Review: When a Rogue Meets his Match

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

Review: When a Rogue Meets his MatchWhen a Rogue Meets His Match (Greycourt, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt #2
Published by Forever on December 1, 2020
Genres: Historical
Pages: 496


FINAL DECISION: Absolutely amazing book because of the deep affection between Gideon and Messalina. Loved how he is completely devoted to her. Romantic and dark, this is my favorite Hoyt book since Duke of Sin.

THE STORY: Gideon Hawthorne has watched Messalina Greycourt since he was a young man in her uncle’s employ. Now her uncle, the Duke, has a special task he wants Gideon to complete and is willing to induce Gideon to agree by giving him Messalina in marriage. Messalina agrees to the marriage but has her own plans — to leave Gideon as quickly as possible with at least part of her dowry in her own hands so that she can create her own life.

OPINION:  I really loved this book. I enjoyed the first book in the series, but this one was superior in my estimation. There is incredible chemistry between Gideon and Messalina from the beginning. Funny and gritty, I loved that these characters have to examine their expections of one another as they find common ground.

Gideon is a man who has lived in a morally ambiguous world. He has done bad things and owns them.  Gideon has been obsessed with Messalina for years — but from a distance because he knows that she is not for him. He is her despised uncle’s “fixer,” meaning that his low-class background (coming from St. Giles) allows him to do things that the Duke needs done but cannot sully his hands with. Unsurprisingly, Gideon has agreed to do things that are illegal…but never murder, which is what the Duke wants from him now. One thing that was powerful for me is that Gideon has finally managed to build up his own life enough that he can leave the Duke’s employ, but agrees to put himself, perhaps permanently, at the Duke’s mercy because the Duke offers Messalina to him.

In the beginning, Gideon sees Messalina more as a symbol than as a person. This book is really about Gideon discovering Messalina as a person — and Messalina doing the same as to Gideon.

The focus here is primarily on the romance, so the book spends a lot of time with their issues rather than on external plot issues. I prefer books this way as I am interested in the characters more than some other storyline.

Messalina finds her dreams shattered when she decides to agree to the marriage to save her sister. I loved that she was blocked, but she continued to plan and find a way to make a dream for herself — even if it wasn’t the original one. She definitely is not a woman who is going to submit to her fate. I liked that about her, but I especially enjoyed that she was thoughtful and willing to have her mind changed. As she discovers truths about Gideon, she is willing to reconsider her opinion of him.

This is a wonderful book which I greatly enjoyed!

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Hoyt can be assured that a dog appears in the book and has an important role.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN A ROGUE MEETS HIS MATCH is the second book in the Greycourt series. Although there is a continuing storyline in the series, the romance here is a standalone and indeed this book can easily be read without the first in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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



Review: The Highland Earl

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

Review: The Highland EarlThe Highland Earl (Lords of the Highlands, #6) by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the HIghlands #6
Published by Forever on June 25, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: This was a good book with good tension between John and Evelyn. I liked Evelyn’s dual purposes and how she is challenged in this book.

THE STORY: John Erskine, the Scottish Earl of Mar, is a widower who needs to find the appropriate woman to marry to help care for his children. After the death of the woman he loved, he just wants to find the right woman for a marriage that will be respectful even if he cannot love her. Lady Evelyn Pierrepont, an Englishwoman, seems to meet John’s requirements. Evelyn doesn’t wish to marry but it will allow her to continue her work as a spy. But her growing emotions for her new husband and his children disrupt her plans and make her question whether it is right to put her new family in danger.

OPINION: I thought the premise of this book was interesting and I liked the relationship between John and Evelyn. There were details that bothered me. I understand why John would need to remarry considering his financial condition and his need for a caretaker for his children, but considering his wife had died not long before this book begins, I really couldn’t get into his lust for Evelyn after losing the “love of his life”. It just felt off to me. I don’t mind lust to love stories, but I couldn’t quite believe the supposed intense love of John for his dead wife when he was lusting for a new woman so quickly. I guess I wanted some assurance that he actually loved his first wife by seeing the effects of her death.

John and Evelyn’s relationship is complicated and it takes time to work out their feelings for one another. That I really enjoyed as well.

What I really enjoyed beyond the romance was Evelyn’s work and the complicated political picture of the time. This is a period of time that I enjoy reading about and this book packs a lot of historical information and political intrigue into its pages.

WORTH MENTIONING: I enjoyed that the author placed this book in real historical context with real historical figures.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HIGHLAND EARL is book six of the Lords of the Highlands series. This book can be read as a standalone another there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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


Review: Not the Duke’s Darling

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

Review: Not the Duke’s DarlingNot the Duke’s Darling (The Greycourt, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt
Published by Forever on December 18, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 496

“Obviously he wasn’t used to being given orders by anyone — a woman least of all.

Too bad.”

FINAL DECISION: I absolutely loved the relationship between Freya and Christopher which I found passionate and combative and I loved how the two of them both have to consider their own expectations. This book begins a new series and has a lot of new characters and new situations to begin to explore so it feels that there are a lot of dangling ends…but the main story line between Freya and Christopher is complete.

THE STORY: “What had happened at Greycourt fifteen years ago would reverberate forever in their lives.” Freya de Moray is operating as a companion while working as a member of a secret group of women called the Wise Women who, among other things, protect and care for women who need help. When one of her missions places her in the path of Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, Freya’s mind turns to revenge. Harlowe caused the ruin of her family and Freya is not going to forget it.

OPINION: This book is breathtaking in its fierce passion. These characters are drawn together through pain and fury. I loved their relationship which is between two strong personalities.

“He was a man, both good and bad and everything in between.”

Christopher was simply an amazing hero. He is damaged and difficult and incredibly caring and passionate. From his protection of his deceased wife, to his acknowledgement of what Freya needs in order to feel heard. I loved his passion for Freya — and not primarily the sexual passion (although the relationship between Freya and Christopher is hot). He is strong and determined but I especially loved him at the moment that he put aside his own desires and instead considered what he could do for her — even if he didn’t agree with her.

Freya is a woman who has made her own way after the tragic events that destroyed her family. She has a strength and a determination that is especially admirable for the historical period. That strength and independence is something that Freya fears will be lost in a relationship with Christopher. I was interested in how Freya has to confront the risks a woman takes in choosing to join her life to a man at a time where a woman has no recourse against the malfeasance of her husband.

Together, Freya and Christopher sparkle on the page. The moments where they are together are passionate and frustrating and I was never bored for one moment. For me, the relationship is the central and most important part of the book and there was no disappointment for me here.

It is important to note that this book is part of a series where there is an overarching story line that is not resolved in this book. If danging threads bother you, consider that this story resolves the main plot points raised in this book, but there are things still to be uncovered in the remainder of the series.

Indeed, the weakness of this book, like many first books, is that there is much setup here of characters and situations which are clearly meant to be unraveled in the series. This book is one which expect might improve over time as the other stories are told and the promises in this book are fulfilled.

WORTH MENTIONING: I had to read this one twice. I was mildly disappointed on first read. I believe because it was so different than the Maiden Lane series which I adore that I really didn’t give the story a chance. On second read, I loved it and am excited about all the possibilities in this new series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NOT THE DUKE’S DARLING is the first book in the Greycourt series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received a copy of 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.


Review: My One and Only Duke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: A Duke in the Night

Review: A Duke in the NightA Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover, #1) by Kelly Bowen
Series: The Devils of Dover #1
Published by Forever on February 20, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368

FINAL DECISION: A disappointment for me after the book came highly recommended. There is just too much slammed in this book that hides the fact that there is little connection between the hero and heroine. The characters felt out of place in the historical setting and I’m frankly becoming annoyed with writers sticking modern sentiments into the historical settings.

THE STORY: Ten years ago, August Faulkner danced with Clara Hayward on a dare. But he has never forgotten her nor has she forgotten him. Now the headmistress of a school for young ladies, Clara comes into the orbit of August again when he (now a duke) wants to acquire her family’s struggling business.

OPINION: The first chapter of this book is the best part. Unfortunately, I don’t think the relationship between the characters ever progresses beyond that moment in time. The book attempts to attribute too much emotion to that moment and nothing between them really develops beyond that moment.

This book feels more like women’s fiction concerned more about feminist issues of women’s empowerment than the romance. August really suffers in this book because he is merely a foil for Clara to assert her opinions about women’s rights. This book is clumsy in its attempts to make all these issues work together. Both Courtney Milan and Lisa Kleypas have written much better integrated books that address feminism in historical context.

I got bored because it seemed to be a story about a woman asserting her independence more than it is a romance and I couldn’t really feel any connection between the hero and the heroine.

WORTH MENTIONING: I only finished this book because it came so highly recommended to me and I kept hoping that something would end up working for me in the book. Some readers who are looking for modern issues to be explored in historical contexts might like this book, but it wasn’t for me.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DUKE IN THE NIGHT is the first book in the Devils of Dover series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.


Review: Firelight

Review: FirelightFirelight (Darkest London, #1) by Kristen Callihan
Series: Darkest London #1
Published by Forever on January 31st 2012
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 372

FINAL DECISION: A book that starts out as a historical romance with a twist that turns into something more. The book is a bit disjointed in tone because it doesn’t fully commit to its paranormal elements, but the romance is wonderful.

THE STORY: Miranda Ellis is forced by her father to wed the mysterious masked Lord Archer. Miranda’s own guilt about her role in the ruin of her family has kept her tethered to her corrupt father. When she meets Lord Archer, there is something between them that makes her agree to go forward with the marriage. While Miranda gets to know her mysterious husband, someone is haunting London killing people and it appears that Lord Archer is the primary suspect.

OPINION: This book is a cross genre story that combines a typical historical romance with mystery and paranormal elements.

The historical romance is quite wonderful. Archer especially is a sweet man with a lot of secrets. I loved that he doesn’t judge Miranda for her secrets and only wants her. What I didn’t like was that he keeps so many secrets, but I admire Miranda’s agency in being determined to uncover Archer’s secrets. (And because Archer keeps her in the dark, some of these attempts are dangerous).

The mystery elements of this story were pretty interesting and there are plenty of clues throughout the book as to what the big secrets are. But the secrets are unconventional and thus while the book has a mystery vibe, it isn’t a Sherlock Holmes type mystery to be solved.

The paranormal elements of the book are slowly revealed as the book progresses. Indeed, the book has a world building part to it as the rules of the paranormal world are slowly revealed. The weakness of this book is that the elements do not smoothly mix with the historical romance elements. The big reveal of what seems like a historical romance with some small paranormal parts turns into a paranormal book set in historical times and that doesn’t become obvious until the last 50 pages or so. Thus, the combination felt a bit clunky to me even as I enjoyed the story.

I suspect, however, that having made the big reveal of the paranormal world in this book, there will be more fluidity in the other books in the series because there is nothing to hide.

WORTH MENTIONING: FIRELIGHT has a sexy Beauty and the Beast feel to it with suppressed passion and desire.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FIRELIGHT is the first book in the Darkest London series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: The Highland Commander

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare 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

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.


Review: The Highland Duke

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

Review: The Highland DukeThe Highland Duke (Lords of the Highlands #1) by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands #1
Published by Forever on March 28th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION:  An action packed adventure combined with a romance where the hero is a jerk for most of the story, but redeems himself by the end. I especially loved the heroine who is strong but sweet and genuine.

THE STORY:  Akira Ayes, a healer from a Gypsy family finds an injured Scot after a battle with English troops during the Jacobite Rebellion.  Akira can’t bear to leave the Highlander to fend for himself and ends up embroiled in his danger.  Geordie aka George Gordon aka Duke of Gordon keeps his identity a secret from Akira.  He needs to make his way home to hide his participation in the battle because otherwise his life and lands would be forfeit.  As the two travel together fleeing the English, Geordie finds he likes how Akira treats him as a man — not as a duke.

OPINION:  I found this book to be a rousing adventure story as Akira and Geordie race across Scotland evading the English.  That portion of the book was excellent. Geordie and Akira argue, work together, find commonality and care for one another as they race through the countryside.  The book had an exciting beginning and didn’t leave off until the two reached Georgie’s home.

For me, the book slowed down a bit when that happened and I think the book lost a bit of focus.  As the two fall in love but have to confront the impossibility of them marrying, I thought the book meandered a bit and I was not as interested in the ending of the book as I was in the beginning.  Ultimately, however, I thought that the story overall was a success.

Akira is a wonderful character.  She has been treated poorly by many people because of her Gypsy heritage.  (In the book Gypsies are called Tinkers and are thought of as mere thieves and beggars, reflecting the prejudices of the time).  Despite the discrimination and intense poverty she has faced, Akira is a healer.  A kind and generous woman. A woman willing to risk herself to save a stranger’s life.  She has a progression in this book.  Akira begins with fixed ideas of sexual morality, but finds herself having to think about what is important in her life as she and Geordie fall in love but are unable to marry.  She is also a woman who can make a duke appreciate being a man.

Geordie is a man who has two sides…the distant duke and the man he finds himself being with Akira.  Akira challenges Geordie’s assumptions about his world and about his obligations in it.  Akira demands that Geordie consider the common folk and he realizes that she is right and he is ashamed of his prior self-absorption.  In order to be with Akira, Geordie must change himself and prove himself worthy of her.  I like that he is willing to acknowledge his mistakes.

This is a good start to the new series and I look forward to the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Some parts of this book had vague echoes to OUTLANDER but perhaps that is only because I have been reading those book recently.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE HIGHLAND DUKE is the first book in the Lords of the Highlands 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.