Review: Under the Kissing Bough

Review: Under the Kissing BoughUnder The Kissing Bough by Kathryn Le Veque, Sandy Blair, Suzanne Ferrell, Hildie McQueen, Anna Campbell, Tina De Salvo, Barbara Devlin, Joan Kayse, Catherine Kean, Anna Markland
Series: Farthingale #5.5, Second Chance #2.5, , Guardian Isle #1.5, Legendary Bastards of the Crown #0.5, Romance in Central City #7
on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 416

This is a huge anthology with fifteen separate stories which cover several genres and time periods.

TARTAN BOWS AND MISTLETOE by Sandy Blair: (Victorian Historical) John Colin MacNab is an impoverished earl who is trying to avoid complete financial ruin after his spendthrift father. He refuses to consider marrying a wealthy woman wanting a title. Olivia Conor is rich and her father wants her to find a titled gentleman to improve their American business prospects. Olivia is a suffragist who wants to study law, not marry the man her father wants. This story was a little too predictable for me. Things were resolved too neatly and I didn’t feel a great connection to the characters. Rating: 2 stars.

CLOSE TO SANTA’S HEART by Suzanne Ferrell: (Midwest Small Town Contemporary) Sylvie Gillis is a hairdresser who is dating Cleetus Junkins, a deputy. The two are Santa and his elf for the town events. The two seem to be destined to be together except for two problems: Cleetus is a virgin and Sylvie has a secret concerning her family.  I really liked the setup for this one and Cleetus was cute giving Sylvie a Christmas.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the secret and the resolution which didn’t seem to fit the rest of the story. Rating: 3 stars

UPON A MIDNIGHT DREAM by Kathryn Le Veque: (Medieval Historical) Sir Rennington of Ashbourne is a knight who has returned from the Crusades penniless and lacking a home. When he hears about Lady Holly St. Maur who is the oldest daughter of a rich landowner, he is determined to win her hand in marriage. Holly plans never to wed after loving and losing her betrothed in the Crusades. I absolutely loved the setup for this one. I thought the pacing was wonderful, the issues complex for such a short story and I really liked the characters.  Then everything got resolved in a page or two which was very disappointing. Rating: 3 stars.

MISTLETOE AND THE MAJOR by Anna Campbell: (Regency Historical) Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth has returned home after years of fighting on the Continent. He returns injured and scarred to the wife he married only two weeks before leaving for eight years. Felicity, Lady Canforth, has loved her husband from the beginning and is happy he has returned but wants more than their proper, respectful marriage.  I loved this one. The scope of the story was very small — a couple reuniting after years apart not knowing how to ask for more in their relationship.  The story was sweet and complete. I felt happy at the end of the story.  Rating: 4 stars.

HUNT FOR CHRISTMAS by Tina De Salvo: (Cajun Contemporary) Dr. Camille Comeaux returns home to the bayou from her life in New York.  She meets Hunter James who has purchased nearby Cypress Island for peace and privacy. Camille is determined to convince Hunt to allow the Cajun community of Fa La La to have their annual Christmas celebration on the island.  Enjoyable story with a few too many moving parts to be truly satisfying in the result.  I did enjoy the local characters and Camille and Hunt had a nice chemistry.  A Second Chance series novella. Rating 3.5 stars.

HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME by Barbara Devlin: (Regency Historical) Lord Nicholas Sheldon and Lady Almira were betrothed since birth but then she is given in marriage to an evil man. Years later, Nicholas has the chance to try and redeem their failures and capture Almira for his own.  This is the story of two people who were ripped apart and have both suffered because of it.  This second chance gives these two another opportunity at love and happiness.  I really enjoyed this book but I could see that it was part of a series and there was significant events which occurred in those books which are relevant to this story.  I thought the story was good here but I think I would have enjoyed it better having read the other books in the series.  This novella made me want to read more.  Rating: 4 stars.

AN IRISH GIFT by Joan Kayse: (Fae Paranormal) Killian is a fae shifter who has to work to discover something taken from him. He ends up having to bring together a couple Kathryn and Colin together in time for Christmas.  I just couldn’t get into this story.  There was too much worldbuilding that didn’t have any purpose in the story. The couple that gets together is really a sideshow to the story.  I really liked Killian and wanted the story to be more about him. This might be a good series, but this wasn’t a good introduction.  Rating 1.5 stars.

ONE KNIGHT’S KISS by Catherine Kean: (Medieval Historical) Sir Tristan de Champgne is a knight who is estranged from his family after his betrayal by the woman he had planned to marry.  He comes to spend Christmas with a friend and his family. There he meets Lady Honoria Whitford, his friend’s sister.  This was an adequate story but I wish there had been more heat in the story. I liked the characters but there wasn’t enough plot to sustain the story except for another woman who wants Tristan for herself.  Rating: 2.5 stars.

UNKISSABLE KNIGHT by Anna Markland: (Medieval Historical) Victorine de Toeni is a young Norman maiden and ward of William the Conqueror. The obligation is to marry her off.  Sir Dervenn de Roure is a Breton knight favored by William but not by Victorine. William doesn’t want to marry either but as time goes on he is enchanted by the willful woman.  I absolutely loved this story. I thought it was well crafted to fit within the novella format with interesting characters that I liked.  The story was interesting and didn’t leave loose ends.  One of the best of the anthology.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

CHRISTINA, A BRIDE FOR CHRISTMAS by Hildie McQueen: (Western Historical) Christina Mills flees Philadelphia for Wyoming because of her brutal father who has arranged what promises to be an even worse marriage.  She comes as a mail order bride. She has chosen Alexander Barrett Patterson for her husband.  When she arrives, she discovers that Barrett is uncertain about marrying her.  Barrett is scarred and has lost a portion of his leg in the Civil War. He thinks himself not good enough for Christina.  I enjoyed the feel of this book but thought it took too long to get to the romance between Christina and Barrett.  The description of the times and the characters were great.  Rating 3.5 stars.

IF YOU LOVED ME by Meara Platt: (Regency Historical) Desmond Cameron, Marquis of Blackfell has no intention of falling for a Farthingale. When he comes across a carriage accident, he meets Miss Adelaide Farthingale (a cousin of the Farthingales in the series). Adelaide is sweet and innocent unlike the cynical Desmond. I loved this story. It is sweet and I loved the brightness and gentle nature that Adelaide has. She has been made to feel unimportant and an afterthought. Desmond is attracted to her unspoiled nature even as he is determined to fight his feelings for her. The story is uncomplicated but the characters are well done.  This book is 5.5 in the Farthingale series but can be read as a standalone. Rating: 4 stars.

DESTINY’S KISS by Elizabeth Rose: (Medieval Scottish Romance) Ross of Clan Douglas is a Scottish lowlander who hates the English and intends on marrying the English king’s mistress and claiming his bastard. When Ross arrives at the mistress’s family’s castle, he meets Lady Annalyse Granville, the second born twin of the king’s mistress.  Annalyse is abbey raised because she is considered cursed as the second born.  Although Ross intends on marrying her sister, he is drawn to Annalyse.  This book is the prequel to the Legendary Bastards of the Crown series and it shows.  The story is more interested in the story of the bastard to the king than developing the romance between Ross and Annalyse.  I liked the story but was disappointed in the romance.  Rating: 3 stars.

HER VAMPIRE PROTECTOR by Jordan K. Rose: (Vampire Paranormal) Oswald Addison is a vampire and a member of the Guard. He has liked Selene Kittery for a long time but she won’t give him the time of day because she believes him a womanizer.  Although she actually is attracted to him as well.  This is a humorous vampire story.  There is a lot that goes on in this story with lots of characters (since it is part of a series).  I got lost with the number of characters, but I did think the story of these two was sweet and funny.  Rating: 3 stars.

DANCING UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Lana Williams: (Victorian Historical) Katherine Flemming is on the run.  She has just left her position as a seamstress because she fears having been discovered again. For Christmas she is going to the country to stay at the estate of a countess she met at her work. She is met by Cole Dumont, Lord Barclay who finds Christmas a sad time because of the loss of his family.  This story reveals their secrets and an attraction to one another.  I liked this story because of the mystery aspect of what secrets these two have. The story had the best Christmas spirit of the bunch because so much works out because of the Christmas holiday.  I thought things were wrapped up too neatly, but I liked the festive story.  Rating: 3.5 stars.

A YULE TO REMEMBER by Jeanne Adams: (Witch Paranormal Contemporary) Haven Harbor is a town in Massachusetts inhabited by witches.  Annie Boyston owns the Classic Cauldron a cooking shop in town.  Reyn Shapleigh is the town’s Fire Chief. Annie and Reyn are friendly towards one another until the first Yule kiss makes things more than friendly.  This was a very enjoyable story.  Quirky and funny and with an interesting plot involving danger in town.  I liked Annie and Reyn and their relationship felt really natural but magical at the same time.  I would read more about this town.  Rating: 4 stars.


Review: The Viscount’s Rose

Review: The Viscount’s RoseThe Viscount's Rose (The Farthingale Series Book 5) by Meara Platt
Series: Farthingale #5
on September 19th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 248

FINAL DECISION: A sweet story that doesn’t have much emotional drama but rather external factors keeping the hero and heroine apart.  Funny and gentle and sweet.  This is an enjoyable finish to the Farthingale sisters stories.

THE STORY: Rose Farthingale, the oldest of five daughters, is saved from an explosion in her pottery workshop by Justin Emory. The brother of Rose’s dearest friend, Justin is a viscount and rumor says he is almost ready to propose to a woman that his family detests. In order to save Justin from himself, Rose helps his family concoct a scheme to separate him from that woman.  What Rose doesn’t expect is Justin’s family throwing them together at every opportunity resulting in her getting abducted along with him.

Justin, himself, has a secret. He is working for the crown wooing a woman to try and find out information on a French spy ring. His family’s machinations threaten his mission but an even greater threat is Justin’s own attraction to Rose.

OPINION: This book is so sweet. Rose and Justin are a cute and uncomplicated couple. These are both oldest siblings who have several younger siblings. Family is important to both of them. They both have family legacies of falling in love only once. They are simply adorable.

This is a book without intense emotional unrest. Instead, what keeps these two apart are Justin’s work and the necessity of deception.  While the premise of this book has certainly been done before, I liked Platt’s take on the story. Rather than focusing on angst, this book focuses on Rose’s continued trust in Justin despite all appearances.

There is less drama in this book, but I love sweet, uncomplicated stories sometimes too. Likeable characters, a fun premise and lots of love and family hi-jinks.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I still love how Platt manages to make telling the story of these five sisters in reverse work. This is truly a series that can be read forwards and backwards.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE VISCOUNT’S ROSE is book 5 in the Farthingale series.  It can be read as a standalone as it occurs prior to the other books in the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: A Midsummer’s Kiss

Review: A Midsummer’s KissA Midsummer's Kiss (Farthingale Series Book 4) by Meara Platt
Series: Farthingale #4
on February 3rd 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 302

FINAL DECISION:  A gently developing romance with a hero with a broken leg and a reluctant betrothed, I loved that this book is about Laurel and Graelem talking and getting to know one another.  There are people plotting against them, but the true center of this book is the time Laurel and Graelem spent quietly together.

THE STORY:  Laurel Farthingale literally knocks Lord Graelem Dayne off his feet.  Unfortunately, it is because of her headstrong horse which manages to break Graelem’s leg.  The accident ends up with Laurel becoming betrothed to Graelem against her wishes.  Laurel loves and intends to marry a childhood friend.  As the two end up spending time together, Laurel sees a different side to the gruff Scot.  Graelem must marry Laurel because he needs to marry in a month in order to retain his inheritance.  While he came to London intending on having a business relationship with his future wife, Laurel’s caring nature seeps into the soul of a man who has been alone for a long time.

OPINION:  There is something I really enjoy about Platt’s characters.  They are all gentle, nice people.  Don’t get me wrong, they are not boring, but rather there is a tenderness to their personalities that I really enjoy.

Laurel is caring and nice and she is willing to protect those she cares about.  Even when Graelem annoys her, Laurel deeply feels his pain and wants to comfort him.  What is a triggering part of their relationship is that Graelem almost immediately wants to care for Laurel in return.  Without knowing her and having good reason to dislike her horse, Graelem shields Laurel and her horse from being separated.

The books has a different feel since Graelem is convalescing for much of the book.  This gives him a weakness that should not be attractive in a hero.  Yet it manages to do the opposite here.  Graelem always appears in control despite his physical limitations.

This book also contains a special relationship between Laurel and her sisters.  I enjoy the interaction between these sisters which isn’t stereotypical but rather feels deep and real.  I also enjoy the meddling Farthingale family in general.  They are annoying, loving, nosy, unfair, judgmental, supportive and everything that a real family is like.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Because of the unique order in which these books are written, there are intriguing reveals no matter what order you read the books in.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  A MIDSUMMER’S KISS is the fourth book in the Farthingale series.  It is actually a prequel to the other books in the series and can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Rules for Reforming a Rake

Review: Rules for Reforming a RakeRules for Reforming a Rake (Farthingale, #3) by Meara Platt
Series: Farthingale #3
on May 21st 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 308

FINAL DECISION: I found this book so interesting because it was a different take on a plot that I have read before.  The characters were so likeable that I was completely satisfied to sink into their world and see how their difficulties would be resolved.

THE STORY:  Daisy Farthingale is determined to find the perfect suitor in order to regain her family’s regard.  Daisy voluntarily took the blame for an attempted elopement (but it wasn’t her).  Her family no longer trusts her opinions regarding men.  Daisy’s determination is challenged when she meets Lord Gabriel Dayne, rake and wastrel extraordinaire.  Despite her best intentions, Daisy finds herself attracted to Gabriel and she just senses that he is a better man than his reputation suggests.  Gabriel is indeed a better man but purposely cultivates a terrible reputation in order to disguise his missions as a spy against the French.  Gabriel cannot risk getting close to Daisy even as he finds her irresistible.  Gabriel must stay away from Daisy for both their sake.

OPINION:  What strikes me most about Platt’s Farthingale series is how likeable the characters are.  In every book, the characters seem like they would be people that I would enjoy meeting.  I also enjoy how each Farthingale sister is so different from the others.

In this book Daisy is the middle sister who wants to make things better.  She even took the blame for her older sister’s attempted elopement.  That act by Daisy has placed her in a difficult position in her family.  Although completely innocent, she is distrusted by her family.

In fact, Daisy and Gabriel are both seem incorrectly by their family.  Both have taken on actions not their own in order to protect.  Daisy to protect her sister; Gabriel to protect his country and those he loves.  It is therefore unsurprising that each recognizes something in the other and sees something beyond reputation.  This equivalency is done with deft care and a great deal of subtlety.

The romance is so sweet and I especially enjoyed how Gabriel is given reason to hope for a future by Daisy.  He is a damages soul that is healed by the gentleness and vivacity of Daisy.  I liked Gabriel a great deal and I loved that Daisy does not give up on Gabriel despite all indications.  She wants true love and when she finds it, she becomes determined.

This is not my favorite in the series, but it is really good and I look forward to going back in time and reading about Daisy’s older sister.  (We should also learn about the attempted elopement which gets Daisy in so much trouble).

WORTH MENTIONING:  I find the fact that this book is a prequel to the other two books in the series fascinating.  The remainder of the sisters’ stories will be told in reverse order.  What I like best about it is how rather than knowing about the past and having to wonder about what happens to the characters in the future, the future instead is already known and the past has many secrets.  This is a different way of building a series and I find it intellectually interesting what techniques Platt is using.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  RULES FOR REFORMING A RAKE is the third book in the Farthingale series.  The book is actually a prequel to the first two books and thus can be read as a true standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: If You Kissed Me: A Farthingale Novella

Review: If You Kissed Me: A Farthingale NovellaIf You Kissed Me by Meara Platt
Series: Farthingale #2.5
on 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 80

IF YOU KISSED ME is a short novella in the Farthingale series. It is best read after at least the first book in that series so that the characters are familiar. I recommend reading both MY FAIR LILY and THE DUKE I’M GOING TO MARRY before this novella to best appreciate it.

This is the story of Lady Evangeline Cameron, the granddaughter of a duke who is expected to marry well and the man who fascinates her, commoner Dr. George Farthingale. With the help of George’s nieces, Evie makes a play to have the proper doctor to kiss her. This is a sweet little story. Sometimes novellas feel rushed and incomplete. Not this one. The characters end up being well formed and their story has a nice arc to it. This is an unlikely couple as the story begins and perfect together by the end. The story is clever and turns expectations around several times. A sweet, light little story that brought a smile to my face.


Review: The Duke I’m Going to Marry

Review: The Duke I’m Going to MarryThe Duke I'm Going to Marry by Meara Platt
Series: Farthingale #2
Published by Meara Platt on January 30th 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 282

Beautiful with a Balance Between Drama and Lightness

“When Dillie Farthingale crossed to her bedroom window to draw the draperies before retiring to bed, she never expected to wind up in front of the Farthingale townhouse, elephant gun in hand, worried that she’d just shot the Duke of Edgeware.”

FINAL DECISION: This is one of those books that I finished, sighed and then immediately wanted to return to my favorite passages. I loved both the hero and the heroine who are likeable in a story with humor, mystery, romance and sexy scenes. A keeper!

THE STORY: Daffodil “Dillie” Farthingale rescues Ian Markham, the Duke of Edgeware, outside her family’s townhouse from villains attempting to murder him. Ian ends up spending a week in Dillie’s bed recovering from his injuries. If that informations gets out, Dillie will be ruined regardless of how innocent Ian’s time in her bed was. Ian is a notorious rake and has sworn never to fall in love or marry. Despite this, he has been obsessed with Dillie for two years. He always seems to be there when he is needed. This time, Ian might need Dillie as it appears that someone is determined to kill Ian.

OPINION: I absolutely loved this book. I am a fan of the dark damaged heroes and Ian fits that bill exactly. At the same time, he is kind to Dillie and somewhat reluctantly fascinated by her. He has a dark and sad past and while he intends never to fall in love or marry, he keeps turning up around Dillie. Ian is a man who has become notorious as a way of dealing with his pain. What he really wants, however, is love and caring and companionship and family. The sweetness of how much Ian wants what he tells himself he cannot have made me love him as a hero.

Dillie is the perfect match for Ian because of her deep well of caring. Platt has done a remarkable job of differentiating the various Farthingale sisters — especially the twins Dillie and Lily. The personalities of the two sisters are different but not stereotypical opposites. Dillie is caring and funny and clever and determined and patient. I liked that she loves her family, finds them annoying at times, and also misses them as she is the only unmarried sister. These traits give Dillie individuality and complexity.

For me, the highlight of this book is the relationship between Dillie and Ian. From the beginning, it is clear that Ian needs Dillie and her capacity for love and caring. Dillie’s attraction to Ian and Ian’s reluctant attraction to Dillie just made me happy. Sometimes couples just click in books — Ian and Dillie did. They are clearly so perfect for one another and only Ian’s haunted past keeps them apart.

This book contains a mystery regarding who is trying to kill Ian. The story serves as the vehicle to examine Ian’s past. It also provides the impetus to bring Ian and Dillie together. The story is sad at the same time it is a good mystery. It drives the story well while allowing the relationship between Dillie and Ian to shine.

I can’t wait to read the stories of the three older Farthingale sisters.

WORTH MENTIONING: The Farthingale series has an interesting structure. As the series began, three of the five sisters were already married. At the end of this book, all the sisters are married. I love that the next book in the series goes back to tell the story of one of the married sisters.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DUKE I’M GOING TO MARRY is the second book in the Farthingale series. This book can be read as a standalone. While it takes place after the events in the first book, the two books can be read in any order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: My Fair Lily

Review: My Fair LilyMy Fair Lily (Farthingale, #1) by Meara Platt
Series: Farthingale #1
Published by Booktrope on October 13th 2014
Genres: Historical
Pages: 264

Funny, Light Romantic Historical Romance

FINAL DECISION: This was a book that made me laugh, made me smile and made me really like the characters. Light and enjoyable, the darkness of this book is never deep but just enough to keep the story interesting.

THE STORY: Ewan Cameron is Scottish but is also the estranged grandson of the Duke of Lotheil. Ewan agreed at his father’s deathbed to come to London with his sister to meet with his grandfather for three months. Ewan intends to thwart his grandfather by emphasizing his Scottish background and intends to marry a Scottish woman. Ewan ends up meeting Lily Farthingale when his dog knocks her over into a puddle. A bluestocking, Lily has her own reasons to dislike Ewan’s grandfather. He is blocking her attempts to join the Royal Society. Despite this, Lily wants to help Ewan navigate being a proper English gentleman in order to bridge the gap between Ewan and the rest of his family.

OPINION: I loved the lighthearted romance here. Funny and sweet and a book that made me smile, I enjoyed the interactions between Ewan and Lily. Lily is an intelligent heroine so I loved how Ewan and his big dog knock her off her game. Lily’s kindness is also demonstrated by her attempts to close the breach between Ewan and his family. She is treated poorly by Ewan’s grandfather and yet does the right thing for Ewan.

Ewan is entirely entranced by Lily. I liked that he almost immediately puts Lily first even when he is rejecting the possibility of there being anything between them. Their interactions were so special that I had to smile every time they started bantering with one another.

I also enjoyed the relationship between the Farthingale’s which is boisterous, nosy and an authentic family. It is rare that a book has so many likeable characters. Even those characters who first appear the villains are provided the opportunity to show their true natures. The lack of obvious bad guys makes this book enjoyable to read.

The plot of the book includes a mystery regarding whether someone is attempting to kill Ewan or to hurt those around him. I liked the story because it twisted in a manner I did not expect.

This is the first book I have read by Meara Platt. The book is well written with characters that I really liked, a situation where the characters acted in reasonable manners and a story and romance which left me smiling and satisfied.

WORTH MENTIONING: This series has an interesting dynamic. There are five sisters, three who are married. The stories of the two unmarried sisters are told first but then the married sisters stories are told later.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MY FAIR LILY is the first book in the Farthingale series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.