‘An Affair Before Christmas’ by Eloisa James

aabc-ejSTORY: Magic under the mistletoe…

One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever. The devilishly attractive Duke of Fletcher was the perfect match for the innocent, breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen. Four years later, Poppy and the duke have become the toast of the ton… but behind closed doors the spark of their love affair has burned out.

Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling bride’s delectable affections…and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.

REVIEW: This is book two in the DD’s series, but I’ve read them out of order (do NOT do that!), and the only reason I finished reading this story was Villiers. I was so glad that at least one third of the story involved him and the consequences he suffered because of the duel he fought. The relationship he cultivated  with Charlotte the spinster, was vastly entertaining and I had so much fun following that story.

As for the main plot, characters and substance of the story? It left me wanting and I found it lacking in all the areas that makes romance, a romance.

I barely liked this couple. The heroine wasn’t just naïve, she was downright ridiculous. I had somewhat better opinion of the hero, but even he couldn’t salvage this story. 

My advice to you is to read Villiers parts, and skip the rest.

Melanie for b2b

‘Highland Spitfire’ by Mary Wine

spitfireSTORY: Passion flares between enemies
Two hotheaded Highlanders, the offspring of feuding lairds, are tricked by the King’s Regent into a desperate choice: marry or die. Bhaic MacPherson is more disposed to lead his clan into battle than stay married to the daughter of his enemy. But perhaps the intensity of his feelings has more to do with desire than hostility.

And the Highlands ignite
Ailis Robertson wanted a husband, not a savage-but when her family was faced with a deadly ultimatum, she had no choice. The union of a MacPherson and a Robertson could end three generations of hostilities between the two families, but can bitter rivals truly become lovers?

REVIEW: Forced marriage trope is one of my favorite tropes and when well done, it can be actually a lot of fun. Just think, two people from feuding clans are forced to marry and both are very weary of not just each other but of everyone around them.

I’m sorry, but I had a lot of trouble connecting to the two main leads. I was hoping for at least a bit of chemistry, but … no. I felt that they were just … there. Their animosity took too long to be resolved and that bothered me.

The only thing I did like is the way the author took her time in writing about the clans and the life they lead. She obviously did her research and I enjoyed that aspect of the story very much.

I have to be honest and say, just skip it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Royally Ever After’ by Loretta Chase

rea-lcSTORY: In Lord Lovedon’s Duel, Chloe Sharp is prepared to protect her family’s name, even to the death. When she hears the handsome Earl of Lovedon say her sister’s royal marriage is a match made in money, she challenges him to a duel—for love and honor.

When the Marquess of Rothwick learns his fiancée, Barbara Findley, has broken off their engagement in The Jilting of Lord Rothwick, he rides out of London immediately to seek her out… and to win her back.

*Now published together for the first time: Loretta Chase’s beloved novellas Lord Lovedon’s Duel from the Royal Bridesmaids anthology and The Jilting of Lord Rothwick from the Royal Weddings anthology…

REVIEW: In this book we have two novella’s previously published in two different anthologies and if you’ve never read Loretta Chase (OMG! Where have you been for the last two decades?! LOL! Just teasing!), I think you should definitely go for this book.

Both stories are well written and although predictable at times, I found them entertaining.

In Lord Lovedon’s Duel I loved the characters and their witty repartee. In The Jilting of Lord Rothwick I wasn’t so fond of the hero, but in the end I did find the romance cute and sweet.

I’m not sure what your take on anthologies is, but I like them. If they’re well put together they can be good and they are an awesome tool to introduce one to an author you’ve never read. There are times that no matter the great writing, if the plot is not feasible or the characters are weak, you’ll find yourself abandoning the read. In this case, I enjoyed these two short stories and hope you will to.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Her Highland Fling’ by Jennifer McQuiston

hhf-smqSTORY: Let the Games Begin …

William MacKenzie has always been protective of his Scottish village. When Moraig’s economy falters, he has the perfect solution to lure wealthy Londoners to this tiny hamlet: resurrect the ancient Highland Games! But for this to work, William knows he needs a reporter to showcase the town in just the right light.

A female journalist might be a tolerated oddity in Brighton, but newly minted reporter Penelope Tolbertson is discovering that finding respect in London is a far more difficult prospect. After receiving an invitation to cover Moraig’s Highland Games, Penelope is determined to prove to her London editors just how valuable she can be.

Penelope instantly captures William’s heart, but she is none too impressed with the gruff, broody Highlander; however, as she begins to understand his plans, Penelope discovers she may want more from him than just a story. She’s only got a few days … but maybe a few days are all they need.

REVIEW: This short (only 208 pages) novella has probably been written for us fans that have hoped that a wonderful secondary characters, Pen, a sister to the heroine of Summer Is For Lovers and William, a brother to the hero of What Happens In Scotland, from the earlier two books, would be given a chance to get their own HEA.

From page one I was taken on a wild ride with these two characters. The story moved fast and furious, the plot was entertaining, and the story was warm while the dialogue offered wit and humor.

You don’t have to read the other two books in order to enjoy this story, but I would really recommend you do because you’ll get the dynamic of these characters as well as their environment and background.

If you’d like to be entertained and at times laugh out loud, this is a story that will make you do that from start to finish.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane’ by Elizabeth Boyle

tvwldtl-ebSTORY: She has no desire for love…

As she arrives in Mayfair, Louisa Tempest is horrified when her incorrigible cat bolts from the carriage and dashes into a neighbor’s house, where she comes face-to-face with the reclusive Viscount Wakefield. But even more dismaying than his foul temper is the disarray in which she finds his home. Convinced his demeanor would improve if his household were in order, Louisa resolves to put everything to rights.

…until she meets the viscount who lives down the lane.

Much to his chagrin, Wakefield finds it impossible to keep the meddling Louisa out of his home, invading his daily life with her “improvements,” and his nights with the tempting desires she sparks inside him. Wounded in the war, he’s scorned society ever since his return . . . until Louisa opens the door to his heart and convinces him to give love a second chance.

REVIEW: This is the fifth story in this series that I’ve read, and truly the most fun book I’ve read in a very long time. I chuckled, giggled and down right laughed out loud at some of the antics of this heroine.

Both characters are extremely likable and fun to be around. They made for an entertaining and very passionate creatures. To watch them manipulating each other and work around the situations they find themselves in, was very gratifying. It was like watching a train wreck and not being able to avert your eyes!

By the time they reach their happily ever after and we see how much each has changed because of the other, we have a story that is sweet, sensual and funny to no end.

If you need a lighthearted bit of romance, you must read this. Oh, and let me not forget the cat, Hannibal, who’s a  character all his own 😉

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘This Duchess of Mine’ by Eloisa James

tdom-ejSTORY: No man can resist Jemma’s sensuous allure . . . Except her own husband!

Wedding bells celebrating the arranged marriage between the lovely Duchess of Beaumont and her staid, imperturbable duke had scarcely fallen silent when a shocking discovery sent Jemma running from the ducal mansion. For the next nine years she cavorted abroad, creating one delicious scandal after another (if one is to believe the rumors).

Elijah, Duke of Beaumont, did believe those rumors.

But the handsome duke needs an heir, so he summons his seductive wife home. Jemma laughs at Elijah’s cool eyes and icy heart—but to her secret shock, she doesn’t share his feelings. In fact, she wants the impossible: her husband’s heart at her feet.

But what manner of seduction will make a man fall desperately in love . . . with his own wife?

REVIEW: Let me start this review with telling you not to do what I did. Don’t read this series out-of-order. I started with the book one, Desperate Duchesses (Desperate Duchesses, #1) , then I skipped to Duchess By Night (Desperate Duchesses, #3) , followed by A Duke of Her Own (Desperate Duchesses, #6)  and finally this one, This Duchess of Mine (Desperate Duchesses, #5) . I still have to read An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses #2) and When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses #4). Which I’ll probably do next week.

It’s very important that this particular series be read in order, especially because of this couple. We’ve met the hero and heroine in book one and all through the series they come in and out so that by the time we get their own story, we already have preconceived notions of who they are and what their personalities are like.

We already know that their marriage was prearranged when they were very young and that they really didn’t know each other much when the marriage took place. Jemma, our heroine, began to fall in love with her husband, that is until one faithful afternoon she drops by his office in Parliament, and finds him having sex with another woman. And that was that for these two.

Jemma decides to bail and high tails it to France, proceeding to flaunt her many affairs, just to embarrass her husband. For NINE years she’s been living in France and evading the responsibility she, as well as Elijah, had toward the title, producing an heir. The only reason she comes back to England is to produce an heir because apparently Elijah may not have much time to live. The man has some heart defect.

Right there was my first problem with these two. Infidelity in romance, at least for me, is off-putting and it needs to have a significant plot in order for me to change my mind about it, like there really wasn’t any real “cheating”, or the heroine was still a virgin, while the hero is assuming otherwise. Stuff like that will redeem the story for me.  No such luck in this story.

My second problem was the start of this book. I truly couldn’t recognize the two as the people I’ve met in the first four books. Slowly, I finally begun to recognize them and it took me a long time to at least understand them, but I never bought into the love they finally professed to each other.

What I loved about this book is the secondary plot of the Duke of Villars’s character development and his search for his illegitimate children. I recommend this book on this alone.

Melanie for b2b

‘A Duke of Her Own’ by Eloisa James

adoho-ejSTORY: A Duke Must Choose Wisely…

Leopold Dautry, the notorious Duke of Villiers, must wed quickly and nobly—and his choices, alas, are few. The Duke of Montague’s daughter, Eleanor, is exquisitely beautiful and fiercely intelligent. Villiers betroths himself to her without further ado.

After all, no other woman really qualifies. Lisette, the outspoken daughter of the Duke of Gilner, cares nothing for clothing or decorum. She’s engaged to another man, and doesn’t give a fig for status or title. Half the ton believes Lisette mad—and Villiers is inclined to agree.

Torn between logic and passion, between intelligence and imagination, Villiers finds himself drawn to the very edge of impropriety. But it is not until he’s in a duel to the death, fighting for the reputation of the woman he loves, that Villiers finally realizes that the greatest risk may not be in the dueling field…

But in the bedroom. And the heart.

REVIEW: I should have known that the best story in this series would come at the end of it. This story has everything I love in romance, from an awesome hero to a wonderful heroine, a host of great characters, plenty of humor and a romance filled with sensuality to curl your toes. But what made this story so god to me, were two things, Villiers’s six children and a dialogue between every character that is written to perfection.

If you love solid, well written and fast paced stories that will engage all your senses, than look no further, but I warn you. In order for you to get the scope of the character of our duke, you’ll have to start from book one and follow through to the end, as the duke is one of the most common denominators throughout the series. I found the series well written and some of the stories I liked more than the others, but one character stands out more than any other and that’s Villiers.

There was a little grievance I had almost at the end, but that in no way has diminished the joy I had in reading it.

My advice to you is not to read this series out-of-order. I started with the book one, Desperate Duchesses (Desperate Duchesses, #1) , then I skipped to Duchess By Night (Desperate Duchesses, #3) ,  followed by this one, A Duke of Her Own (Desperate Duchesses, #6)  and finishing the series with, This Duchess of Mine (Desperate Duchesses, #5) . I still have to read An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses #2) and When the Duke Returns (Desperate Duchesses #4). Which I’ll probably do next week. If you have the time and money, this series is worth it.

The full series reading order is as follows:

Book 1: Desperate Duchesses
Book 2: An Affair Before Christmas
Book 3: Duchess By Night
Book 4: When the Duke Returns
Book 5: This Duchess of Mine
Book 6: A Duke of Her Own

Melanie for b2b