Review: It Happened One Autumn

Review: It Happened One AutumnIt Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers, #2) by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Wallflowers #2
Published by HarperCollins e-books on October 13, 2009
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Classic Romance Between Two Strong Willed People

IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN is the second book in Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflower series. The series is the stories of four women who band together to find husbands. This book is the story of Lillian Bowman, the daughter of a wealthy American shoemaker, who has come to England to catch a peer for a husband. Sparks fly between Lillian and Marcus, the Earl of Westcliff. Lillian finds Marcus to be cold and domineering; Marcus finds Lillian to be an ungovernable menace. Of course, that makes them perfect for one another!

I really enjoyed this book. The romance between Lillian and Marcus sparkles. The book is funny and emotional. Keypads, of course, writes in such a manner that every page is interesting. My only complaint is that I find Lillian a difficult heroine to love. I believe it is my bias and not any weakness in the story. Bo th Lillian and Marcus are arrogant, strong willed characters. That makes it somewhat difficult for me to like her as quickly.

This book also has the strong appearance of St. Vincent,who is the villain here and the hero in the next book. I think he steals the book and the last part of the epilogue is my favorite.

four-half-stars

Review: Secrets of a Summer Night

Review: Secrets of a Summer NightSecrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, #1) by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Wallflowers #1
Published by HarperCollins e-books on October 13, 2009
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Great First Book in the Wallflowers Series

SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT is the story of Annabelle Peyton and Simon Hunt. Annabelle is of the genteel class but her family has fallen on hard times since the death of her father and she desperately seeks marriage to a peer to rescue her family. Simon Hunt is of the new generation…a butcher’s son who has made a fortune but exists only on the fringes of society.

This book is interesting because it deals with the intersection between the aristocratic classes and the new industrialists that are changing the entire world including the social world. Kleypas’ writing is brilliant and witty. The characters and the situation make me smile. The only negative is that Annabelle is not the most likeable of heroines at the beginning of the book.

Annabelle and Simon remind me quite a bit of Scarlett and Rhett. There is something about Annabelle’s desperation and the monies ways of Rhett that echo in this book for me.

I love this series and this is my second favorite of the series. I’d rate it a 4.5 stars. The rounders game between the ladies is classic! I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

four-half-stars

Review: Again the Magic

Review: Again the MagicAgain The Magic (Wallflowers, #0.5) by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Wallflowers #0.5
Published by HarperCollins e-books on October 13, 2009
Genres: Historical
Pages: 386
Goodreads
four-stars

Story of Love Long Denied

AGAIN THE MAGIC is the love story of Lady Aline, the daughter of and Earl and McKenna, the former stable boy who worked on her family’s estate. The two meet as children and are friends. As they age, however, they fall in love. They are separated by Aline’s father. The bulk of the story takes place twelve years later when they meet again.

McKenna has made himself living in America and has come back for revenge on Aline. The book is one where Aline keeps many secrets from McKenna. For those readers who are adverse to stories that could be avoided if the characters would speak honestly with one another, this book is not for you. I don’t mind the trope, however, when the reasons behind the lies are made clear. In this book, I understood why Aline lied to McKenna. I felt the pain of the two characters.

There is also a side romance involving Aline’s younger sister Olivia. This book is a prequel to Kleypas’ Wallflowers series as it introduces the Earl of Westcliff, who is Aline’s older brother. While certainly not necessary to the Wallflowers series, it is a nice introduction to that series.

I recommend it.

four-stars

Review: Governess Gone Rogue

Review: Governess Gone RogueGoverness Gone Rogue (Dear Lady Truelove, #3) by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #3
Published by Avon on January 29, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION: I was honestly bored by this book that unfortunately didn’t live up to the promise of the series. Readers who want the story of a woman who overcomes all sorts of historical prejudices and limitations placed on woman this story is good, but the romance was undeveloped and there was no chemistry. The hero had no real personality and was just a foil for the heroine.

THE STORY: Amanda Leighton is ruined and turned out from her life’s calling of being a teacher. When she overhears James St. Clair, Earl of Kenyon, fretting about needing a tutor for his ungovernable twin sons, Amanda knows that she is completely qualified for the job with except for one thing — a woman cannot be a tutor. Masquerading as a man, Amanda gets the tutor job but when her identity is revealed, there are suddenly a whole lot of complications between Jamie and Amanda.

OPINION: The romance in this book was lacking. The story is much more interested in Amanda’s situation than building a relationship between the characters. The story focuses on an examination of the social restrictions upon Amanda. Her journey to recover from being abandoned by her lover and having the deal with being a “ruined” woman. The unreasonable restrictions upon tutors being men and the denigration of women’s abilities. Also tossed in is Amanda being harassed by a former employer. The story is so consumed with advocating for Amanda and making her a perfect specimen of enlightened womanhood, that it doesn’t have time to actually develop any relationship between Amanda and Jamie. In fact, it almost seemed to me that we saw her spending more time with Jamie’s sons than him.

I didn’t feel any chemistry between the characters and the romance felt so rushed in the last third of the book (also tossed in was Jamie being a neglectful father who tosses his career away for Amanda).

The hero felt like a wimp who had no personality at all except for his emotional neglect of his children and his pining for his dead wife.

This book has an interesting story to tell about Amanda — unfortunately it is more historical women’s fiction than romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: Despite being a part of the Lady Truelove series, the connection to the advice column is pretty slim.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GOVERNESS GONE ROGUE is the third book in the Dear Lady Truelove series. While there are appearances from characters from other books in the series, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

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

 

two-stars

Review: To Win Her Heart

Review: To Win Her HeartTo Win Her Heart by Brenda Novak
Published by Harlequin Books Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION: This story didn’t work for me because I really didn’t see any relationship between April and Gunner. Having both their relationship and the parents in the same short story was just too much ground to cover and not enough development for either.

THE STORY: April Ashton wants to help get her separated parents back together again. So she schemes to bring her mother to the company getaway, but part of that plan ends up being Gunner Stevens, a former race car driver who wants to buy her father’s business. But the scheme necessitates April and Gunner to pretend to be in a relationship.

OPINION: There was nothing horribly wrong with this story, it was just that the short nature of the novella combined with the two romances in the story overloaded the story and meant that I just didn’t get the development of the April and Gunner romance. The beginning of the story between them was really good, but once the time came for them to get emotionally close, I thought the story faltered. Things happened too quickly and without any real development between them. Gunner fell too fast and I just didn’t buy that part of the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story was originally published under the title WHAT A GIRL WANTS in the MOTHER, PLEASE! anthology.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

two-stars

Review: The Devilish Lord Will

Review: The Devilish Lord WillThe Devilish Lord Will (MacKenzies & McBrides, #10) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies and McBrides #10
Published by JA / AG Publishing on January 15, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 315
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I absolutely loved this book. I’m a sucker for a couple who have new chance at love. This book has a deep romance and a lot of action and adventure. Loved these characters and their story.

THE STORY: Josette Oswald needs help finding a legendary gold treasure and she knows there is no one more suited for such a hunt than Will Mackenzie. Josie and Will have worked together in the past in Will’s spying endeavors sometimes pretending to be husband and wife. But Josie has a daughter to raise and Will’s adventures were a danger to her family and her heart so she sent him away. Now she needs his help but she also has a secret that might destroy the long friendship the two former lovers share and Will’s willingness to help Josie on her quest.

OPINION: This book was my favorite of the 1700s Mackenzies. I loved the relationship between Will and Josie. Things weren’t right for them in the past for a multitude of reasons and I highly respected Josie for turning Will away in order to raise her daughter. Even though Will knows he is not one to settle down, he still is an honorable man who did everything he could to care for Josie and her daughter.

I loved just about everything in this book. Will cares deeply under his devil may care attitude. His immediate acceptance of Josie’s daughter and his love and caring for a child not his own is admirable. And I really liked that Josie’s daughter is not merely a plot device. She is a real character here and I’m glad that we get some resolution to her story as well.

The romance in this book is so different from the usual — we meet and in a week are madly in love and want to spend our lives together — story. There is a real sense that Will and Josie had something special a decade ago, but the time wasn’t right for them. Now the two have a new chance and are in a different phase of their lives. While both have to clear up things from their pasts, this book has a strong sense that the two can finally have a chance for the future together.

There are a lot of moving pieces in this story, but the focus is always on Will and Josie. This is a story of two people who have a decade to realize that what they have together is special and are finally willing to give in to love.

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of the series, this book gives an update on everyone (from the 1700s).

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DEVILISH LORD WILL is the tenth book in the Mackenzies & McBrides series and the third book about the 1700s Mackenzies. This book can be read as a standalone although I recommend that readers consider reading the two prior 1700s books because they all are connected.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: On Thin Ice

Review: On Thin IceOn Thin Ice (Ice, #6) by Anne Stuart
Series: Ice #6
on September 15, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Good Adventure Romance

THE STORY: Elizabeth Pennington is an American aid worker in a small war torn South American country. When she is kidnapped by revolutionaries, she ends up meeting Finn MacGowan who is also a captive. Finn is a Committee operative who has been kept captive for three years and is ready to escape. He believe the Committee, a covert multinational anti-terrorist organization, has abandoned him and he intends on escaping and getting revenge. When escaping, he reluctantly ends up with Beth as a companion and they must avoid those who want to kill them and find out who is trying to use Finn to draw out the former head of the Committee.

OPINION: This book is a constant adventure. There are betrayals and murders and dangerous thugs. Beth and Finn have a contentious relationship and are always on the edge of love and hate. The entire book is intense including the romance. I especially like how this book wraps up loose ends from the prior Ice novels. I am a big fan of Stuart’s type of hero who is dangerous and sometimes especially dangerous to the heroine. Here, Finn is not as close to killing Beth as other of Stuart’s anti-heroes are with their heroines. That gives this book more of a typical adventure suspense romance. The characters are sharply drawn and well defined. Although filled with adventure, the story is always centered around the characters which is what I like best about these books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Stuart wrote this book to give closure to what happened to MacGowan after the events in ICE STORM even though her original publisher did not want any other Ice series books.

FINAL DECISION: I like this book. It is different from others in the series although Finn is just as dangerous as the other men in the Ice series. The action adventure was thrilling and as a result the romance was intense. I also really enjoyed the update on my favorites from the Ice series as well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ON THIN ICE is the sixth book in the Ice Series. It can be read as a standalone although there are characters and background that comes from the prior books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Cover Reveal: At the Pleasure of the President

Cover Reveal: At the Pleasure of the President

One of my most anticipated books of the year…now has a cover.

At the Pleasure of the President

Perfect Gentlemen, Book 5

By Shayla Black and Lexi Blake

Release Date: April 9, 2019

 

GOODREADS: http://bit.ly/SmokeandSinGR

DESCRIPTION:

The thrilling conclusion of the twisting, page-turning Perfect Gentlemen series…

Decades ago, ambitious Zack Hayes set his sights on the White House. He’s worked his whole life to become the leader of the free world—attending the right schools, marrying the perfect bride—all to aid his campaign. He didn’t realize someone behind the scenes has been pulling the strings to manipulate Zack and the country he loves into a dangerous position—one he will risk his life to wrench free from. The one thing he can’t risk is Elizabeth Matthews.

From the moment she met Zack Hayes, Liz felt the connection. Serving as his campaign manager and then his press secretary, she accepted that her love for him would remain unrequited. Still, she’d thought they were friends, so when he pushed her aside, she felt the stab in her heart. And when she realizes he’s done it to protect her, nothing will stop Liz from standing by his side—not even the men who would use her as a weapon against him.

As shocking secrets are revealed, Zack and Liz find succor and passion in each other’s arms. When the ultimate villain shows his face, Zack may have to choose between his country and the woman he loves…

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon US: http://shayla.link/APP-KindleUS

Amazon UK: http://shayla.link/APP-KindleUK

Amazon CA: http://shayla.link/APP-KindleCA

Amazon AU: http://shayla.link/APP-KindleAU

Apple Books: http://shayla.link/APP-iBooks

Nook: http://shayla.link/APP-Nook

Kobo: http://shayla.link/APP-Kobo

GooglePlay: http://shayla.link/APP-GPlay

 

Add to GoodReads: http://shayla.link/APP-GR

More about The Perfect Gentlemen series: http://shayla.link/PGSeries

 

ABOUT SHAYLA BLACK:

 

Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty novels. For nearly twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her teenage daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

 

NEWSLETTER: http://bit.ly/SBNewsletter

WEBSITE: https://www.shaylablack.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ShaylaBlackAuthor

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/shaylablack/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Shayla_Black

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/shaylablacksb/

GOOGLE+ : https://plus.google.com/112445370769351993284

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFM7RZF38CqBlr6YG3a4mRQ

 

ABOUT LEXI BLAKE:

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

NEWSLETTER: http://www.lexiblake.net/newsletter

WEBSITE: http://www.lexiblake.net

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/authorlexiblake

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/lexi4714

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/authorlexiblake

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/lexiblake39

 

Review: When Lightning Strikes

Review: When Lightning StrikesWhen Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek, #1) by Brenda Novak
Series: Whiskey Creek #1
Published by Harlequin MIRA on August 28, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 448
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book grew on me as it progressed. The star here is the growing relationship between Gail and Simon who talk to one another like adults. The book avoids so many of the expected relationship pitfalls that it constantly surprised me.

THE STORY: Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek to form her own public relations firm. But she managed to torpedo her own business when she dropped Hollywood superstar actor Simon O’Neal because he is self-destructing after his divorce. Simon’s revenge is using his star power to strip Gail of her clients. Desperate to save her business, Gail decides to sacrifice her pride and apologize to Simon. As part of the plan to help Simon regain custody of his son by improving his image, Simon needs a upright wife — and Gail fits the bill. A marriage of convenience quickly turns into something more as Simon tries to right his life and Gail finds herself caring too much for her difficult client.

OPINION: What I really loved about this book is that even with a bunch of crazy Hollywood tabloid stuff going on, the real center of this book is the time that Gail and Simon spend together talking and relating to one another.

When the book began, I worried that the book would be about the crazy drama and I didn’t like the idea of Simon much. But that is exactly the place the book wants the reader to be in the beginning. Gail begins to learn about Simon as the reader does. The time they spend together gave this book heart. I loved them as they bantered and revealed themselves emotionally to one another. And I especially loved that all the cliches of how they could be pulled apart melted under adult conversation and trust.

WORTH MENTIONING: I love the group of friends that are the basis of this series. The relationships between them add dimension to the characters in the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES is the first book in the Whiskey Creek series (although there is a prequel that is not necessary to read).

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Untouchable

Review: UntouchableUntouchable (Cutler, Sutter & Salinas, #3) by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: ,
Published by Berkley on January 8, 2019
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: A nice read, but not particularly memorable. I wanted something more between the main characters who seemed to have no obstacles in their relationship beyond external. The second half of the book was definitely better than the first half. I wanted to like this story more than I actually did. A good read, but I won’t be thinking about it as a re-read.

THE STORY: Jack Lancaster has turned his investigative talents to solving cold cases. Because of his past, he is especially intrigued by cases involving fire. But his unique methods for solving these cases have taken their toll on him — until he meets meditation expert Winter Meadows. The one cold case that especially haunts Jack is the one involving Quinton Zane — the con man who killed Jack and his brother’s mothers in a blazing fire when the boys were teenagers. Believed dead by law enforcement, Zane is alive and determined to eliminate the threat of Jack and his brothers — beginning with Jack.

OPINION: This book was okay, but ultimately I found nothing particularly memorable about the book or story. I’ve been reading Krentz books since the 1980s and some books I really, really love and some are just so-so. This ended up being a good read, but nothing particularly memorable. I did notice that the “woo-woo” stuff is creeping into her stories again. I am among her readers who were really disappointed when she abandoned her Arcane stories which I found unique and almost all of them are highly memorable.

Her more recent plain romantic suspense don’t have the same energy for me. This book has a hypnotism and a lucid dreaming angle that didn’t work as well for me as the Arcane books, but I did feel that it added something unique about the characters. The characters here pretty much didn’t have any obstacles other than external. That can work, but here it felt like they were already a couple before the book began in all the emotional ways that count. That left me feeling that there wasn’t really an emotional connection between the characters.

The second half of the book which switches to focus on the suspense as the action heats up felt much better and I felt the book ended on a high note. I did like that we got to see other characters from the series and some familiar places and people from Krentz’s overall world are mentioned as well which rewards fans.

This book just didn’t rise of the level of the best of Krentz’s work, so I felt disappointed even as the book itself was a good read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book takes place in Eclipse Bay with a familiar secondary character for those who have followed Krentz’s work.

CONNECTED BOOKS: UNTOUCHABLE is the third book in the Culter, Sutter & Salinas series. While there are some appearances by overlapping characters, these books can be read as standalones.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars