Review: My One and Only Duke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Gifts of Love

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

This is an anthology of two unrelated novellas.

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

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


Review: The Last Duke

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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


Review: Aeran & Rhys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Misadventures with a Professor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Leverage in Death

Review: Leverage in DeathLeverage in Death (In Death, #47) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #47
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 4, 2018
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 385

FINAL DECISION: Eve is surrounded by her supporting cast and this one really worked for me. Books where Eve and Roarke get to work together are always better in my opinion. This one is really about Eve and those around her with an intriguing mystery.

THE STORY: A man walks into a conference room wearing a suicide vest and kills his colleagues. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to the scene and soon discovers that there is more than a disgruntled employee involved. Someone held his wife and child hostage to compel is actions. To discover who and what was the motive, Eve gets some help from her husband Roarke.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. Honestly, the “mystery” wasn’t as intense as others in the series, but this book really sold the relationships in the series well. There is good stuff with Eve and Roarke, Eve and Peabody, Eve and Nadine. The book also closes off some of the lingering storylines in the series.

I did like the mystery even though it felt less important to this book than in others. The crimes were pretty dramatic and the motives and methods intriguing and murky. That I really enjoyed.

But my favorite part of this book is that we get to see Eve and Roarke working together. I read these books because I love seeing these two together and I liked this book so much more because the two of them spent most of the story interacting with one another.

WORTH MENTIONING: Sometimes I am shocked into thinking of how little time has passed in the In Death world. The Oscars where the Icove movie is nominated is just happening.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LEVERAGE IN DEATH is the forty-seventh book in the In Death series. The mystery here is self-contained but a reader is tossed immediately into the characters with no re-introduction for new readers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: When Strangers Marry

Review: When Strangers MarryWhen Strangers Marry (Vallerands, #1) by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Vallerands #1
Published by Avon on August 1, 2002
Genres: Historical
Pages: 390

FINAL DECISION: Certainly not as complex as Kleypas’s more recent works, I enjoyed the main characters: the innocent heroine who is strong and doesn’t cower from the hero and the hero who has a bad reputation but quickly falls for the heroine.

THE STORY: Lysette Kersaint is being forced by her stepfather to marry a man who repulses her. Instead, Lysette decides to take her future in her own hands and escape. But her flight puts her in the path of Maximilien Vallerands. Max decides to use Lysette for revenge against her prospective bridegroom. Lysette, however, has no intention of allowing Max to use her.

OPINION: This book was mixed for me. The story certainly isn’t particularly complex and the characters don’t have a tremendous amount of depth to them, but I really liked the characters.

Lysette is young, but she quickly shows strength and determination and the ability to manage Max who is fifteen years her senior. And the relationship between Lysette and Max is one of the nicest of Kleypas’s books. These two like one another almost from the beginning — and not the sexual liking, but rather the two have an emotional and intellectual connection from early on in this book. I really liked how these characters interacted with one another. I would have expected the older and more experienced Max to crush the young Lysette, but instead their relationship is a combination of her strength and his caring for her enough to include her opinions in his considerations.

If a reader is looking for an equivalent of Kleypas’s later works, there is apt to be disappointment, but I enjoyed this book on its own terms.

WORTH MENTIONING: I really loved the different time period and location. This book takes place in Louisiana at the turn of the 19th century. The book uses Aaron Burr’s post-Hamilton duel history in the Louisiana territories which led to him being tried for treason as the historical underpinning for this story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN STRANGERS MARRY is the first book in the Vallerands series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Drums of Autumn

Review: Drums of AutumnDrums of Autumn (Outlander, #4) by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #4
Published by Delta on August 7, 2001
Genres: Historical, Time Travel
Pages: 880

FINAL DECISION: I ended up enjoying the story of Claire and Jamie establishing themselves in the American colonies. This feels like a transitional book getting all the characters in the right place and time, but I enjoyed the personal stories of Claire and Jamie and Brianna and Roger.

THE STORY: This book begins after the events of VOYAGER. Jamie and Claire have ended up in the colonies and begin building a new life together there as the settlers begin to have conflicts with the native inhabitants. In the future, Brianna has to deal with the loss of her mother. She and Roger also rekindle their romance but the discovery of a clipping announcing the death of Jamie and Claire due to a house fire forces Brianna and Roger to make a decision.

OPINION: While this book is filled, as all Outlander books, with various adventures, what attracted me most to this book was the personal relationship between Claire and Jamie. Here, the two are building a life together for the first time. The boring, daily details of life — cooking, cleaning, preparing the land — are what the two have to deal with (punctuated by various adventures). For the first time, the two have to learn to live together after so many years apart. This book feels like a settled and romantic couple which I really loved. In the daily living, true love is shown. And for the first time, there is no question that Jamie and Claire will be together throughout the book.

What I really didn’t expect was how much I would love the story of Brianna and Roger. With Claire and Jamie on a less extreme emotional path, the torch of young love is passed to Brianna and Roger. I ended up loving both of these characters and I look forward to seeing their relationship develop.

As the series has progressed, I’ve become more acquainted with the historical events which form the pillars of the stories where these characters exist and with each book, I have enjoyed the historical parts more. Perhaps because we have moved into more familiar territory for me, I found the historical events and tidbits here fascinating.

As with all the books in this series, parts of the story are resolved and then parts are left for future books.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book depicts a graphic rape.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DRUMS OF AUTUMN is the fourth book in the OUTLANDER series. The book assumes knowledge from the previous books and therefore the books should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Archangel’s Prophecy

Review: Archangel’s ProphecyArchangel's Prophecy (Guild Hunter, #11) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #11
Published by Berkley on October 30, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 368

“One must die for one to live.”

FINAL DECISION: Fantastic book which turns everything upside down. Dramatic and powerful, this book is a game changer in the Guild Hunter series, and left me screaming at the end for the year’s delay before finding out what happens next, but I believe this could be one of the most amazing books in the series because it challenges the reader rather than keeping to a formula.

THE STORY: Elena is the only mortal in memory to have been made into an immortal angel by the ambrosia kiss of Raphael, the Archangel. But something seems be going wrong. Elena is regressing and becoming more mortal. Raphael and Elena are in a race against time to discover what is happening. At the same time, Elena is tracking a murderer who is threatening her family. Even worse, the Cascade is at work again with sinkholes filled with Lava and flocks of mysterious birds approaching Elena.

OPINION: Eleven books in and a series can become predictable and stale. Singh tosses all the rules away with this ending of this book. Some readers might be upset by the cliffhanger ending and by what it portends, but it worked in ways that I didn’t expect when I first finished it. I ended up re-reading the last quarter twice and I loved it more each time. The last quarter of this book was intensely dramatic and powerful.

This book is an interesting mixture of an big and important Cascade story and a more mundane murder investigation. This book allows readers to see all of Elena — the mortal and immortal parts — and things begin to change in big ways. I was happy to get to see several of the secondary characters in this series, but this is very much an Elena-centric book. This is about her journey.

Things in the series seemed to be going on an expected path and I thought I knew what was going to happen. This book upset all those expectations and thus brought confusion and anger and quite a bit of disorientation by the end. But ultimately that is why I ended up loving it.  This book asks a lot from the reader and I, too, had to sacrifice predictability and security along with the characters.

Elena and Raphael are not characters who will be bound by fate and prophecy. They make their own path — even when that path is unclear and uncertain. I’m just along for the ride now.

This is the only book since the first book in the series where I have no idea what is going to happen next. There is something wonderfully creative and fascinating about being in this place of uncertainty.

I also need to re-read it in total as soon as I finish this review.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book ends on a cliffhanger.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL’S PROPHECY is the eleventh book in the Guild Hunter series. This series is meant to be read in order. While each book is an episode, there are significant overarching storylines in this series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.