Review: Governess Gone Rogue

Review: Governess Gone RogueGoverness Gone Rogue (Dear Lady Truelove, #3) by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #3
Published by Avon on January 29, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: I was honestly bored by this book that unfortunately didn’t live up to the promise of the series. Readers who want the story of a woman who overcomes all sorts of historical prejudices and limitations placed on woman this story is good, but the romance was undeveloped and there was no chemistry. The hero had no real personality and was just a foil for the heroine.

THE STORY: Amanda Leighton is ruined and turned out from her life’s calling of being a teacher. When she overhears James St. Clair, Earl of Kenyon, fretting about needing a tutor for his ungovernable twin sons, Amanda knows that she is completely qualified for the job with except for one thing — a woman cannot be a tutor. Masquerading as a man, Amanda gets the tutor job but when her identity is revealed, there are suddenly a whole lot of complications between Jamie and Amanda.

OPINION: The romance in this book was lacking. The story is much more interested in Amanda’s situation than building a relationship between the characters. The story focuses on an examination of the social restrictions upon Amanda. Her journey to recover from being abandoned by her lover and having the deal with being a “ruined” woman. The unreasonable restrictions upon tutors being men and the denigration of women’s abilities. Also tossed in is Amanda being harassed by a former employer. The story is so consumed with advocating for Amanda and making her a perfect specimen of enlightened womanhood, that it doesn’t have time to actually develop any relationship between Amanda and Jamie. In fact, it almost seemed to me that we saw her spending more time with Jamie’s sons than him.

I didn’t feel any chemistry between the characters and the romance felt so rushed in the last third of the book (also tossed in was Jamie being a neglectful father who tosses his career away for Amanda).

The hero felt like a wimp who had no personality at all except for his emotional neglect of his children and his pining for his dead wife.

This book has an interesting story to tell about Amanda — unfortunately it is more historical women’s fiction than romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: Despite being a part of the Lady Truelove series, the connection to the advice column is pretty slim.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GOVERNESS GONE ROGUE is the third book in the Dear Lady Truelove series. While there are appearances from characters from other books in the series, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

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



Review: The Trouble with True Love

Review: The Trouble with True LoveThe Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove, #2) by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #2
Published by Avon on January 30th 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“A woman who was shy and plain, who stammered when she was nervous and had never caught a man’s eye in her life, could hardly be splendid at advising people about love and romance.”

FINAL DECISION: A wonderful emotional story about two people who have a mature and adult relationship thankfully free of misunderstanding and drama. The slow burn of this relationship made me so happy.

THE STORY: During the absence of her recently married sister, Clara Deverill has taken the reins of her family newspaper and the Dear Lady Truelove advice column. The problem is that Clara doesn’t know what advice to give to people having problems with love — until she overhears a conversation between two men which convinces Clara to write a column directed toward the poor woman they are discussing. When Rex Galbraith finds out about the column (which is obviously about the conversation with his friend) he comes in search of Lady Truelove. Clara and Rex soon reach an unexpected agreement involving the Lady Truelove column and an orchestrated “courting” between them in order to satisfy Rex’s family.

OPINION: I loved this book because it was focused almost entirely on the couple and their developing relationship to the exclusion of everything else. No dramatic external storyline, no external barriers to their relationship. This is purely a story of two people developing a love for one another despite their initial belief that they could never be compatible.

Clara first sees Rex when he is giving advice to his friend (which involves lying to her about his intentions) and Clara sees that Rex is a rake who cannot be trusted. Clara has always wanted what is a traditional role — marriage and children, but her sister’s absence has placed her in charge of the newspaper and she begins to find her footing and the self-satisfaction of having a job. While Clara wants to marry, she is determined that she will marry for nothing less than love.

Rex is a man who has seen nothing but bad things come from “love”. He is determined never to marry, but he finds himself enthralled by an innocent and respectable Clara even as he knows that he must keep his distance from her. Although Rex has been a rake, he is an honorable man at heart. (And I think somewhat of a romantic despite his cynical musings about love and marriage).

I absolutely loved the slow burn of this book. The gentle way that these two draw together and eventually find a happy ending. The story of the shy wallflower who tames the rake is often done in romance, but this book is different. The wallflower finds her own footing and refuses to settle for less than what she wants. She is willing not only to sacrifice but also to forge ahead with her own altered plans.

My favorite books are emotional and focused on the couple. This story is about the growth and change in these characters on their journey and I enjoyed every step.

WORTH MENTIONING: I like this historical era (Victorian) where class distinctions are blurring and womens’ roles are expanding.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE TROUBLE WITH TRUE LOVE is the second book in the Dear Lady Truelove series. It is not necessary to read the first book in the series although there are some overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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


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

“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.


Review: Four Weddings and a Sixpence

Review: Four Weddings and a SixpenceFour Weddings and a Sixpence: An Anthology by Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, Stefanie Sloane, Laura Lee Guhrke
Published by Avon on December 27th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in your shoe.”

This is an anthology of four stories about four friends from Madame Rochambeaux’s Gentle School for Girls and the sixpence coin which brings each of them a husband.

SOMETHING OLD by Julia Quinn:  This is the prologue to the stories and introduces the four heroines: Miss Beatrice Heywood, Miss Cordelia Padley, Lady Elinor Daventry and Miss Anne Barbourne.  The four find a old coin which they agree to use to find their husband and if it works, they will pass it along to the next girl.  For a prologue, this one managed to pack a lot of information into a few pages.  It definitely made me want to know more about these girls.  Rating: 5 stars.

SOMETHING NEW by Stefanie Sloane: Miss Anne Brabourne has an uncle as a guardian who has declared that she must marry by her twenty-first birthday. Anne, however, doesn’t really want to marry but if she does she certainly doesn’t want to marry for love.  Her parents tempestuous relationship has soured her on the idea of passion and love. Rhys Alexander Hamilton, Duke of Dorset is a man determined not to marry until he has no choice meets Anne and is charmed by her.  He doesn’t fit Anne’s ideal husband (he will never be easily controlled) but he proposes that he help her find a husband.

This was a sweet little story. I liked the characters and I liked their situation. Both Anne and Rhys have reasons to not recognize that they are falling in love and yet their connection pulls them together throughout the story.  I found this story charming.  The only thing that didn’t fit was the obligatory sex scene which I thought did not actually fit with these characters.  Rating: 4 stars.

SOMETHING BORROWED by Elizabeth Boyle:  Miss Cordelia Padley grew up rich but at her father’s death she learned that he was squandered his entire fortune. She has another, more pressing problem. She has three aunts who are determined to find her a husband, so Cordelia has made up a betrothed to stop their efforts.  Now that one of her dearest friends is marrying, Cordelia has to produce that betrothed or admit her deception.  She goes looking for a temporary fiance to produce and then have him jilt her.  Winston Christopher Talcott, Earl of Thornton needs rich bride to save his failing estate.  Just when he is about to get engaged to an heiress, Cordelia comes back into Kipp’s life and turns it upside down.

This was a wonderful story.  I loved the connection between Cordelia and Kipp. They had a sweet and childhood friends to lovers story. This was a story that was so good that I could have read a whole book about these two.  Cordelia finds her old friend and is dismayed that he never had the chance to fulfill his dreams. Kipp finds a vivacious woman who makes him believe in his dreams again even has his goals have changed. I loved the hope and joy these two bring to one another.  Yes, the resolution was predicable (I figured it out from the beginning), but the story was so good that I was willing to go along with the predicable solution.  Everything worked for me.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

SOMETHING BLUE by Laura Lee Guhrke: Lady Elinor Daventry is determined to marry the son of a duke to help save her father from the investigation by Lawrence Blackthorne who is determined to prove her father is a criminal.  Ellie and Lawrence were childhood friends who were in love and set to marry until he chose his duty and honor over their love and she chose her father over their love.  Lawrence steals the sixpence in order to prevent Ellie’s marriage.

This was an enjoyable story because Ellie and Lawrence are such combative towards one another. The two have deep unresolved feelings even though they are on opposing sides regarding Ellie’s father. There is some serious push and pull between them as they clearly love one another and yet neither can abandon their principles. The interactions between the two were funny and yet sad as it seems at times that these two will not be able to find a way to be together.  I like my books with some angst and drama and this one fulfills those requirements.  Rating: 4 stars.

…AND A SIXPENCE IN HER SHOE by Julia Quinn:  Miss Beatrice Mary Heywood plans never to marry but rather to care for her aunts who took her in when she was orphaned. She takes the coin only reluctantly, but she has the coin when she literally runs into Lord Frederick Grey-Osbourne on the street.  Frederick is sensitive to his looks because of an accident which left him with a scar and blinded in one eye, but he finds himself intrigued by the academic minded Bea who has a passion for astronomy.

Bea and Frederick are so cute together. This is another story that I could have read an entire book about. There is an awkwardness and a pure sweetness of these two being interested in one another. There are meddling aunts, sexy scientific talk, deep empathy and even some sexy moments.  There is a wonderful scene between them (I don’t want to give it away) but it is all about trust and vulnerability between them.  I loved that scene.  This was my favorite story in the anthology and it struck the perfect ending note for me.  Rating: 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.


Review: No Mistress of Mine

Review: No Mistress of MineNo Mistress of Mine (An American Heiress in London, #4) by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: An American Heiress in London #4
Published by Avon on August 30, 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

‘He’d been ready to sacrifice everything dear to him, to turn his back on everyone else he loved, in order to keep her.  And then, she had left him.”

FINAL DECISION:  This is my favorite book of the series.  I loved just about everything about this book.  The characters were good people, intelligent and demonstrated growth in the story.  The romance was difficult and there was no magic solution for these two but rather a mature acceptance of the painful things that can go with love.

THE STORY:  Lord Denys Somerton has finally regained the respect of his family after a wild period where he fell for a cancan dancer and thought to make her his future countess until she abandoned him for another man.  Now Denys is considering marrying his childhood friend while managing his family businesses.  Then Lola Valentine walks back into his life.  Having inherited half a theater from the man she left Denys for, Lola has returned to London to fulfill her dream of being an actress.  Denys finds himself an unwilling business partner of Lola.  Denys knows that Lola is bad for him but he has never been able to resist her.

OPINION: I don’t if I can express how much I loved this book.  A fallen woman.  Class differences.  Hero is a genuine nice guy.  Heroine is smart.  Setting someplace other than the ton balls. Second chance at love.  Accepting love requires sacrifice.  This hit so many of the points that make my heart soft and gooey.

I loved Lola.  This woman is a survivor.  Intelligent and self made.  She has taken risks and brought herself so far.  And yet she is haunted by the choices she has made to get where she needs to be.  Being with Denys challenges her because she feels unworthy because of her past and because of their class differences.  She let Denys before in order to protect him from the sting of their relationship, but she also wanted to save herself.  She has returned, older and stronger and perhaps willing to try harder.

Denys is adorable.  I love that he acknowledges his mistakes and tries to remedies them.  He is also completely devoted to Lola.  Even when he is hurt from her actions, he still treats her with more respect than other people.  I like that he attempts to understand her.  When he realizes that he did not know Lola as well as he assumed, he takes actions to remedy that.  It takes a brave man to toss everything he loves away for a woman and an even stronger one to try and convince those he loves to support her.

The romance between Denys and Lola begins in this book with them being equals in a way that they were not in their prior relationship.  Lola, especially, feels the inequality between them so it means something for the two of them to be equal business partners.  Their equality in business which Denys accepts become a proxy or a more equal personal relationship.  Their equality also refreshingly comes into their acceptance of their sexual history.  Denys realizes that he cannot condemn Lola for her sexual experience in light of his own. He cannot judge Lola and that allows him to see her in way that is personal and meaningful.

I adored that this book is about two people recognizing their mistakes, learning to trust and talk to one another and then just jumping into love with all it’s complications and pitfalls.  At the end of this book, Denys and Lola know that not everyone will accept their love but the important ones will.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I hope Pongo eventually gets his own story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  NO MISTRESS OF MINE is the fourth book in the An American Heiress in London series.  While characters from the other books make appearances, it is not necessary to have read those books to enjoy this one.  This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Catch a Falling Heiress

Review: Catch a Falling HeiressCatch a Falling Heiress (An American Heiress in London, #3) by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: An American Heiress in London #3
Published by Avon on January 27th 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

Hero Falls Long Before the Heroine

“He didn’t know that jaunt across the Channel would lead him on a quest for justice that would destroy a villain, turn his life upside down, and hurl a beautiful woman into his arms.”

THE STORY: Jack, Earl of Featherstone has come to America to help get justice for his friend and his wife. In the process of destroying the man who raped his friend’s wife, Jack has to rescue an unwitting heiress who gets in the middle. Linnet Holland thinks the man who she dreamed of has fallen in love with her and wants her. Instead, she ends up ruined by Jack who she doesn’t even know. Linnet refuses to allow herself to be forced to marry a rake and a fortune hunter after refusing other offers in a search for love. Jack is determined to convince Linnet to marry him because he realized when he kissed her that they have something special.

OPINION: There is something special about a book that goes against expectations. It is surprising when Jack ruins Linnet that she doesn’t immediately agree to the marriage. Instead, she insists on finding a match that is acceptable to her and goes about creating her own future. Jack and Linnet have a very combative relationship which is simply adorable. Linnet has been naive with her dealings with men and is determined to not succumb to Jack’s plans for her. They are a sparkling couple. What is especially interesting is the Jack becomes enamored of Linnet long before she is even willing to try to get to know Jack. Guhrke has a way of writing the reformed rake story in an interesting manner by making Jack’s character more original and singular than the familiar trope. My one complaint is that I thought the resolution of the story was too rushed and could have used an epilogue.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of HOW TO LOSE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS will be pleased to get the story of what happened between the last chapters of HOW TO LOSE A DUKE book and the epilogue. Those events are depicted in this book.

FINAL DECISION: This is a book where the action occurs more slowly than might be expected based on the quick events in the early portion of the book. This is a book where the hero and heroine actually have time to get to know one another before they end up committed to one another.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CATCH A FALLING HEIRESS is the third book in the An American Heiress in London series. This book can be read independent of others in the series, although the book overlaps with the events in HOW TO LOSE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS and reading that book explains a lot of what is going on in the beginning of this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days

Review: How to Lose a Duke in Ten DaysHow to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (An American Heiress in London, #2) by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: An American Heiress in London #2
Published by Avon on April 29th 2014
Genres: Historical
Pages: 371

Beautiful and Powerful Story of Love After Marriage

“Her marriage was perfect”

THE STORY: The Duke and Duchess of Margrave have a marriage of convenience. They agreed that Edie, and American heiress, would contribute her immense dowry, get the title, and take over running the ducal estates and that Stuart would go to Africa and never come back. Five years later, Stuart is nearly killed by a lion and realizes that he wants to try and build a real marriage with his wife. He returns to England and his wife is appalled. She has no intention of being close to any man, including her husband. Stuart offers Edie a deal, if she gives him ten days to try and win a kiss from her, he will agree to a legal separation if he fails.

OPINION: This book is a powerful story about pain and loss and recovery from deep wounds of all kinds. The way that Edie’s personal story is compared and contrasted with Stuart’s was especially illuminating. This book focuses especially on the power of love to heal, but there is also the power of choice and respect and trust. I was especially moved by Stuart’s reaction to Edie’s history and his determination to show her respect and earn her trust. I thought the story moved in ways that were unexpected and I came to really like the characters of Stuart and Edie. My only complaint was that their happy ending was cut a bit short. I would have liked more — maybe in subsequent book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers should be aware that this book has depictions of rape and its aftermath.

FINAL DECISION: Although married, this book is really how Stuart and Edie get to know one another and fall in love. I thought the story was well developed and I would recommend it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the second book in the An American Heiress in London series. It can be read as a standalone without missing anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: When the Marquess Met His Match

Review: When the Marquess Met His MatchWhen the Marquess Met His Match (An American Heiress in London, #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke, Susan Ericksen
Series: An American Heiress in London #1
Published by Avon on October 29th 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

Glad I Didn’t Give Up On This Based On Some of The Negative Reviews

“Nothing causes more pain, frustration, and disappointment than unfulfilled expectations.”

THE STORY: Lady Belinda Featherstone is a matchmaker. Her own painful experience of having been wed for her fortune while she thought it was love. After the death of her husband, Belinda has made a name for herself finding suitable matches for young American women after he husband had gone through her dowry. When Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge comes to ask her help in finding him a wife, Belinda sees him as cut from the same cloth as her husband and informs him that she will do everything she can to stop him. Nicholas has a reputation as a rakehell and is definitely in search of a fortune after having been cut off by his father the duke. Belinda and Nicholas are soon engaged in a battle of wits even while they have an attraction to one another.

OPINION: This is the story of two people who have been disappointed in their expectations of their lives. Such disappointments have made them both cynical and unwilling to trust again. It has also made them accept lives that are less than they could be.

Belinda’s past has given her deep scars. I found it almost painful to read the first half of the book since Belinda judges Nicholas so harshly. Once I understood her history, however, I could understand her fears that led her astray and she did end up changing and acknowledging her mistakes. By the end of the book, I believed that she had redeemed herself. Even better, Nicholas acknowledges that her judgment was not completely unwarranted and decides to change his own life.

I especially like how the book has a turn at the end that I did not expect. Belinda and Nicholas’s happy ending came in a way that I did not expect and I appreciated that fact.

I really ended up responding to this book because it challenged me as a reader more than I expected and the characters were not simple and easy to like. Readers who give this book an honest chance can experience a wonderful story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book also introduces readers to the heroine from the second book and what an intriguing story is there.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend this book if the reader has an open mind and is willing to allow a character to grow and change.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN THE MARQUESS MET HIS MATCH is the first book in the An American in London series.

STAR RATING: I give this one 4 stars.