their beginning happens before this book begins. The pace of their relationship is really quick as they fall into serious sexual escapades without any prelude. I also didn’t buy that this innocent would be traipsing around London alone allowing her to meet with Titus.

For me, there was too much sex and not enough character development. The book is hot but I think that was a substitute for the characters having any real depth.

The overarching story also doesn’t move very much here as this book is really just setting up the final book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: I am totally on board for the final book in the series. I didn’t see the setup coming.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED TEMPTATION is the sixth book in the Regency Sinners series. This book can be read as a standalone as it summarizes everything a reader needs to know. Readers should be aware, however, that there is an overarching storyline this is not resolved in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

A Duke Like No Other Release Day

Today is the release day for the ninth book in the Playful Brides series. It also happens to be the story of a married couple who has been estranged for 10 years until the husband has no choice but to seek his wife’s help. You can read my review here. We also have an excerpt here.

Summary:

First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the other way around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides novels are:

“Wholly satisfying.”—USA Today

“Smart and sensual…readers will be captivated.”—RT Book Reviews

“Smoldering.” —Booklist

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Indie Bound

Powells

Author Bio:

VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @Valeriegbowman

Facebook @ValerieBowmanAuthor

Pinterest

Review: A Duke Like No Other

Review: A Duke Like No OtherA Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides, #9) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #9
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on May 1, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”

FINAL DECISION: I loved this second chance at love story uses the heat and pride of the two main characters to weave a story about two people who loved one another but were too stubborn to fix things between them.

THE STORY: General Mark Grimaldi has devoted and sacrificed most of his life to protecting England as a spymaster. Now that the wars have ended, he’s about ready to achieve his greatest professional goal — to be named Home Secretary. There is only one problem for Mark. The job is basically his, but those making the decision prefer having a married man in the position and suggest that he find a wife. The problem is that Mark already has a wife, but one he has been estranged from for 10 years. Nicole has spent the last decade in France when he husband returns to ask her assistance in pretending to be a devoted wife. Nicole, however, has a demand of her own that threatens the emotional distance that the two have kept between them.

OPINION: I loved this book because Mark and Nicole are such a compelling couple. They are both too stubborn and prideful to admit to one another that they are in love. Instead, they have allowed the distance between them to fester and keep them apart for years. Yet, each yearns to be with the other.

The story is written such that the past is interwoven with the present and this allows readers to understand what divided these two. As with most real life relationships, mistakes, keeping secrets, pride and stubborness dooms these two. These two want to be together and Mark’s promotion gives them the opportunity to breach the gulf between them.

Mark is a man who’s love for his parents and being placed in their dramas with their own families has led him to stubbornly cling to the promises he made to his father. This despite the problems it created in his marriage. His job has also kept him apart and made it difficult to connect to other people who might have questioned his choices. The solitary nature has allowed him to cling to pride rather than recognizing it as his fault.

Nicole was young when she married and her uncertainty allowed her to accept her husband’s anger rather than fight for her marriage. She is capable and unconventional, but she is waiting for Mark to show that he values her above everything else.

Just when I thought that the book was going to have to go deeply in a dark emotional journey, a mystery arises which allows Mark and Nicole to work together. The two do respect one another and just need to make themselves vulnerable to one another.

I really liked this couple and enjoyed their journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is another possible couple introduced and I hope we get their story before the series ends.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DUKE LIKE NO OTHER is the ninth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can certainly be read as a standalone with the caveat that there are some small appearances by characters from other books. This romance is self-contained.

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: Someone to Care

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 CareSomeone to Care (Westcott, #4) by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #4
Published by Berkley on May 1, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this serious and mature romance between two people in their forties getting a second chance at a love that was impossible before. Balogh is a marvel at these slow developing love stories.

THE STORY: Two years after the death of the Earl of Riverdale, his family has adjusted to their changed circumstances. Except that at what should be a joyful moment, the woman who was unhappily “married” for over twenty years only to find out her marriage was illegal feels everything overwhelming her. Viola flees her family and friends intending to return home. On the way, however, she meets Marcel Lamarr. Years ago, the two had a flirtation that Viola would not pursue because she was married. Marcel is a rake, but when the two meet again, Marcel intends to finally get the woman who got away.

OPINION: I loved this book. I loved that Marc and Viola are mature characters compared to the normal heroes and heroines in historicals. They are in their early 40s and its nice to see that their story isn’t locked into a typical mature story.

Marc and Viola demonstrate that even when having adult children, a person can want to escape, to be alive and have passion and even a bit irresponsible. Even more interesting to me, these characters have pasts filled with mistakes. And their romance doesn’t go smoothly at all.

Marc is a man running from his responsibilities. He was devastated by the death of his wife, he removed himself from his children and instead lived a life of a irresponsible rake. Afraid of love, filled with grief and guilt, Marc doesn’t know how to connect to the very thing he truly wants.

Viola did everything she was supposed to do. She obeyed her father when he contracted a marriage for her. She was faithful to a man who gave nothing to her but children. Always proper, always respectable, she was horribly betrayed when she discovered that her husband was actually a bigamist and she was no wife at all.

A chance encounter between the two and the memory of the time years ago when they felt an attraction to one another brings Marc and Viola together. Viola is willing to throw off all the years of being responsible. Balance would require that eventually Marc but toss off all the years of being irresponsible. The question for most of the book is whether the two can find their way to balance.

I loved these two. Their journey is serious and takes time. I really love the Balogh romances which allow the characters time to breathe in their relationship. The story has an interesting balance where there is an initial and hot part and then the growth and chance for these characters is allowed to take the time it needs to be real and lasting.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book turns the events of the “normal” romance novel on their head with things happening in a different order than I normally expect.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SOMEONE TO CARE is the fourth book in the Westcott series. The romance is self-contained, but I believe the book is better having read the others in the series because it gives understanding to Viola’s state of mind.

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: A Scandalous Deal

Review: A Scandalous DealA Scandalous Deal (The Four Hundred, #2) by Joanna Shupe
Series: The Four Hundred #2
Published by Avon on April 24, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION: Felt more like historical women’s fiction than romance. I enjoyed the story of Eva’s fight to be recognized for her architectural talents, but I really didn’t think the romance was exciting or interesting.

THE STORY: Lady Eva Hyde has three dead fiances and a father who no longer can do his work. When Eva gets the opportunity to pretend to be her father in order to be an architect on a project in New York, Eva leaps on the opportunity. On the trip across the Atlantic, Eva succumbs to passion with a stranger and then flees. She is horrified when he arrives in New York and realizes that her stranger is Phillip Mansfield, who happens to be her employer. Eva continues to pretend that her father is in charge of the project and she is there to execute his will. The antagonism from others about her working on the project, threaten Eva’s desire to establish herself as a professional.

OPINION: I’ve really enjoyed Shupes Guilded Age books, but this one was a big miss for me. While I was really interested in Eva’s professional journey, I didn’t like the romance at all. In fact, I sympathized with Phillip through the entire book and really thought he should dump Eva to find a better woman.

This book felt like a historical woman’s fiction book focused on Eva remaking her life. But she felt selfish and self-centered to me. She lies about who is the architect and then has the nerve to be annoyed at Phillip when he is almost destroyed by her deception. While there is a pro forma “making up” on her part, I never felt that she put her relationship with Phillip over her own ambitions. She lies to him, keeps him at a distance, and basically treats him as beneath her dreams.

I didn’t like her treatment of him, couldn’t understand his willingness to deal with her unless he has no self-respect himself. I want my romances to be about the relationship over all and this book doesn’t come close to meeting that standard.

The book is well written for what it is and I am sure that readers looking for a woman’s journey to fight prejudice to be a trailblazer will find something good in this story, but I prefer my romances to be about romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book takes place during the Gilded Age.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A SCANDALOUS DEAL is the second book in the Four Hundred series. While there are small appearances by characters from the prior book, this book is a complete standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss 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.

 

two-stars

Review: A Devil of a Duke

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 Devil of a DukeA Devil of a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society, #2) by Madeline Hunter
Series: Decadent Dukes Society #2
on April 24, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed the interplay between Gabriel and Amanda. There story seems hopeless at times which makes the story poignant, but I wished for something more from the grand gesture at the end.

THE STORY: Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford is used to getting what he wants. When he meets a mysterious woman who is willing to meet with him but doesn’t want to reveal anything about herself, Gabriel is intrigued and determined to uncover her secrets. Amanda Waverly is being forced into a double life. She is acting the respectable secretary to a society matron while plotting thefts. When she gets tangled up with Langford, she fears that everything will collapse around her.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book because of the couple. Gabriel and Amanda are a prickly couple. She has lot of secrets and he is determined to find out everything about her. I liked that she outsmarts him in the beginning and that he is ultimately willing to risk everything for her.

The book manages to have more fun than I expect because it operates on the fringes of society. Amanda is desperate but determined to do what she can to protect her loved ones. I thought that she was foolish for doing so much, but it also shows her kind heart. And her kindness is an essential part of her character along with her cleverness.

The weakness of this book for me was that we never really get to see Gabriel’s inner decisions regarding Amanda. He ultimately risks everything for her, but I suppose I wanted to see his turmoil or hear him verbalize more. The grand romantic moment was a bit muted for me as a result.

But I enjoyed these characters matching wits and I really liked Amanda’s character.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’m hoping we will eventually get to know more about Harry and Emilia.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DEVIL OF A DUKE is the second book in the Decadent Dukes Society. Although there are some overlapping characters, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare a 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 Designs of Lord Randolph Cavanaugh

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 Designs of Lord Randolph CavanaughThe Designs of Lord Randolph Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens
Series: The Cavanaughs #1
Published by MIRA on April 24, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
two-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: I found the topic very interesting dealing with an invention of the combustion engine, but I thought the romance bland and the ultimate story line didn’t have much consequence. I liked the characters, but the story didn’t give them enough to delve into.

THE STORY: Lord Randolph Cavanaugh is determined to make something of himself through his investments. Traveling to Throgmorton Hall to see the status of an investment in an engine and finds that the inventor has died. The son has taken on the task of finishing the engine. The daughter, Felicia, has been keeping the family afloat for years and is not a fan of inventors’ obsessions. With someone out to make sure that the invention fails, Rand and Felicia must work together to save all their fortunes.

OPINION: I really love the Cynster books and I loved the story of Rand’s brother, but I couldn’t love this one.

The characters were really nice and I liked them, but just about everything about the story failed them. Nothing was particularly interesting to me.

The romance was really bland and I never felt a connection between Rand and Felicia. There romance felt formulaic to me without any real spark between the characters. I ultimately liked how they related to one another, but I never felt that these two had the desperate passion between them that I would expect. The whole romance felt too left brain for me.

Then there was the story itself. The beginning felt like it would be dramatic and interesting and while the Victorian topic of engines was interesting, the story itself didn’t feel compelling. The twists hinted at in the blurb ended up less intriguing that I supposed.

The entire book felt too cold and plotted for me and lacked the passion on all levels that I look for in Laurens’ books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Ryder and Mary Cavanaugh make a significant appearance here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DESIGNS OF LORD RANDOLPH CAVANAUGH is the first book in the Cavanaughs series. This book is connected to THE TAMING OF RYDER CAVANAUGH which tells the story of Rand’s older brother.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

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

 

two-stars

Review: Midnight Wolf

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: Midnight WolfMidnight Wolf (Shifters Unbound, #11) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound #11
Published by Berkley on April 24, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this couple a great deal. Tamsin’s personality perfectly fits her shifter animal and I loved how nimble and cute and sneaky she is. Angus is a wonderful father. I felt the romance was not as intense as I might have liked, but I felt these two found a comfortable relationship with one another.

THE STORY: Angus Murray is forced to hunt for a collarless shifter woman when his son is captured and held hostage. Angus is out to find Tamsin Calloway, a mysterious shifter who ran with Angus’s crazy (and deceased brother) for a while. While Angus tries to be focused only on capturing and turning over Tamsin in order to get his son returned, the slippery and smart Tamsin wins Angus’s admiration. Angus can’t risk his son, but he doesn’t want to sacrifice Tamsin either.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book because of the strength of the connection between Angus, Tamsin and Angus’s son. Their relationship was sweet and I liked that. There was also a lot of humor in their interactions. Tamsin’s zesty personality was a nice contrast with the often grumpy Angus. Tamsin seems irresponsible as the story begins, but we soon learn that while she is unattached, she is also serious about responsibilities.

The overarching story line here seemed somewhat insignificant and merely an excuse for Angus and Tamsin to go on the run together which leads to amusing adventures in a circus.

Tamsin is one of my favorite characters in the series now. She is amusing and clever and definitely feels like her shifter animal. She just made me smile especially as she brings Angus out of his shell.

I appreciated that Ashley made Angus’s son a big part of the story since Tamsin will be a part of their family. The relationship between them felt natural and I could see Tamsin acting as mother without betraying all her fun personality.

My only complaint is that the relationship between Angus and Tamsin felt more comfortable than passionate attraction. I totally bought these two together, but I just wanted to feel a bit more in their romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: I was so excited that we get to see more of Tiger!

CONNECTED BOOKS: MIDNIGHT WOLF is the eleventh book in the Shifters Unbound series. The romance in this book is self-contained but there are overarching storylines for the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare a 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 Duke Identity

Review: The Duke IdentityThe Duke Identity (Game of Dukes, #1) by Grace Callaway
Series: Game of Dukes #1
on April 19, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Hot and sexy romance between a scientist turned policeman and the young woman who would rather rule in the underworld than marry a duke. Lots of secrets in this one, but I loved the chemistry between Tessa and Harry.

THE STORY: Harry Kent has been forced to leave his dreams of science and the Royal Academy behind when he was betrayed by a woman. Taking on the family business of being a policeman, Harry is tasked with helping to take down Black, the king of the underworld. When a chance encounter has him meeting, Tessa Todd, who is Black’s granddaughter, Harry takes on the job of her bodyguard in order to spy on the family. What Harry doesn’t expect, however, is the intense attraction between him and Tessa which once again threatens the life he has built for himself.

OPINION: This is an enjoyable tale. Harry and Tessa are adventurous and I liked their interactions and while the story depends a lot upon Harry keeping his identity from Tessa, the hotness between the two keeps any possible annoyance factor low.

Harry is a man trying to rebuild and reshape his life after all he worked for was destroyed. Harry loved and was betrayed and now has to find out what his purpose is. He also doesn’t want to make himself vulnerable to a woman again.  He has honor even as he continues to lie to Tessa because he has conflicting loyalties. The book goes on his journey where he has to decide what is most important to him. I like that Harry is vulnerable and a little nerdy and on the razor’s edge for most of the story.

Tessa is a spunky and independent woman. Her grandfather wants her to marry into the ton, but Tessa wants nothing more than to stand by her grandfather’s side.  Her unconventional upbringing makes her innocent but not ignorant. She can fit anywhere she wants to, but she feels at home with the whores and thieves of St. Giles. She doesn’t fit into any box of what a woman of the period should be. I liked that she is willing to do what she has to in order to make her own dreams a reality.  The interesting mixture of her traits and interests intrigue Harry the scientist.

I really liked how the book mixes the heat that the two generate and the curiosity and sweetness of their intellectual relationship. The plot also was interesting as it combined both the people of the streets and also the ton. The mixture allows the hero and heroine to be their own people rather than having to fit in perfectly into expected roles and social classes. I also really ended up liking the ultimate resolution.

The only negative is that Harry keeps his secrets for far too long. That ends up being the primary obstacle between Tessa and Harry. After a while, I tired of him lying to Tessa and justifying it because it seemed to become clear that his reasons were not as strong as in the beginning.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next one in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Two words: pet ferret.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DUKE IDENTITY is the first book in the Game of Dukes series. This book is, however, connected with the Heart of Enquiry series through the hero. It is not necessary to read that series, however, to enjoy this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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

 

four-stars