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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

...impoverished untamed Princess wins the day!

The Truth about Leo (Noble series #4) by Katie MacAlister 

'There are times...when I firmly believe that I'm the victims of a dread curse,' thus our hero falls into our lives after having rescued a 'devil-spawn' cat from a tree. His just reward is to be attacked and left for dead by Danish soldiers. 
Competent, hair brained royal spy, Leopold Ernst George Mortimer, seventh earl of March, is en route back to England from Russia via Denmark when he is injured, left for dead in a garden, awakes with no memory, and a beautiful wife, the rather unusual Dagmar Marie Sophie, whom he seems to have picked up along the way with no memory of how.
As the story unravels we are treated to witty dialogue, confusion, turmoil and a host of amusing secrets including that Dagmar is a Danish princess with no funds and is at logger heads with her cousin the Danish Regent. Dagmar's choice of survival had been whittled down by her cousin to a nun's cell or depart to her English relations! Dagmar's method of departure is somewhat unorthodox.
Throughout we are treated to Dagmar's dead mother's advice to her strong minded off spring under the heading, 'Princess Christian Sonderburg-Beck's Guide For Her Daughter's Illumination and Betterment.' Quite often hilariously appropriate to totally whimsical situations. Phrases like, 'docility, humility and modesty are the princess' by words' really amused me as they are set against the context of Dagmar's behaviour.

Another episode in this fun series with just the right amount of romance, intrigue and amusing characters making for a delightful read!

A NetGalley ARC

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

'she was the most dangerous woman of all'

A Dance with Danger (Rebels and Lovers #2) (Tang Dynasty#5) by Jeannie Lin 

Little did Jin-Mei realize when she went for a walk in the park, leaving her elderly servant resting in the shade, that her life was about to be changed forever.
Bao Yang, a man with a price on his head and the leader of a failed attempt to assassinate and overthrow the vicious warlord General Wang Shizhen, has returned to the city of Minzhou in the province of Fujian to garner support with his powerfull ally, Magistrate Tan. The young woman in the park looked like the perfect target to help him in his quest. 
As it turned out, she is! The daughter of the co-conspirator he seeks is about to become family! Fate did indeed intervene! Just not in the way either Yang or Jin-Mei realize.
As their lives become entwined both Yang and Jin-Mei strive to meet the challenge of their situation, although retribution for General Wang's treatment of his sister remains a powerful driving force for Bao Yang.
A story of betrayal, vengeance and retribution tempered by love, set against the background of the Chinese Tang Dynasty AD 848, 'Dance with Danger' continues the collage of people and events that Lin has cleverly woven together in this time and place.

A NetGalley ARC

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

'...hell bent on...well, utter self-destruction'

The Widow Wager (The Notorious Flynns #3) by Jess Michaels

This is Crispin's story, the out-of-control brother who has been heavily alluded to and the cause of heartache and more for his entire family in the first two books of the series.
One minute Crispin Flynn is rashly gambling and destructively drinking, the next he's lost the hand and finds himself married to Gemma, the widow of the Earl of Laurelcross.
Ok I have to say I just loved this beginning! Crispin's night after tear-on-the-town condition, and Gemma, totally dominated by her circumstances, but not broken in spirit.
Gemma's capitulation is a tad unexpected but then with all the tortuous happenings and confessions of a night and day, perhaps it's no wonder. After all won on the toss of the cards or given away in marriage to answer a father's pretentious and findings, both are as heartless as each other.
Michael's once more points to the fate of wives, daughters and sisters at an historical time where women have no rights. Gemma is completely overwhelmed when Crispin gives her choices. That respect has never been awarded her. I loved Crispin just for that.
As they both struggle to build a foundation for their relationship, the past hurts and torments are laid to rest. Their very decidedly explicit intimate relationship, presented over many pages, seems to go a long way with the healing process. Crispin's acceptance of Gemma's sensuality is a balm to her troubled  beliefs. The challenge is will passion become love?
Crispin has deeply guarded secrets that Gemma very courageously breaks through. 
Rescue becomes a two way street.

A NetGalley ARC

Monday, April 13, 2015

Interesting

Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son by Penny Junor 

I guess I have a soft spot for Harry going back to Diana's death. Whatever you might think about her circumstances, the sorrow is that two little boys lost their mother in a storm of shocking publicity.
One cannot forget the funeral procession scene and that heart tearing single word on Diana's coffin, 'Mummy', placed their by the very young Harry. 
All that being said this biography about Harry is just one of many, neither better or less than the other and really, you get little more from this than you would from another form of media.
I was interested in reading about Harry. I wonder what he will do with his life. 
I appreciated Junor's last line, 'He may say he's a child at heart, but he's a child with a very old soul.'
I am hopeful that the best for Harry is to come.

A NetGalley ARC

Sparkles!

How the Scoundrel Seduces (Duke's Men # 3) by Sabrina Jeffries 


From the get go I knew I was going to love Zoe, her energy and her fearlessness. London 1829, Lady Zoe Keene hires Manton's investigations (The Duke's men) to sort out her true parentage and the question about the inheritance of her father's estates. Even this is an amusing interlude.
Tristan Bonnaud is assigned to the case. Something Zoe is decidedly not pleased about--and neither is Tristan. He doesn't want to be bothered with a 'spoiled aristocrats inheritance problem.' In the end it will suit his purposes with his investigations into his own past.
Zoe is a woman with a mind of her own, 'sometimes her mouth just said what it pleased, and to hell with the consequences.'
Tristan, the illegitimate son of a Viscount, has his own set of secrets and worries to do with his background and parentage. His intractable, villainous half brother George is the thorn in his side. George is a man who wants to rid himself of Tristram no matter the cost. 
With the vivacious Zoe, gypsies, American artists and dashing French men, Tristan's story is as enjoyable read as one can get.

A NetGalley ARC

p.s. I began this sitting on the Tarmac waiting for my delayed flight to take off from Manchester to Lisbon. In all the excitement of travel around Lisboa and other parts of Portugal I didn't get to post my review!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

safe havens!

The Rogue's Folly (Classic Regency Romances Book 10) by Donna Lea Simpson 

Ah! The prim Lady May von Hoffen may be aghast at her widowed mother's scandalous behaviour over the years, particularly when she becomes the focus of various nefarious plots, but when she finds a handsome injured Frenchman at her very doorstep then perhaps the wheel is turning.
Lady May is hiding out, dressed in greys with 'her hair constricted and tortured into a tight bun.' Having been kidnapped by her mother's lover, the despicable Captain Dempster, she was rescued by the handsome frenchman Etienne Roulant Delafont, himself rumoured to be a rogue and worse. Her thoughts often turn to that rescue as she assures herself that she 'loves him like a brother.' Now May is hiding away from society and society at Lark House in Kent.
What she doesn't expect is the gallant Etienne to turn up injured  on her doorstep, well at the folly really, with his magnificent black stallion Theron, disturbing her peace of place and mind.
I really enjoyed this story. Witty and amusing with a healthy dose of intrigue, heart beating and sighing.

A NetGalley ARC

'I am going to be alone at Christmas'

A Matchmaker's Christmas (Classic Regency Romances Book 11) by Donna Lea Simpson

What a corker!  Elderly Lady Bournaud decides to host a Christmas party and matchmaking event all in one and Sir David Chappell doesn't realize what he's in for. David owed Lady B more than an indulgence and her letter to him sounded plaintive. Was she sickening? So off he goes, lured to the wilds of Yorkshire, as do others.
Beatrice Copeland, Lady B's companion has a dark secret that changed her life. Her comfort level is about to be challenged. As is Lady Bournaud's when her matchmaking plans go astray.
I enjoyed the wild Canadian, Verity Allen, LadyB's cousin's daughter, (who refuses to marry properly!), and for whom the plot is hatched. The under estimated Lady Sylvia Hampton is amusing as is the vicar Mark Rowland.
I didn't really warm to the two main characters, Beatrice and her nemesis from the past, Sir David Chappell. They fall short. Neither is fully rounded. I know, they are the 'raisen de etre' for bringing the story about. However, they remain unconvincing.

A NetGalley ARC

Monday, April 6, 2015

Love is enough!

His Saving Grace (Secrets & Seductions #4) by Sharon Cullen   


The emotional turbulence of having the husband declared dead return from the grave is absolutely heart rendering for Lady Grace Ashworth
Michael, The  Earl of Blackbourne, was said to have been killed on a Crimean battlefield.  Grace had never stopped mourning.
The Michael who has returned is very different to the one who left.
Michaels story is violent, his wounds barely visible but nonetheless deep and entrenched.
Only Grace's love stands between him and total despair, despite his best efforts to turn her away.
Tragic and tender and turbulent, this is a lovely story with the requisite amount of darstardly relations trying to overturn Michael's reclaiming of his title.

A NetGalley ARC


Saucy, spirited and sexy!

A Highlander's Passion: A Highlander's Beloved Novel by Vonnie Davis 


Honestly, I really enjoyed A Highlander's Passion. Humour and passion--not a bad combination! What could have easily fallen into corny is upheld by the genuiness of the interaction between the characters. I fell in love with Bryce's wee daughter Colleen. Paisley's totally outrageous witchy grandmother Effie features as large as life still with her passion for pink including slippers. Between Colleen's innocence and Effie's racy commentary, it's a hoot. But nestled in the raunchy humour is a message of love, acceptance and honouring each other. 
I have to say that scenes with young Colleen and the way she'd let loose all the secrets that adults said around her were amusing. It was hilarious when she uncovered her uncle's stash of magazines left in a low down hiding place. Her actions are so true of precocious young ones--and yet Colleen's precociousness is gently surrounded by a pure and loving heart. I did find myself giving snorts of laughter on many an occasion.
Shifter bear and widower Bryce Matheson has the opportunity to win back the love of his childhood sweetheart and witch, Kenzie Denune. Kenzie's story is tragic with a dark mystery hidden in her background. Life has not been great, her now dead husband was a brute and Bryce suffers along side her as he comes to understand her heartbreak. His empathy and love speak volumes,  Kenzie is no broken weed though. She is strong, open hearted and wonderful. 
Shifter bears, animal guides, a golden lynx, high priestess witches, evil wizards all embellish and play out a story of finding true love and recognizing what is right before you.
I also appreciated Davis' accolade at the end, 'to all stepmothers...' Well appreciated and often unsung, but winning Kenzie's trust is no pushover. The scene with the rosebuds is heart rendering and a beautiful inclusion. This is fun paranormal romantic romp with the requisite amount of compassion, intrigue and complexity to satisfy.

A NetGalley ARC

Unexpectedly enriching!

A Heart Revealed (Proper Romance) by Josi S. Kilpack 



Miss Morton's eyes might have politely blanked when Thomas Richards started explaining cattle and economics. My eyes completely glazed over. So when Thomas Richards, yearns for a woman he could discuss all matter with, this debutante is obviously not the one.
Amber Sterlington on the other hand is the 'rage of the season'. Thomas admires her but Amber's eyes completely pass over him. He is nowhere near the heady social sphere she has set her eyes and heart upon.
So what dire problems have befallen our spoilt heroine? A mystery, and a terrible tragedy that turns Amber into a social pariah but may well have been the making of her.
Her story swiftly goes from toast of the town to a backwater existence of less than genteel poverty. The true tragedy is her family's complete lack of charity and support. Made even more obvious by the support of her maid and the gradual friendship that develops between the two women across the class boundaries.
Yet, these dire circumstances become the making of her--painfully. 
I do so like Thomas, a man of sensitivity, strength and character with a gentle loving soul. His actions at Amber's shaming before the ton is heroic. 
Peel back the title, reflect a while, and you realize the aptness. The more I thought about this story, the more I realized its unusual depth. This is not your usual regency romance. The treatment and betrayal of Amber, indulged darling of the ton that she is, by her family and friends is hauntingly shocking.
Unexpected. A moral tale if you will, gently done but nevertheless quitely enriching.

A NetGalley ARC

Fastidious meets mayhem!

The Duke's Holiday (The Regency Romp Trilogy #1) by Maggie Fenton 

Potentially a hoot, this falls a tad short of the promise the plot contains.
I like the Duke of Montford despite his many idiosyncrasies. 
'He has always been fastidious'. ..and as the story develops we find out more about that! 
Astrid Honeywell, fiery independent being that she is, is married to the family myth (an archaic contract surrounding the family holdings ownership) and the family business, Honeywell Ale. Astrid is just a little too over the top, but her heart is true.
The Duke (known as the Monk behind his back) is an obsessive compulsive who has to have order in all things at any cost. And yes, when the Monk meets the Misfit (Astrid) all hell breaks loose!
When Montford's man of business tells him that the current male occupier of Rylestone Hall has been dead for over a year, little did Montford know that with 'that simple statement disorder nay even chaos' would enter his life!
I do like Montford's irrepressible friends from his Harrow schooldays, Marlowe and Sherbrooke. Each as eccentric in their own way as Montford. (Ah, the English school system, apparently producing unerringly friendships that never fail to puzzle!)
Some interesting incidences and some not so believable.
Despite my few misgivings, I look forward to the rest of the series.

A NetGalley ARC