Friday, July 31, 2009


A DUKE OF HER OWN by Eloisa James (Published by Avon Books, July 28, 2009)

If you are a fan of Eloisa James' "Desperate Dutchesses" series, RUN, DO NOT WALK, to pick up "A Duke of Her Own."

Throughout each one of Ms. James wonderful "Desperate Dutchesses" books, set in the Georgian era England, one character has tantalized and teased her readers from the beginning. Sometimes poignant, sometimes tragic, but always outrageous and irreverent, Leopold, The Duke of Villiers has been a character who has impacted, either directly or indirectly, each storyline and character in this incredible series.

How to describe the enigmatic Villiers? One of the top chess players in England (indeed, it seemed his one true love), famous for drifting from one woman to another in countless affairs resulting in six illegitimate children, one of the wealthiest men in England, certainly not known for his beauty, his looks were more akin to a buccaneer - very male and virile looking - yet his very presence and attitude proclaims him a Duke. His contemporaries wear powdered wigs, while Villiers does not. Always impeccably dressed, his cravat perfectly tied and formed, lace always just so, Villiers is refined and extremely intelligent. Villiers was once involved in a duel defending his fiance's honor. He lost both the duel and his fiance and then almost his life as a result of his wounds.

For years, Villiers had been paying his solicitor to make sure all of his six illegitimate children were educated and well cared for. After an attack of conscience, he decides to collect them all and bring them to his home. Then, he will marry and provide a mother for his children. Being Villiers, of course, he has certain standards for the mother of his children. One of those requirements is that she be a daughter of a Duke. However before he can begin his search for a wife, he is horrified to learn that all these years his solicitor has been keeping the money designated for his children's welfare and had disbursed them to places unknown. After investigating and searching, he thinks he has finally located the last of his two children, twin daughters. Just before leaving to seek out his last two children and investigate a potential mate, Lady Lisette, he meets another Duke's daughter, Lady Eleanor Lindel.

Lady Eleanor Lindel once proclaimed that she would only marry a Duke. Hiding behind frumpy dresses and with little or no care to her appearance, Eleanor is really hiding a broken heart. For it was years ago, she lost her heart to her childhood friend, Gideon, Duke of Astley, when he married another. Resigned not to become an ape leader and spinster, she resolves to marry and agrees to meet the Duke of Villiers. Intelligent and spirited, Eleanor is a match for Villiers' rapier wit and lively repartee. Intrigued by Villiers, she agrees to meet him again at the home of another of her childhood friends, Lady Lisette, with the full knowledge that he will be scoping out the reclusive Lady Lisette as a potential mate. However, Eleanor is not worried because she knows a secret about Lady Lisette that she believes Villiers will discover himself. And, so, the story begins.

The Duke of Villiers' story has been highly anticipated throughout Ms. James' "Desperate Dutchesses" series. IMHO, Ms. James surpassed every expectation I could have had for his story. The romance between Villiers and Eleanor is touching and endearing, but one fraught with several bumps in the road. I was so happy to see, and it was very satisfying to watch, Villiers find the love he never sought, but found. As always, Ms. James writing style is extraordinary, combining style and wit with grace. Her books are always a treat, but I believe her "Desperate Dutchesses" series will shine as one her greatest works for a long time to come. On the one hand, I was sad to see the series end. But, on the other hand, I can savor each delicious book in this amazing series again and again. Thank you, Ms. James, for creating such a memorable, heartwarming and wickedly entertaining series. They are keepers, one and all. ;)

If you haven't read Eloisa James' the "Desperate Dutchess" series yet, they are, in order: "Desperate Dutchess," "An Affair Before Christmas," "Dutchess by Night," "When the Duke Returns," "This Dutchess of Mine," and "A Duke of Her Own." Do yourself a great favor and pick them up. You will soon become ensconced in hours of heavenly reading and will come to treasure these books as I do.

Monday, July 13, 2009


DON'T TEMPT ME by Loretta Chase (Published by Avon Books, June 30, 2009)
Lucien de Grey, Duke of Marchmont, cared about very little in his world. A man much admired in the ton, he harbors no deep thoughts or allows no emotion to play a part in his life. Nothing phases him, nothing disconcerts him and he takes nothing seriously. Nothing, that is, with the exception of his former guardian Lord Lexham. For Marchmont owed a debt to Lord Lexham that could never be repaid. At the age of ten, Lucien had lost his parents to a fever. He and his older brother, Gerard, unable to express their grief, angry and brooding, had been taken in hand and gently guided by Lord Lexham. It was while spending his summers with his guardian that Lucien, the future Duke of Marchmont, met the irrepressible hoyden, Zoe Octavia Lexham, Lord Lexham's youngest daughter. When tragedy strikes again in the loss of his beloved older brother Gerard, Lord Lexham once again steps in and helps the young man grieve and heal. It was when Lucien loses Zoe, however, that he closes the door on his emotions and on his heart finally and irrevocably. Losing the last person in a long line of people who were important to Lucien is too much for his young heart to bear. For it was from that point forward that the Duke of Marchmont becomes a man oblivious to any type of emotion or care or worry.

Known at a "bolter," Zoe Octavia Lexham is a free spirit who despises being confined. She begins, at the age of four, running away at every opporutnity. Growing up the youngest girl in a brood of eight, Zoe delights in breaking rules and doing the unconventional. Whether it is learning Latin and Greek, typically a boy's doman, associating with children she shouldn't or riding horses she is not allowed to ride, Zoe seems to enjoy doing just the opposite of what she is supposed to be doing. Zoe was what the family considered "the problem child." But, it is Zoe who enchants the young Lucien. Only Lucien can find her when she runs away. And, Zoe is the only one who can make him laugh. Zoe becomes the only bright spot in the young Lucien's sad life. At the age of twelve, Zoe accompanies her parents on a tour of Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land. It was during this tour, that Zoe disappears. Frantic, her parents institute a search, to no avail. Lord Lexham and his wife never stop searching and keep hope alive in their hearts. It is twelve years later when Zoe appears on her parents' doorstep in London that the story begins.

When I first began this book and discovered that Zoe had been held in a harem, I was worried where this might lead. However, as the book progressed and the storyline and characters developed, I was very pleasantly surprised. I'm never surprised at the caliber of writing and/or character development of Ms. Chase. She is one of my favorite authors and has proven, time and again, to be an exceptional storyteller. I was suprised at how she deftly wove Zoe's experiences, knowledge and wisdom gained (yes, she learned a lot in that harem, more than you would surmise), into the story and how well it worked. Zoe's strength of character, intelligence and her convictions have a tremendous impact on Lucien's seemingly shallow, rakish character. Zoe's observations of the ton are hysterical. Watching her slowly chip away at Lucien's defenses and his closely guarded heart, combined with a sizzling attraction between the two is a treat to observe. Lucien is a charming hero whose world and belief system are shaken and re-evaluated by Zoe's reappearance into his life.

As in all of Ms. Chase's books, the dialogue is snappy, clever and witty and the characters are passionate and endearing. I have a short list of authors whose work I buy without question each and every time they publish a book. Loretta Chase is an author on that list. Her work never fails to enchant me and, more often than not, she makes me laugh with her clever dialogue and/or the situations she places her characters in. Ms. Chase's "Carsington Brother" series is a classic and not to be missed. DON'T TEMPT ME appears to be the beginning of another wonderful, engaging series. This book is a keeper and I highly recommend it. ;)

Friday, June 5, 2009

REMEMBRANCE by Jude Deveraux

REMEMBRANCE by Jude Deveraux (Published by Simon and Schuster, 2004)
Hayden Lane is a 39-year old romance writer, with a perfect fiancé, a supportive editor and an altogether successful, perfect little life. All this comes crashing down when Hayden becomes increasingly obsessed with the hero of her latest romance novel to the exclusion of everything else. She loses her fiancé, has angered and alienated her editor and starts to lose her sense of reality. Desperation sends Hayden to a psychic, Nora, and she discovers that all her problems stem from unfulfilled love in her past lives. Through several sessions with Nora, Hayden learns about soul mates, past lives and how each life affects the next life in reincarnation. Nora explains to Hayden that when the very first souls were created, they were split in half, one male and one female; hence, a soul mate is the other half of you. Something has happened somewhere in Hayden’s past lives with her soul mate and as a result she wouldn’t find her soul mate again for three more lifetimes. Hayden's immediate response to being told she wouldn’t find that grand passion that she has desperately been seeking is: “I’m an American and I want instant gratification.”

Since Nora has been able to give her several clues as to who she might have been in a past life, Hayden, no stranger to research, delves into the archives at her library and discovers that she was Lady Catherine de Grey who lived in Edwardian England. Hayden also discovers, much to her horror, that Lady Catherine de Grey was a woman who had many affairs and that she died mysteriously, her body never having been found and that her husband, the Earl de Grey, also died on the very same day his wife had died. Believing she can straighten out whatever problem was caused in that life, Hayden finds someone who does past life regressions.

Heedless of the strong warning the Nora has given her not to be regressed to see her past lives, Hayden dives headfirst into dangerous waters when she does just that. When she awakens in Edwardian England as Lady Catherine de Grey and is unable to return, she panics and searches for another “seer” who can help her get back to her present incarnation. However, this time she is catapulted back further in time and her last conscious thoughts are that she is trapped, she has to get out and she realizes that she is a baby about to be born.

What develops from here is a totally amazing love story. Love, hate, obsession, jealousy, a curse and revenge all revolve around two innocent and wonderful young people, Talis and Callie, who love each other with a passion that cannot be denied. Talis' and Callie’s characters were truly one being, each living for and incomplete without the other. This is more than an ordinary love story. It is a remarkable story of two people who are meant to be together, through heartache and loss, separation and tragedy and who are desperate to find the other through the centuries. There are three stories here, but they are all about the same two souls and it works. It starts out a little slow, but don’t put this book down! It is a wonderful book that will touch your heart and a story that you won't soon forget. And, I suggest having tissues close at hand. I loved this book. I highly recommend it. REMEMBRANCE by Jude Deveraux is a keeper!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

MY SURRENDER by Connie Brockway

MY SURRENDER by Connie Brockway (Published by Pocket Books, April 26, 2005)
Three young men are driven by an oath they have taken unto themselves to pledge their service to the three surviving daughters of the man who gave his life to save theirs. As children, each of these young men had been saved from Scotland’s post Culloden destitution by monks to be honed and raised as warrior assassins. Bound together by their childhood horrors, raised as brothers, these three young men secretly assign themselves to one sister, telling the family that if ever they need assistance, the sisters should simply send a yellow rose to the Abbey at St. Bride’s in Scotland’s Highlands and they will be there as quickly as they can. Leaving behind a rare yellow rose bush with the family, they quietly leave and scatter to the four corners of the world.

Charlotte Nash is the youngest of the Nash sisters and one of the most popular, outrageous, flighty flirts in the ton. And, it is all a ruse. Actually, Charlotte is an intelligent, hard-minded, determined young woman who wishes to honor her father's sacrifice by aiding in some way in the war against Napoleon. She is given that chance and becomes a spy for the Crown, while maintaining her hoyden personality.

Dand Ross is the consummate spy: hard, dangerous, cynical and unemotional. For years, he last allowed his two closest friends to believe that he is the traitor that caused their capture and subsequent torture in a French dungeon. When, actually, he has been continuing the work the three had been trained for, espionage, while actually trying to locate the true traitor. At the same time, he has been keeping an eye on his appointed charge, Charlotte, while passing information through her to the Crown.

When a letter falls into the wrong hands, with possible devistating consequences to the Crown, Charlotte volunteers to mascerade as a "fallen woman" in order to gain entry into an exclusive party where the letter is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. Her hastily devised plan to locate the letter and retrieve it has one serious flaw. She realizes that the man she is supposed to offer herself to as a new potential mistress, Comte St. Lyon, is well known in the ton and would never risk his position in society by ruining a virgin. So, she must recruit Dand, the only man she has ever truly been attracted to, to help ruin her in society's eyes and in fact.

Charlotte's inner turmoil, realizing she will forever be an outcast, unable to make a respectable marriage and, most importantly, hurting her beloved sisters, is heartwrenching. Dand, in his chosen role as protector, is put into an untenable position. Charlotte was asking him to go against every code a gentleman lived by. She always has intrigued him and he was certainly attracted to her, so he cannot imagine allowing another man to touch her. Dand is torn and tormented.

The development of both characters as the story progresses proves that not everyone is as they appear on the surface. Both characters are devoted to their secret professions and their cause and realize that there is no room for love in espionage. As a result, neither of them can divulge their feelings for each other and their anguish is palpable. There is tremendous sexual tension, intrigue, suspense and mystery in this book. The chemistry between the two main characters was sizzling. There is just the right amount of humor added when needed. In addition, the return of all the Rose Hunters for this final book is welcomed. And, the mystery of the identity of the traitor, which tantalized from the very first book in this excellent series, is finally revealed. I thought Connie Brockway saved her best for last with this wonderful romance.

I highly recommend this book, the final installment in the Rose Hunter series, as well as the entire series. See my reviews below on the first books in this series, MY SEDUCTION and MY PLEASURE by Connie Brockway.

Friday, May 8, 2009

MY PLEASURE by Connie Brockway

MY PLEASURE by Connie Brockway (Published by Pocket, September 28, 2004)
Three young men are driven by an oath they have taken unto themselves to pledge their service to the three surviving daughters of the man who gave his life to save theirs. As children, each of these young men had been saved from Scotland’s post Culloden destitution by monks to be honed and raised as warrior assassins. Bound together by their childhood horrors, raised as brothers, these three young men secretly assign themselves to one sister, telling the family that if ever they need assistance, the sisters should simply send a yellow rose to the Abbey at St. Bride’s in Scotland’s Highlands and they will be there as quickly as they can. Leaving behind a rare yellow rose bush with the family, they quietly leave and scatter to the four corners of the world.

Helena Nash has been living for the past four years as a paid companion to a miserable old harpy of the ton, Lady Tilpot and Lady Tilpot’s young, naïve and much spoiled niece, Lady Flora. A celebrated beauty, dignified, unassailable and gracefully reticent, Helena has had to suffer verbal indignities as the object of Lady Tilpot’s vicious tongue. Recently recruited by Flora to act as a messenger, Helena finds herself masquerading as a boy to deliver covert messages to Flora’s secret husband, who is on the run from moneylenders. Helena discovers a world and a freedom she has never known and covets. It is during such a masquerade that she encounters and recognizes one of her and her sister’s self-appointed guardians who is now London’s well-known master swordsman, Ramsey Munro.

Ramsey Munro has been living for the past four years in London as the owner of one of the premiere sword fighting salons, making his living teaching bored aristocrats his art, while at the same time, tantalizing the young ladies of the ton with his wit, charm and sinful good looks. All during this period, Ramsey has been covertly watching over Helena Nash, willing to use his body and his talents for her care. However, at some point during the years, his promise became a personal hobby, for he is fascinated with the cool, calm and quiet woman who sometimes showed flashes of passionate heat. Never forgetting his and his friends’ betrayal at the hands of an unknown which cost one of them their life, he is still hunting to uncover the identity of that traitor. It was during this pursuit, that he encounters Helena Nash masquerading as a boy and in some jeopardy from a bunch of young bucks.

MY PLEASURE, the second in Connie Brockway’s “Rose Hunter” series, is the story of Lord Nash’s second daughter, Helena, and master swordsman and trained warrior assassin, Ramsey Munro. The story is fast moving, full of mysteries, danger and is sexually charged. The repartee between the two characters is witty, intelligent and sparks with passion. Ramsey Munro embodies all those qualities that make up a hero. Helena Nash’s character proves the old adage “still waters run deep.” The scenes where Ramsey is teaching Helena to use a sword are sexy and entertaining. Ms. Brockway’s depiction of Lady Tilpot makes you thoroughly despise the old witch, and justly so. The flashback scenes of Ramsey’s young adulthood and his time in the dungeon makes you ache for what he endured. Ah, but the end . . . well, I’m not going to give away the delicious ending.

I thoroughly enjoyed MY PLEASURE, the second in Connie Brockway’s “Rose Hunter” series. (See my review of MY SEDUCTION posted here April 30th.) I highly recommend it. ;)

I will be reading the final book in the series MY SURRENDER and reviewing it soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


AT LAST COMES LOVE by Mary Balogh (Dell Publishing, April 28, 2009)
Margaret Huxtable made a promise to her father on his deathbed that she would care for her two younger sisters and brothers until they were grown and could take care of themselves. Because of her promise, she wouldn't leave her family when her childhood friend and love, Crispin Dew, asked her to marry him and "follow the drum." Meg remained faithful and waits for the day when Crispin would return home from his Majesty's service because they had an "understanding." Years later, however, she learns that Crispin has married and she is devastated. But, she must remain strong and hold the family together, so she buries her hurt and disappointment and continues on with her vow.

At the time of this story, she is 30 years old, her sisters are happily married and her brother now twenty-two years old. For the past twelve years, Meg has been selflessly putting the needs of her siblings before her own. She realizes that in a few years her brother will be turning his mind toward matrimony and she will be displaced as the lady of the manor. Meg doesn't want to become a burden to her family and decides it is time for her to think seriously about marriage before it is too late for her. She decides she will finally accept her erstwhile suitor, the Marquess of Allingham, as soon as she meets with him once again during the Season. Crispin has now returned to London, unexpectedly runs into Meg in Hyde Park and Meg pride fully and foolishly tells him that she is betrothed.

Five years ago, Duncan Pennethorne, Earl of Sheringford, left his bride at the alter and ran away with bride's married sister-in-law. Duncan is forced to return to London when his grandfather cuts off his funds and income from the family estate. The lady he ran away with has died, leaving Duncan with a son. He loves his son desperately and, for his sake, will do anything to be able to continue to support him, so he swallows his pride and confronts his grandfather, the Marquess of Claverbrook. He finagles an agreement with the Marquess that he if marries an eligible lady of good breeding in 16 days time, before the Marquess' 80th birthday, he will restore his family estate and income to him.

The scene is a ballroom. Duncan is there to find a prospective bride. Meg is there to renew her acquaintance with the Marquess of Allingham and hopefully accept his fourth proposal of marriage. Meg approaches her prospective bridegroom while he is in the process of introducing to his newly acquired fiancée to his friends. Shocked and in a panic, Meg rushes out of the ballroom and headlong into Duncan. Looking down at Meg, Duncan remarks: "What is your hurry? Why not stay and dance with me? And, then marry me and live happily ever after with me?" Startled out of her panic, Meg responds: "Does it have to be in that order?"

AT LAST COMES LOVE is undoubtedly the very best of Mary Balogh's Huxtable series to date. It is a story about trust, loneliness, honor and compassion. It is a story where you watch love develop gradually along with deep respect and admiration of character. As Duncan explains, not everything is as it seems and you discover, along with Meg, how very true that statement is. You watch two characters that have given so much of themselves and their love so easily, but have never been able to totally open themselves to accept love in return. This is a character-driven tale where those characters are brilliantly developed by Ms. Balogh. She depicts Meg as the mature woman she is – complex, a survivor of life’s hard knocks, determined not to just settle, but to work for what she wants. She spares no ink in her depiction and development of Duncan’s character either - strong, unwavering in his love for his son, willing to work at his hasty marriage in order to make it something special and, above all, compassionate and honorable. Ms. Balogh never fails to touch a chord in your heart with her moving, heartwarming stories. In AT LAST COMES LOVE she has succeeded, once again, to do just that.

I loved this book. I highly recommend it. ;)


Moonlight Warrior by Janet Chapman (Published by Pocket Star Books, April 28, 2009)
Kenzie Gregor is a Highland warrior from the 11th century who, until recently, was a panther. Why was he a panther? Because a witch cursed him, made him immortal and turned him into a panther. He arrives in current day Maine accompanied by an 1,800 year old Druidh who has lost his powers, to establish a sanctuary for animals. Not just any animals, but other souls cursed by witches and/or wizards in ancient times and who need assistance breaking their curses to return them to their previously mortal, human forms. Kenzie's mission now is a "soul warrior." His latest rescue is a 9th Century Irish nobleman, William Kilkenney, who has been turned into a dragon by a powerful witch.

Eve Anderson is recently divorced and has returned home to Maine to care for her ailing mother, Mabel, while trying to keep the both of them financially afloat. Physically, Eve resembles a pixie. On the inside, however, she is tough as nails, bitter towards men after being abandoned by her husband, and in denial about her mother's dementia-like illness. Eve's mother's farm is literally sold out from under her without her knowledge and the person who purchases it is Kenzie. After meeting Eve and her mother, Kenzie feels guilty about purchasing their home without their knowledge and offers Eve a job as his housekeeper to allow them to remain on the farm.

Kenzie is very attracted to Eve, but he knows that his job as a "soul warrior" could potentially bring tremendous danger to her and her mother. Eve thinks he is the most gorgeous male specimen she has ever seen. However, she is so wrapped up in her fear for her mother, in her bitterness towards her two-timing ex-husband and in trying to figure out how to support she and her mom, that she does everything in her power to avoid and/or ignore the gorgeous hunk of man living in the same house. A witch, a stubborn dragon and the fates conspire against them.

MOONLIGHT WARRIOR is a continuation of Janet Chapman's "Highlander" series with many favorite characters from that series making an appearance. Daar, the once powerful, but crotchedy Druidh, Grace and Greylen McKeage from CHARMING THE HIGHLANDER, Robbie McBain, who is a Guardian, from TEMPTING THE HIGHLANDER, and Winter and Matt Gregor from ONLY WITH A HIGHLANDER. The entire series is a wonderful adventure of displaced Scottish clan members from the 11th Century. Each story has twists and turns, sensual and emotional love, humor, well-developed characters and rich and complex plots. Kenzie's character, in his panther form Gesader, appeared in Winter and Matt's story, ONLY WITH A HIGHLANDER.

It was wonderful to see Kenzie have his own book. His character is strong, yet sensitive and gentle, caring and wise. He is a bit old fashioned in his ways (geez, I wonder why), but his attempts to be more modern were endearing. Eve is frightened, vulnerable and wounded. But, she has strength of character and a will of iron which keeps her moving forward. They compliment each other very well. In addition, anyone who has suffered with a family member's dementia will find it handled here in a positive, inspiring manner. William, the dragon, and Maddy, Eve's friend, were wonderful supporting characters that only added to his tale of romance and magic.

Janet Chapman has written a delightful fantasy with this series and her latest book MOONLIGHT WARRIOR continues the series brilliantly and beautifully. I highly recommend the entire series. I really enjoyed it! ;)

Friday, May 1, 2009

TILL THERE WAS YOU by Lynn Kurland

Till There Was You by Lynn Kurland (Published by The Penguin Group, April 28, 2009)
Zachary William Smith was finished with unreasonable, demanding clients. He was finished with high maintenance, titled women. He was also finished with the paranormal, time travel in particular. Zak just wanted a normal, boring, life. But that was not what fate and a few meddling, match-making ghosts has in store for him. For while he was visiting Artane, an ancient, beautifully intact castle located in Northern England, meeting with an old family friend, Zak steps innocently through a door to find himself inexplicably back in time to the year 1258. Zak doesn’t panic, however, because for the last several years he had been investigating many of the time gates located on his brother-in-law’s property in Scotland. Zak’s brother-in-law happens to be a Scottish Laird originally from the 14th Century. (A DANCE THROUGH TIME by Lynn Kurland.) He ducks into a garderobe (a medieval bathroom) to hide until he can figure out how to get out of this situation and discovers he is not alone. Hiding from an unwanted suitor in that same garderobe is the beautiful, feisty daughter of the keep, Lady Mary de Piaget. When the castle guards try to break down the door with their swords, Zak mistakenly thinks Lady Mary is a simple maid and tries to protect her. Even though he is quite skilled in modern karate and sword play, he is no match for the numbers of men and ends up in the castle dungeon.

Lady Mary is passionate about two things: training her father’s horses and avoiding marriage. In her determination to thwart a dogged, but unsavory suitor and she attempts to break Zak out of the dungeon to enlist his aid in escaping the keep and hiding until her suitor gives up his quest to marry her. That plan is upset by Lady Mary’s father, the infamous Robin of Artane (IF I HAD YOU by Lynn Kurland), England’s most notorious swordsman and one of its most powerful lords. Lord Robin wants his daughter to marry well and is determined that Geoffrey of Styrr, her latest suitor in a long line of suitors, is the least objectionable. Lady Mary has seen a side of Geoffrey that her father has not seen and fears for her very life. No amount of persuasion will convince Lord Robin that Lord Geoffrey will not make her a good husband. Hence, Lady Mary’s plan to flee.

Lord Robin is intrigued by the man who wears strange clothes, with unusual but deadly fighting skills, who speaks passable Norman French and who by his bearing is unquestionably is not a peasant. Zak knows of other time gates located not far from Artane and just wants to get back to his century. He finds himself, however, constantly seeking out the beautiful Lady Mary, despite the whispers he hears in his head warning him to leave no footprint in time. Lady Mary is desperate to avoid the betrothal to the frightening Geoffrey, and at first seeks out Zak for his help, but then discovers herself falling in love with him. You have two people from two different centuries who fall in love and discover that their love could affect countless of generations to come by upsetting the fabric of time and the future.

For those of you who haven’t read one of Lynn Kurland’s books, you are missing a wonderful experience. She writes such amazing romances about two families: one in medieval England - the de Piaget’s; and one in present day Scotland – the McLeod’s. Not all of this series are time travel stories. Some of them involve the story of a romance in their time period. The stories in the books overlap, as well as the families, and you quickly become familiar with both family trees. Each book can stand alone because Ms. Kurland does a wonderful job of explaining who is who within the fabric of each story.

But one thing is certain. You will laugh, your heart will melt, your toes will curl, you will shed a tear or two and you will come to love the two families through all her books. This is old fashioned, feel good romance written so beautifully that the pages fly and you hate to see it end. Heartwarming, sweet, poignant, magic, enchanting are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind. Ms. Kurland writes one of these books a year. It is a long year waiting to see who the story will be about, but each year it is well worth the wait.

I read this book in one day. Tomorrow, I will read it again but slowly this time while savoring each beautifully-turned phrase, each heart stopping second, each witty response and each tender moment. Give yourself a treat and start the series with Kendrick de Piaget’s story STARDUST OF YESTERDAY. You won’t be sorry.

Oh, in case I didn’t say it, I highly recommend this book. ;)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

MY SEDUCTION by Connie Brockway

My Seduction by Connie Brockway (Published by Pocket Books, 2004)
Three young men are driven by an oath they have taken unto themselves to pledge their service to the three surviving daughters of the man who gave his life to save theirs. As children, each of these young men had been saved from Scotland’s post Culloden destitution by monks to be honed and raised as warrior assassins. Bound together by their childhood horrors, raised as brothers, these three young men secretly assign themselves to one sister, telling the family that if ever they need assistance, the sisters should simply send a yellow rose to the Abbey at St. Bride’s in Scotland’s Highlands and they will be there as quickly as they can. Leaving behind a rare yellow rose bush with the family, they quietly leave and scatter to the four corners of the world.

MY SEDUCTION is the story of one of those warriors, Christian McNeill, and Lord Nash’s widowed daughter, Kate Nash Blackburn. Christian, or “Kit” as he is known, the son of a Scottish whore, a seasoned soldier who is hard, gruff and cynical and has never known softness or gentleness in his life. He is scarred in both body and soul. However, like all proud Highlanders, he is loyal and once his word is given, he will die rather than go back on it. He is also committed to discovering who betrayed him and his friends while on a secret mission in France. Kate Nash Blackburn was once one of the cosseted daughters of an English nobleman who loved dancing at balls, gossip and the latest fashions. She was married a year, when her dashing husband, a Lieutenant in his Majesty’s army, died on route to India. Six months later, the family received word that her father, who had been secretly meeting with France’s Louis XVI’s deposed government, traded his life for three Scottish spys. On the heels of this devastating news, comes word from her father’s solicitor that the annuity they had been living on had also died with their father. The once flighty Kate takes it upon herself to raise money by selling their belongings, settling unpaid bills and doing everything in her power to keep her sisters together and out of the poor house. Kate becomes the rock holding everyone and everything together.

Several years later, worn out, afraid and desperate, Kate accepts an invitation to a relative’s home in Scotland hoping to appeal to their good nature for monetary assistance. It is on the harrowing journey to Scotland, having been abandoned by her maid in a disreputable tavern and on the verge of being assaulted by ruffians that Kit McNeill steps out of the shadows and come to her assistance. He explains to a much surprised Kate that he has received her rose and will do all in his power to get her safely to her destination. And, thus begins a journey that will change both their lives.

MY SEDUCTION is the first of Connie Brockway’s Rose Hunters Trilogy. This is a wonderful book! I was totally engaged right from the first page. There are several interesting mysteries that are woven into Kate and Kit’s story. Betrayal of the foulest kind, murder, smugglers, danger and a dark secret are contained in this intricate plot. Connie Brockway’s descriptions of the Highland Moors are vivid and detailed. The romance is intense and lovely. I absolutely adored Kit’s character (what a hero!) and Kate was his perfect match.

Be warned. The great mystery is not solved in the end of this book. For it continues in MY PLEASURE, the second in Connie Brockway’s Rose Hunters trilogy. Needless to say, I highly recommend MY SEDUCTION and look forward to the continuing saga in MY PLEASURE! I have it and will be reading and reviewing it soon. ;)

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Highland Scandal by Julia London (Published by Pocket Books, April 21, 2009)
Jankin "Jack" MacLeary Haines, Earl of Lambourne is a man on the run. He is fleeing England from allegations of adultery with the Princess of Wales. As he is traveling through his native Scotland, he is abducted by a group of Highlanders and brought before Laird Carson Beal. Laird Beal quickly learns Jack’s status and about the bounty hunters that are hot on his heels. He makes Jack a proposition - handfast with his niece Elizabeth "Lizzie" Drummond Beal or be turned over to the prince's men and be hung for high treason. (Handfasting is an antiquated Scottish custom where a man and a woman vow to live as man and wife for a year and a day. At the end of that time, the couple chooses to either enter permanently into marriage or split.) Given Jack's choices, he reluctantly agrees. For her part, Lizzie has been abducted from her home by her Uncle Carson. She had been quietly living on her small impoverished estate on Beal land, in mourning for her dead father, and caring for her crippled sister. Her uncle threatens to turn her over to the constable for her mounting debts if she does not handfast with this stranger. Fearing for her sister's welfare and safety, Lizzie unwillingly goes through with the ceremony. Lizzie believes that her uncle is trying to thwart her chances of a respectable marriage with a rival clan member with whom she has an "understanding." Right from the beginning, however, Jack suspects there is more to the situation than just an ancient rivalry between clans and is determined to discover it.

HIGHLAND SCANDAL is heartwarming story about a rogue you can't help but like and a hellion you can't help but admire. Jack is charming, witty, kind and experienced in English ton society. Lizzie is tenacious, independent, and headstrong and has only known the country life in the Scottish highlands. And yet, the attraction and the sparks they ignite in each other are there from the beginning and only grow as the story progresses. Fight the attraction as they might (and, oh, they do try), they can’t help but be drawn to the other.

I thoroughly enjoyed this second book in the series of The Scandalous Novels by Julia London. When Jack and Lizzie are quite literally forced into each other’s company, the repartee is lively and entertaining. The “odious” Uncle Carson is portrayed and written well, making him a character you thoroughly despise. The secondary characters of Charlotte (Lizzie’s sister) and Newton (Charlotte’s guard/protector) only add to this delightful tale. Julia London has another winner with HIGHLAND SCANDAL. It is a fun, romantic read and I would recommend it.

I look forward to the next book in this author’s Scandalous Novel series, A COURTESAN’S SCANDAL, due out in November, 2009.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Secret Wedding by Jo Beverly

The Secret Wedding by Jo Beverly (Published by Signet, April 4, 2009)
Sixteen year old Lieutenant Christian Hill learns of another officer's plans to ruin a besotted 14-year old heiress, forcing marriage to appropriate her considerable funds. Hill's knight errand plan goes awry when during his attempted rescue of the Miss Dorcas Froggatt, he is forced to kill the blackguard. Cries of murder immediately arise as Miss Froggatt's domineering Aunt Abigail arrives on the scene. In order to save her niece's reputation, Aunt Abigail threatens Hill with the gallows unless he marries her. Knowing he will be leaving the continent in a few days to fight in the French and Indian War, and seeing no way out, he reluctantly exchanges vows with the frightened Dorcas. He leaves with his regiment shortly thereafter and completely puts this unfortunate affair out of his mind.

Ten years later . . . Christian Hill has inherited a title and is now known as Viscount Grandiston. Dorcas has dropped her first name, and is now using her middle name Caro. Both parties have been told the other is dead. Christian becomes concerned when he learns that someone is making inquiries about him and wonders if his child bride is indeed deceased. Caro wants to marry, but has no real proof her soldier husband is truly deceased. When Viscount Grandiston visits Caro's family's business, neither of them recognize the other. Caro believes he is her husband's heir who is after her inheritance. She masquerades as a married woman in order to extricate information from Viscount Grandiston. The two are involved in a series of mishaps and adventures together and inevitably fall in love. However, Caro does not want to give up her independence nor her inheritance, which her family worked many years in trade to obtain. Herein lies the conundrum.

I enjoyed the interactions of the two main characters in the beginning of the book through their adventures. There is one terrifically amusing incident involving a vicious killer "Hessian cat-rabbit." And, the Marquess of Rothgar, the ever powerful patriarch of the Malloren family, along with his feisty and independent wife, Diana, Lady Arradale, do play their parts in this story. I always enjoy a visit with Rothgar and Diana. However, there were several factors in this book that overwhelmed my entire enjoyment of the story.

Try as I might, I could not like Caro. I could understand her fear of someone trying to take her family's inheritance from her, especially in England's Georgian period, but she takes it to the extreme and I could not find any sympathy for this selfish, greedy woman. Christian is constantly getting her out of serious scrapes, and she is anything but grateful. She convinces herself that she will be able to work things out and marry Christian, who she still believes to be her husband's heir. But, as soon as she learns the truth about him, she completely changes her mind. While, all along, it is she who has been making up one lie after another. She claims to love the man, but turns around and cries rape in front of witnesses when caught with him and cornered. In addition, her lady's companion is in the act of poisoning Christian to murder him and is thwarted at the last second. Caro is upset about this, but does nothing to make certain that his fanatical would-be murderer is confined so as not to harm another. The end just sort of fizzled out for me with a capitulation on Caro's part.

I love Jo Beverly's books and enjoy her writing immensely. Her books are always historically well researched and witty. This was one book, however, that I will be donating to my local library.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sins Of A Wicked Duke by Sophie Jordan

SINS OF A WICKED DUKE by Sophia Jordan (Published by Avon Books, 2009)
Fallon O’Rourke has been sacked from one maid position after another, her pride and stubbornness, as well has her fight to keep her virtue intact, being the main reasons for her dismissals. While fleeing yet another employer’s unsavory advances, Fallon encounters a gentleman who tries to come to her aid. She shortly learns that this "gentleman" is known in the ton as the "Demon Duke." Dominic Hale, a consummate libertine, is a man who truly believes he has a heart of stone, his spirit having been broken as a child. He is constantly seeking distractions, trying to feel anything to break through the numbness of his heart, before a life of depravity became second nature to him.

Desperate to keep a position long enough to earn enough money for her dream of a small home of her own and tired of fighting off the advances of her employers, Fallon decides to impersonate a man and apply for a position of a footman. It is with great reluctance and no small amount of trepidation that she applies for just such a position at the palatial home of Dominic Hale, Duke of Damon.

As the story evolves, you discover two lonely, tortured souls, their hearts tragically wounded young in life and desperately seeking some form of relief from their haunted pasts. The characters are complex and very well developed. The interactions between Fallon and the Dominic sizzled with heat. Learning about the tragedies that formed them into the people they had become, their individual, skewed perceptions of the world and how those flawed perceptions affected their lives made for an intriguing and very interesting story. I liked Fallon, despite her stubborn nature, because she was a survivor and cleverly used her wits and courage to survive. And, I couldn’t help liking Dominic, as I watched him change and struggle as his feelings for Fallon grew. Also, despite his trying to live up to his depraved reputation, Dominic had a definite code of honor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

This is my first book by this author. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book written by Sophie Jordan again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tempted At Midnight - Jacquie D'Alessandro

TEMPTED AT MIDNIGHT by Jacquie D'Alessandro (Published by Berkley Sensations, April 2009)
Lady Emily Stapleford has a problem. Due to her father's unwise investments, her family is on the brink of financial disaster. Lady Emily had hopes of following in the footsteps of her closest friends and fellow members of The Ladies Literary Society by listening to her heart and marrying for love, not the cold, business-like match that members of the ton usually contract.

In order to be able to accomplish this, Lady Emily devises an improbable plan to help her recoup her family's fortune. Inspired by The Ladies Literary Society's latest reading selection, Lady Emily decides to plant a seed in the minds of the ton that a female vampire is running amok. Then, she will be able to sell her manuscript about a lady vampire and, once again, her family will be financially solvent. Vampire, you ask? Yes, for these Mayfair misses don't regularly meet to discuss Shakespeare, as any well-bred, proper young lady of the ton would, but devour and discuss salacious books such as “The Ghost of Devonshire Manor,” "Memoirs of a Mistress" and "The Gentleman's Vampire Lover."

Complicating everything is Logan Jennsen, a mysterious and secretive American who is rumored to be the wealthiest man in England. Lady Emily believes Logan to be uncivilized and uncouth, while Logan believes Lady Emily to be an uppity, hothouse society diamond. Yet, neither of them can stop their fascination with the other and each encounter they have sizzles with heat. Logan has his own problems as a vicious stalker threatens his business, everyone he holds dear and possibly uncovering of his own secret past. The brash, bold “colonial” unwittingly becomes embroiled in Lady Emily's "vampire" scheme and the two find themselves in a life and death struggle.

TEMPTED AT MIDNIGHT is the fourth and final story in Jacquie D’Alessandro’s Mayhem in Mayfair series of four books. Emily and Logan's story beautifully concludes a sensational series. In each book, Ms. D’Alessandro delivers everything you could wish for in a romance novel: wonderful characters which are skillfully crafted, witty dialogue, warmth and charm, honest emotion, mystery and heat. The characters quickly become familiar friends that you enjoy catching up with in each book of the series. I found myself laughing out loud at many of the circumstances and clever dialogue. The heroines of the books, the Ladies Literary Society, are portrayed as intelligent, warm women, not without their flaws and idiosyncrasies, who genuinely care for each other, support each other and who share their thoughts, hopes and dreams with each other. The heroes, also, are far from your run of the mill, upper echelon, ideal members of the ton.

When I finished SEDUCED AT MIDNIGHT I commented on this board that I found myself sitting there with a silly smile on my face and saying "aaaahhh, what a great book." It seems that, once again, Ms. D’Alessandro’s final book of the Mayhem in Mayfair series has produced that same reaction. Immediately upon finishing TEMPTED AT MIDNIGHT, I found myself with that same silly smile on my face. Aaaahhh, what a great series!
I loved these books and highly recommend them. They are "shelf keepers" one and all.

The entire series of Jacquie D’Alessandro’s Mayhem in Mayfair series in reading order is: SLEEPLESS AT MIDNIGHT (Sarah and Matthew’s story), CONFESSIONS AT MIDNIGHT (Carolyn and Daniel’s story), SEDUCED AT MIDNIGHT (Julianne and Gideon’s story) and TEMPTED AT MIDNIGHT (Emily and Logan’s story).

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory (Published in 2004 by Simon & Schuster) Set in the early, unpredictable years of Elizabeth I’s reign, The Virgin’s Lover is full of court intrigue, plots, schemes and power plays. The story follows three main characters: Queen Elizabeth I, William Cecil, her canny and shrewd Secretary of State, and Lord Robert Dudley, her childhood playmate and aspiring lover. William Cecil despairs of a woman’s ability and capability to rule England and subtly endeavors to guide Elizabeth in her role as queen. Lord Robert Dudley is married, his family in disgrace from his grandfather’s and father’s acts of treason, and trying to rise out of the depths to restore his families’ former glory and power in England’s court. As Lord Robert’s star steadily rises, he and Cecil are at constant war and in a struggle for power to win Elizabeth’s affection and the control of England. In the background, but never far from the minds of everyone, is Lord Robert’s innocent wife, Amy Dudley, who has ever been constant in her love and loyalty to Lord Robert, despite his sometimes cruel behavior towards her and his certain abandonment of her. The entire story leads to an unsolved crime of passion which has fascinated historians for centuries.

Philippa Gregory’s descriptions of life in the Elizabethan court are detailed and historically accurate. The constant plotting, scheming and ever present intrigue by the main characters are mind boggling, but sadly true. I found the book to be a slow start because of all the background history on the characters involved, but it definitely picked up speed as the story developed and moved along. You find yourself as frustrated as Cecil is as he tries to counsel a strong-minded, stubborn, vein, unhappy woman who is in the throes of her first love, while watching his country come to the brink of a war with France which it would very probably lose. You will also find yourself shocked by the lengths Lord Robert will go in order to regain his family’s former glory and power. But, you will also learn how deeply he was affected by the loss of his family’s former wealth, title and estates and understand his motivation. And, all the while, you will feel total sympathy for Amy, Lord Robert’s lonely, lovely wife who, through no fault of her own, is shamed because of her husband’s not so secret affair with the Queen of England.

If you are interested in life at court in Elizabethan England, no one writes it better or more accurately than Philippa Gregory. Two other recognizable titles of Ms. Gregory’s are “The Other Boleyn Girl” (2008) and “The Other Queen” (2008). Both excellent reads.