Review: The Broken 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 Broken DukeThe Broken Duke (The 1797 Club Book 3) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #3
Published by Passionate Pen on September 12th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 200
Goodreads
four-stars

“Do not mistake me, Mrs. Ford, I absolutely came back here to seduce you.”

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this story of a man who is angry and grief stricken after the betrayal of his friends, but soon finds a woman (or two women) who make him happy for the betrayal.

THE STORY: Graham Everly, Duke of Northfield has been adrift since one of his best friends stole Graham’s fiancee. Graham’s relationship with the 1797 Club members have been strained; Graham didn’t love his fiancee, but he feels betrayed by his best friends. Graham finally accepts an invitation to attend the theater and there he is entranced by an actress Lynda Ford. For the first time in a while, Graham’s passions are inflamed for the vibrant Lynda. What Graham doesn’t know is that Lynda lives a double life. She is actually Lady Adelaide, a society wallflower. When Lynda and Graham begin an affair, things become sticky as Adelaide begins to fall for Graham even as she is lying about herself.

OPINION: For me, this book is really about Graham. He has a complexity of character and is tormented by so many things and yet is such a good man. He feels broken by the betrayal of his friends and doesn’t know how to navigate his emotions and his relationships with his friends. When he meets Lynda, things begin to change for him. By showing Graham that love and desire can be above all, he begins to open himself up to his life again.

Lynda is a woman who has made the best of her life, accepting her mistakes and finding pleasure and joy where she can. She lives a dual life, neither woman being the whole of who Lynda/Adelaide is.

I thought that the relationship between Graham and Adelaide was sweeter than I expected. Graham always feels like a good guy even as he struggles with his demons. And while this book’s title hints at what could be a dark story, I thought that the story, while touching on the darkness, actually was not angst filled or particularly dark.

Did I buy the central premise that Graham became involved with two women and didn’t realize they were the same person? Not really, but I can suspend my disbelief on such things if the story is otherwise good.  And this one was.

WORTH MENTIONING: Apparently the next book is about the male wallflower in the group 🙂

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BROKEN DUKE is the third book in the 1797 Club series. While the romance in this book is self-contained, I think part of what makes this book is the relationship between the different heroes, as such, I think this book is so much better read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: 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: 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

Review: Adored in Autumn

Review: Adored in AutumnAdored in Autumn (Seasons Book 4) by Jess Michaels
Series: Seasons #4
Published by Passionate Pen on January 10th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 213
Goodreads
four-stars

“He kissed her because he loved her. And he had never stopped loving her for one moment in all the years they’d been apart. Even when he wanted to. Even when he tried.”

FINAL DECISION: I love the cross-class story where the man is of the lower class. Here, there was a bit of angst, a bit of drama and I really liked that the characters knew the value of characters over title or privilege.

THE STORY:  Felicity, Viscountess Barbridge, killed her abusive husband in self-defense.  Now her secret is in the hands of her family’s enemy.  In order to track down the potential blackmailer, her brothers call in Asher Seyton, solicitor and financial advisor, to help with the financial investigation. Asher is the son of a servant and grew up with Felicity and her brother. Asher broke Felicity’s heart when after a kiss, he left her.  Now Felicity and Asher have to face their long ago feelings and the current threat on Felicity’s future.

OPINION: I love books with cross-class romances — especially ones where the man is of a lower class because it upends the normal trope.  Here, Felicity is an aristocratic woman, the daughter of an earl and Asher is the son of her father’s valet. The two were children together and friends (along with Felicity’s two older brothers). As Felicity grew up, however, an attraction grew between Felicity and Asher.  At her debut six years ago, the two had their first and last kiss as Asher left the next day.  Felicity married the Viscount who beat and abused her.  Now Asher has returned at Felicity brother’s request because Felicity is in danger.

In the prior book in the series, an enemy of the family has found out that Felicity killed her abusive husband in self-defense.  The potential blackmailer must be tracked down before the secret is revealed, ruining Felicity and her family.  This plot moves the story along, but the center of this book is the romance between Felicity and Asher.

Felicity is a woman who has closed herself off after her horrible marriage. Fear, disappointment, lack of trust in herself and others dominate her life now.  When Asher returns, Felicity begins to feel again and wonders if she can at least have a sexual relationship free from fear.

Asher and Felicity are good people who got torn apart by their class differences. Asher feels keenly the class differences.  I thought this book did a really good job of showing that even if Felicity *thinks* that the two of them were always equal, Asher’s reality was something different.

There is something very sweet and gentle about these characters together and yet their is definite heat in their relationship. I liked these characters quite a bit and the story is not dark or angst filled but rather is about two people working their way through past obstacles and finding a future together.

This is an enjoyable read and a fine conclusion to series as it wraps up the ongoing storylines and gives readers a look at all the characters coming together and solving the mysteries that have arisen.

WORTH MENTIONING: Everyone gets what they deserve in the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ADORED IN AUTUMN is the fourth and final book in the Seasons series. The romance in this book is self contained by there are continuing storylines that depend upon the prior books 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: One Summer of Surrender

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: One Summer of SurrenderOne Summer of Surrender (Seasons, #3) by Jess Michaels
Series: Seasons #3
Published by The Passionate Pen on November 8th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 212
Goodreads
five-stars

“What she had done to him deserved anger and revenge and a great deal else. She had already served part of her penance in a desperately unhappy marriage. Perhaps this was the rest.”

FINAL DECISION:  Filled with angst, longing, pain and love, this book made me fall in love with Lucien, a man who can’t help but love the woman who broke his heart. The path from his complete brokenness in the prologue to the ending was a fantastic journey.

THE STORY:  Lucien Danford, Earl of Stenfax had his world destroyed when the woman he loved abandoned him to marry a duke instead.  Lucien is determined to stay away from Elise, Duchess of Kirkford, now that she is widowed but he cannot deny thinking about her.  When the two unexpectedly end up in the same place, the anger and passion explodes between them.  The past is an obstacle that Lucien and Elise cannot seem to overcome even as they cannot resist one another.

OPINION:  This book begins with one of the most devastating depictions of a broken heart that I think I have read in a romance book. It immediately made me fall for Stenfax.  A man who could love that deeply is a good man indeed. I was also surprised with the direction that Michael’s took with Lucien’s despair. I thought it very brave to depict his reaction in such a manner because some people would see him as weak. I didn’t but there are still stigmas. Everything about Lucien was wonderful. Even angry and brokenhearted he is such a wonderful human being in how he treats Elise that I just wanted to hug him.

My sympathies were completely in Lucien’s corner and thus I was prepared to dislike Elise, but instead, I felt sympathy for her as well even as her motives remain murky.  She is a desperate woman and her situation is so untenable and it is imperative to remember how few choices women had in the past.  Elise is left with nothing else other than using her body to save herself.

These two are so desperate to be with one another even as they know it is hopeless.  I love the amount of angst and pain in this story because the darker the journey, the more beautiful the happy ending.  Both Lucien and Elise are put through the wringer in this book.  Even as the truth comes out, there is still pain and betrayal for the two to overcome.

In addition to the angst filled romance, I really enjoyed the interaction between all the prior series characters.  They have intriguing interaction among one another.  There is caring and anger and it is clear that Lucien and Elise are the pivot in this book with all these people.  I’ve liked these characters in the prior books and it is nice seeing them again in substantive ways.

Finally, there is a nice plot which motivates the actions of the characters. That story is clearly going to continue in the next book in the series (not the romance but the overarching plot) so be prepared to accept that when reading this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Felicity is up next.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ONE SUMMER OF SURRENDER is the third book in the Seasons series.  This book can be read as a standalone although it has more power having read the other two books in the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: A Spring Deception

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: A Spring DeceptionA Spring Deception by Jess Michaels
Series: Seasons #2
Published by The Passionate Pen on September 6th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 239
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“He had set the wheels in motion for the next phase of his investigation. And for her heartbreak, no matter how successfully this case ended.”

FINAL DECISION:  This was a book that slowly built the relationship between the hero and heroine.  By the time the book ended, I adored them as a couple.

THE STORY: Celia Fitzgilbert is recovering socially from a broken engagement when she meets the reclusive Duke of Clairemont.  There is something special between them from the moment they meet.  Celia is thrilled that she might actually find a man she can love.  But the Duke of Clairemont is actually an imposter who is masquerading as the duke to uncover a murderous traitor.

OPINION:  This one quietly crept up on me as a book I really enjoyed.  There was a bit of suspense in determining what happened to the real duke and also the story behind the hero.  What I loved best was that while the two were falling in love under false pretenses, the truth is that both had things to hide.  When the hero’s secret is revealed, Celia is shocked and upset but then realizes that there is much she can forgive.  The sweetness of their story after the big reveal made me love the romance between these two.  Everything seems hopeless and yet there is still a possibility for a happy ending.  Best of all, there is no magic wand at the end.  These two have to live with challenges because of the hero’s past but love makes all of it worthwhile.

I liked Celia as a character.  She is pragmatic and willing to forgive when I expected drama when the deceit is revealed.  To have the man she falls in love with go from a duke to a not-duke might be expected to make a woman despair about all she has lost.  But Celia truly only loves the hero and is willing to sacrifice much to be with him.

An oh, how I loved the hero.  I especially liked that he is truly a nice guy.  His conscience clearly bothers him as his interacts with Celia.  Accomplished and unexpected in what his story turns out to be.  Michaels does a great job of having seemingly unexpected pairs work well together.

There are a lot of secrets at play in this book and I don’t want to give away anything more.

I do want to say that I liked this book even more than the first in the series.  There was just an easiness with the characters and their relationship.  I expected more drama and angst and while there are many secrets to be revealed, the characters themselves have a core commitment to their feelings for one another that gave me a warm feeling.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Oh, I can’t wait to read what is going on with Stenfax.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  A SPRING DECEPTION is the second book in the Seasons series.  It can be read as standalone although there are connecting characters and an overarching story.  This book gives all the information a reader needs.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Deceived

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: DeceivedDeceived (The Wicked Woodleys, #2) by Jess Michaels
Series: The Wicked Woodleys #2
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on October 13th 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 236
Goodreads
four-stars

Wallflower Gets Her Happy Ending

“Josie Westfall despises me, you know.”

FINAL DECISION: At times heartbreaking, DECEIVED is the story of a Wallflower who ultimately prevails in getting the man she always wanted. Although the hero is a true jerk at times, he grovels enough in the end to gain my forgiveness.

THE STORY: Josie Westfall had a crush on Lord Even Hartwell as children. He thoughtlessly destroyed her in dismissing her and giving her a nickname which haunted her in society. Sixteen years later, Evan and Josie are thrown together again at his sister’s wedding. Encouraged by his brother, Evan tries to find out what Josie knows about the location of his sister who has been missing. Even as he tries to get information from Josie, Evan begins to realize how badly he has hurt the sweet Josie and is surprised by the attraction between them. Torn between his duty to his family and his attraction to Josie, Evan worries who will he have to betray.

OPINION: I’d like to start by saying that I think that Evan is jerk for most of this book. He’s not a hero that I adore. From the beginning, Josie is too good for him. His repeated and thoughtless action in hurting Josie might be understandable, but they are not easily forgiven. What I did like in this book is that ultimately Evan really does have to grovel to get back into Josie’s good graces. The redemption of the hero is is a jerk depends so much upon the quality of the grovel and Michaels has done a good job of making Evan pay for his thoughtless treatment of Josie. I really liked the character of Josie who is stronger than she believes she is. Although at first she doesn’t believe herself worthy of Evan, she eventually realizes that she deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and that might make her too good for Evan. I am a fan of the Woodley family and am happy to see them again and I am looking forward to the next two books in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The outlines of the next romance for the Woodleys is beginning to be made clear in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DECEIVED is the second book in the Wicked Woodleys series. It can be read as a standalone although I recommend reading the other books in the series because there is an ongoing story involving the Woodley sister that has an important part in the story in this book.

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.

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four-stars

Review: Forbidden

Review: ForbiddenForbidden (The Wicked Woodleys, #1) by Jess Michaels
Series: The Wicked Woodleys #1
Published by Passionate Pen on August 25th 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 251
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“For years he had born a secret. And with each passing day, it weighed more heavily on him.”

THE STORY: Lady Audrey Woodley has been fascinated with Jude Samson for years. The friend and man of business of her older brother, the Marquis of Woodley. Although born of a good family, Jude and his mother were shunned by his father’s family after his death and Jude has had to make his own way in the world. Although Jude has strong feelings for Audrey, he knows that they have no future together. He believes that his status as an employee disqualifies him from having a relationship with Audrey. Even worse, Jude has been keeping secrets that he knows that will make Audrey hate him if she knew. When the two end up unchaperoned at the family’s country estate, Jude and Audrey cannot contain the passion that bursts between them. Jude knows that when his secrets are discovered that Audrey will never forgive him and he risks losing the family he loves.

OPINION: Michaels introduces readers to a fun, intriguing, sexy family that have enough secrets to justify the series that this books kicks off.

The Woodleys siblings are comprised of Edward (the Marquis), Evan, Gabriel, Claire and Audrey. Edward is newly married (A MARQUIS FOR MARY). The older sister has disappeared after running off to marry a man who turned out to be a scoundrel. Claire’s disappearance negatively effects all the members of the family — most especially Audrey who now fears passion as a result. Audrey is supposed to be hunting for a husband, but has lost interest because she worries about allowing her passions to lead her astray.

To give Audrey a break from the Season, her mother and she travel to the family’s country house that is being remodeled. Edward sends an unhappy Jude along to handle the business issues. Their seclusion allows the longtime friendship between Jude and Audrey to blossom into passion and love. Audrey and Jude do not plan on a longtime relationship even though each is attached to the other. Their passionate relationship begins on the excuse of showing Audrey that she doesn’t have to fear passion, but both clearly know that it is only an excuse and the trust is that Jude and Audrey have wanted one another for years.

The characters here are fresh and fun. Like the Flynn series, the Woodleys are not stuffy, staid typical ton. This is a family and they have deep connections to one another and their missing sibling has left a hole in their lives. Each of the siblings experiences that differently and Michael has managed to distinguish each of the Woodley siblings through their response to their loss.

Audrey is the more reasonable daughter. After what happened to Claire, Audrey fears and yet yearns for passion and love. She is not bound by convention and doesn’t allow expectations to interfere with her desire for Jude.

Jude has wanted a family like the Woodleys. Although they consider him a part of the family, Jude has been damaged by the rejection of his own family and cannot help but expect for the Woodleys to ultimately reject him as well. He knows that his affair with Audrey will ultimately separate him from the only family he has ever known but he cannot resist her. He wants the chance to love her and to show her that she doesn’t have to fear her passions. Jude has made poor decisions in the past and believes that Audrey will never forgive him. He is filled with guilt and yet continues to do what he feels best even if it means lying to Audrey.

I love these books where there are conflicts arising over the stations of the characters and Michaels does a great job reversing the usual trope of the woman being of a lower working class. (Michaels has a similar cross-station story in the excellent NO GENTLEMAN FOR GEORGINA). This book doesn’t shy from confronting the inadequacy that Jude feels because he is employed by Audrey’s brother.

What is also wonderful is the strong love that the Woodleys have for one another – and also for Jude even though he insists on not accepting that the Woodleys really do see him as family.

Finally, this book is really hot. Michaels has built on a true emotional relationship to make the sexual relationship between these characters not only hot and sexy, but also emotionally engaging. Michaels does a great job in writing hot sex scenes and her most recent books have also created fully developed engaging characters. Her characters are likeable people and it makes it easier to root for their happy endings.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a fascinating story regarding the missing sister Claire that I look forward to discovering more about in future books. Her story appears to be an ongoing dilemma for the family that will cover several books.

FINAL DECISION: Likeable characters, sexy romance and secrets that threaten to tear them apart, FORBIDDEN is definitely a book I recommend. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to find out more about these Woodleys.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FORBIDDEN is the first book in the Wicked Woodley’s series. There is a prequel story about the oldest brother called A Marquis for Mary. That novella is not necessary to read to enjoy this book, but I recommend reading it first anyway because it introduces the Woodley family.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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four-half-stars

Review: An Affair in Winter

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: An Affair in WinterAn Affair in Winter (Seasons Book 1) by Jess Michaels
Series: Seasons #1
Published by Passionate Pen on July 12, 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 215
Goodreads
four-stars

“‘This isn’t going to be quick, Mrs. Wilde,’ he assured her between kisses that tasted her skin. ‘It isn’t going to be perfunctory.’

She shuddered and leaned back against his chest. ‘What will it be then?’

He lifted his fingers to the top button of her gown and unfastened it, letting his fingers slide into the gap he’d created.

‘A night to remember,’ he vowed.  ‘For both of us.'”

FINAL DECISION:  I very much enjoyed this book of these two people who are on opposite sides of their siblings upcoming marriage. I thought the story and connection between the characters was good and I found their story sweet if a bit simplistic in its resolution.

THE STORY:  Mrs. Rosalinde Wilde is a widow traveling on her way to her sister’s wedding when a snowstorm forces her to stop at an inn.  There she meets Grayson Danford.  The two end up having dinner together in the crowded inn and then decide to spend the night together — two people attracted to one another knowing almost nothing about one another.  A night of passion out of time.  How surprised they are to discover one another again as siblings of the couple getting married where Gray is determined to stop the wedding.

OPINION: AN AFFAIR IN WINTER is the start of a new series, and I think this series has great potential.  This book begins with a 19th century one night stand between the hero and heroine.  Although the night is special for both of them, they part in the morning never intending on seeing one another again.  Of course, they end up being siblings to a couple getting married. The two are placed in opposition as Rosalinde supports the marriage, while Gray is opposed.

The one night stand, of course, complicates what would have been a pure adversarial relationship between Rosalinde and Gray.  I loved that these two are so likeable when the events easily could have led either of them into being conniving and betraying any possible relationship between them.  Everything between them ends up being handled in such a reasonable and deft manner, that I never moved from my initial liking of the characters.

Rosalinde is recovering from a bad marriage, but she never loses her optimism and her belief in the joy and love of life.  And despite a love match gone wrong in her own life, Rosalinde wants love and happiness for her sister.  Gray is determined to avoid love after seeing both of his siblings suffer because of bad relationships. He cannot resist Rosalinde despite his resolution.  Both are incredibly loving siblings (even when they are wrong) and this essential characteristic gives these two a foundation that connects them in unexpected ways.

Even when they are at cross-purposes, there is an essential element of caring that keeps them from being torn apart.  I thought that their evolution of their viewpoints of their sibling upcoming marriage was amusing but also represents their intelligence and the complexity of the situation.  The ultimate lesson is that people should be free to make their own choices having all relevant information.

The connection between Gray and Rosalinde is hot and intense — even in proper society dress.  I really only had one complaint and that is that the solution to all the dilemmas seemed too simple and didn’t necessary convince me completely.  Despite that, however, I enjoyed this book and look forward to future books in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Oh, now I really want to read Gray’s brother’s story.  I think that is going to be an angst filled one.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  AN AFFAIR IN WINTER is the first book in the Seasons series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Seduced

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: SeducedSeduced: The Wicked Woodleys by Jess Michaels
Series: The Wicked Woodleys #5
on May 17, 2016
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
three-half-stars

“I have never been abducted by a lady before,” he drawled, looking at her pale face in the dim carriage.  “This is very exciting.”

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable conclusion to the Wicked Woodleys series that essentially is an add on to RUINED.  Employing one of my favorite tropes: the lower class hero with a heroine who is his social better, this story lacked the angst of RUINED but still had a lot of action.

THE STORY:  Jack Blackwood is known as Captain Jack, a criminal mastermind who is king of the criminal world that lurks in London. As his brother has married into the titled class, Jack ends up mingling with the aristocracy. There he meets Viscountess Leticia Seagate, a widow who has a secret.  As the two circle around one another, Letty decides to take a lover and can think of no one who fits her better than Jack.  There is danger, however, as Jack has a rival for his business who threatens him and anyone he cares about.

OPINION: Jack and Letty’s story was enjoyable but a little bit of a letdown from the wonderful RUINED. For me, there was a lot of things going on in the story (Letty’s secret, Jack’s enemy, Letty’s brother’s issues) and while I enjoyed the book, I was not enthralled.  I felt that with so much going on, the connection between Letty and Jack was not as strong as I would like.

I still enjoyed the book especially because I am a fan of the lower class hero story.  Michaels has done several of this trope in this series and I seriously love these guys.  Jack is a criminal but he clearly has done well for himself and is in the process of improving himself.  The marriage and happiness of his brother has made him question his own life.  It is at this pivotal time that he begins his relationship with Letty.  The two expect nothing beyond sex from one another and yet, they become intertwined with one another.

I liked the sexy relationship between Jack and Letty and there is always a sense of equality between them personally even if society does not see it.  I also liked how Letty’s personal sense of worth is healed by Jack’s devotion to her.

Overall, I found the story and romance uneven but I liked the characters, loved getting updates on the prior couples and was satisfied with the book as a whole.

WORTH MENTIONING: Michaels also gives a nice update on the other Woodley couples without it being forced.  A nice treat for fans of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  SEDUCED is the fifth book in the Wicked Woodleys series.  The book gives readers enough information to be read as a standalone although I recommend reading RUINED first because the two stories are closely connected.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars