Review: The Day of the Duchess

Review: The Day of the DuchessThe Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #3
Published by Avon on June 27th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

“I am Seraphina Bevingstone, Duchess of Haven. And I require a divorce.”

“The only woman he’d ever loved. The only woman he’d ever hated.”

FINAL DECISION:  Fabulous. The villain of the first book becomes a hero and the woman he wronged becomes a strong, independent woman who makes him pay for being an ass. The book just works on so many levels, but a reader has to be willing to give the jerk a chance.

THE STORY:  Seraphina and Malcolm Bevingstoke, the Duchess and Duke of Haven, have been apart for over three years.  Mal viciously sent Sera away when he discovered that she planned to have them found in a compromising situation in order to force their marriage.  Now Sera has returned demanding a divorce. Mal has promised her the divorce she wants if she helps him find her replacement.  The two are to spend the summer together, but Mal has no intention of finding a new wife when he has finally gotten the one he wants to return to him.

OPINION:  This is a powerful and angst filled book. There is no easy road for these characters who are complex and not always the easiest to cheer on.  This book is not for everyone.  Before this book even begins, readers of the series know that Haven has been unfaithful.  Caught in the act, he was pushed into a fish pond by his sister-in-law (kicking off the events in A ROGUE NOT TAKEN).  I will be honest with you friends.  There is no mistake, no wishy washy out, no hidden secret to take away that truth.  The hero of this book was unfaithful to the heroine after they had met, fallen in love and married. For some readers, that might be a deal breaker which turns them away from this book, but I hope not.  This book deserves a chance because the reality is rich and complex and the journey difficult and worthwhile.

The reality of what happened between Mal and Sera in the past is dark and nuanced and has an explanation.  Not an excuse, not a justification, but an explanation and an understanding.  There is no justification for Mal’s actions and, in truth, he doesn’t seem to want to justify his past actions.  The question this book is interested in is different.  Is there a way forward in a relationship where the foundation was intertwined with lies and deceit and betrayal?

The structure of this book interweaves the past and the present.  Beautifully conceived, the very structure and form serves to tell the entire story of Mal and Sera but also clearly demonstrates how the past haunts these characters.  Their obstacle is the past which is both horrible and beautiful in parts.

I find myself most satisfied by books that delve deeply into the emotional life of the characters and MacLean is a master of this type of story.  Can these characters understand and accept the past and move forward?  Is it even possible for forgive the past which will never be forgotten?  For that is at the heart of the conflict.  Sera and Mal will never be able to forget the past.  They can only accept is and decide if they love one another enough to be willing to build a future together.

This was a difficult book for me.  I finished it a week ago and knew that I would give it a 5 star review, but I didn’t know how to approach the review.  I needed to let the story and the characters settle with me.  I ultimately loved this book because the conflict these characters have is real and genuine and seemingly insurmountable.  But that is also its beauty.  They can move forward, they can love one another again in a better and more honest way. Perhaps that is what I most like about this book.  Flawed and damaged people also can find love and are entitled to their happy endings — even if they have done terrible things, even if they have made mistakes and are not perfect.

Isn’t that hope for all of us?

WORTH MENTIONING:  Spoiler! Spoiler! Content Warning!

There is a miscarriage depicted in this book for those who might be sensitive to the content.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS is the third book in the Scandal & Scoundrel series.  While this story is independent of the others of the series, Mal and Sera’s story is part of both of the prior books in the series.  This book is just better if you have read the others (especially A ROGUE NOT TAKEN).

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Her Favorite 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: Her Favorite DukeHer Favorite Duke (The 1797 Club #2) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #2
Published by Passionate Pen on June 6th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 216
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“He loved her, as he always had. And he would marry her. She would be his. But this beginning, it would hang over them. Perhaps it would not be something they could ever overcome. The very idea that it wasn’t broke his heart.”

FINAL DECISION:  This one was very enjoyable.  Two characters who have loved one another for years and now have to marry would seem to be a simple and boring situation.  However, the complexity of the feelings of love and guilt combined make this a compelling read deftly executed.

THE STORY:  Simon Greene, Duke of Crestwood has loved Margaret Rylon, the sister of one of his best friends for years.  The only problem is that she is engaged to another one of Simon’s best friends.  He has run from his feelings and tried to ignore them.  Now when the wedding date has been set, the two are found in a compromising situation which forces their marriage.  But Simon has a great deal of guilt for destroying his friendships and also struggles with feeling unworthy of Margaret.

OPINION:  I enjoyed this book tremendously.  The romance seemed simple but the complexity of the story unfolded itself and demonstrates why I like series with overarching stories so much.  In the first book in the series, readers were introduced to the 1797 Club — a group of future dukes who bonded together and became the best of friends.  But as this book demonstrates, their friendship is not always easy.

Simon, Graham and James have been friends from almost the beginning.  When James (who also was the hero of the first book in the series) became duke, he wanted to secure the future of his younger sister Margaret aka Meg.  It seemed so natural to betroth her to one of his best friends.  The only problem is that James chose the wrong friend.  Meg and Simon were already having feelings for one another that went beyond friendship although they had not expressed them to one another.  Neither, however, wanted to hurt James or Graham and so they each decided to walk away from their budding feelings.

Ten years later, the date has finally been set on Graham and Meg’s wedding day, but Meg is distraught rather than happy.  What follows is Meg and Simon being caught in a compromising situation that results in the breaking of Meg’s engagement and a hasty marriage between Meg and Simon.  But not all is well because Meg and Simon finally getting together rips apart the 1797 Club.

Simon feels the guilt of his betrayal of his friend the worst. Because this book makes it clear that both men are good and despite the pull toward a happy ending that the reader might want — the feelings that Meg and Simon harbored for one another and failed to admit were a betrayal.  Instead of discussing the issues, the two were willing to hide their feelings…but the feelings did exist.  And the way that they are discovered hurt everyone involved.  And the guilt from that — his happiness coming as result of the humiliation and pain his friend encountered haunts Simon.  As a result, he doesn’t want to feel joy in his relationship with Meg.   I found this conflict compelling and want to see how things are ultimately resolved (some of which will have to wait until later books because Simon and Graham still are broken as this book ends).

This book is all about the costs of happiness.  I found this conflict to be original and I really enjoyed how it played out.  I’ve been reading Jess Michaels for a while now and I think the complexity of her stories have been increasing and the deftness in which she constructs her characters and their conflicts have been making more and more of her books compelling reads for me.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book also introduces the conflict with Graham (Margaret’s former fiance) which drives into the next book of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HER FAVORITE DUKE is the second book in the 1797 Club series.  The book can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters and there are overlapping storylines apart from the romance.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Wicked Surrender

Review: Wicked SurrenderWicked Surrender (Regency Sinners 2) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Sinners #2
Published by Carole Mortimer on June 30th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Enjoyable and quick read. Very sexy historical that is a second chance at love as well.  This one has a lot of drama and tension as two people who have a history try to work through their past while the hero is trying to see if the heroine is a traitor.

THE STORY:  Dante St. Just, Duke of Huntley has the woman assigned for him to investigate…but he doesn’t want to.  Lady Isabella Aston is the step-daughter of his cousin and the two have a history.  When Bella was seventeen, she declared her love for Dante, who rejected her sending her into the arms of and marriage to another man.  Now a widow, Bella doesn’t anything to do with Dante…but he has never forgotten her.

OPINION: Light and enjoyable story…not funny or sweet, but the story is not taxing and can be enjoyed quickly.  This book continues the series about these men who are investigating women who might be a traitor helping Napoleon.

There is more angst in this story because Dante and Bella have a history.  I liked their interaction and the drama and pain between them.  I also really liked that Bella had a happy marriage that Dante now has to compete with.

The two have a very contentious beginning but I really liked how the two battled and debated and ultimately resolved their problems.  The story isn’t particularly deep, but this is not trying to be War and Peace.

My one complaint about this book is that there is a whole side story about the reasons that Dante’s aunt was such a witch. I’m not sure that the resolution was needed and thought that it brought up a plot point that was not really necessary.

WORTH MENTIONING:  We are introduced to Devil in this book…the hero of the next book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WICKED SURRENDER is the second book in the Regency Sinners series.  There is an overarching story as each of the book involves a man investigating a woman as possible spy, but each book is independent and can be read on its own as the overarching storyline is thin.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars

Review: Wicked Torment

Review: Wicked TormentWicked Torment (Regency Sinners, #1) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Sinners #1
Published by Carole Mortimer on April 28th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 180
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Very sexy and sex filled novella introduction to a new series.  Although the relationship develops really quickly, I enjoyed the interaction between these two characters.

THE STORY:  Darius Strong, Duke of Wolferton, has come to investigate Lady Beatrix Hanwell as a possible French spy.  He was unhappy to have chosen her from the hat of names because he knows that he will likely have to seduce her and Beatrix is plain and ordinary.  Bea has no illusions about her attributes and that is why she is shocked when Darius invites himself to her house party.  She is even more shocked when he announces his intention to seduce her.  An unhappy marriage left Bea determined to be alone, but Darius tempts the widow.

OPINION:  This series has an intriguing premise.  Eight men matched by drawing names from a hat with eight women — one of whom is a traitor.  Each of the men must do whatever it takes to determine the guilt or innocence of the woman he is charged with investigating.

In this novella, we are introduced to Darius and Bea.  These two have no history and Darius is incredibly dismissive of Bea because of her looks.  Of course, his pretense of being interested in Bea quickly turns to intense desire.  They also end up having past abuse in common.  I really enjoyed their interactions as Bea struggles with her intense attraction to Darius but wants to maintain her independence after her miserable marriage.

Bea is opinionated and unwilling to submit to Darius’s demands.  She meets him as an equal.  This book is packed with sexual exploits but I enjoyed the banter between Bea and Darius the most.  Bea is no shrinking violet and although Darius is a dominant alpha male, Bea makes sure that she meets his as an equal.

I enjoyed this novella and look forward to the rest of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is hot, hot, hot and edges toward erotica.  It is short novella with many sexual encounters between the hero and heroine.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WICKED TORMENT is the first book in the Regency Sinners series.  The overarching story is about 8 men investigating 8 women one of whom is a spy for Napoleon.  So the stories are independent of one another with one overarching story.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Highland Commander

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 Highland CommanderThe Highland Commander (Lords of the Highlands #2) by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands #2
Published by Forever on June 27th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  High adventure and yet thoughtful and long term relationship between two characters caught in real historical events.  I loved the intense historical reality of this book and the relationship between these two which is sweet.

THE STORY:  This book takes place in early 1700s with the rise of the intrigue between England and Scotland.  First Lieutenant Aiden Murray is glad to finally be off his navy ship after two years.  When he attends a masquerade, he is enchanted by the kiss of Lady Magdalen Keith. He cannot forget her, but when he discovers that she is illegitimate daughter of a treasonous Scottish earl (he is a Jacobite), he is torn between his duty and the woman he wants.  Magdalen is a quiet woman who would rather spend time helping abused women or playing her harp, but when her father is transported to the Tower of London, Magdalen arrives to save him.  There she meets Aiden again and much action ensues. The story is set between actual historical events with fictional main characters.

OPINION:  Readers who like historical romances which co-exist in real historical events (ala Outlander) will be pleased with this book.  The book focuses on the romance but the entire context of these characters is centered on real plots and people from history.  In the story, there is an intensity surrounding these characters that kept me reading.

The beginning of the story has a lot of set up and these characters take some time (over a year!) before the real action to bring them together starts.  I especially liked it as a contrast to the stories that seem to take place over a couple of days.

Aiden is a hero on the younger side (early 20s). A second son of a duke, he is making his own way in the world and trying to do it on his own merit — even if people think that every accolade he gets is because of his father.  When he meets Magdalen, he is looking for sex not love and marriage, but he cannot seem to forget her.  Over the next year, they run into one another and their relationship progresses.  I especially liked Aiden who is honorable and ultimately willing to do everything for Magdalen and that makes him a pretty great hero in my book.

Magdalen is a woman who comes to rescue her father even though she has been forced aside by his marriage to her step-mother.  Illegitimate, she nonetheless honors her father and faces London and the Queen in order to save him.  She recognizes the reality of her situation and as she falls for Aiden, she is willing to risk a lot for him.

My favorite part of this book is how these younger people develop their relationship. They are curious and experimental in a way that you don’t often get where the characters are clearly adults.  These are more “new adult” if this were a contemporary novel and thus they start their relationship less fully formed.  I really liked that aspect of this book.  Their relationship is different as they discover who they are — with one another and also alone.

The slower pace of this book gives way to tremendous action in the last third of the book.  There is almost non-stop action, drama and quite a bit of angst.  There are a lot of twists and turns even until the very end of the book.  If I have any complaint it is that things are wrapped up so quickly that some of the resolution feels rushed.  Even on the last pages there is a new revelation that felt to me like it needed more time (or an epilogue) to settle.

I really liked this couple and this was a book that I could have read more chapters of and been even happier.  I want to know more about them and how their life develops.  I hope there is a glimpse of them in the third book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Double virgins.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE HIGHLAND COMMANDER is the second book in the Lords of the Highlands series.  While this book can be read as a standalone, it is connected to both the first book in the series and leaves something ready for the third.

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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: A Scandalous Ruse

Review: A Scandalous RuseA Scandalous Ruse by Ava Stone
Series: Scandalous Series #13
Published by Ava Stone on May 28th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A sweet and gentle romance that has less angst than one might expect from Greg’s past and focuses on characters that fall for one another almost immediately.  Enjoyable even for those who are new to the series.

THE STORY:  Gregory, Baron Avery and Lady Arabella Winslett end up in a pretend engagement in order to save Bella from being forced by her grandfather to marry her odious cousin.  Greg is trying to make his own restitution for his past mistakes by helping the sweet and beautiful young woman.  As the two engage in their pretense, they get to know one another and find out that what began as pretend might be what they both want and need.

OPINION:  This is the story of strangers who enter into a pretend engagement — her because she is avoiding a horrendous arranged marriage; he because he feels guilt from his past mistakes. The two use their engagement to manage to fall in love.  The story was a nice read but not particularly deep.  It did however, interest me in the other books of the series because I know there is more depth to the stories of both the hero and other characters that are developed in the past.

The highlight for me was the genuine nice characters in this book.  Greg and Bella are so sweet together that his book was an easy read that made my heart smile.  I liked reading about their story and I hope we see more of them in the future.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There are a lot of side stories involved in this book that readers of the series might greatly appreciate.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  A SCANDALOUS RUSE is the thirteenth book in the full Scandalous series (which combines several separately named series).  This book can be read as a standalone although there are a lot of characters with history that make significant appearances.  I wish I had read this book in order, because I think it would feel more complete.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book from the author.  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: The Pleasures of Passion

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 Pleasures of PassionThe Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors, #4) by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors #4
Published by Pocket Books on June 20th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-stars

“‘Perhaps I don’t want to be reminded,’ she said desperately.”

FINAL DECISION:  A lovely second chance at love story between two people who were torn apart by circumstances, fears, misunderstandings and deception. Niall and Brilliana are good people who must work through the past while maintaining a deception. There was less angst than I thought but that was countered by a genuine desire to recover what they have lost.

THE STORY:  Seven years ago, Niall Lindsey, Earl of Margrave was forced to flee England when he killed a man in a duel.  Niall was shocked when the woman he wanted to marry, Brilliana, refused to come with him.  Niall comes to realize that Brilliana must never have loved him because she married another a mere year later. When a pardon allows Niall to return to England, he finds himself meeting Brilliana, who is now a widow with a young son, again. He intends to avoid the woman who broke his heart, but the man who orchestrated his pardon needs him and Brilliana to fake an engagement in order to ferret out a counterfeiter.  Niall and Brilliana discover that the passion between them is still strong and there is much more to the story of the past than either alone knows.

OPINION:  This is a second chance at love story.  These two were torn apart mostly by circumstances but also by inexperience and their own ability to talk.  Yes, this book’s central conflict is two people who haven’t sat down and had a conversation that might clear up misconceptions that both have over what happened in the past.  But, of course, in the real world misconceptions are common between people and we are not likely to just sit down and have chats with people that we believe have broken our trust and our hearts.  Because while this story might seem to be one about lack of communication, it is really about lack of trust and a willingness to do anything for the one we love.

And the truth is that seven years ago, Niall and Bree did not know how to love one another enough.  This is shows deftly in this book as they unconsciously reverse all the things they did wrong the first time.  Putting one another first.  Believing in one another. Asking questions rather than accepting accusations.

This is not so much the story of the two uncovering what facts kept them apart before, but rather a demonstration of the maturity and growth of two people who missed their chance before.

Niall is a man of honor who fought a duel whose purpose he cannot tell Bree about.  Readers of the series know that Niall killed the man who raped his sister.  While exiled, he has been involved in political intrigued which has hurt his soul.  His return to England has reunited him with his now happily married sister (THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION) but also brought him in contact with the woman he has never forgotten.  Niall is now a more sober, more mature version of himself.

Brilliana, who Niall nicknames Bree, is a woman who has managed to cope with the disappointments life has brought her. Nothing horrible happened to her, but life did not have the joy and pleasure that looked to be promised when she was seventeen.  She has, however, managed to find compensation and joy in other things, especially her art and her young son.  And while she has never loved anyone but Niall, she doesn’t know if she can risk herself again.

This book has wonderful characters and an intensity between these characters.  Love or hate there is — as the other characters in the book observe — something hot and powerful between Niall and Bree.  Something charged remains between them even if they don’t know if they can move beyond the past.

I enjoyed this book very much with the caveat that I knew who the true villain was almost immediately and so the plotline of who is the mastermind behind the counterfeiting was obvious to me and thus less enjoyable.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Baron Fulkham, spymaster, makes a significant appearance here in preparation for his own story coming up in the next book.  There is also the setup of the characters that are in the next novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE PLEASURES OF PASSION is the fourth book in the Sinful Suitors series.  This book can be read as a standalone because everything you need to know is revealed here, but I think the book is much better if you know the background of these characters including the secrets that Niall is keeping and the journey to return him to England.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: Addicted to the 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: Addicted to the DukeAddicted to the Duke (Imperfect Lords, #1) by Bronwen Evans
Series: Imperfect Lords #1
Published by Loveswept on June 13th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 260
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A good kickoff to a new series about men who are definitely not your perfect men.  Alex is a man struggling with an addiction and the consequences of his capture and imprisonment and his belief that he is not good enough for Hestia.  I love damaged heroes and Alex is definitely an imperfect one.

THE STORY:  Alexander Sylvester Bracken, Duke of Bedford agrees to help Lady Hestia Cary find her missing father. Alex feels a debt to Hestia’s father for helping in Alex’s rescue from his captivity with a pirate.  When he is forced to take Hestia with him in order to ensure her safety.  Four years ago, Hestia was rescued by Alex from the same pirate who had captured Alex years before.  At sixteen, Hestia fell in love with Alex and doesn’t understand why he has spent years avoiding her.  Alex is determined not to taint the sweet Hestia with his tainted presence but their voyage together allows Hestia to batter down the walls that Alex is using to separate them.

OPINION:  I greatly appreciate books that stretch the genre — and this book does.  Alex is a hero who struggles with his addiction and there is no easy and simple resolution.  He also has done terrible things under the influence of his drug of choice. This book is about how he forgives himself and reaches for happiness rather than dwelling on a past he cannot change.

The story was filled with adventure which I didn’t expect.  There are multiple levels of villains that Alex and Hestia have to defeat on the way to their happy ending. Some of their challenges are external, some are internal.  Some want to threaten their lives and some want to threaten their relationship.

At first, I wasn’t sure about the matchup with Hestia because she seemed too sweet and innocent for the damaged Alex…but she has a hidden strength that I didn’t expect.  Alex doesn’t expect it either.

This book pushes the envelope on Alex’s addiction because there are no easy answers for him.  During this time period, addiction is not understood and is seen as character flaw rather than an illness. My one serious complaint about the book is that I would have liked an explicit update in the epilogue about Alex’s addiction since it was such an important part of the story (maybe in the next book in the series).

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book deals with the issue of addiction in a time period long before there was an real understanding of addiction.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ADDICTED TO THE DUKE is the first book in the Imperfect Lords 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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: The Most Dangerous Duke in London

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 Most Dangerous Duke in LondonThe Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society, #1) by Madeline Hunter
Series: Decadent Dukes Society #1
Published by Zebra on May 30th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Fabulous start to a new series.  Didn’t go in the direction I expected and I ended up loving Adam. Motives are mysterious until all is revealed which built suspense and interest.  Loved these two together.

THE STORY:  Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton, has returned to England after years in France following his father’s death.  Adam has returned for revenge and to find out who set the events in motion which led to his father’s death.  He is also in pursuit of a wife.  He discovers Lady Clara Cheswick, the daughter of his family’s longtime enemy.  Lady Clara has no intention of agreeing to Adam’s determined pursuit of her as she is independent and spending her time managing her own property and interests.  Then there is the also the question of what Adam’s true motives are.

OPINION: This book was more intimate and personal than I expected from the description.  Really focusing on the developing relationship between Adam and Clara, the reader is left questioning what Adam’s motives are.

Clara is a woman who desire for independence even if that means upsetting conventional behavior and roles for women.  Having inherited property of her own, Clara plans never to marry but instead publish a paper for women — written by women.  She is independent but isn’t willing to toss away all convention.  That creates tension as she tries to exist both in and outside of society’s expectations.  She also struggles with her relationship with her family.  While she doesn’t always feel close to them, her loyalty to her father makes her suspicious of Adam’s motives — perhaps rightfully.

Adam is mysterious through much of the book.  By the end of the book, however, I loved Adam. In the book, people wonder what Adam’s motives are for returning to England…and the reader is left to wonder as well.  By not cluing readers in to Adam’s thoughts on the matter, the story has more tension and mystery.  And the story needs that mystery because this book is truly driven by Adam’s reasons for returning to England and what his plans are.

This book feels more intimate and personal because the focus of the book is truly the relationship between Adam and Clara.  Can Clara trust Adam? Why is he pursuing a relationship with her? Does he truly intend to marry her? Why?  What I ended up loving about this book is that the answers are more complex than a simple narrative.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Oh, I can’t wait for the other two upcoming heroes. There are some good stories to be told there.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE MOST DANGEROUS DUKE IN LONDON is the first book in the Decadent Dukes Society.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband

Review: The Girl with the Make-Believe HusbandThe Girl with the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys, #2) by Julia Quinn
Series: Rokesbys #2
Published by Avon on May 30th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it? Who was this woman?”

FINAL DECISION:  Behind the British lines in the American Revolutionary War, this intense and emotional story of a husband and wife learning one another is a winner.  The twist? They aren’t actually married but only she knows it.

THE STORY:  Edward Rokesby awakes in a military hospital in the American colonies, he has a hole in his memory of what he was doing on an assignment in Connecticut.  Months are missing during which he apparently also acquired a wife he does not remember — Cecilia Harcourt.  The sister of Edward’s best friend, she has come from England in search of her brother who is missing.  There is a good reason that Edward doesn’t remember marrying Cecilia — they are actually not married.

OPINION:  An usual Julia Quinn book with less humor and more seriously emotional content.  Quinn’s books always have an underlayer of seriousness but usually there is more amusing events.  This book is quickly more serious than I expected.  With a different setting (the colonies during the American Revolution) and much of the action taking place in confined settings (so much happens in the four walls of a room) and a different emotional temperature, this book feels more fresh and different than other Quinn books while retaining the wonderful and likeable characters.

One of the best parts of this book is that both Edward and Cecilia are such nice people. Yet, circumstances twist them up and make them do things that they don’t anticipate.  This story is how two people who seem like they should have an easy road to happiness together become so mixed up that it seems like their happily ever after will pass them by.  The story goes deep into these characters as these semi-strangers begin to get to know one another.

I would say that this is a slowly developing story, but I don’t want to give the impression that the story is boring.  No, this is the story of two people who are discovering one another.  The deception that lies between them and the search for Cecilia’s brother has enough drama to keep the story interesting even as these two talk and laugh and cry and know one another.

I also especially enjoyed the change in venue to the colonies — especially because we get a glimpse of the British side of the war (which is not the usual side in this time period). Moving away from the expected place gives energy to the story as these new details suffuse the story was new relationships and details.  (Plus, I’m glad that we finally get a glimpse of a significant event that is often missing from historical romance books of the period).

I liked this book much better than the first in the series primarily because I really liked these characters who feel like nice people trapped in a situation that they cannot control which challenges their essential goodness.

WORTH MENTIONING:  It is pretty obvious who the next book in the series will be about.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE GIRL WITH THE MAKE-BELIEVE HUSBAND is the second book in the Rokesby series.  It is not necessary to have read the first book in the series since this book is only loosely connected and the other characters of the series only make a very brief appearance.

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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars