Review: Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses

Review: Gentlemen Prefer HeiressesGentlemen Prefer Heiresses (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, #4.5) by Lorraine Heath
Series: Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James #4.5
Published by Avon Impulse on August 22nd 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 112
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A lovely gem of a coda to the amazing Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series.  Gina and Andrew are such a fun and sweet couple that I smiled and sighed through the whole story.

THE STORY:  Miss Virginia “Gina” Hammersley was supposed to be the sister making an advantageous marriage this season.  But her scandalous older sister and the Marquess of Rexton fell in love.  Now with her sister making a proper marriage, Gina knows that her own options have expanded as well.  Lord Andrew Mabry, the younger brother of Rexton, intends never to marry.  As the “spare”, Andrew knows that he doesn’t have the title that Gina wants. Yet neither his determination to remain a bachelor nor Gina’s expectations can keep Andrew from wanting to be with the woman he cannot take his eyes off.

OPINION:  This story was so well done that I truly forgot that it was a novella.  By focusing intensely on the characters and their relationship, the novella felt complete and satisfying.

Andrew is the second son who hasn’t found a purpose in his life. It is always a challenge for an author to write the story of a child born of a happy marriage (which is one reason we don’t see as many books about the children of prior characters).  The best characters are often found in torment from their lives.  Andrew had a happy childhood, but Heath does a good job of giving him his own pain that has made him more convinced to stay unmarried.  A man who has an example of the wonderful marriage of his parents can only be determined to stay unmarried if he fears inside that he will never be able to duplicate that effort.  I loved his character which is fun and sweet (even though he sees himself as rakish).  He is immensely likeable and this book shows him finding who he really can be.

Gina is a woman who has an American’s brashness and desires to be her own person.  When she recognizes that she wants Andrew, she is determined to take every opportunity open to her for adventure and happiness.  I love that she is unconventional and yet has her limits. I also really admire a woman who is willing to suffer for love, is willing to put happiness over reputation and I liked her strength and joy in life.

I just loved the relationship between Gina and Andrew.  Sweet and sexy and fun.

I’m a big sucker for these types of stories where we get to see more of characters from prior books.  I love having a few moments more with characters that I already fell in love with and I admit that I have a hard time letting go of their stories.  There are glimpses throughout this story which just made me happy.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  GENTLEMEN PREFER HEIRESSES is book 4.5 of the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series (which itself is a spin-off of the Scoundrels of St. James series).  This book is a closer for book 4 of that series, AN AFFAIR WITH A NOTORIOUS HEIRESS.  I recommend reading that book first because this one flows directly from that book — although the story itself is separate.  It is not necessary to read any of the prior books in the series to read this one, but with all the connecting characters, this book just works better as part of the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: An Affair with a Notorious Heiress

Review: An Affair with a Notorious HeiressAn Affair with a Notorious Heiress (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, #4) by Lorraine Heath
Series: Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James #4
Published by Avon on May 30th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Lyrical and emotional story of a woman who is a scandal and the man who wants to avoid scandal and yet ends up not wanting to avoid her.  I loved the unexpected sweetness and romance of this story.

THE STORY:  Alistair Mabry, Marquess of Rexton and future duke, has no plans to marry soon, but when he does he will choose a bride with a perfect reputation.  His own childhood showed him the consequences of being the child of a scandalous union.  While he loves his parents, he has no desire to repeat their story.  When he is asked to court a young sweet woman in order to help her marriage prospects, he agrees, but finds himself spending more time thinking about her older and scandalous sister, Tillie, Lady Lansdowne.  Divorced after her affair with a footman became known, the American heiress lives separate from society but is determined to see her sister happily married.  She doesn’t think that Rexton is the man for her sister, but can’t stop thinking about him herself.

OPINION:  This book follows two books that are among my all time favorites.  The stories of Rexton’s parents and that of his sister are so heartbreakingly beautiful.  As I began this book, I was honestly a bit disappointed because I thought Rexton’s attitude toward his mother’s past was not worthy of the oldest son of his parents.  As the book progressed, however, I fell in love with Rexton and understood his position (even if thought it misguided).

Heath has a marvelous way of making the romance between Rexton and Tillie seem completely hopeless. There seems to be no future for these characters, but all that is needed is complete and utter surrender to love.  I am always done in by Heath’s way of ripping into my emotions.  This romance is quieter and sweeter than I expected — perhaps because their outward challenges are so large and overwhelming.

I love watching these two fall in love.

The man who thinks that he wants perfection, but discovers that all he really wants is love — even if it is messy and imperfect — and perhaps because it is. The woman who has been so thoroughly disappointed by love that she fears risking any part of herself again. And perhaps she has internalized her lack of worth because no one has ever put her first.

The story slowly built until reaching a wonderful crescendo.  This book wasn’t as gut wrenching as my other favorites in this world, but the intense sweetness was worth the journey.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Fans of the series will be pleased to see quite a bit of Rexton’s family.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  AN AFFAIR WITH A NOTORIOUS HEIRESS is the fourth book in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series.  The book can be read as standalone, but honestly is much better after reading both the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series and the connected series about the parents generation, the Scoundrels of St. James series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss in order to provide a 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 Earl Takes All

Review: The Earl Takes AllThe Earl Takes All (The Hellions of Havisham, #2) by Lorraine Heath
Series: The Hellions of Havisham #2
Published by Avon on April 26th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

“Don’t let her figure out that it’s me, the sneaky bastard who takes what isn’t his. Don’t let her realize that I’m not her husband.”

FINAL DECISION: I love how Heath creates situations between characters that seem impossible and then goes deep into the emotions of the characters to make a situation work out.  I thought this story would never work and yet Heath made it a lovely romance.

THE STORY: Edward Alcott returns from a safari with his dead twin but is himself masquerading as his twin.  It was his brother’s dying wish that Edward care for his wife who is pregnant. Edward intends on pretending to be his twin until his sister in law gives birth.  Pretending to be his brother is more difficult than he expected since Edward has been enamored of his sister in law for years.  Julia is surprised by the changes in her husband on his return.  He seems more wicked and bolder than the man she married.  As she falls even more in love, she can’t help but wonder what has changed her husband so much.

OPINION:  I often start a Lorraine Heath book thinking “there is no way she can make this work” sometimes I even hate the premise.  This book was difficult to imagine from the blurb of the book.  I couldn’t imagine that a relationship that begins with the hero impersonating his dead twin to his sister-in-law was going to work.  For the most part, the book did work. There were a couple of rough parts that called for more acceptance than analysis on my part, but I got wrapped up in the emotional journey of these characters that by the end, I was totally bound up with wanting their happy ending.

This book does demand some patience from its readers as (1) you have to accept that Julia would not recognize Edward’s impersonation of her husband and (2) you have to accept that she will ultimately forgive him for his deception.  Some readers might not be able to get past these hurdles, but accepting these premises allowed me to become absorbed by the emotional conflict in the story which is filled with love, guilt, pain and joy.

In the story, Edward begins as the typical rake, but we soon find out that he is hiding a love for Julia which he always believed was hopeless.  His masquerade of a thoughtless rake allowed him to mask his feelings.  By pretending to be his brother, Edward begins to lose control of those feelings and falls deeply in love with Julia.

I liked these characters and especially appreciated how Heath walks the line of Julia falling in love with both brothers without diminishing either of them.  This is a difficult task and is largely successful — even if I admit that I like Edward better.

The central conflict of the story becomes that even if Julia and Edward fall in love, the deception will have to continue because English law forbids a man from marrying his brother’s widow.  The resolution of this story might seem like a cheat to some, but I really liked that the solution, like the conflict itself, is based on historical fact.  Heath explains some of the real legal issues involved in her afterword.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Fans of Heath’s other series might see some familiar faces.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE EARL TAKES ALL is the second book in the Hellions of Havisham series.  It can be read as a standalone although the first book of the series gives some further background on the characters and their connection to significant secondary characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars