‘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

‘Someone to Love’ by Mary Balogh

stl-mbSTORY: Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had…

Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

REVIEW: The Earl of Riverdale has died without a will. His son, Harry Westcott, has not quite reached his majority which necessitates that Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, become his guardian until he reaches age 21. Harry is a handsome young man and now he will be extremely wealthy. He appears to understand his responsibilities and is prepared to follow through with them.

It is soon discovered that the late Earl had an illegitimate daughter who he has always supported. The Earl’s widow feels that the girl should be contacted and told her father has passed away and be given a final settlement. The woman is doing this not because she cares for the girl but because she does not want her children to know about their father’s by-blow.

Anna Snow has lived at an orphanage since she was 4-years-old. She is now 25. She is still at the orphanage were she works as a housemother, helps the matron, Miss Ford, and also teaches. While she has had a few proposals, Anna has turned them down. After her mother died, she went to live with her grandparents for a few years before he father came and took her away.

When Anna receives a letter asking her to go to London to meet with a solicitor, she is quite nervous. It turns out that her mother was still married to the late Earl when she died which makes her his heir and his other children are illegitimate. She is now a very rich woman.

As the news settles in, she is not surprised at the reaction from her brother and sisters to her. She is so happy to find that she has siblings and she wants them to stay in the home with her. However, their pride will not allow it and they refuse.

One of her new-found aunts is determined to help get her properly attired and to teach her to interact with the ton.

Avery is a small man and very handsome. He dresses impeccably and his mannerisms are cool and very proper. As a Duke, he is quite sought after by the young ladies but has not found the woman he cares to marry.

As Anna and Avery get to know one another, he is taken with her genuineness and lack of guile. When Anna learns that he father had lied to her grandparents and they thought she had died, she is sad. However, to find that they are still alive makes her so happy. Se wants to see them. By then, Anna and Avery have decided to marry and travel together to visit her grandparents.

There is so much more to this story. We find what a good soul Anna is and Avery is a lot deeper than anyone knows. His own secrets that he finally shares with Anna end up making them the perfect couple.

This is another perfectly written novel by Mary Balogh. She is an author who will go down in history for her incredible writing. I highly recommend this book. It is the first novel of a series and I look forward to the next book.

Connie for b2b

‘An Uncommon Courtship’ by Kristi Ann Hunter

auc-kahSTORY: Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. Even with the pressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He’s free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn’t know, his dream of a marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

REVIEW: Hertfordshire England

Lord Trent Hawthorne, age 24, had a great father, the late John, Duke of Riverton, and older brother, Griffith, the current Duke of Riverton, to guide him as he grew up. Now, he has just married Lady Adelaide Crampton, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Crampton.

The Hawthorne and Crampton families have adjoining lands and the children all knew one another as they grew up but aren’t necessarily close. Adelaide has always been adventurous and asks to gather mushrooms one afternoon in some ruins on the Hawthorne’s property. When the floor gives way trapping her, Trent comes along and finds her. As he tries to rescue her, they both become trapped overnight. Even though nothing happened, she is considered to be compromised and they have to marry. After their wedding, they head to Trent’s London home. Since they really don’t know one another very well, they are both very shy.

Lady Crampton and her older daughter, Helena, are both shrews. Adelaide was always ignored by her mother and sister as their goal was to make the best marriage possible for Helena. Adelaide has never been very graceful and neither has she been given the instruction on learning to act ladylike. Therefore, her clothes get messed up easily and her deportment isn’t graceful. In addition, while Helena had a season in London, Adelaide was never given that opportunity. Now, Lady Crampton’s plan is to use Adelaide and Trent’s connections to get Helena out into society.

Adelaide soon finds Trent’s home to be an unconventional one. The servants are more like friends and two of them are a married couple.

As Adelaide and Trent are essentially strangers, both are painfully shy about their relationship which can’t seem to get started. Therefore, Trent’s brother, Griffith, suggests that Trent court Adelaide ad give themselves a chance to fall in love. Theirs is a good plan until their families get involved.

The plot of this story is good. However, it seems to be dragged out and the extreme shyness of the hero and heroine quickly became too far-fetched for me to believe. But, I know there are readers who will enjoy it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘When a Marquess Loves a Woman’ by Vivienne Lorret

wamlaw-vlSTORY: As a young, penniless gentleman, Maxwell Harwick knew he had little to offer Juliet White—the most beautiful debutante of the season—except his love, and one thoroughly scandalous kiss. But when they were discovered in a compromising position, a nearly ruined Juliet fled into the arms of a rich, older lord… taking Max’s heart with her.

Now a widow, Lady Juliet Granworth intends to use the fortune she inherited from her odious husband to build a new life in London. Five years have passed, but she’s never forgotten Max… or his soul-searing kiss. Yet it’s clear the newly-minted Marquess of Thayne has not forgiven her—after all, the infuriating man can barely stand the sight of her. But Juliet has endured far too much to give up without a fight and if it’s a battle of wills he wants, it’s a battle he’ll get.

He hates her for breaking his heart. She detests him for destroying her future. But beneath all the loathing simmers an intoxicating passion that neither can ignore… and the harder they resist, the harder they will inevitably fall.

REVIEW: This is book three of the Season’s Original series and we finally get to Max and Juliet’s happily ever after.

Even though each of these stories in the series can be read as a stand alone, I think I had much better grasp and understanding of all the characters as I read it in order.

I’m a sucker for a second chance romance tropes and this one was well told and I thought the characters were fun and entertaining. The chemistry between the leads was spot on.

I hope you read it. I know you’ll love it if you do!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Never and Always’ by Maureen Driscoll

naa-mdSTORY: Return to the world of the Kellington and Emerson families in this Regency romance collection of three novellas.

Leticia Emerson, Violet Kellington and Anna Emerson have been friends most of their lives. Little did they know a visit from three Eton school boys would change everyone’s lives for the better.

Fifteen-year-old Lord Wesley Addington has just learned he has a half-sister, Lady Leticia Emerson. Over the next decade, Violet Kellington falls in love with the man who only sees her as his sister’s friend.

Lord Robert Carmichael has been all but abandoned by his family due to his pronounced limp, and he doesn’t want to pass on his affliction to a child. Though he is determined not to marry, Letty Emerson sees only the brave man who fought through the pain of his illness and the scorn of his family.

Scholarship student Mark Jones is torn between two worlds: the London stews he was born into and the peers who will never accept him. Anna Emerson, who has an English father and a Native American mother, knows she has found her soul’s mate.

The book contains three intersecting novellas, touching on love, loss and acceptance. It revisits the Kellington and Emerson families, more than a decade after their stories concluded. It is a love letter from the author to the two families which have meant so much to her.

BUY LINKS: Amazon 

REVIEW: If you’re like me and enjoy romance written in series, you know that once the series is done, we are literally going through withdrawal. We hope and hope that the author might one day give us a glimpse of those many couples that we’ve come to know and love through their wonderful prose and plots.

Well, let me tell you! I was one happy camper when this author decided not to wait years and years to let me know what’s been going on in Kellington and Emerson Universe!

Every character introduced to us in this story feels genuine and well rounded and as usual, the dialogue between everyone never lacks wit and humor, for which this author is well known for.

Violet and Wes’s story was fun because of her strong personality.

“Let me see if I understand,” she said, taking three steps toward him and bringing her lemon verbena with her. “You were so… taken with our kiss that you decided it was necessary to put an ocean between us. I am flattered beyond belief. I can only imagine how much further you would have run had we taken things further.”

Robert and Letty’s story was heartbreaking because of who these two were. Both, but especially Robert, had to be strong not only for themselves, but for each other as well. I love flawed characters, and giving Robert an infirmity, made his story even sweeter.

 

“When it had finally become apparent that, despite the hard-earned progress Robert had made, he would never walk without a pronounced limp, his father had called him into his study and said he was ashamed that the historic title would one day be handed down to such a weakling.

“Fear not, my lord,” Robert had said. “Mayhap another illness will kill me before that happens.”

His father had leaned back in his seat and said, “God knows either of your brothers would do a better job of it. At least we would not have to worry that the next generation would be deformed imbeciles.”

Mark and Anna’s story was just as poignant as the other two and you’ll love this young man who grew without the family, yet found one in Kellingtons and Emmersons.

“Most of the boys at Eton were entitled arses. They judged a boy by his accent first and character never.  And while Mark could imitate the speech of the boys of the ton, he had an East London accent.  But even if he’d had their diction, he would never be part of their circles because birthright was the only thing which mattered to them.

Lost in thought, he didn’t see the fight until he was almost on top of it. He heard it first, from the crowd of boys cheering them on.  In London, Mark had seen too many real fights which ended in death and serious injury to have much of a stomach for more blood.  He was about to walk around it when he saw Percy Reynolds, the reigning school bully.  That was hardly surprising since he loved to get his mates to fight for him.  But it was the other boy who drew Mark’s attention.  He was Robert Carmichael, known as Lorton, who had a pronounced limp.  Usually, Mark didn’t care all that much when toffs fought amongst themselves, but since three boys were attacking one who was already at a disadvantage he decided it was time to step in.  He just had to make sure not to hurt the boys too much, because while toffs could hit each other with impunity, Mark realized the very same thing could get him expelled.”

I must say, even though this book is comprised of three novella’s, it never felt like these stories were separate because there was a common thread to all of them and the plot wasn’t rushed which in the end helped me to connect to the main characters and enjoy their happily ever after’s.

By now I’ve come to respect this authors writing voice and I’ve yet to be disappointed by it. Her stories never fail to keep me entertained from the first to the last page.

If you’re a fan, I have no doubt you’ll get this one. If you’ve never read this author, you may as well start with this story of true friendship and love. It’s a ‘must read.’

Melanie for b2b

‘The Trouble with Dukes’ by Grace Burrowes

burrowes_thetroublewithdukes_mmBOOK BLURB: They Call Him The Duke of Murder…

The gossips whisper that the new Duke of Murdoch is a brute, a murderer, and even worse—a Scot. They say he should never be trusted alone with a woman. But Megan Windham sees in Hamish something different, someone different.

No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he’ll take on any challenge—even letting their friend Miss Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn’t the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she’s fighting battles of her own. For her, he’ll become the warrior once more, and for her, he might just lose his heart.

REVIEW: Reading one of Grace Burrowes books is like diving into a clear brook with your eyes wide open and gathering stones from the bottom of it, so that you can sort them out once you come up for air. The pleasure you get from both of those activities is priceless and you never want to let go of the experience.

This book starts a brand new series and what an awesome start it was. The characters were so real and personable, especially Hamish and Megan. Giving both of them real flaws made them complex and come to life. It was an utter pleasure watching them fall in love.

And if you are a fan of this author as much as I am, you will be thrilled to catch up with all the Windhams, especially the men of that family. They are vastly entertaining and will make you laugh out loud.

But just in case you’ve never heard of this author, have no fear. This story can be read as a stand alone, and is a perfect story to acquaint you with the writing voice of this amazing author.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis’ by Amelia Grey

mmamtm-agSTORY: The Marquis of Wythebury, is expecting an ordinary Christmastide at Hurst—until he is set upon by a beautiful miss who takes him to task for not allowing his young nephews to play outside. In his mind, a five and seven year old needn’t get chilled in the snow; better to plop them in front of the fire with a book. Few people have ever been brave enough to challenge him over anything, much less the rearing of his wards. The cheeky Miss Prim has no such compunction. No matter how fetching he finds her, he can’t give in to his attraction…for she is the sister of his best friend.

Growing up the middle child of five rambunctious girls, Lillian Prim doesn’t understand why two young boys visiting Hurst don’t know how to play until she meets their dashing guardian. The Marquis of Wythebury is commanding and intensely serious-minded. To her surprise, she’s captivated by him. It’s all she can do not to give into her feminine fantasies about him kissing him. Lillian has no intention of falling in love with the Marquis, but she will create Christmastide mischief and teach the boys and the handsome Marquis how to play.

REVIEW: Seth Wythebury, the second Marquis of Wythebury, has received an invitation to spend the Christmas season at Hurst. Crispin, the Duke of Hurst, has insisted that he come and bring his two nephews, Heron, age 7, and Fallon, age 5. Seth became their guardian when his sister and her husband died of a fever.

While at Hurst, he goes in search of his nephews early one morning to find them outside having a snowball fight with a young lady who proceeds to tell him that the boys need exercise and fun outside. Taken aback at her outspoken way, he learns that she is Miss Lillian Prim, younger sister of the Duchess of Hurst.

Lillian is a lovely young woman and Seth is instantly smitten by her and her fun personality. As they spend time with the boys, Seth shows himself as a no-nonsence, strict disciplinarian, whereas Lillian is more easy going and fun loving. But both of them are quite stubborn. Can two people like that ever find mutual respect and understand to allow them to have a permanent relationship?

This is a pleasant story of two people learning the art of give and take in a relationship. It is clean and a fun Christmas read.

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Connie for b2b