‘The Reluctant Highlander’ by Amanda Scott

trh asSTORY: Ordinarily, Lady Fiona Ormiston wouldn’t think of forming an alliance with an ungroomed, barbaric Highlander, despite the protection he offers. But now, by request of the king, Sir Adham MacFinlagh, a brazen stranger and outsider unlike anyone she has met before, is to be her husband. Torn from solitude and the comfort of her family to make a home with the rugged knight, Fiona surrenders to Adham’s powerfully passionate—and shockingly tender—touch, only to discover her new husband’s family ties may lie with an enemy of the king.

A sense of duty may have brought Adham to the marriage bed, but it’s his powerful feelings for his beautiful, willful wife that will be his undoing. Ultimately, the bold knight will have to decide: Does his allegiance lie with his blood ties to the man who hopes to bring down the king or with the bride who has stolen his heart?

REVIEW: I said it before and I’ll say it again. Amanda Scott is welcome to pull me out of my regency world anytime she damn well pleases. With her meticulous research and wonderful prose, she brings Highland’s history and politics to life and immerses me into her tales of intrigue and romance with an ease.

There’s a lot to like about this story, aside of being well written and researched. I found the story sweet and heartwarming. The couple was engaging and their story compelling. Fiona was sweet as much as she was strong and adventurous. She was a perfect match for Adham, an Alpha male warrior with shades of Beta hero tendencies.

What I found fascinating was the political plot to this story. I loved the history and intrigue of the setting and if you’re into that sort of thing, I think you’ll gobble it up.

I really liked this story and highly recommend it for its history and suspense as much as for action and romance.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

‘The Day of the Duchess’ by Sarah MacLean

tdotd smlSTORY: The one woman he will never forget…
Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…
After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…
The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day The Day of the Duchess.

REVIEW: This is the third book in Scandal & Scoundrel series and this one definitely lives up to the series’ name. If you haven’t read the previous two, I’d recommend you read at least the first one, The Rogue Not Taken, because in it we meet Seraphina and her no good, cheating husband.

I know that I’m not alone in this when I say that redeeming a character such as the hero in this story wasn’t going to be easy. As a matter a fact, if I was an author, I’d probably kill him off and give Sera a man worthy of her. I mean, why put yourself through all the angst Ms. MacLean?! Why be in the head of this man?!

Don’t answer that question. It’s a rhetorical one and after I finished this book, you’ve answered it in full. What you did is show me why I am a reader and you the author. You’ve created a character so complex and flawed that his humanity just jumped off the pages. By the end of the book, you left me no choice but to accept him for what he was and is. Through your prose, I felt this man’s remorse and forgave him his transgressions.

The emotional baggage these two came with in this story was heartbreaking and the reason their relationships survived is testament to what real love is. It’s not black or white, it’s messy and painful at times, but it is worth fighting for it.

One of the best second chance at love tropes I’ve read and I highly recommend it.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

‘Seducing Susannah: The Bride Train’ by E.E. Burke

ss eebSTORY: When all else fails, try seduction.

Ross Hardt needs to marry a proper lady in order to reclaim his inheritance. Among the few prospects in town is a smart, sassy widow who has tantalized him from the day they met–the same day she slapped his face.

Susannah Braddock journeys west on The Bride Train in search of a good father for her young son, but on the lawless frontier few candidates meet her requirements–least of all the arrogant, demanding, unfeeling railroad agent.

Can Ross convince Susannah to see him as more than the man she loves to hate?

REVIEW: This is the fifth book in The Bride Train series in which seven women who answer a railroad advertisement that’s looking for single young ladies willing to be married off to the settlers on the Western frontier. What awaits them there is an adventure none of them even dreamed about.

We met both leads of this book in the first telling of this series and Ross and Susannah didn’t hit it off from the start. They just kept butting heads from book one. That’s why I eagerly awaited their story and Ms. Burke didn’t disappoint.

I always thought that Susannah’s pluck was something that attracted Ross and I was right. No matter how many times they came to blows, I think he admired her for being strong, straight spoken and a good mother to her son.

I loved the plot of this story and it really kept me on my toes. There was a lot of secrets on both their parts and it took trust into one another to bring about love.

I must say that this was such a great, heartwarming story that made me laugh and tear up. All the characters were well rounded and their stories were rooted in reality, which made them come to life.

If you’ve never read this series and are skeptical of it, I’d suggest you take a look at the prequel of it, A Bride’s Journey,  which was such an intriguing and informative little intro, especially the character introduction of our brides and their backgrounds.

If you’re in a mood for a clean, intriguing and heartwarming western romance, you need to pick this one up. You’ll love it!

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the author for an honest review

‘While the Duke Was Sleeping’ by Sophie Jordan

wtdws sjSTORY: Sometimes the man of your dreams . . .

Shop girl Poppy Fairchurch knows it’s pointless fantasizing about the Duke of Autenberry. Still, dreams can’t hurt anyone . . . unlike the carriage Poppy spies bearing down upon the unsuspecting duke. After she pulls him to safety, the duke lapses into a coma and Poppy is mistaken for his fiancée. But one person isn’t fooled: his arrogant and much too handsome half-brother, Struan Mackenzie. Soon Poppy isn’t sure what she wants more . . . the fantasy of her duke or the reality of one smoldering Scot who challenges her at every turn.

. . . is not who you think.

An illegitimate second son, Struan may have built an empire and established himself as one of the wealthiest men in Britain, but he knows he will always be an outsider among the ton. Just like he knows the infuriating Poppy is a liar. There’s no way the haughty Duke of Autenberry would deign to wed a working class girl. It doesn’t matter how charming she is. Or tempting. Or how much Struan wants her for himself.

REVIEW: Sophie Jordan starts a new series, The Rogue Files, with this story of retelling of the movie While You Were Sleeping. If you haven’t seen the movieI highly recommend you do. Sandra Bullock is at her best in the role of the heroine of that story.

I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of “retold” stories. That said, there are some that are well told and work well, and than there are some that should have never been “retold” until the characters and plot were well developed. This story falls somewhere in between.

Since this is a regency interpretation of the contemporary story, in order for me to get at least some enjoyment, I really had to suspend my imagination throughout the story.

I was really glad the author decided to give Struan Mackenzie, a secondary character in Ms. Jordan’s All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue, his own happily ever after. I liked him a lot and thought he deserved a good woman, except I never thought he’d fall for someone like Poppy. I just didn’t like her much. She was one of those women that never really “got it”. For her to live in this “dream” of affection for someone she hardly knew, it just fell flat for me. I didn’t feel it, and wondered how could she be so infatuated with this man.

In the end, if you’re a fan of this author, as I am, you’ll probably get this story, but if you’ve never read her before, I’d say skip this one and try her earlier titles.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

‘An Affair with a Notorious Heiress’ by Lorraine Heath

aawanh lhSTORY: The son of a duke and an infamous mother, Alistair Mabry, Marquess of Rexton, fought his way to respectability. Now, the most eligible bachelor in London, marriage-shy Rexton will take only a wife with an impeccable reputation, good breeding, and a penchant for staying out of the gossip sheets. But when he strikes a deal to be seen “courting” a sweet young debutante whose notorious older sister has blemished her chances for marriage, Rexton is unexpectedly drawn to the highly inappropriate, calamitous Tillie, Lady Landsdowne herself.

After a scandalous incident that sent shockwaves throughout society and disgraced her, Tillie refuses to cower in the face of the ton. Instead, she will hold her head high as she serves as chaperone for her younger sister, but Tillie is convinced Rexton’s courtship is shrouded with secrets—ones she vows to uncover. However, doing so requires getting dangerously close to the devilishly handsome and forbidden marquess…

REVIEW: This is book four in Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series but can be read as standalone. This latest series might be familiar to her fans because the heroes in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James first appeared in the Scoundrels of St. James series. Please note that you can enjoy the Scandalous Gents without having read their parents’ stories, yet once you read Gents, I have no doubt you’ll be tracking the Scoundrels and enjoy them as much, if not more so.

As the story opens, our hero, Rexton may not be all we’re used to in Alpha males, but as the plot develops so does his character, and by the book’s end, I guarantee you’ll fall in love with him almost as much as our heroine did.

Tillie and Rex’s story has everything you want in a romance, and then some. Their chemistry from the moment they meet is scorching and their dialogue was so much fun to read.

I am a huge fan of Lorraine Heath and I’ve read almost all of her books. Her books are on my Keeper shelf because regardless of the genre she writes about, be it a western, regency or Victorian, she manages to suck me in.

Even though the romance is slow building, I found the pace to be fast and all the characters well developed.

High marks and highly recommended!

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

‘Lord Dashwood Missed Out’ by Tessa Dare

ldmo td A snowstorm hath no fury like a spinster scorned!

Miss Elinora Browning grew up yearning for the handsome, intelligent lord-next-door…but he left England without a word of farewell. One night, inspired by a bit too much sherry, Nora poured out her heartbreak on paper. Lord Dashwood Missed Out was a love letter to every young lady who’d been overlooked by gentlemen—and an instant bestseller. Now she’s on her way to speak in Spindle Cove when snowy weather delays her coach. She’s forced to wait out the storm with the worst possible companion: Lord Dashwood himself.

And he finally seems to have noticed her.

George Travers, Lord Dashwood, has traveled the globe as a cartographer. He returned to England with the goal of marrying and creating an heir–only to find his reputation shredded by an audacious, vexingly attractive bluestocking and her poison pen. Lord Dashwood Missed Out, his arse. Since Nora Browning seems to believe he overlooked the passion of a lifetime, Dash challenges her to prove it.

She has one night.

REVIEW: This novella comes between books four and five in Spindle Cove series and if you haven’t read the stories in the previous books, you just might be a bit lost, so I do recommend you read them first before getting to this one.

The series is set in Spindle Cove which is home to many women who’ve made this place their refuge from society. They made it their home and are trying to discover ways and means of getting on and accepting themselves for who they are and each one will learn to stand for what she believes in. They are a ‘motley crue’ of women, with one thing in common: freedom from men.

This is Nora’s story and out of all the books in this series, this one is my least favorite. I just had a hard time with the plot as well as with the characters. They just didn’t click in my mind and when that happens, I just can’t enjoy the road to happily ever after.

However, I had a lot of fun reading and catching up with the characters from the previous books, so in the end I do recommend this story to all of you that have invested in this series.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

‘The Mistress Enchants Her Marquis’ by Christina McKnight

tmehm-cmkSTORY: Courtship was never so scandalous…

The grandson of an unconventional marquis and son of a notorious woman, Elijah Watson, Marquis of Ridgefeld, has spent most of his life outside of London. His atypical upbringing has left him longing for roots and a traditional family life, and he’s determined to live his life above reproach. When he meets Miss Samantha Pengarden, he believes he’s found the woman he wants to marry—except she has other far more sensual ideas for him.

Known throughout the ton as the illegitimate rebellious daughter of London’s disreputable Craven House Madame, Samantha has never had to face the world without her shy twin by her side—until now. Her sister’s marriage and the return of her blackguard father leaves her alone and adrift. When Elijah agrees to escort her to the town’s most infamous establishments, she thinks she’s finally found a man with a taste for scandal and a knowledge of matters of the flesh.

But she never counted on Elijah being so honorable. When Samantha is listed as the mistress of the Marquis of Ridgefeld in White’s betting book, her reputation is in ruins—and only Elijah can save her. Can two total opposites come together for a love certain to last a lifetime?

REVIEW: this is a second book in Craven House series, but it certainly can be read as a stand alone. As I’ve never read the first one The Thief Steals Her Earl, I still could follow this tale.

I liked the hero, Elijah Watson, Marquis of Ridgefeld, and thought the background that the author gave him very interesting and because of it, his character was complex and interesting, so understanding him and his wish for a more staid and stable future was easy to believe.

Miss Samantha Pengarden on the other hand, drove me to distraction! I liked her, but there was a lot of drama in her life that I had a hard time keeping up with her. Regardless of it, I enjoyed the build-up of their relationship and was happy to see their friendship flourish into happily ever after.

This was a well written, entertaining and easy to read story that is perfect for pool side or a rainy day.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review