Review: Alec Mackenzie’s Art of Seduction

Review: Alec Mackenzie’s Art of SeductionAlec Mackenzie's Art of Seduction (MacKenzies & McBrides, #9) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies and McBrides #9
Published by JA / AG Publishing on November 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This was a very enjoyable book. I loved Alec and Celia together and there is a good plot surrounding the romance.  I can’t wait for the next book.

THE STORY: Alec Mackenzie is dead…at least to the English who are searching for the traitors after the Scottish uprising that ended with Culloden. After his remaining family fled to France, Alec has returned to England with his young daughter in order to search for his brother Will who may have been captured by the English. Alec is masquerading as Mr. Finn, a poor Irish artist taking on students. His student is Lady Celia who is the daughter of the duke that Alec suspects is implicated in his brother’s disappearance. Celia is intrigued by Mr. Finn and feels that there is much more to the man than he presents.

OPINION: I loved the interaction between Alec and Celia. That interaction is what made the book for me. Like the other Mackenzie books, this book has larger than life characters who have intense feelings for one another. The connection between these two is immediate and quite beautiful.

Alec’s kindness and gentleness made me fall for him, too.  He is a man who has big emotions and love. One of his best qualities is the love he has for his daughter and his family. He is adorable in that seriously manly fashion. As he meets Celia, he is pulled into caring for her as well. His support for her artistic talent and her wishes and thoughts is very attractive as well.

Celia is strong and determined even under the intense manipulation and pressure of her mother.  Her willingness to do what is right for her despite the pressures of society which leaves her ruined, her complex feelings for her family members, and her insistence of being treated as a partner give Celia depth that I enjoyed as well.

The plot here works as well. Alec’s search for his brother involves various schemes and plots and unwinding the villains and heroes. There is also enjoyable glimpses of the remainder of the Mackenzie family so those who have read THE UNTAMED MACKENZIE will be pleased to see what has happened with the family since the events of that book.

Ian and Beth also open and close this novel. Fans of the original books will be pleased. I’m hoping that in the next book we will get to see more of the more of the Victorian era Mackenzies.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book sets up Alec’s brother Will’s book. I can’t wait to hear his story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ALEC MACKENZIE’S ART OF SEDUCTION is the ninth book in the Mackenzies and McBrides series. While this book is a self-contained romance (which is a prequel to others in the series), there is an introduction from Ian Mackenzie (THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE) and I think at least that book should be read first just to put the story in context.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC from the author 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: Once Upon a Maiden Lane

Review: Once Upon a Maiden LaneOnce Upon a Maiden Lane (Maiden Lane, #12.5) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Published by Forever Yours on November 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

“Mary Whitsun did not like comely gentlemen.”

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable story that feels like Cinderella, except that there is a twist that gives the story and characters more depth. The story is short and everything happens pretty quickly but I still enjoyed Hoyt giving us this secondary character’s HEA.

THE STORY: Mary Whitsun knows better than responds when a handsome young aristocrat accosts her when she is at the bookshop. Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell mistakes Mary for his fiancee. Indeed it appears that Mary, who was raised in an orphanage may be the long lost twin of Henry’s fiance. If that is true then in fact Mary is Henry’s rightful fiance since they were betrothed at birth. In this Cinderella story, Mary, the servant, is transformed into a Lady.

OPINION: This story is sweeter than most of Hoyt’s books as the characters are younger. (This story definitely has its sexy side, but not as graphic as most Hoyt novels).  From the beginning, this novella has a Cinderella vibe as Mary is transformed from the servant she was raised to be to a young lady ready to take her place in society and be married.

The majority of the story is about Mary’s transformation and her getting to know the man who was contracted to be her husband. I liked that this story takes these young people as where they are in life. Henry, especially, is struggling to be his own man in the face of the demands of his parents. (Not that his parents are evil people, but rather they are more fully “adult”.) Henry begins his rebellion when he recognizes Mary in the bookshop and then realizes that he is more attracted to her than the second sister who was his replacement fiancee. In order to be the man for Mary, he has to finally assert himself.

Mary has to figure out who she is as well. Swept into the aristocracy, she is threatened to be swamped by the expectations and demands of others. She has to determine who she is and who she is going to be.

While the story focuses on Mary’s transformation, there is some drama and some danger involved. There is also a twist at the end that makes this more than a sweet cake of a story as the characters face some issues that allow them to demonstrate their depth and maturity.

I judged that I really enjoyed the story by the fact that I immediately wanted to re-read some of the interactions between Henry and Mary. The characters are always my touchstone for romance stories and I really liked these two.

I would have enjoyed this story just for Mary and Henry’s romance but there are some special treats for fans of the Maiden Lane series. We get some glimpses into the happy domestic lives of some of the couples from the series which was quite a treat as this series comes to a close.

WORTH MENTIONING: The biggest problem with this story is that it gets the origins of Mary Whitsun wrong. Her origins are an important part of WICKED INTENTIONS but there is a completely different story presented here. It is unfortunate because it detracts from the story for those who are fans of the series, but after deducting for my distraction from the story, the remainder of this review judges the story with this flaw set aside.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ONCE UPON A MAIDEN LANE is book 12.5 of the Maiden Lane series. The story is self-contained and can be read on its own, but readers of the series will get some glimpses of favorite characters. This story is most connected to the first book in the series, WICKED INTENTIONS.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author 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-stars

Review: The Silent Duke

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Silent DukeThe Silent Duke (The 1797 Club, #4) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #4
Published by Passionate Pen on November 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 200
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a sweet little story as two friends navigate the hero’s insecurities and fears and find their way to a happy ending. The conflict here is the hero’s, but I enjoyed the interaction between these two.

THE STORY: Ewan, Duke of Donburrow was born mute and abused by his father who wanted to commit him to an asylum so that one of his “normal” sons could inherit. The wounds inflicted by Ewan’s father have scored deep. Charlotte, Countess of Portsmith, has loved Ewan forever. When he rejected her years ago, she rebounded into a loveless, but not horrible, marriage. Now widowed, Charlotte is determined to try again with Ewan.

OPINION: This story was sweeter than I expected. These two love one another from the start and just have to work through the pain of Ewan’s childhood to find one another.

Ewan is a good man. Abused as a child, he has managed to become a worthy gentleman. Charlotte is a woman who is determined to try and get what she wants finally. She comes to Ewan’s house for Christmas determined to try and seduce him finally. There is no doubt that these two are meant to be together. The intimacy of their friendship and the closeness they feel is obvious from the start.

The emphasis in this story is Ewan’s own growth. He has to make the change to be with Charlotte. I found that while this story isn’t particularly long, its length works here where there isn’t a tremendous amount of conflict to be resolved. There is one external drama that happens towards the end of the story, but by then most of the drama between the characters has been resolved.

The sweetness of the characters and the story made me really enjoy this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Virgin hero.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SILENT DUKE is the fourth book in the 1797 Club series. While the book can be read as a standalone as the romance is self-contained, there are overlapping characters that are discussed.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley 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-stars

Review: A Scandalous Destiny

Review: A Scandalous DestinyA Scandalous Destiny by Ava Stone
Series: Scandalous Series #8
Published by Ava Stone on November 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: I liked the connection between the hero and heroine but the book had too slow a start for me as it covered a lot of backstory. The resolution of a years old separation was too simple for me.

THE STORY: Major Gabriel Prideaux has returned to England to find his older brother in a lunatic asylum with much left unexplained. As he works to uncover what has happened in his absence, he has a reunion with the woman he loved and had to leave. Miss Sophia Hampton has always gone her own way. She eavesdrops at doors and dons men’s clothing in order to make her way around town. She doesn’t expect to find Gabriel again. As the two join forces, they discover that what they felt for one another is not in the past.

OPINION: I really liked the characters and the last third of the book was really good with lots of drama and character driven issues. Gabriel is a man who gave up the woman he loved (for reasons revealed in the book). He and Sophia are so perfect for one another that the story had to create an external factor keeping them apart because otherwise the story would be over too quick.

In fact, that is probably my biggest disappointment…something that kept these two apart for years was resolved too neatly. In fact, I wish the promise of these two defying everything to get together might have been more satisfying — if not as neatly a happy ending.

I found the book a bit slow to get into as there is much explanation and introduction, but once the book picks up, I couldn’t turn away. I think this book is worth reading and I might try it again with my expectations tempered by my understanding of what is happening.

The romance between these two was honorable and sweet in many ways and I really liked how Gabriel accepts and appreciates Sophia’s rascally ways.

WORTH MENTIONING:

CONNECTED BOOKS: SCANDALOUS DESTINY is the eighth book in the Scandalous series (but it takes place at the same time as book 6).  While this book is a separate and self-contained romance, there are connected characters that might prompt some people to want to read the books in order. I’ve read some and not others and didn’t feel that I missed anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC from the author 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.

three-stars

Review: The Gentleman Who Loved Me

Review: The Gentleman Who Loved MeThe Gentleman Who Loved Me by Grace Callaway
Series: Heart of Enquiry #6
Published by Colchester & Page on June 15th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Not a book for everyone. Rosie is a hard heroine to have empathy for and Andrew’s past is not fully confronted. Despite this, I enjoyed how these two interacted and grew together through the book.

THE STORY: Primrose Kent has been disappointed with her prospects. Although supported by influential people, she is a bastard and society will not let her forget it. Determined to marry a title, Rosie creates a whole new set of problems for herself. Andrew Corbett is the owner of a prominent brothel in London. A former prostitute himself, Andrew has built his own business. He is also determined to protect Rosie. The two share a past that she is not aware of. Andrew, however, finds that the girl he once thought of as a sister has grown up — and he is unwillingly aware of it.

OPINION: This book begins with several strikes against it, but despite that ended up being a story with depth and I liked it quite a bit.

Rosie is a difficult heroine to like. She is spoiled and self-destructive and sometimes quite annoying…but she does grow and change as the story progresses. I was happy that I gave her a chance. Her background and past warped some of her views, but as she experiences the world more, she begins to recognize her own failings.

Andrew is a complicated hero. Having become a prostitute by necessity, he both fully claims and is ashamed by his past. I thought that his history and his current circumstances were nuanced and complicated and his rags to riches story is certainly hero worthy. My complaint, however, is that his past and occupation was just too quickly dismissed as important by Rosie’s family. That just bothered me throughout the story. It felt contrived and I thought that there needed to be more drama or angst surrounding it.

The plot includes a mystery (expected in the Heart of Enquiry series) that keeps the story moving while Rosie and Andrew explore their passions together.

This is a dark and complicated story in parts and while I enjoy such stories, I know that not every reader is willing to take a darker journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book contains voyeurism (not the hero and heroine) and a certain event that some may consider cheating after the hero and heroine have become involved.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE GENTLEMAN WHO LOVED ME is the sixth and final book in the Heart of Enquiry series. Although the romance is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone, the relationships between the all the characters in the book make this a book better read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Never Say Never to an Earl

Review: Never Say Never to an EarlNever Say Never to an Earl by Grace Callaway
Series: Heart of Enquiry #5
Published by Colchester & Page on December 21st 2016
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really admire this book for giving us a hero with a mental disorder. I loved the mystery and relationship between these characters and I thought the journey these two take gave this story more depth. And it’s really hot!

THE STORY: Miss Polly Kent, a wallflower, has a special talent that has convinced her that she cannot hope for love. Polly can see the aura of people which gives her a sense of their emotions. A chance encounter has her meeting up with the ton’s biggest rake, Sinjin Pelham, Earl of Revelstoke, the last man she wants to see. Sinjin is in a jam as he apparently attacked a prostitute (although he has no memory of the encounter). Soon Polly and her family are helping Sinjin find out the truth. He also has a dark personal secret that keeps him painfully separate from people. The personal encounters between Polly and Sinjin crackle with intensity and threaten ruin.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book. I especially liked the complexity of Sinjin’s character and the willingness of the author to take the chance to give her hero a flaw that is definitely not common among heroes or heroine’s in romance. The reality of the situation and the decision to not have a magic solution to solve the lifelong problems that this couple will have was a refreshing take that I did not expect.

What I did expect from this romance was lots of heat and mystery. Both were just as I expected in the story. The story has a small paranormal twist with Polly’s talent (but standard historical readers shouldn’t turn away from this book for that reason because it is not a big part of the story).

Sinjin is one of my favorite Callaway heroes. He is deeply flawed and has struggled with his problems without much support. Like all good rakes, he finds something lasting and stabilizing about Polly — a man who has any vice he wants sees something necessary in a decent and honorable woman.

Fans of the Heart of Enquiry series will also get some significant appearances by characters from prior books.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book also has appearances from the hero and heroine of the next book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NEVER SAY NEVER TO AN EARL is the fifth book in the Heart of Enquiry series. While this book is a self-contained romance that can be read as a standalone, there are overlapping characters from previous books in the series that means that a reader gets more if they have read those books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Someone to Wed

Review: Someone to WedSomeone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #3
Published by Berkley on November 7th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

“I am twenty-nine years old, very nearly thirty, and I would like . . . someone to wed. In my own person I am not marriageable, but I do have money. And you do not.”

FINAL DECISION: Absolutely lovely story. This is my favorite of the series so far as the heroine and hero have such a wonderfully adult relationship. Wren is a woman who has been damaged by her past and Alex recognizes and eventually comes to embrace and finally help her free herself.

THE STORY: Alexander Westcott unexpectedly becomes the Earl of Riverdale when his cousins are found to be illegitimate, but while he gets the title and the entailed estates, he doesn’t inherit any money needed to maintain the properties. As such, he finds himself needing to marry an heiress. Wren Heyden has been a recluse for most of her life, but upon the death of her aunt and uncle wants marriage and children no matter how unlikely. Knowing that she can never hope to obtain a husband in the usual manner, she decides the buy a husband. Propositioning Alex, Wren is surprised that Alex will not agree unless there is something more than money between them. Getting to know and build at least respect and care between them challenges them both.

OPINION: Sometimes there are books that I just fall into. As I read, everything just acts to pull me into the story and I am surprised when the book ends. This was one of those books. There was nothing particularly dramatic, but word by word, page by page, I became absorbed in Alex and Wren’s story.

The story asks for a commitment from the reader as the romance between these two isn’t love at first site, but rather a slow building of the connections and emotions and eventually great love between these two. This book is the example of how two strangers fall deeply in love.

Alex is a wonderful hero. While surprise inheritance of the title is something that most people would be rejoicing, Alex keenly feels the family pain which caused his inheritance but also the new responsibilities that he has acquired. He is a man who cares and while he knows that his marital choices are limited because he must marry a a fortune, he is unwilling to be mercenary and just be concerned about money. I also greatly admire that he is unwilling to lie to Wren. He is compassionate but also he it truthful about her issues.

Wren is a heroine that I loved. Despite the great pain in her past and her conviction that her appearance makes her unworthy of having a “normal” life, she has managed to be successful and build a life for herself. Her interactions with Alex begin to break her out of her protective shell. Alex recognizes almost immediately that she is walled off in pain when they first meet and that repels him. But her willingness to take chances both brings her closer to Alex and also her dreams.

One other thing I really liked about this story is the “deep secret” from Wren’s childhood is not what is commonly used in romance novels. Both more heartbreaking and also something different.

There was nothing I didn’t like about this book except that it ended. I feel more and more in love with this story as it developed. This is a book I look forward to reading again.

WORTH MENTIONING: I can’t wait until the next book because Balogh is fabulous at mature adult romances.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SOMEONE TO WED is the third book in the Westcott series. This book has overlapping characters, but this book can be read on its own. I think it is better to read the other books first, but this story is really self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: The Right Kind of Rogue

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Right Kind of RogueThe Right Kind of Rogue (Playful Brides, #8) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #8
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 31st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

“He’s a rogue, an unrepentant charmer.”

FINAL DECISION: A Romeo and Juliet type romance between two warring families (with humor and less death). A wallflower finally being noticed by the man she has loved for years, this is a story where I liked the characters quite a bit.

THE STORY: Viscount Hart Highgate is searching for a wife who is well-connected socially and brings her own funds with her. Meg Timmons has loved the raking Hart for years but as a wallflower not only doesn’t she fit the requirements that Hart has set down, but she comes from a family that is involved in a feud with Hart’s family. Meg is taken under the wing of a matchmaker who transforms her into the belle of the ball who knows she desperately needs to marry someone to save her family from ruin — even as she only wants the one man she knows she cannot have.

OPINION: I like the combination of humor and drama that is part of this book. There is also a fairy tale aspect (Cinderella) combined with a bit of Romeo and Juliet (without the teenage death).

There is a sweetness to this story as Hart and Meg get to know one another as he is supposed to be helping her find a husband. After first noticing that she is a beautiful woman, he actually gets to know her as a person. At the same time, Meg had a crush on Hart that becomes love as the two dance and laugh and get to know one another.

I really liked Meg who is a genuinely nice person who cares about those around her. But she also makes mistakes as the story demonstrates. Hart is described as a rogue and a rake, but we actually don’t get to see much of that but rather he shows a very nice and gentle side for most of the story.

In other hands this might have been a light and fluffy romance, but the darkness and dysfunctional parents of the hero and heroine and Hart’s own history brings some hard moments into this story, but things stay on the lighter side. This story is not dark so those that prefer their historical romance a bit lighter will enjoy this one. There were scenes where I laughed out loud at the interactions.

My only complaint about the book is that I thought that the resolution of the story demanded a little more than what we got. The conflict was so acute at that point that I expected a more dramatic resolution — or perhaps the break seemed to demand something more. Despite this, I enjoyed this book and I especially liked seeing characters from the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Hiccups.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE RIGHT KIND OF ROGUE is the eighth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can be read on its own, but there are a number of cross-over characters (especially from THE LEGENDARY LORD) so I think the book is more enjoyable read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley 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-stars

Review: A Daring Arrangement

Review: A Daring ArrangementA Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred, #1) by Joanna Shupe
Series: The Four Hundred #1
Published by Avon on October 31st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Do we have a deal?”

FINAL DECISION: Big and brash and exciting, A DARING ARRANGEMENT is a great start to a new series set in America’s Guilded Age with characters who are navigating a new world with new rules and fall in love despite all their good intentions.

THE STORY: Lady Nora Parker, the daughter of an earl is sent in disgrace to America to find a husband, but Nora has no intention of conceding to her father’s wishes. Instead, Nora intends to find a thoroughly scandalous fiance that will make her father bring her back to London where she will be reunited with the man she loves. Nora finds the “perfect” candidate for fiance in Julius Hatcher, a rich self-made financial wizard who gets a lot of press for his notorious actions. Julius finds himself agreeing to Nora’s scheme because she can gain him entry into the social elite in New York, where Julius intends to discover the identity of the men who ruined his father. But instead of being the scandal that Nora wanted, she finds that Julius transforms himself into the perfect fiance and perhaps a man that Nora herself finds irresistible.

OPINION: I have become a great fan of Shupe’s Guilded Age books. In an era not often explored in historical romance, these books and characters feel fresh and innovative rather than relying on the same scenarios. The Guilded Age is a time of great change and disruption which is something that Shupe explores to great effect in A DARING ARRANGEMENT.

The collision in this book of the self-made man and the aristocratic woman brings a lot of energy to this story. Nora especially is asking herself who she is. She is a new woman in a time where the roles of women and especially aristocratic women are changing. She has strength and determination and wants to control her own life beyond expectations and social norms. Sexuality, social mores, gender roles and self-determination are all deftly explored here are Nora begins to remake herself in America. She finds support for her organized, bold and even wicked personality. She is brighter and stronger and different.

In the same way, the relationship between Julius and Nora also is involved in remaking norms. Their relationship feels more contemporary in many ways as the Guilded Age begins to move towards the modern world. Julius is just adorable in this story as he struggles with his feelings towards Nora while being determined to avoid marriage and entanglements. He is protective and caring and really sexy.

I found this story very compelling because it feels different. The stakes are murkier and so are the standards. The rules are being remade and worked out and it makes the relationship between Nora and Julius more unpredictable. These two have to work to figure out what their relationship will be as rules are being subverted all around them.

I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait for the next in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Even though this series takes place in the same world as Shupe’s Knickerbocker series, there is no overlap since she moved to a new publisher.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DARING ARRANGEMENT is the first book in the Four Hundred 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: Wilde in Love

Review: Wilde in LoveWilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #1) by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle
Published by Avon on October 31st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Frankly, she might as well have waved a red cloth in front of a bull. The uncivilized male inside him, the one who hated wearing a wig, had got wind of a hunt.”

FINAL DECISION: This was a lovely story that was incredibly funny and romantic. The characters were amazing. I generally prefer my books with more personal angst, but readers looking for a fun romantic historical romp will love this one.

THE STORY: In Georgian England, Lord Alaric Wilde, the “spare”, has returned to London after traveling the world to discover that he has become a sensation in his absence. He has become a true celebrity to his distress as he is chased by women all over the country who want a glimpse or a souvenir from the rakish explorer. Escaping to his father, the duke’s, castle, Alaric finds himself enamored of Miss Willa Ffynche who doesn’t want anything to do with the notorious Lord Alaric. Willa is a private person who keeps herself well disguised among society and has made herself a social success and wants nothing more than a quiet man to spend her life with. Definitely not Alaric — but his pursuit of her tempts her in ways she never expected.

OPINION: I had to think a lot about this book after I read it. I was not certain where to rate it and how to explain my feelings about it. I wavered between giving it 4 stars or 4 and a half stars because while the book wasn’t as dramatic as I tend to like them and the romance builds very slowly, I came away from the book still thinking about it. As I reviewed parts of it to write this review, I loved the characters and the humor so much that I think this book will grow on me as the series develops further.

And that is where I want to start this review — with the series. As the first book in the series, this book serves as an introduction to the Wilde Family. And I loved them. The characters are so big and bright and romantic that I immediately wanted to know all their stories. These are likable people and have such a family spirit together that endeared them to me.

Alaric is such a sweet, sexy and romantic character.  He falls for Willa so quickly and spends much of the book trying to win her. (I have to admit that I enjoy the books where the hero falls for the heroine early). His willingness to open himself up wide to Willa is so sweet. And he truly wants to know Willa which is so sexy. He is interested in her — her thoughts, those parts of herself that she hides from others, and he wants her to be herself with him.

Willa is a heroine who is discovering how to be herself. Her background has led her to present a social face and to keep her true self hidden. So much so, that she doesn’t really expect to be herself in life. Alaric desperately wants the imperfect Willa. The real person hiding behind all the Georgian finery and social polish.

This book is not only romantic but also laugh out loud funny. A bawdy farce of a play about Alaric’s life (including cannibals!), a pet skunk and mangy cat, naughty etchings of Alaric’s life, a hero that won’t be deterred from the woman he wants and a heroine determined to avoid him at all costs.  But this book not only has humor but has a deep heart to it.

The story is a slow build and you have to commit to it. The story isn’t slow, but the drama is smaller than in many books (Willa’s determination not to fall for the big public notorious Alaric) and therefore the book is more personal to these characters. While I prefer more dramatic stories generally, I really loved the humor and big romantic gestures of this book.

My final word on this book is that the cliffhanger as a prelude for the next book was so shocking that I don’t know how I’m going to last until the next book comes out.

WORTH MENTIONING: While the main romance is complete at the end of this book, there is a cliffhanger which sets up the story for the next book about a different couple.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILDE IN LOVE is the first book in the Wildes of Lindlow Castle 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