Review: In Need of a Knight

Review: In Need of a KnightIn Need of a Knight (The Heart of a Scandal/The Heart of a Duke Book 0) by Christi Caldwell
Series: The Heart of a Duke #0, The Heart of a Scandal #0
on March 27, 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This was a nice story although the short length made it difficult to fully engage with these characters especially with Aldora’s dilemma.  The story was complete and did not feel rushed.

THE STORY: Lady Aldora Adamson along with her dearests friends received a necklace which promised the heart of a duke to the wearer.  Aldora hopes for years to find love but she has given up and resigned herself to marriage to save her family.  She decides to settle on a marquess.  Arranging to run into the marquess to begin her chase of him, Aldora mistakes Lord Michael Knightly for his older brother.  A man of scandalous reputation based on a youthful duel, Michael begins to fall for Aldora but knows that there is little hope if she realizes that he is the scandalous younger brother instead of the marquess.

OPINION:  I liked this story which has a fun trope of the heroine mistaking the hero for the man she plans on marrying.  Unlike his older brother, Michael is entirely unsuitable for Aldora’s desperate situation.  There are some very amusing moments as the two argue and debate and find each other annoying and irresistible.

I thought that these two were well matched as a couple and I liked their interactions.  I thought that the story was well constructed.  My one complaint was that the short length did not allow us to go far enough in understanding Aldora’s motivations for having to marry the marquess even when she was in love with Michael. I understood her reasons, but not the emotions involved in it.

These two were a good couple for a novella romance because everything was nicely contained and constructed. One other thing that was missing was an explanation of the necklace which didn’t seem to have a real effect here.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This novella was previously published under the title IN NEED OF A DUKE and published in an anthology.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  IN NEED OF A KNIGHT is the prequel for two loosely connected series: The Heart of a Duke series and The Heart of a Scandal series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: My One True Highlander

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: My One True HighlanderMy One True Highlander (No Ordinary Hero, #2) by Suzanne Enoch
Series: No Ordinary Hero #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on April 4th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

“My continued well-being would seem to be at your whim, sir,” she returned. “I wouldn’t call that level ground for an argument.”

A slight smile curved his mouth. “Ye do have a point.”

Arrogant man. Smiling at her as if he knew exactly how handsome he was and meant to use that to sway her weak little feminine brain into thinking him charming. Ha. And ha again. “I know I do.”

FINAL DECISION:  My enjoyment of this book grew as the story continued.  By the end, the relationship between Graeme and Ree was so sweet and romantic that I would highly recommend this book especially for lovers of men in kilts!

THE STORY:  Graeme, Viscount Maxton, is in a difficult position.  The Highlander is offered wealth and status if he helps the head of the clan defeat his enemy, the new Duke of Lattimer. Hearing the offer, Graeme’s three young brothers decide the kidnap the sister of the duke, who happens to be passing by.  Now Graeme has to decide what to do with the woman without implicating his brothers.  Lady Marjorie Forrester has recently been raised from a lady’s companion to a lady herself with her brother’s taking of the title.  Ignored in London, she desperately wants respectability but finds herself captivated by the wild land and the Laird of the castle.

OPINION:  This story built page by page until I was entirely enthralled when Graeme finally declares his love to Ree.  One of the best parts of this book is that both characters are so eminently likeable.

Ree is a woman who expected a life of service until the fortunes of her brother changed (he unexpectedly inherited a dukedom) and thus her life changed as well.  Determined to finally gain acceptance from society which had looked down on her despite her having the same education, Ree has lived a lonely life in London in the months since she became Lady Marjorie.  The story really pulls out the tension of Ree wanting to belong and being determined that those who dismissed her will acknowledge her while at the same time making herself miserable.  She isn’t able to accept the idea that she might actually belong in Scotland because it isn’t the future she imagined.

Graeme also has a blindness when it comes to Ree.  He doesn’t see her as a woman he could love — because Graeme is determined never to fall in love.  He has seen a destructive side to love which has made him shy away from that possibility.  Instead, he has been a wonderful brother and substitute father in raising his three younger brothers.  I loved that Graeme is such a responsible and caring man.

The relationship between Graeme and Ree develops with such a wonderful progression.  They start out as combatants as Ree is kidnapped by Graeme’s brothers and she is being held against her will.  The two argue and fight and have all types of their passion raised in the process.  While both have personal reasons for not giving in completely to their passionate attraction, the real issue keeping them apart is external rather than their own demons.  When they both acknowledge their feelings for one another, I really felt the walls coming down between them.  The scenes and language was so romantic and sweet that I could read them again and again.

The resolution satisfied, the characters are truly partners, and there are all kinds of possibilities for future books.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Marjorie’s brother makes a significant appearance for those who have read the first book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MY ONE TRUE HIGHLANDER is the second book in the No Ordinary Hero series.  This book can be read as a standalone, but is much better with the background from the first book in 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 positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Beauty of the Beast

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: Beauty of the BeastBeauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L. Demeter
Series: Fairy Tale Retellings #1
on March 15th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 342
Goodreads
one-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I really wanted to like this one, but I just didn’t.  I found the story too wordy, the characters not interesting enough and I just had to force myself to even finish the book.

THE STORY:  A retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Prince Adam Delacroix has remained secluded since the death of his family.  Scarred both emotionally and physically, Adam rules his castle until a beauty, Isabelle Rose, comes to his castle and offers herself in exchange for her father.  Together the two must overcome the past and the dangers of the present.

OPINION:  A am a huge lover of Beauty and the Beast type stories.  I expected this book to be much better than it was.  I got bored almost immediately and it took far too long for things to happen and too many words to describe just about everything.  As a result, I felt very disconnected from the characters and the story.  If I had gotten this book in another manner (purchase or gift) I would have DNF’d it and moved on.  Because I got it for review purposes, I felt necessary to write a review indicating that I just was not impressed by the book.

The characters did not feel real to me nor did they feel part of a dreamy fairy tale style book.  Instead, the characters felt distant and not particularly intriguing.

The book promises a more sexual, dark telling, I think I expected too much.  In fact, this book wasn’t particularly dark compared to other available romance books and certainly did not have sexual content as explicit as many books these days.  I think that the warning is only in comparison to the Disney fairy tale.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The book contains a sexual assault by the villain.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  This book is the first book in the Fairy Tale Retellings series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 1.5 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.

one-half-stars

Review: The Truth About Love and Dukes

Review: The Truth About Love and DukesThe Truth About Love and Dukes (Dear Lady Truelove, #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #1
Published by Avon on March 28th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“We love who we love, Henry. Love can’t bend to one’s will.”

FINAL DECISION:  A cold, old-fashioned man and a woman who works publishing a newspaper.  These two should be complete opposites, but instead is an unveiling of the true nature of the selves.

THE STORY:  Henry, Duke of Torquil is determined to make “Lady Truelove” pay for advising his mother to go with her heart and marry a penniless artist.  When he goes to confront the writer at the paper, he meets Irene Deverill, the publisher (and secretly Lady Truelove herself).  When he demands that Irene fix the problem that she caused, the two are put into close contact.  An attraction turns into an affair that threatens the lives each is seeking to lead.

OPINION:  Can I be honest?  Henry starts out the book being pretty much an arse about everything.  Determined that his life go smoothly, he is arrogant, self-absorbed and a definite snob.  Jerk is another name for him.  But isn’t it good when he gets his comeuppance?  Just you wait till the end of the book.

I am always impressed when an author can draw readers into a character such that an unsympathetic character can be understood and ultimately become a hero.  Gurhke does such a good job here.  Henry hides a sensitive soul under old-fashioned, rigid behavior.

Just what he needs is the unconventional vibrant Irene.  A woman who has expanded her horizons (somewhat from necessity until she decided she liked it), Irene is a suffragist and a businesswoman.  She is unconventional and believes deeply in love.

The romance between these two starts out slowly and it appears that they are doomed to be a mismatched.  But as we get to know these two, we find out that they both are the caretakers of their families.  As the superficial layers of the two are peeled away, it becomes clear that the two have more in common than they expected.  That combined with an intense passion leaves them both with the question — what will they give up for love?

Another part of this book that I really like is that it sits on the edge between traditional and modern society.  Taking place in the age of indoor plumbing and telephones, there is a real tension between the old ways and the new ones.  The characters have to confront this reality again and again.  It is a refreshing spot for a romance and I really enjoyed it.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I wish we had learned more about Henry’s mother and her lover.  Their story fascinated me as well.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE TRUTH ABOUT DUKES is the first book in the Dear Lady Truelove series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The Highland 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 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
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

four-stars

Review: The Lady by his Side

Review: The Lady by his SideThe Lady By His Side by Stephanie Laurens
Published by Savdek Management Pty Ltd on March 9th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 350
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Good story, good romance, but I wish there was more on the romance and less on the mystery.  These were highly anticipated characters and I wish there was more about their journey.  That being said, I understand it is more difficult to write stories about well-adjusted happy characters so I appreciate that their story needed more.

THE STORY:  Sebastian Cynster knows that it is time for him to find a wife because the women in his family are never patient about helping the men along if they need it.  Just when Sebastian comes to that realization, he is asked by one of his friends, the heir to the Duke of Wolverstone, to help make contact with a peer who might have information about a plot against the country.  Sebastian, however, needs a cover for attending the house party where he is to make contact.  For that, he approaches another family friend, Antonia Rawlings to help provide a cover.  Although the two grew up together, Sebastian has not had much contact with Antonia for years.  He finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her.  As to two work together to investigate the plot, they find themselves drawing closer.

OPINION:  I enjoyed this one but the mystery story was predominate here and by necessity there was a lot of backstory to set up in order to begin the trilogy.  As a result, I didn’t see much conflict in the relationship between Sebastian and Antonia. Everything was nice between them (as might be expected between two family friends where the relationships are so intertwined) and I liked them as a couple, but there wasn’t much tension between them.

There was also less hot sexiness between them — probably because Sebastian wasn’t going to act the rake with Antonia. I did like the book however, and I thought the mystery was filled with interest and tension. I thought this one is working out better than many of the other series with the same overarching mystery format.  Plus, what is not to love about having two characters infused with so much history find love together.  My only real negative is that I wish we had seen Devil and Honoria in the book.  Missed them greatly.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a plot that is not resolved in this book. Although the romance is completed, there is an ongoing storyline that will be pursued by the next couple in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE LADY BY HIS SIDE is the first book in the Devil’s Brood Trilogy.  It is also intimately connected with the long running Cynsters series.  This book however, can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Devil in Spring

Review: Devil in SpringDevil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3) by Lisa Kleypas
Published by Avon on February 21st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 370
Goodreads
five-stars

“You do not want to marry me, my lord. I would be the worst wife imaginable. I’m forgetful and stubborn, and I can never sit still for more than five minutes. I’m always doing things I shouldn’t. I eavesdrop on other people, I should and run in public, and I’m a clumsy dancer. And I’ve lowered my character with a great deal of unwholesome reading material.”  Pausing to draw breath, she notice that Lord St. Vincent didn’t appear properly impressed by her list of faults. “Also, my legs are skinny. Like a stork’s.”

FINAL DECISION:  So rarely does a highly anticipated sequel live up to expectations.  While not as good as DEVIL IN WINTER, this book is a worthy successor.  Will take a place on my favorites’ shelf.

THE STORY: Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent has accidentally compromised an unusual young lady, Lady Pandora Ravenel.  Neither, however, wants to marry — Gabriel because he sees that Pandora is completely unsuitable to be the type of dignified wife he needs; Pandora because she has no intention of allowing any man to control her fate and life.  Gabriel is fascinated with Pandora and finds himself drawn to her.  Pandora finds in Gabriel a man who listens to her and respects her opinions, but the risk of becoming essentially his to control is something she doesn’t want to risk even as she falls for him.

OPINION:

“No matter how she had tried to make herself want what she should want, she knew she would never be happy in a conventional life.”

Pandora is an amazing creation.  She is neurotic, opinionated, intelligent, oh so clever and yet sweet in a unique way.  I loved just about everything about her.  She is a different kind of wallflower.  A woman who is so brilliant that she has difficulties with the social niceties that society demands. Always the odd person in the group, she has managed to forge a future for herself as a game designer. (I absolutely loved her devotion to her budding career).  Everything about her character felt fresh and new and oh so lovely, especially for all of us who feel out of step with what people expect from us.

Gabriel is a hero who is so different from his father and yet has the best qualities of both his parents. He manages to be so incredibly caring and supportive of Pandora.  She is a special person and Gabriel knows exactly how to care for her. He is kind and so so dreamy.  Sexy and definitely a man in charge, he also has the gentleness of his mother and the benefit of having grown up in a loving family. He is a man who doesn’t need to be reformed to be a wonderful man — he just is.

“Your problem,” his sister continued, “is that you’re too good at maintaining that facade of godlike perfection. You’ve always hated for anyone to see that you’re a mere mortal. But you won’t win this girl that way.” She began to dust the sand from her hands. “Show her a few of your redeeming vices, dear. She’ll like you all the better for it.”

I rarely love a book as much as I loved this one primarily because Gabriel was such a warm loving man and he made it his mission to balance out all the jagged edges of Pandora’s life. His giving nature and willingness to put his own needs and desires aside to help fulfill Pandora was so wonderful to read about.  He finds Pandora incredibly charming and she brings something to him that makes him want to protect her.  And yet, he cannot crush her by forcing her to conform and be “safe”.

“It was insane to let a creature so perfectly beautiful and artlessly spirited and vulnerable as his wife venture out into the world that could crush her with casual unconcern, and he had no choice to but allow it. For the rest of his life, he would feel a stab of dread every time she walked out the door, leaving him there with his heart wide open.”

I loved this book and if I liked it a smidgen less than the book on Gabriel’s parents it is only because the timeless trope of that book — wallflower and rake — is probably my favorite.  But this one is original and fresh and very wonderful.

“Their marriage would be a partnership, just like their waltzing…not perfect, not always graceful, but they would find their way together.”

Just incredibly lovely!

WORTH MENTIONING:  I would buy this book for the Prologue alone where Evangeline and Sebastian from DEVIL IN WINTER are most prominent.  One of my all time favorite books and the prologue shows why.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DEVIL IN SPRING is the third book in the Ravenels series.  This book is much better if read as part of the series, but a new reader should also include DEVIL IN WINTER which is from Kleypas’s Wallflowers series.  This book is a direct sequel from that book as it tells the story of the son of the DEVIL IN WINTER couple (who make appearances of their own).

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Tamed by the Earl

Review: Tamed by the EarlTamed by the Earl (Regency Unlaced 9) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Unlaced #9
Published by Carole Mortimer on February 24th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 99
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This is a nice story that wraps up the series in a satisfactory fashion, but it is not among the best of the series.  The length of the novella made the relationship too quick and the sexual relationship felt rushed.  Good one time read.

THE STORY:  Lord Daniel Somersby, Earl of Latham survived a miserable marriage.  Since he has an heir, he has no intention of marrying again.  Returning home, Daniel runs into a fight among his stable boys.  The newest boy is causing trouble and something about his intrigues Daniel.  Disguised as a boy, Lady Josephine Kendall is running from her cousin who has tried to sexually abuse her and marry her off to settle his gambling debts.  Temporarily residing as a stablehand, Jo is fascinated by Daniel but trying desperately to maintain her disguise.

OPINION:  This novella fits right into the rest of the series.  The emphasis in the book is on the relationship between the characters and the plot does nothing more than serve that end.  I appreciate books that focus on characters because that is the reason I love romances.  This story is short so the character development is not too deep, but the story plays on some classic tropes that I enjoy.  The woman disguised as a boy is always a fun one.  Here Jo is a thorn to Daniel because he can’t seem to get her out of his mind despite believing her to be a boy.  The story is straightforward and a quick read.

If you have read the others in the series, you should finish out with this one.  There is a small payoff in the end.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is the last in the series and gives a little peek at the other characters at the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  TAMED BY THE EARL is the ninth book in the Regency Unlaced series.  It can be read as a standalone although there is information about other characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Encounters with a Rogue

Review: Encounters with a RogueEncounters With a Rogue by Deb Marlowe
Series: Half Moon House #1.5, #1.8
Published by Deb Marlowe on March 7th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This book is a compilation of two separate novellas from the Half Moon House series.  These are my first foray into this series and I did not feel that I needed to read the other books before appreciating these books.  These novellas were so good that I purchased the other books in the series to enjoy.

The novellas have been published previously, so check before purchasing.

These books are a nice complement to one another as the hero of the second novella appears as a secondary character in the first.  Readers get to see his growth and redemption by reading both novellas.

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER:  Miss Elizabeth Moreton has run off to London to avoid her step-father’s plan to marry her off to a local squire in exchange for breeding stock for his cattle.  Unfortunately, she is abandoned by the person she expected to help her.  Instead, she ends up pretending to be a governess for a young orphaned girl.  The girl is the ward of Lord Edmund Cotwell, a gruff man who has cut himself off from society.  Lisbeth finds herself mending the hearts of both Edmund and his ward and finding a purpose of her own.

Novellas are difficult creatures.  Compared to full length novels, they often feel incomplete and shallow.  On the other hand, they give authors a chance to tell stories of beloved characters who might not otherwise have their tale told.  I very much enjoyed this novella because I thought the characters were well drawn, their story was tightly told and engaging and I left the story satisfied with the whole. I really thought the characters were sweet and I admit I am a sucker for the historical guy who is interested in things other than drinking, whoring and socializing.  Edmund’s scientific interests made him sexier and far more intriguing than he would have otherwise been.  I liked that all the characters here: Edmund, Lizabeth and the ward are out of step with what would be expected in society.  They are so clearly meant for one another.  Rating: 4 stars.

A WALTZ IN THE PARK: Two people holding themselves out to society with a mask for their own purposes.  James Vickers wants to be as scandalous as possible in order to frustrate his despised father.  Even though he has reformed himself from his wild and rakish days, he doesn’t want his father to know.  James knows his father is an abominable man and wants to find out what he is hiding.  This season, James meets Miss Adelaide Stockton who knows she must act with utmost propriety in order to live down her mother’s scandal and find a husband of her own.  The two should have nothing to do with one another and yet cannot help but be attracted.

This was my favorite of the two stories because it had a a beautiful and unexpected arc to the story ending up with the title-tease waltz in the park. From the beginning, there was such a unique connection between the two main characters.  James is a man who struggles with his demons and needs to find out who he can be apart from his desire to frustrate his father’s ends. Addy doesn’t know what she wants from life and slides into her family’s expectations. The relationship between Addy and James manages to free them both to be who they want to be. The story has humor and drama and even some well placed angst.  But what I loved most was the blatant romantic climax of the story. This was a story that I wished were longer, but I’d rather have the story than not.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book 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 Daring 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 Daring DukeThe Daring Duke (The 1797 Club 1) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #1
Published by The Passionate Pen on March 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A pretty straight forward historical romance, the story of these characters is complicated by miserable families which have hurt them and made them question the institution of marriage.  A good beginning of a new series premised on the improbable coincidence of a number of eligible dukes available for marriage at the same time.

THE STORY:  James, Duke of Abernathe, is a founding member of the 1797 Club — a group of young dukes who work together and help one another navigate their positions.  A central part of being a duke is marrying to carry on the family, but James intends never to marry even though no one knows why.  Miss Emma Liston is a bluestocking and wallflower and in four seasons has not found a spouse.  She asks James to help her by pretending to be interested in her in order to increase her popularity among the other men of the ton.

OPINION:  This is a book with immensely likeable main characters.  Both Emma and James have been hurt by their dysfunctional families which has made both wary of marriage.  Yet they quickly find in one another passion and friendship and eventually love.

Emma is a bluestocking and wallflower who wants love and marriage but has a father who threatens all her possible happiness.  The book manages to keep the exact nature of her father’s threat secret and gently moves toward the crisis in the book.

James is a man who is determined never to marry in revenge on the father who abused him as a child.  James is a kind man who wants the best for his family but cannot forget the neglect and active abuse of his father who never wanted James as his heir.  James wants Emma and uses the excuse of “helping” her find another man as an excuse to get closer to her — even though James himself doesn’t recognize that fact.

The book is highly focused on the couple in this book and the plot is really designed to bring these two together and thus doesn’t have much impact other than that purpose.

My one complaint about the story is that Emma quickly agrees to engage in sexual acts with James without any intention of marriage. While the intense sexuality is expected in a Jess Michaels book, I thought that the innocent Emma too quickly agrees to allow James to debauch her as long as she remains technically a virgin.

This one complaint doesn’t impair my overall enjoyment of the story primarily because the characters are so likeable.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I can’t wait to read James’s sister’s story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE DARING DUKE is the first book in the 1797 Club series which tells the story of ten dukes.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE:  I received and 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