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: Lady’s Code of Misconduct

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: Lady’s Code of MisconductA Lady's Code of Misconduct (Rules for the Reckless, #5) by Meredith Duran
Series: Rules for the Reckless #5
Published by Pocket Books on February 28th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

“Who are you? How do you know me?” The color drained from her face. “I…” Her lips opened and closed. “I’m Jane,” she said unsteadily. “And you…” Her indrawn breath sounded ragged. “You, Crispin, are my husband.”

FINAL DECISION: Oh, how I loved this one!  A man who might otherwise be the villain of the story completely — ok, not so completely — redeemed by love.  Complex and twisty and so enjoyable.  This series just keeps getting better!

THE STORY:  Jane Mason is trapped by her uncle who intends to marry her to his son in order to control her fortune. Condemned to suppress all her personality behind a meek exterior, Jane desperately wants to evade her uncle’s plots.  Mr. Crispin Burke is a ruthless man who intends to be prime minister.  He will do anything to protect his alliance with Jane’s uncle — even if that means destroying Jane’s own chances.  A blackmailed bargain and a murder attempt ends up with the two being married, but when she gains control of her fortune, will Jane be able to leave the man she hated…but for whom she has begun to care?

OPINION:  This book is so wonderful but so difficult to describe without giving away the twists and turns which make the book sing.

The book begins with a hero who seems completely irredeemable.  He is ambitious to the exclusion of all else and exceedingly immoral.  He will bribe, blackmail, and deal in all types of corruption in order to succeed.  He will be Prime Minister and he will do anything to accomplish that feat.  Crispin threatens the heroine and blackmails her into doing his bidding.  Even when he knows that Jane is desperately mistreated and willing to do almost anything to free herself…he ignores her plight except to the extent that it can benefit himself.  Jane has known Crispin for years and she knows that he is a ruthless and immoral man.

“Power made a fine panacea for any number of old aches. It would be revenge and pleasure and comfort rolled up into one.”

While Crispin appears a lost cause as the book begins, a twist of fate strips him of his invulnerability and leaves him open to change.  An attempt on his life leaves him with no memory of the evils he has done or the reasons for them.  Jane, now married to Crispin, knows the man he was, but finds herself falling in love with the man he is now.  The fear and drama of the story is that neither knows what will happen to them if Crispin remembers the man he was.

Jane is a woman who is struggling for independence. A beloved daughter who was valued for her intellect and opinions, she has begun to lose herself under the oppression of her uncle. Yet she is determined to free herself. Her stubborn and powerful will for freedom allows her to make a decision which will change her life and Crispin’s as well.

The tension in this book is tightly drawn because as the two attempt to discover who attempted to kill Crispin, they must explore who Crispin was and what he was up to.  The danger of every revelation is that is might trigger Crispin’s memories and the return of the man that Jane knows she cannot help but hate.  Something else happens as the two make their discoveries…the reasons for Crispin’s heartless pursuit of power become clear and perhaps provides a more sympathetic portrait of the villain at the beginning of the book.

What I loved most about this book is that its core message becomes one of understanding and acceptance that love requires. Crispin is not all bad and we learn that Jane is not all that good.  People have flaws and weaknesses.  Those flaws can make us the heroes of the story as we overcome their influence on our lives and protect against the damage they may do, or they can make us hard and indeed the villain of our own story. Both Crispin and Jane are more complex than they appeared at the beginning of the book.  By the end, they both see one another clearly and as a whole fallible person.

That brings me to the chemistry between Jane and Crispin which is blistering hot. The two seem to relish the intellectual battle of wills as enemies which leads to sexy encounters even as their antipathy diminishes. I loved these two together, couldn’t put the book down and really didn’t want the book to end. In fact, as the book ended, I couldn’t help but hope we might see more of them in future books.

This might be my favorite book in the series and I really, really liked the last one.  Now I have to read both again to compare!

WORTH MENTIONING:  Oh, I hope we get to read more about Lockwood!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT is the fifth book in the Rules for the Reckless series.  This book does not rely on any other book in the series and can be read as a complete standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 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.

five-stars

Review: Windswept

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: WindsweptWindswept by Deborah Martin, Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Welsh #2
Published by Pocket Books on February 28th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“If any woman of thy lineage doth not drink of the cup at her wedding, her husband shall die within three years of her wedding.”

FINAL DECISION:  The book has an elegance and a more serious tone than other books by Jeffries.  I really enjoyed these characters and the journey they took because while there are many secrets and deceptions between them, there is a joy and lightness that surrounds this couple.

THE STORY:  Catrin Price is a Welsh widow with a family death curse.  If she does not drink from a druid cup at her wedding, her husband will die within three years.  That has already happened to Catrin and she knows that if she wants to fulfill her desire for a husband and family, she must recover the cup.  She manages to track it down but when she gets it, the man from whom she purchased it is murdered.  Evan Newcome is a scholar who is looking for the woman last seen with his friend. He believes that she might have something to do with his death and is determined to find out the truth.

OPINION:  This book has two elements that I really liked: the characters connection to one another and the ending which pushes the characters into an uneasy situation where love must overcome fear.

These two characters have a difficult road.  Catrin and Evan come to one another with lies and deceptions.  Both are lying and concealing information.  As they begin to build their relationship, these lies threaten the possibility of any true connection between them.  Catrin is a woman determined to overcome the notorious legacy of her family. She takes risks which stretch her understanding of who she is. She makes choices which take her close to the line of doing wrong. Evan is also on a mission. He is determined to avenge his friend’s death. He is willing to do whatever it takes — lies are just the beginning.  But he doesn’t count on falling for Catrin. Just when it seems that the two might have untangled their lives, the external threats arise.

I found this story very exciting and liked that it operated to push the two main characters into revealing more about themselves and to grow closer to one another. In the best twist of the book, the plot devise strips the main characters of the expected resolution to the story. As the final chapter closes, the characters have to put their faith in love and one another and trust that life will be good to them.  There are no guarantees for these characters, but don’t worry my friends, things work out very well for them in the end.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a revised and reissued version of the book by the same name originally written by this author under the name of Deborah Martin.  Make sure you don’t already have it in your collection before buying it!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WINDSWEPT is the second book in the Welsh series.  It is not necessary to read the other book first (I didn’t!).  This book can operate as a standalone.

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 Danger of Desire

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 Danger of DesireThe Danger of Desire (Sinful Suitors, #3) by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors #3
Published by Pocket Books on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: This story was nice, but the quick resolution to the book long conflict left me feeling unsatisfied. I enjoyed the romance a great deal and the “weakness” of the hero was well done and emotional.

THE STORY: Warren Corry, Marquess of Knightford has been asked by his sister to help her friend who has been behaving strangely. Warren is part of the St. George Club where men who care about the women in their lives can find out information to protect them from scoundrels. Warren fears that Miss Delia Trevor is in trouble and is determined to find out her secrets. While chasing her secrets, Warren ends up at a gambling hell chasing a man who is a potential threat to Delia. Warren is shocked to discover this man is actually Delia in disguise. Delia is looking for the card cheat responsible for her father’s death. Disguised as a young man, she has been searching gaming hell for the man. When Warren discovers her secret, Delia doesn’t know if Warren intends to ruin her or help her.

OPINION: The undeniable strength of this book is Warren, himself. His struggles and his shame about them are the most compelling part of the book. Warren is a good man who has demons which he believes will keep him alone. He spends the nights carousing because he cannot bear to be alone. When he begins to fall for Delia, he fights because he believes that he cannot have a normal relationship with her. The pain Warren feels and his journey to trust and happiness with Delia is what I loved about this book. I can’t resist a wounded hero and I really liked Warren.

Delia was practical and a bit stubborn but her character made her a good match for Warren because she would not allow him to hide from her. Her strength allows him to lean on her when he needs it.  She is too loyal to her lousy brother, but her loyalty and determination is a deep part of her character.

I liked so much about this story, but what I didn’t like was the resolution to Delia’s search for the man who cheated her brother. The end had promise and was a surprise but after the reveal, the problem was quickly resolved without emotional drama that I expected.  Things were revealed, and the solution was too neat and resolved within only a few pages. Considering that this was such a motivating factor in the book, I found it anticlimactic and a disappointment. For me, it colored my enjoyment of the rest of the book and resulted in me downgrading my rating.

WORTH MENTIONING: I hope the next story is about Delia’s sister in law.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DANGER OF DESIRE is the third book in the Sinful Suitors series.  It can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-stars

Review: The Art of Sinning

Review: The Art of SinningThe Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, #1) by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors #1
Published by Pocket Books on July 21st 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-stars

Battle of Wills Between a Woman Determined to Do What She Wants and a Man Running from His Past

FINAL DECISION: Strong characters make this an intriguing read. I was somewhat disappointed by the rushed resolution of Jeremy’s story.

THE STORY: Jeremy Keane is an American artist in England who won’t return home to take over his father’s business. Jeremy is a rake who is running from his past and is obsessed with his art (which isn’t your portraits or pastoral scene but rather is dark and seedy). Jeremy is looking for a model for a work that is his current obsession. Across the room he sees Lady Yvette Barlow and is determined to make her his model. Under the cover of doing a sedate portrait, Yvette agrees to be Jeremy’s scandalous model in exchange for Jeremy giving her ability to search for a woman in London’s brothels.

OPINION: The story of two wilful people who are determined to use one another for their own purposes but slowly peel away one another’s secrets. Yvette needs Jeremy in order to accomplish her mission but knows better than to trust a rogue. Jeremy is fleeing from his past and knows that he can only offer a good woman like Yvette misery.

I enjoyed this story because of its characters. Character and emotional based stories are my favorite and this book provides intriguing characters not only with Jeremy and Yvette but also the supporting characters who also seem vivid and intriguing without taking over the book.

The story takes some time to spin out and I was completely along for the ride until the big reveal happens towards the end of the book. After all the grief and buildup, I was somewhat disappointed at the quick resolve. It seemed to me that Jeremy should have had to do more groveling. The resolution had me dropping my rating slightly.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book gains some liveliness by meshing English and American sensibilities.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE ART OF SINNING is the first book in The Sinful Suitors series. It is also connected to THE DUKE’S MEN series. I haven’t read that series so this book can be read without any prior knowledge.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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four-stars

Review: The Study of Seduction

Review: The Study of SeductionThe Study of Seduction (Sinful Suitors, #2) by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors #2
Published by Pocket Books on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

Remote Hero and Flighty Heroine are Not Who They Appear

“I do like you. Sometimes. But I also can’t resist provoking you. You get so deliciously annoyed. And you take my remarks far too seriously.”

FINAL DECISION: Darker because of the subject manner, this book is the story of two people who have known one another for ages without really knowing one another. There is a lot of struggle for these two to find one another but that makes the finding sweeter.

THE STORY: Edwin Barlow, Earl of Blakeborough is serious and cynical and believes his best friend is crazy when he asks Edwin to squire his cousin around town to protect her from a stalker. Edwin knows that Lady Clarissa Lindsey will never agree. Edwin and Clarissa have known one another forever and cannot stop sniping at one another. Clarissa believes Edwin too stuffy and judgmental and Edwin thinks Clarissa too flighty and free spirited. The two agree on one thing, Clarissa would make a terrible wife for Edwin. Clarissa has no intention of marrying and Edwin wants to find a wife to give him a heir and little trouble. When the two agree to spend time together to thwart Clarissa’s stalker, they soon find themselves deeper and deeper in a deception to protect Clarissa. They also find out that they don’t know one another as well as they thought.

OPINION: This book made me smile and cry. Edwin and Clarissa are a study in opposites attract. I loved how Edwin is so stuffy, serious and cynical on the outside, but is a bowl of mush on the inside. Having witnessed the disintegration of his parents marriage and emotionally abandoned by his father, Edwin had learned to rely on no one except himself. Loyal and kind, he cannot turn away from those who need him.

Clarissa is bright and lively and hiding a dark secret. She uses her flirty facade to hide her deep pain. When she accepts Edwin’s help, she begins to see the gentle and caring man that Edwin is and begins to reveal her interior self to Edwin.

I loved how Edwin cares for Clarissa is so many ways. He is always a gentleman and shows Clarissa that real men can respect and care for women without degrading them. This is a tricky tale that is well written to respect the emotional journey that each of the characters have to take to find their happen ending together. At times the story tends toward seriousness and darkness but never dwelling in the past or in the pain so much to become depressing.

Ultimately about how love, respect and caring can overcome the dark past, this book has enough lightness to feel redemptive.

WORTH MENTIONING: SPOILERS and Trigger Warning!!! The heroine of this book was raped and is dealing with shame and fear of intimacy as a result.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION is the second book in the Sinful Suitors series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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four-stars

Review: Mr. Perfect

Review: Mr. PerfectMr. Perfect by Linda Howard
Published by Pocket Books on July 1st 2003
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 405
Goodreads
four-stars

More Suspense Than Romance

MR. PERFECT is the story of Jaine Bright who with the friends create an amusing list of the qualities that make up Mr. Perfect. The list becomes a sensation. Someone them begins threatening the women over the list. At the same time, Jaine meets her new neighbor, Sam Donovan. She and Sam strike sparks of of one another.

I liked this book. It is more suspense than romance. The mystery takes precedence. I enjoyed that story even though I figured or the villain before it was disclosed. Sam and Jaine are sweet together. I liked that Jaine is fierce and strong and that while Sam is an alpha hero he still respects Jaine’s courage and strength.

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four-stars