‘Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis’ by

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

‘Duke of Sin’ by Elizabeth Hoyt

dos ehSTORY: A Man of Sin

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.

A Woman of Honor

Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.

A Secret That Threatens to Destroy Them Both

Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

REVIEW: I think this is the tenth book in this series and the one I liked the least. The reason for it is the “hero”. I just couldn’t like him. Not one bit.

Here’s the thing. Some heroes can start off as “bad boys” and the heroine can “reform” them. But there are some that no matter how much you try to “reform” the character just won’t be reformed.

There’s just something about this man that is not just off-putting, but down right unlikable. For the life of me I don’t understand why did the author feel the need to try and reform him.

At this point I’ve vested a lot of time in this series and I will definitely continue with it. All the books are well written and plotted, and the characters are phenomenal, except this hero.

If you’ve never read this author, do not start with this book. Pick any of her others and you’ll love it. Not this one.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘No Good Duke Goes Unpunished’ by Sarah MacLean

Sngdgu smlTORY: A rogue ruined . . .

He is the Killer Duke, accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for twelve years, wealthy and powerful, but beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara resurfaces, offering the one thing he’s dreamed of . . . absolution.

A lady returned . . .

Mara planned never to return to the world from which she’d run, but when her brother falls deep into debt at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world what only she knows . . . that he is no killer.

A scandal revealed . . .

It’s a fine trade, until Temple realizes that the lady—and her past—are more than they seem. It will take every bit of his strength to resist the pull of this mysterious, maddening woman who seems willing to risk everything for honor . . . and to keep from putting himself on the line for love.

REVIEW: This is a story that had me twisted in knots, and not in a good way. I kept wanting to smack people around for being obtuse and irritating.

The story was good but the heroine was hard to like at first, but eventually I got warmed up to her. The hero on the other hand was well written and easy to like.

If you’ve read the previous books in this series, by all means get this one as well. But be warned, there are twists and turns you may or may not like.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Cold-Hearted Rake’ by Lisa Kleypas

chr-lkSTORY: A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

REVIEW: I bought this book in its print version long time ago and then I sampled the audio. I was blown away at the narration by Mary Jane Wells and just had to have it. This is predominantly an Audio review.

If I had three words to describe it, they would be: Fun, heartwarming and brilliantly narrated!

But what stood out the most was the complex characters of the hero and heroine. They were flawed and yet compelling, which endeared them to me.

There are just too many memorable moments in this story, from the initial meeting of the two, their slow-burning attraction, but the time he told her he loves her and was giving her time to accept that love and would be faithful to her from that moment on, that was such a memorable speech and moment.

“Time is what I’m giving you,” he said, staring down at her. His hand curved beneath her chin, compelling her to look at him. “There’s only one way for me to prove that I will love you and be faithful to you for the rest of my life. And that’s by loving you and being faithful to you for the rest of my life. Even if you don’t want me. Even if you choose not to be with me. I’m giving you all the time I have left. I vow to you that from this moment on, I will never touch another woman, or give my heart to anyone but you. If I have to wait sixty years, not a minute will have been wasted- because I’ll have spent all of them loving you.”

I also loved every secondary character introduced to us. All were fun and funny.

Seriously, this is a must!

I adored the narration! From now on, I’m on a lookout for Mary Jane Wells’s narration🙂

BTW, the second book in this series is Marrying Winterborne and it is as good as this one.

Melanie for b2b

‘A Kiss At Christmastide’ by Christina McKnight

akic-cmckSTORY: Lady Pippa Godfrey has suffered the most ruinous London Season. She escapes to her Somerset estate for a quiet Christmastide holiday with her family, away from society’s prying eyes. But before her parents can join her, a storm crashes down on Somerset to destroy any hope of Pippa’s white Christmas dream. The roads have flooded and travel is impossible, leaving her stranded and alone. But a muddied, angry and devilishly handsome lord appears at her door demanding shelter.

Lucas Hartfeld, the Earl of Maddox, has been summoned by his parents, the Marquis and Marchioness of Bowmont, to attend a holiday party in the wilds of the country, far from his London townhouse. He suspects they command his attendance for far different reasons than a simple country party. When a storm strands his carriage, he’s forced to seek shelter at the only home for miles around, a local manor called Helton House.

When Lady Pippa is reluctant to admit him, he does what he’s been raised to do—demand she provide him and his servants with shelter until the storm passes. But the beautiful woman draws his interest far more than he’s willing to admit. Can Lucas find a way out of the predicament his parents are planning?

As Lady Pippa scrutinizes another arrogant, demanding lord, she is bombarded with memories of betrayals in her past. Can she forget those difficult life lessons to claim a Christmastide kiss from a perfect stranger?

REVIEW: London – 1813

Lady Pippa Godfrey, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Midcrest, is waiting her turn to play the piano at a musicale recital. It is her first London season and she is very shy and nervous about her piano performance. Pippa is not enjoying herself at all and would be much happier at home reading. She wishes she could be as confident as her good friend, Lady Natalie, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sheridan. But when Natalie introduces Pippa before her performance, she makes a veiled and snide comment about Pippa spending many hours with their handsome musical instructor making it sound like they were having a tryst. Shocked and deeply hurt by Natalie’s comment, she bravely faces the crowd and performs. Now, she needs to find out why her so-called friend has turned on her.

Somerset, England – December 1813

Pippa is reading and listening to a cold storm rage outside her family’s country manor, Helton House, as she reads her favorite books about Christmas. It is quite late but she is still awake awaiting her parents’ arrival. They have been out of town for a couple of days. The rain has poured all day and she worries about the damage to homes in the village. Pippa loves the countryside, walking everywhere, and having a more relaxed daily schedule.

Natalie’s family home is next to Pippa’s and they have been friends for many years. She has just received an invitation to a betrothal party for Natalie. Knowing she should be happy for her, Pippa still holds a grudge toward Natalie for her mistreatment of her at the musicale.

A knock at the door turns out not to be her parents, but a man asking if his lord could be given shelter due to his carriage getting stuck in the mud. The man is Lucas Hatfield, the Earl of Maddox, and son of the Marquis and Marchioness of Bowmont. Pippa is taken aback at his request. Knowing the few servants in the house have long been abed, Pippa is afraid as she is alone. The Earl is gruff and angry at her hesitancy to allow him inside. However, she relents and rings for her butler who shows him to a room. It turns out that he is heading to the party for Natalie and is, in fact, her betrothed. Ah, but Lucas soon becomes very attracted to Pippa.

As the storm does not allow him to continue with his journey right away, they share time together preparing for Christmas. They quickly come to admire one another.

Will they be able to say goodbye and go their separate ways?

This is a good story and I enjoyed the characters. I think others will like the book as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘The Earl of Ice’ by Helen A. Grant

eoi-hagSTORY: Rollo Stannington, the Earl of Brockwood, is considered a wonderful catch by the mamas of the ton. He is young, handsome and extremely wealthy. What mother can resist having him as a son-in-law? If only their daughters didn’t pale and tremble in his presence and beat a hasty retreat as soon as they could! Rollo, nicknamed “The Earl of Ice” because of his frigid demeanor, welcomes this reaction. He has no intention of marrying. Ever.

Dianna Wells, a young debutante, is immune to Rollo’s coldness. Where other ladies stand tongue tied before him, she chats gaily and comfortably with him. She even enjoys dancing with him. No one knows that Rollo and Diana share a devastating secret. One that draws them together yet will ultimately test their growing attraction to each other…

REVIEW: The best thing about this romance is its hero and heroine. They were extremely well written and drawn. The plot was a bit predictable, but in no way did it make me enjoy the story less.

Rollo, the Earl of Brockwood has perfected the demeanor of a man so cold and unaffected by anything or anyone, that the society names him earl of ice. However, he is anything but cold, and our heroine knows exactly why he’s hiding behind that mask of indifference.

And then we have our heroine, Dianna. What a generous, sweet and charming young woman she is. She was one of those characters we all should aspire to be. Honorable and patient to a fault!

‘The Earl of Ice’ is a sweet romance with much to recommend itself. If you’re into romance with authentic regency flair with a slew of lighthearted moments and witty dialogue, this is it. I loved it.

Melanie for b2b

‘Tainted Bride’ by A.S. Fenichel

atb-asfSTORY: Only trust can save her….

Sailing to London, Sophia Braighton only hopes to escape certain ruin. But when she arrives, her Great Aunt Daphne has other plans for the American-born beauty. Determined to marry off her niece to a man of means, she propels Sophia into London society, not knowing that the young woman’s trust in men is shattered. In fact, Sophia never expects to ever feel anything for a man. Then again, she never expects to find herself in the company of the dashing earl of Marlton….

From the moment he sees Sophia, Daniel Fallon feels alive in a way he has not since his broken engagement. Though the vulnerable beauty shies from the passion burning bright between them, Daniel is determined to court her and make her his bride. And when he learns of the painful secret she harbors, he is equally determined to take revenge on the man responsible. But will the quest destroy him—and his future with his beloved?

REVIEW: Miss Sophia Braighton is sailing to London from Philadelphia to stay with her aunt and uncle. She is met by Lady Daphne Collington, her great-aunt, who informs her that her aunt and uncle are in the countryside and that she will be staying with her. The woman is a dowager countess and the widow of an earl.

Sophia is quite taken with the beauty of the size of Aunt Daphne’s London townhouse. It hadbeen gifted to her by her son, the Earl of Grafton.

The first morning, she learns from her aunt that a young lady, Elinor Burkestock, was mentioned in the gossip sheets as having been caught kissing a young gentleman and her reputation may be ruined. The young man she was with, Sir Michael Rollins, begged Elinor to wait for him as he had to leave town for a short while. Some people think he is just after her money. Hopefully, he will return soon and offer for her. Having been through her own experience like that, Sophia asks if she can meet the young woman and offer her support. Sophia had been found in a compromised position and the family decided that she needs to leave the country. In truth, she had been attacked and raped. Now, she has vowed to never marry. Elinor is happy that Sophia offers her friendship. Joined by another young lady, Dory Flammel, the three quickly bond.

Sophia soon exhibits her humor to people she meets and is quite good at mimicking people’s voices and accents. Thomas Wheel is a young man who is intrigued by her.

When introduced to Sophia, Daniel Fallon, the Earl of Marlton, is taken with her beauty and enjoys dancing and conversing with her. Daniel had been engaged to a young woman who proved to be of low morals. He soon broke off the engagement. There is a definite attraction between Daniel and Sophia, but he is frustrated by her vow to never marry because she considers herself soiled goods. Imagine her surprise when the man who raped her is present in London. Alistair Pundington sees her, sneers at her, and rips her dress, increasing her fear of the man.

As Daniel comes to know Sophia better, their attraction grows but Sophia refuses to marry him. Alistair puts out to people that Sophia is a whore to which Daniel threatens him and tells him to never speak of her again.

Will Sophia be able to relent and marry Daniel? Is there a way to get rid of the constant threat of Alistair?

This story has a good plot. My problem is that Sophia’s “woe is me” attitude became very grating as the story progressed.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b