Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Review - - Bringing Down the Duke

by Evie Dunmore
Publisher: Berkley Jove
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie 

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke....


Annabelle is a Victorian Cinderella, poor but honorable, as she struggles to make ends meet and not blow her chance for a university education. If it means she needs to persuade the unpersuadable Duke of Montgomery, then she’ll do it. The suffrage movement who is footing her tuition bill needs men like the duke to stand up for their cause in Parliament, but the conservative duke seems like the last possible candidate for the position.

The Duke of Montgomery is delicious, rich, confident, conservative, and inescapably attracted to--of all things--a suffragette. Sebastian inherited the dukedom at a young age, finding that his inheritance had been squandered by his father and he was now in charge of raising a young brother fifteen years his junior and restoring the family name. Now thirty-seven, he has almost everything, save the lone family castle his father had lost in a game of cards. He will have it too, the Queen has assured him, so long as he remains on the right side of the suffragist cause. (That would be the Far Right. Queen Victoria is not a Modern Woman.) This is no problem--until he comes home and finds his house has been overrun by suffragettes his brother has invited for a house party. 

A brief house party becomes a stay until Christmas, then a New Year’s Ball. There is a fabulous scene of mistaken identity and the fallout as rightfully Annabelle decides she wants to stay anywhere but in the duke’s manor and takes off in the snow. There is a rescue...and in keeping with the time period and reality, somebody catches a cold and has to stay in bed. Which leads to more time spent together, which of course leads to “he’s falling for her!”

What’s new with Ms. Dunmore’s debut is that in addition to the language and behavior being in keeping with the time and society group, there is more conflict over class and what people in their station are allowed to do. For instance, a duke of Montgomery’s station does not marry a poor little church mouse from nowhere, especially if she is attending university (horrors!) and is a staunch suffragist. It is a detriment. While this is something that is handled in many a duke novel, it does seem to be more de rigueur nowadays to have a forward-thinking duke who has no problem marrying someone who should only ever be his mistress. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading about these titled men thinking in a way I would love 21st century men to think; however, sometimes all these forward-thinking 19th century dukes can be a stretch, even for my happy-escapism fiction. 

Still, in the end, it was a good solid read. And perhaps best of all, Annabelle has some friends who I think will have very delicious books of their own...and which we’ll all be looking forward to reading as well. I think this is only the beginning of a long and happy relationship. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Review & Giveaway - - How to Catch a Wicked Viscount

How to Catch a Wicked Viscount
by Amy Rose Bennett
The Disreputable Debutantes - Book 1
Publisher: Berkley Jove
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

Shy, bookish Sophie Brightwell is expected to make an advantageous match to improve her family's fortunes. However, Sophie's plans to make a spectacular debut go horribly awry when she and her three closest friends are expelled from a young ladies' academy for unbecoming conduct. Since the ton will be sure to close their doors on these disgraced debutantes, they determine that unconventional means need to be employed in the husband-hunting market. Rakehells—the beau monde's wickedest members—might be the only men willing to overlook a young lady's besmirched reputation. 
But how does one catch a rake?

Nate Hastings, the devil-may-care Viscount Malverne, is the older brother of Sophie’s best friend, fellow disgraced debutante Lady Charlotte. When a terribly foxed Nate accidentally compromises Sophie, Charlotte strikes a wicked bargain: in order to avoid a scandal and the parson's mousetrap, Nate must help Sophie snare a husband. But as Nate fulfills his obligation and begins to instruct the lovely Sophie in the art of luring rakes, he soon finds himself battling his own fierce attraction to her.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book that launches Amy Rose Bennett's new Disreputable Debutantes series. The four young women who meet at school are each unique, from varying backgrounds, and social classes, yet they form a strong bond that continues beyond the scandal that saw them expelled from school and returned to their respective families. I enjoyed their friendship and look forward to getting to know each of them better as the series continues.

Sophie engaged my emotions almost immediately with her shame over the school scandal (which in comparison to the antics of young men of the time was barely scandalous at all), her determination to be her family's savior through her writing, and her never-ending crush on her best friend's older brother. But she also endeared herself to me through her pragmatism, her honesty, and her loyalty to family, friends and to herself. I love how open and honest she is with Nate. She may be an innocent but she doesn't hold back from exploring her own sensuality as well as her feelings for Nate. And I cheered for her when she put her own well-being first.

Nate is a charmer and he's smitten with Sophie, though he denies it to others, and to himself. He's likable but seemed immature to me even though he'd been through the horrors of war. I understood the need to forget all he'd seen and done by living large once he returned home, and he does grow over the course of the story, but I was looking for a little more substance. 

Nate and Sophie's journey is well-paced for most of the book, with sparkling banter, sensual encounters, and deepening emotions. Though those deepening emotions are more on Sophie's side of the relationship until near the end of the book. I would have liked to see more evidence of Nate's feelings before the conclusion, which seemed a bit rushed.

Those few quibbles aside, though, this was an enjoyable book that introduced me to intriguing characters about whom I want to know more. I'll be back for the next book in The Disreputable Debutantes series. 


Nate pushed open the double doors to the library. If only he didn’t have to attend any damnable ton balls or soirees. God, the idea of courting a simpering debutante like Lady Penelope Purcell was enough to turn his stomach—
A decidedly feminine gasp and a dull thud stopped him dead in his tracks.
What the deuce?
Behind his father’s desk stood a raven-haired angel. A beautiful young woman wearing nothing but a pale blue shawl over a thin white night rail, and an expression of sheer terror.
“Lord Malverne. Oh, heavens. Oh, my goodness.” The angel’s shocked, wide-eyed gaze dropped to the desk, and then, much to his amusement, he was certain she muttered something not so angelic like blast beneath her breath.
Nate’s gaze followed hers. Blast indeed. His father’s cut crystal inkwell was on its side, and a black pool of ink was rapidly spreading across the dark red blotter, heading inexorably toward the young woman’s pristine nightgown. In the next instant, as he strode toward the desk to offer assistance, she whipped off her shawl and pressed it against the inky puddle.
“I’m so, so sorry. What will your father think of me? I only meant to borrow a little ink. I didn’t think he’d mind.” Her words came out in a breathless rush as she began to dab furiously at the blotter. “And now I’ve ruined some of his papers. Oh, Lord, I hope they’re not too important.” She nodded at a dark splash marring the top of a document that looked a lot like a draft parliamentary bill. “What a disaster.”
Her long black braid had fallen forward over her slender shoulder and it swayed with her movements, caressing the swell of one pert breast. A breast covered by nothing but threadbare cotton. It was cold in the room and her nipple pressed quite impudently against the fabric.

Holy hell. Nate swallowed as his body tightened with longing. The sight was so distracting, he had to force himself to lift his eyes back to the girl’s.

“I’m not sure it’s as bad as all that,” he lied. His father would be livid. On an impulse, he laid a hand atop the angel’s slender, ink-stained fingers to stop her frantic attempts to contain the mess. She stilled instantly, her breath hitching. And when she looked up at him, Nate’s breath caught too.

At these close quarters, the lamplight illuminated the girl’s lovely face. Her eyes, as clear and blue as a midsummer sky, were ringed with a darker liquid navy and fringed by impossibly long, black lashes. When she dropped her gaze to his hand lying atop hers, they fanned across her cheeks where a bright red blush was beginning to spread almost as rapidly as the ink had. God, she was an innocent and he was behaving like a cad, but he was thoroughly enchanted and couldn’t seem to help himself.

His voice, when it emerged, was embarrassingly unsteady. “You seem to know me, but I’m not sure that I know you, Miss . . .”

“Brightwell. Sophie Brightwell,” she supplied in a voice that was also oddly husky. She clearly felt the sizzle of attraction between them too.

“Sophie Brightwell,” he repeated, savoring the feel of her name on his lips. It suited her perfectly. The girl was about the same age as his sister, and a distant memory stirred. A cold winter’s day in Hyde Park. Three years ago. This was the awkwardly shy but pretty schoolroom chit that Charlie had introduced him to. “You’re Charlie’s friend. From the academy.”

“Yes.” Miss Sophie Brightwell slid a hand from beneath his and pushed a loose strand of hair away from her flushed cheek. “Your father and Charlie . . . I mean, Lady Charlotte, have invited me to stay. For the Season. I know this looks terrible, my skulking about the library at the dead of night, but I couldn’t sleep. You know how it is in a strange bed. Honestly, I only meant to borrow a little ink.”

“Yes, you said that before. But then I barged in and I startled you, no doubt. So this accidental spill”—he couldn’t resist lightly squeezing her hand—“is entirely my fault. And I shall tell my father so.” His father would believe him. It wasn’t as though this was the first mess he’d ever made.

“No.” Miss Brightwell shook her head. “No, I can’t let you do that, Lord Malverne.”

“I insist.” Removing his hand from hers, Nate pulled a silk kerchief from his coat pocket, then, rake that he was, he leaned closer. The heady scent of warm female laced with something delicate and floral—perhaps it was the soap she used—teased him, enticing him to do something unthinkable, like burying his face in her sweet neck. To inhale deeply and run his lips along her collarbone. To taste the silken flesh where her pulse fluttered at the base of her throat . . .

Jesus Christ and all his saints, what was he thinking? Less than a month of abstaining from sexual congress had clearly addled his brain.

He couldn’t seduce Charlie’s friend no matter the desire thrumming through his veins. She was a young woman alone with a known rake, late at night. The situation was highly compromising to say the least.


Have you read any of Amy Rose Bennett's books?

Are you a fan of the "falling in love with best friend's brother/sister" trope?

One person who comments before 11:00 PM, August 29, will receive a print copy of How to Catch a Wicked Viscount. (U.S. addresses only) 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Second Chance Winner - - Life & Other Inconveniences

The second chance winner of a copy of

Life & Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Second Chance Winner - - Brazen and the Beast

The second chance winner of a copy of

Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Second Chance Winner - - A Highlander Walks into a Bar

The second chance winner of a copy of

A Highlander Walks into a Bar by Laura Trentham is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Winner - - The One Who Stays

The randomly chosen winner of a signed, print copy of

The One Who Stays by Toni Blake is:



Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Excerpt and ARC Giveaway - - The Highlander's Christmas Bride

If you've read Vanessa Kelly's The Highlander's Princess Bride (The Improper Princesses - Book 3) and/or The Highlander Who Protected Me (Clan Kendrick - Book 1), you're probably as excited as I am for the October 29th release of Logan Kendrick's book: The Highlander's Christmas Bride. Well, does Vanessa Kelly have a treat for you! Today, she's sharing an excerpt from Logan and Donella's book and giving a print advance review copy of The Highlander's Christmas Bride to one of you...a full two months before publication!

The Highlander's Christmas Bride
by Vanessa Kelly
Clan Kendrick - Book 2
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: October 29, 2019

In bestselling author Vanessa Kelly’s irresistible Clan Kendrick series, Christmas in the Highlands means family, celebration—and for one brother, the beginning of a passionate adventure . . .

Being thrown over by the man she expected to marry was humiliating enough. Now that Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, has also proven a failure as a nun, she has no choice but to return to her family’s estate. The brawny Highlander sent to escort her is brash, handsome, and the only thing standing between Donella and a gang of would-be kidnappers. But the scandal in her past can’t be so easily outrun . . .

Wealthy widower Logan Kendrick was expecting to meet a plain, pious spinster—not a gorgeous, sharp-tongued lass who can hold her own in any ambush. Though she’s known as the Flower of Clan Graham, Donella is no shrinking violet. In fact, she might be the perfect woman to bring happiness back to his lonely little son’s life, just in time for Christmas.  But first he must protect her from ugly gossip and a mysterious threat—and convince her that their wild, unexpected desire is heaven sent.

Set-up: Donella Haddon has spent the last three years in a convent in a remote corner of Scotland. But the good sisters have decided she’s not suited to life as a nun. Much to her chagrin, Donella has been asked to leave. Logan Kendrick, widower, wealthy businessman, and friend to Donella’s family, agrees to provide her an escort home to Blairgal Castle.

Once on the road, however, masked men try to abduct Donella. Thanks to Logan, the plot fails, but he and Donella are forced to flee. In disguise and with Donella masquerading as Logan’s little brother, they take refuge at a small inn. When the mysterious plotters track them down, they prepare to escape once again.

PS. Some of my readers might recognize Donella from an earlier book, HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER (Renegade Royals 4). J


The Highlander's Christmas Bride

     Donella stomped her foot down into her boot and straightened. “So, what do we do?”
     “Since we can’t go waltzing out the front door, I’m off to do a little more skulking to see if we can make it out through the back. If not, we’ll have to use the window to make our escape.”
     She regarded his proposed exit with a dubious eye. “Are you sure you’ll fit? You are rather large.”
     “I’m aware of that.” It would appear that large men were not her type, which he found rather irritating.
     She was a nun. She doesn’t have a type.
     “I’ll manage it,” he added, “but I would prefer the back door.”
     “How are we going to get to our horse?”
     “We’re not.”
     Her eyebrows shot up. “We’re walking?”
     “Yes. We’re going up into the hills.”
     “Donella, we can discuss the plan once we get out of here, all right?”
     Her lips thinned, but then she gave a terse nod. “What do you want me to do?”
     “I suggest you take the chance to use the chamber pot, since we’ll be leaving as soon as I return.”
     She winced. “I must say this is turning out to be the most embarrassing episode of my entire life.”
     He flashed a smile as he headed to the door. “Chin up, lass. Just think of it as a grand adventure.”
     “I hate adventures,” she muttered.
     He slipped out into the hall. For a woman who hated adventures, she’d done well, displaying both strength and character. Most girls of her class would have succumbed to hysterics long ago. And though she had a tendency to argue, she’d followed his orders when it counted.
     Logan had the impression from her family that Donella was a biddable, even shy woman who retreated into the background. Yet he’d found her quite the opposite, which probably accounted for her dismissal from the nunnery. Donella might not be the sort of girl to flirt or talk the ears off a man, but biddable or shy? Not a chance.
     He’d only known her for a few days, but there seemed to be more to Donella than her family realized.
     The inn was stirring. Dishes clattered in the taproom and footsteps thumped on the floor above. The entrance hall was empty, but that meant Hamish was likely still out gabbing with the mysterious riders. If those men had a particle of brains, they would soon deduce that something was off about Mr. MacDonald and his strange little brother.
     Logan risked a careful look out the window. A stable boy washed down the cobblestones, but otherwise the yard appeared deserted. But that did them no good since they needed to head up into the hills, not back on the road.
     Retreating, he paused to leave some coin on the desk, then quickly made his way back down the hall to the door at the end of the wing. He’d just cracked it open when he heard a shout from the direction of the stables. Feet pounded across the cobblestones, followed by more shouting and a call to search the inn.
     Dammit to hell.
     Under normal circumstances, he’d have no qualms about confronting the blighters but wouldn’t take any chances with Donella’s safety. He had to get her out of harm’s way as quickly as possible.
     Moments later, he was back in the room. Donella was fully dressed and folding up a small bundle into a makeshift sack.
     “I thought we might be able to use the blanket and extra candles,” she explained.
     “Good thinking.” He shot the bolt across the door.
     “I see it’s the window.”
     Donella followed him to the window. Logan slung his kit over his shoulder and yanked back the shutter, then pushed the latticed window open. 
     “I hope you made use of the chamber pot,” he said as he hoisted her onto the sill.
     She swung her legs over. “If you mention that one more time, I will clobber you.”
     The drop to the ground was a little high for his liking. “Careful, now. We don’t want you—”
     Donella kicked off the sill, landing in a neat crouch before looking up at him. “You were saying, sir?”
     He snorted and dropped his kit and her bundle to the ground. When he started to climb through the opening, he discovered it was quite a tight fight.
     “Don’t get stuck,” she warned.
     As if he’d let that happen.
     Logan pulled back and stripped off his greatcoat, tossing it down to her. Then he grabbed the top of the window frame and pulled himself up, then swung through in one go. He managed to tear a sleeve on the way down, but otherwise was unscathed.
     Donella blinked at him. “That was quite impressive.”
     “I might say the same about you, lass.”
     Her smile was shy. “Thank you. I was rather athletic as a young girl.” The smile faded. “For a while, anyway.”
     There was a story there, and he found himself wanting to hear it. For now, he had other things to worry about, like getting their arses out of harm’s way.
     He shrugged back into his greatcoat. “Athletic is good right now.”
     Donella had already slung her bundle over her shoulder, so he grabbed his kit and guided her toward a farmer’s field behind the inn. They dodged through a kitchen garden, having to crouch at one point below a low hedge when they heard some more shouting, but they were able to skulk away without incident.
     A few hedgerows and a field of oats later, they were safely away. Repeated glances over his shoulder told Logan that no one had yet thought to check behind the inn.
     Miracle of miracles, they’d pulled it off. Now, all they had was a stiff day’s climb up to a crofter’s cottage. There he hoped they would find shelter and a hopefully not-too-long and not-too-cold wait for rescue. He trusted that Davey and Foster had gotten through with his message to Lord Riddick. If not, he would have to devise another plan to get Donella home.
     They splashed through a little creek that separated the field from the first set of foothills. Logan glanced at Donella, who seemed unperturbed by their narrow escape.
     “Ready for a climb, lass?”
     She shot him a wry glance. ”’I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.’”  
     Then she set off briskly up the narrow track, leaving him to follow in her footsteps.


Have you read Vanessa Kelly? Do you have a favorite book or series?

I love a good unsuitable nun story. Do you have any favorites?

One randomly chosen person who comments before 11:00 PM, August 27, will receive a print ARC (advance review copy) of The Highlander's Christmas Bride. (U.S. addresses only)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Winner - - Britches Get Stitches

The randomly chosen winner of an audio download of

Britches Get Stitches by Elicia Hyder is:



Please send an email to:

thromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Review - - The One Who Stays

The One Who Stays
by Toni Blake
A Summer Island Novel - Book 1
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, but what she doesn’t love is Zack’s refusal to commit to an exclusive relationship.

Seth Darden arrives on Summer Island in search of summer work, but also in search of something else—his past. There are secrets buried at the Summerbrook Inn, secrets that forged the path of Seth’s life. But he wasn’t counting on falling for the lovely innkeeper, Meg.

When Meg meets Seth, she can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them, even though she feels like her heart has been torn in half. But if Zack won’t commit, should she take the leap with Seth? And can she even have a future with him if he can’t reckon with his past?

My thoughts:

Toni Blake is an author whose books I've enjoyed over the years. More than a few sit on my keeper shelves so I was excited to hear that she was embarking upon a new contemporary romance series. The One Who Stays, a slow-paced, small-town story launches her A Summer Island series and left me with mixed feelings. I'm not sure if this book is intended to be a contemporary romance or a women's fiction story so I'll approach it from both perspectives.

As a romance, the story left me wanting more. I knew pretty early on which of the two men in Meg's life I preferred but I was never convinced that Meg's ultimate decision came from a place of deep, genuine, "I can't live without him" love. They have a solid friendship but I wanted more romantic development, more emotional depth between them. I like them both and I'm hopeful that their relationship will continue to evolve throughout the series and that I'll have that certainty by the end.

As a coming of age, women's fiction novel, I enjoyed it very much. Because, even though Meg is almost forty, because of past events that impacted her life, this is in many ways her coming of age. She's just now beginning to figure out what she wants from life, and gathering the courage to go after it. Zack and Seth are both on journeys of their own, and both play critical roles in Meg's journey, as do Meg's close friends on the island, but her main source of guidance comes from the diary that appears during the renovation of her inn. Giving her unexpected insights into her beloved grandmother's life as a young woman, her diary provides both a link to the woman who was so instrumental in Meg's life and a blueprint to aid Meg in figuring out her own life. 

Blake does a good job of creating the laid-back environment of Northern Michigan's islands and the close-knit community of individuals who live there year-round. The supporting cast is interesting, with color provided by quirky islanders, and intriguing newcomers with past baggage, and a few secrets, that will undoubtedly be unraveled in the books to come. 

Book two in the series, The Giving Heart, is scheduled to be released October 29 and features Meg's sister, Lila and real estate developer, Beck in a Christmas romance. I already have it on pre-order. But the book I'm most intrigued by is The Love We Keep, third in the series and scheduled for release January 28, 2020. I have a suspicion that one will be overflowing with all the "feels." 

On which side of the book fence do you fall: Women's Fiction or Contemporary Romance? Or do you enjoy both?

Have you ever read Toni Blake?

How do you feel about love triangles?

One person who comments before 11:00 PM, August 25, will receive a signed, print copy of The One Who Stays. (U.S. addresses only)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Review - - The Me I Used to Be

The Me I Used to Be
by Jennifer Ryan
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

An inheritance she never expected…
After serving time for a crime she didn’t commit, Evangeline returns home to discover her father left her solely responsible for the family’s failing ranch, her mother blames her for her father’s death, and her brothers want her out of their way. With her family’s future squarely on her shoulders, she desperately searches for ways to save their home—before they lose everything.
A chance to right past mistakes…
Her only ally, Chris Chambers. The cop who sent her away is positive she took the fall for someone else. And if she helps him track down the real criminals, he’ll clear her record. But the closer Evangeline and Chris get to exposing the truth—and to each other—the deeper Evangeline is drawn into a dangerous sting that will finally bring her justice and pave the way for a bright future.

My thoughts:

Jennifer Ryan's gritty, suspense-filled, and deeply emotional romantic suspense books are auto-buys for me so I was understandably curious when I heard she was writing a standalone women's fiction novel. I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading The Me I Used to Be. What I got was another keeper that lured me in and kept my emotions engaged from beginning to end. 

Ryan is very skilled at creating complex, multi-layered characters then putting them in situations that test their courage and their resolve. Such is the case with Evangeline. My heart broke for what she had been through and what she faces when she returns home. This is her journey but she isn't the only character who grows and changes. It's also her family's journey as they grapple with the truths that are finally revealed and the consequences of actions that were taken. And it's Chris's journey as well as he battles to right past wrongs, to see justice finally served, and to, hopefully, build a future with the woman who continues to impress him every day with her strength, courage, heart, and ability to forgive and move forward. 

Dysfunctional families, second chances, danger, suspense, emotional depth, and romance. You'll find all that and more in this deeply satisfying page-turner from Jennifer Ryan.  

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review - - The Duchess in His Bed

The Duchess in His Bed
by Lorraine Heath
Sins for all Seasons - Book 4
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

For a duchess with practical desires, falling in love is an inconceivable part of her plan…
 As owner of the Elysium Club which caters to women’s fantasies, Aiden Trewlove is accustomed to introducing adventurous ladies to sin and vice. But he is uncharacteristically intrigued by the mysterious beauty who visits his club one night, yearning to indulge in the forbidden—with him. Drawn to her indomitable spirit, he breaks his rule of never becoming personally involved with his clientele and is determined to fully awaken her desires.
A recent widow, Selena Sheffield, Duchess of Lushing, has never known passion, not until Aiden’s slow, sensual seduction leads her on a journey of discovery and incredible pleasure. But her reasons for visiting the notorious club are not all that they seem.
As Selena’s motives become complicated by love, she finds herself with a most unexpected choice: forge ahead with a secret plan that could secure her future—or follow her heart which could prove ruinous.

My thoughts:

Lorraine Heath is one of my favorite historical romance authors and the Sins for all Seasons books rank among my favorites that she has written. The first three books have all been five star reads for me, with the last one earning a Top Dish rating. The Duchess in His Bed, while very good, didn't quite hit the same mark. 

I've been anticipating Aiden's story and he was everything I had hoped for: loving, loyal, sensual, and protective. His emotional journey is littered with peaks and valleys and I was there with him for them all. Which probably goes a long way toward explaining why I didn't connect with his heroine, Selena for much of the book. While I sympathized with her position, and understood how her family's expectations had shaped her, I had a real problem with her dogged determination to continue her deception after she begins to know the real Aiden, the person behind the persona, and realizes the impact her actions will have on him. There's one particular scene where Heath walks a tight line between "this is where she begins to change" and "I'm done. Book, meet wall." I'll be honest; it was a close call. It was my faith in the author that kept me reading and she didn't let me down but it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that I actually began to forgive the heroine for her actions and believe that she might be worthy of a happy ending with the hero. 

The other Trewlove siblings, and their partners, make appearances, helping to move the story forward as well as allowing readers to catch up with their ongoing relationships. We're also given a peek into what younger sister, Fancy is up to. Her book is next and I'm excited to see what Heath has in store for her. 

If you've read Finn's book, The Scoundrel in Her Bed, you've already met the monster who sired both Finn and Aiden. You'll see more of him in The Duchess in His Bed and, let's just say, he hasn't changed his ways. But, never fear, justice is served up in the best possible way by the best possible person, in one of the best "revenge is sweet" scenes I've ever read. I would have bought the book for this scene alone. Lorraine Heath may look sweet in her photos but the woman has a deliciously devious mind when it comes to her writing and I love it!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Review - - Deadly Secret

Deadly Secret
by TJ Logan
O'Halleran Security International - Book 1
Publisher: TJL Creative Works, LLC
Release Date: August 21, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

He steps into the shadows to pursue a killer…

F.B.I. Special Agent Beckett O’Halleran values Family, Honor, and Loyalty. A botched undercover assignment results in the brutal murder of his partner. When the killer is set free by a Deputy Director on the take, Beck walks away from the Bureau. He vows to stop at nothing to avenge his partner’s death, including using an innocent woman. 

She is dragged into the shadows by her mother’s past …

A deadly secret from the past threatens Gwendolyn Tamberley’s life. Thrust into the crosshairs of a merciless psychopath who will destroy anyone who threatens his empire, she becomes the center of a firestorm between the Russian mafia, the F.B.I. and a former agent hell-bent on retribution. 

Will deadly secrets destroy them?

Gwen’s only hope is the man who’s been deceiving her. And Beck must choose between his obsession with vengeance and the woman who’s come to mean everything to him.

My thoughts:

Make room on my auto-buy list for another author because I am all in for TJ Logan's super-sexy, family-loving, crime-fighting O'Hallerans! Logan gave me everything I enjoy in this fast-paced debut: action, danger, suspense, passion, fully-developed characters, a hard-won HEA, and enough intriguing family members for future stories to eagerly anticipate. 

Beck and Gwen are both characters who engaged my interest and my emotions. Logan does a good job of bringing them to life as well as balancing the evolution of their personal relationship with the intrigue and danger surrounding them. The danger is hard-hitting and readers should be prepared for some gritty, on-the-page violence during this battle to bring a cold-blooded psychopath to justice. I was on the edge of my seat much of the time, flipping pages as fast as I could to find out what would happen next. 

If you enjoy page-turners that keep you riveted to the action - and the romance - give Deadly Secret a try. I'm looking forward to more from this newly published author and have already pre-ordered the next two books in the series: Deadly Disciple (19 Sept.) and Deadly Deception (16 Oct.).