Category Archives: Book Reviews

Sara’s Review of The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

I’d like to extend my thanks to St. Martin’s Press for not only letting me participate in this tour event, but also for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, murr! =^.^=

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Rating: 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date Released: May 2, 2017

Series: The Cavensham Heiress #1

Goodreads Description:

IS MARRIAGE A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
A man of honor, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he exacts revenge on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece must fall into place for him to succeed he needs to convince his enemy s fiancee, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.

Lady Claire s curse has always left her one misstep away from social ruin her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth is headed in the same direction. . .until Alex, a man she barely even knows, shocks the ton and Claire by announcing their engagement. What begins as a sham turns into something deeper, and more passionate, than either Claire or Alex could have imagined. But when their secrets are revealed, will the truth behind their union scandalize them both or is their love strong enough to break the curse and lead them toward their happily ever after?

Review:

The first in an all new historical romance series by a debut author, I enjoyed reading this novel, though I shall admit that I often found myself frustrated with both characters to the point where I wanted to throw my paws up and growl. That being said, this is a good start to what I feel is a promising series, and I believe fans of the genre will enjoy it. The writing is strong, the characters are varied and complex, and the plot twists enough to leave readers guessing. As a debut novelist, MacGregor’s got a great deal of talent and potential, and I can see this series getting better with each book that is released.

Claire’s lead a rough life, and being “cursed” hasn’t helped her. She’s a sweet soul who dreams of marriage and a family to call her own, but she’s tormented by a tragic event from her childhood and several failed engagements. I truly felt for her throughout most of the book. It’s not easy to overcome a fear that stems from such a terrible event, but Claire tries and knows that she has to overcome it, and so I have to give purrs of support for it. Yet I also was frustrated with her because of her strong belief in the curse. I wanted to smack her a few times with my paw in order to get her to realize that life happens, and just because three engagements failed doesn’t mean she’s cursed. It simply means they’re not the paths she was meant to travel. Yet she insists she’s cursed, and the ton doesn’t help quell that belief. Alex, meanwhile, is a man dedicated to protecting his family and avenging his sister, going so far as to not being concerned if others are hurt in the process. He’s charming, and while I feel that he genuinely cares about Claire, his behavior and actions made him unworthy of her in my eyes. He’s one of those characters whom I loved at times and despised at others, and by the end of the book I had a grudging respect for him…doesn’t mean that I don’t think he deserve a good swipe across the face with my claws.

As a romantic couple they are exactly what the other needs in the sense that Claire’s the guiding, gentle hand that drives Alex to realize his mistakes and actively work to repair the damage caused by them, and Alex is the one who helps Claire realize the curse is folly and helps soothe her fears, he’s patient with her while others aren’t or wouldn’t be. My biggest complaint about them as a couple is that neither of them actually talks about their problems. They dance around the issues, misunderstanding the other and sometimes even presuming the worst. By the time they finally do confide in the other I just shook my head and sighed because by then I felt any person lacking in patience would have walked away from the other a long time ago. Now I’m not saying that I disliked their relationship, they actually have a number of steamy, whisker curling moments together that left me purring in delight, but I do feel that theirs is one of the most frustrating relationships that I’ve read in a while.

For secondary characters, I’m rather curious about Emma, Will, and McCalpin, Claire’s cousins, and am looking forward to reading their stories when they come out. Lord Paul is a snake, and I didn’t find any real redeeming quality in him. As Claire says, no one held a pistol to Paul’s head, so as far as his actions and behavior goes, while some may feel he got the short end of the stick in this book, I believe he never would have made a good husband for Claire and he only would have used her in the end. Aileen is a spitfire sweetheart and I loved her immensely for her dedication to Claire. Would love to see more of her if possible. And Somerton, being the voice of reason, earned my respect, it’s just a shame Alex was too bull-headed to listen to him most of the time.

As I said, this was an enjoyable read. Yes, there were times where the story lagged and yes, I grew frustrated with the characters, but I had a great many moments where I found myself laughing, smiling, nodding in approval, and cheering. The book also took a few twists that I wasn’t originally expecting, certain things mentioned in the earlier chapters about Claire lead me to believe one thing when in fact the actual truth wasn’t something I’d thought to consider at all. In this I have to give a tail wave of approval to the author for keeping me guessing where Claire is concerned.

On the whole I would say that while I am not bowled over by this book, I did enjoy it enough to want to continue with the series and see how MacGregor improves as a writer. She has promise and potential, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what she has in store for everyone next, murr! =^.^=

Excerpt:

Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.
She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”
This night could not end with her escaping, so he tried another tactic. “You need to protect your Wrenwood estate and your wealth from lechers who would feed upon your vulnerability. Not to mention stop that ridiculous curse.”
“I have two.” She held up two gloved fingers.
“Two? Two what? Curses?” No one at his club had uttered a peep about another curse.
“Estates. I have two estates, Wrenwood and Lockhart.” She returned his stare.
Her answer was unexpected, but his business experience had taught him to show nothing. The report from his private investigator had not mentioned additional properties. Thoughts were percolating if she chose to disclose this information.
A razor of lightning split the sky. She flinched and took a step closer to him, but her reaction had nothing to do with him. It was the storm.
Her gaze darted to the exit of the alcove, then she returned her attention to him. With a slight shrug of her shoulders, his evening jacket fell into her hands. She offered it to him. “My lord, good night.” Outside their hideaway, the voices of a man and a woman floated in the air.
Alex put his hand on her shoulder to prevent her escape. “Will you give me some assistance? I seem to have lost my valet.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Besides, if you leave now, whoever is out there will see us.”
She ventured a halfhearted grin and held his jacket in two hands. With a little persistence, he wrestled his way into the evening coat. Her hands smoothed the material across his shoulders and back, causing a pleasant sensation to cascade through him at the slight touch.
Claire took several steps toward the pathway. In a flash, he moved beside her and grasped her elbow. When he brought her close, something flared between them as he gazed into her haunted eyes. Whether the desire to keep her next to him was passion or the need to protect a vulnerable woman made little difference. He pulled her into the shadows and brought his mouth to her ear. “Wait until they pass.” The warmth from her skin beckoned.
A flash of lightning lit the gardens and the alcove.
With a gentle hand, he pushed her against the wall and stood to the side so he blocked her body from view.
A clap of thunder cracked as if the sky were breaking. It rolled into a loud rumble that refused to die.
“Please.” Her whisper grew ragged as she struggled for breath. In one fluid motion, she pulled the lapels of his evening coat toward her. She buried her face against his chest and pressed the rest of her body to his, almost as if she sought sanctuary inside. “Don’t leave me.” Her voice had weakened, the sound fragile, as if she’d break into a million pieces.
“I won’t. I promise.” Alex pulled her tight. One hand sank into the soft satin of her skirts while the other slid around the nape of her neck to hold her close to his chest. It was the most natural thing in the world to hold her. Her body fit perfectly against his.
With the slightest movement, she pulled away. Her eyes wildly searched his. For what, he couldn’t fathom.
He lowered his mouth until his lips were mere inches from tasting her. Madness had consumed him. All he wanted was to kiss her thoroughly until she forgot her fear—until she forgot everything but him.
Her breath mingled with his, and the slight moan that escaped her was intoxicating. Nothing in his entire life felt as right as this moment. He bent to brush his lips against hers.
“Pembrooke? Have you seen Lady—”
Claire leaned back and released his lapels. Without her warmth, he experienced a sudden loss of equilibrium. He turned with a snarl to greet the intruders.
Immediately, Lord Fredrick Honeycutt and his sister, Lady Sophia, took a step back as their eyes grew round as dinner plates.
The first to recover, Honeycutt announced, “I see you found Lady Claire.” He bowed his head slightly, then lowered his voice. “The Duke of Langham is looking for his niece and is directly behind us.”
A sense of wariness flooded Alex’s mind when Claire’s uncle strolled forward and came into sharp focus. As he stood, his feet spread shoulder width apart, the duke’s presence commanded everyone’s attention. His visage held the hint of a smile, but the two large fists resting by his sides were the real barometer of his mood. “Claire, are you all right?” The affection in his voice was at odds with the fury flashing in his eyes.

Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

About the Author:

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. The Bad Luck Bride is her first novel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Sara’s Review of A Study in Scoundrels by Christy Carlyle

I wish to extend my sincere thanks to Tasty Book Tours for letting me participate in the virtual tour event for Christy’s newest novel, and I’d also like to thank Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. If you would like to see all of the blogs involved in this event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=

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Rating:

Publisher: Avon Impulse

Date Released: April 11, 2017

Series: Romancing the Rules #2

Goodreads Description:

Sophia Ruthven is the epitome of proper behavior. On paper at least, as long as that paper isn’t from one of the lady detective stories she secretly pens. She certainly isn’t interested in associating with the dashing Jasper Grey, the wayward heir to the Earl of Stanhope, and one of the stage’s leading men. But when she learns Grey’s younger sister Liddy has gone missing, she can’t deny her desire to solve the mystery…or her attraction to the incorrigible scoundrel.

Responsibility isn’t something Grey is very familiar with. On the boards and in the bedroom, he lives exactly how he wants to, shunning all the trappings of respectability and society. Grey knows he should avoid the bewitching Sophia, but he’s never been able to say no to what he wants. And having Sophia in his arms and his bed is quickly becoming the thing he wants the most.

As Sophia and Grey’s search for Liddy continues across the English countryside, can this scoundrel convince a proper lady that he’s actually perfect for her or will their adventure leave them both heartbroken? 

Review:

As the second book in Carlyle’s Romancing the Rules series, I enjoyed this book much more than the first, and I’m looking forward to continuing this series as more books come out. Fans of Carlyle’s novels and of historical romances will want to add this title to their lists of books to read in the coming weeks.

I’ve wanted Sophia’s story ever since I met her in Rules for a Rogue, so I was excited to learn more about her in this novel, and I was also looking forward to learning more about Grey, too. There was no question that these two would end up together, it was simply a matter when and of how would they connect. Sophia is a proper society lady, she’s never questioned the rules of etiquette, and has spent the majority of her life caring for her family. She’s as close to a spinster as a woman could be without actually being one. Yet she’s also a woman who craves adventure and excitement, as evidence by her writing mystery novels. Grey is her complete opposite. He’s a scoundrel of the highest order and an actor. He cares nothing for displays of proper behavior or being responsible, he prefers to live of carefree enjoyment. But he’s not as carefree as he appears, Grey harbors a painful past which he is running from. Together they complete each other and provide just the right amount of incentive to change and find the happiness they both deserve.

I really enjoyed watching their relationship grow as the story progressed. Theirs is a slow build affair, both initially denying their attraction, but fate and Grey’s sister keep bringing them back together. I honestly can’t imagine Sophia ending up with anyone other than Grey. She’s his voice of reason, someone who is able to understand his pain and help him find his way through it, while he’s her motivation to live and let loose every once in a while.

Likewise I enjoyed seeing Sophia’s siblings again, if only for brief cameos, and meeting Grey’s family. Liddy, Grey’s sister, is your typical teenager. Some might call her a brat and may find her overly annoying, but she struck me as behaving as many a sixteen/seventeen year old would behave nowadays, which is to shun proper decorum and get into trouble. I can’t fault her acting as she did, even if I was rolling my eyes the entire time. Cate, Sophia’s friend and housekeeper, was a gem. I instantly loved her and couldn’t help but smile every time she nudged Sophia to follow her heart while acting like that wasn’t what she was doing. If there was a matchmaker in this book, Cate filled the role perfectly.

As for the writing, the pacing of this book was much smoother and didn’t drag as much as the first book did for me. The search for Liddy helped keep the story moving, and it allowed for plenty of will they/won’t they moments both in regards to whether they would find her, and if so in what condition, and whether Sophia and Grey would give in to their desire for the other. I also enjoyed the idea of Sophia actually “investigating” Liddy’s disappearance and taking on her character’s role of detective, regardless that it was just Sophia using common sense and thinking as a young woman would think. She accomplished more than Grey did regardless.

This is a wonderful addition to what is turning into a lovely series and I’m greatly looking forward to reading Clary’s novel later this year. I also hope that Carlyle considers continuing the series and allowing Liddy and Juliet to have stories of their own. Honestly, if you haven’t given the Romancing the Rules series a try, what is stopping you? Take a moment and give the Ruthven siblings a try, I promise you won’t regret it.

Excerpt:

Laughter tickled his ears. Weight bore down on his chest, draped over his hips. A soft weight, pliant under his hands. Heated too. Pleasure in his groin twined with pain in his head as the soft, warm weight moved against him.
He blinked, then again. Colors shimmered and blurred. The light was too dim. The room too smoky. Perfume burned his nose, too spicy and pungent.
What was that sound? A moan. A cry.
A rumbling groan reverberated in his own chest.
“Don’t leave me now,” a woman whispered near his ear. “I need release.”
He flexed his fingers, digging into the warm flesh of smooth feminine legs. Slid his hand up, finding the thicket of curls between the woman’s spread thighs.
“Yes, Grey.”
She moved against him, her breath quickening as little moans emerged. She clutched at his shoulder, her other hand on his, showing him how to touch her.
He didn’t require much direction. The role of lover was one he knew by heart. Some said he was skilled on stage, but he never doubted his expertise in the bedroom.
His own body had numbed. Whether from drink or the drugging effect of the smoke rising in whorls above his head, he wasn’t certain. But this, how to touch a woman, how to give pleasure. This he knew intuitively. This was where he excelled.
Heaven knew he’d failed at everything else.
Except acting.
But performing on stage was all a matter of illusion, of lying artfully. Sex and falsehood were his twin aptitudes.
If only he could see the woman clearly and scatter the fog in his mind. He twisted his head on the pillow and noticed a half-empty glass of blue-green liquid glowing in the low gaslight.
“What did I drink?”
A trill of laughter. Red lips. The curve of a grin in a pale face. A waterfall of red hair.
He swirled his fingers in the woman’s curls. She stilled and held her breath. He knew he’d found the key. Gently, masterfully, he touched her with all the art he’d learned from countless lovers.
“Oh, Grey.” She twitched against his fingers, dug her nails into his shoulder. “Don’t stop.”
He didn’t. Not until she gusted out a long moan, dipped her head, and sank against him as if her bones had melted.
“Absinthe,” she murmured against his chest. “A bit of laudanum.”
Grey pressed a fist to the throbbing crown of his head and tried to sit up. The lady on his chest stretched like a cat woken from a nap before rising off him and stepping away from the bed.
No, he realized when his vision cleared and he took in the books lining the walls, not a bed. Not his bedroom. He was on a settee in his London townhouse’s library, and he and his lady companion were not alone. Half-clothed bodies reclined around the musky, haze-clouded room. Some sleeping. Others smoking from an enormous bubbling hookah. At least one couple was busy, writhing and moaning in the far corner.
A man stumbled past the open library door, nude from the waist up, his shirt and coat rolled in a crumpled ball in his arms. Returning to the threshold, he let out a burp before offering, “Many happy returns, Grey. Smashing birthday party.”

About the Author:

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win 1 of 2 print copies of Rules for the Rogue, book #1 in Christy’s Romancing the Rules series, please click on the Rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open to US Residents only!

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Sara’s Review of You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne

I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Tasty Book Tours for letting me participate in this tour event, and to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. If you would like to see all of the bloggers participating in this event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=

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Rating:

Publisher: Avon Books

Date Released: March 28, 2017

Series: The Penhallow Dynasty #1

Goodreads Description:

In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.

Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow “The Penhallow way”—find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.

But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?

Review:

As the first book in a new series, I have to say that it proved to be an enjoyable read and that the series shows promise. Fans of historical romance will definitely want to check this one out for its slow burning romance and memorable characters. I greatly look forward to reading Berne’s next novel in the series when it comes out.

I loved Livia. She’s lived most of her life being the “orphan girl,” easily ignored or pitied by those around her. In reality she is a compassionate, spirited, and intelligent young woman. She’s easily my favorite out of all the characters simply because she’s someone I could readily relate and connect with. While I initially felt sympathy for her in the beginning, I was soon cheering her on and smiling like a Cheshire Cat every time she stood up to the various members of the ton. I wanted her to take society by storm, and while she didn’t quite go that far, she did give them much to get their knickers in a twist over. Gabriel, on the other paw, managed to both frustrate the hell out of me and surprise me throughout the book. My initial feelings toward him were all over the place, and I honestly thought that I would end up despising him because of his behavior and thoughts toward Livia, but he managed to redeem himself enough to warrant my grudging respect. I truly believe that so much of the grief these two went through could have been avoided had they both not been so firmly set in their opinions of each other. It certainly lead me to question whether their relationship was realistic because they were so aloof throughout a good portion of the book.

While Berne’s leading characters had me divided in my feelings toward them, her secondary characters likewise left me liking some and downright loathing others. Cecily was just asking for me to take swipes at her insipid face with my claws. She’s so shallow and so true a representation to how many young ladies of the ton behaved and thought back then, I just couldn’t refrain from hissing whenever she showed up. Mrs. Penhallow (Grandmama) likewise made my fur crawl a lot in the beginning, but unlike Cecily, she managed to turn my feelings toward her around and I ended up warming up to her considerably in the end. Mrs. Cott is a dear and I only wish that we had gotten to see more of her, but she mostly was kept in the background so we never get a full feel for who she is. Hugo, Gabriel’s cousin, is awesome. His scenes left me smiling and I look forward to seeing more of him at some point hopefully. I have to give a few purrs to Berne for her skill at making every character in the story standout and draw upon the reader’s emotions, be they ones of love or hate. It certainly didn’t make for a dull read in that sense, murr!

For the most part this was a smooth, easy book to read. Yes there were some moments where it felt like the story lagged a bit and I found myself wishing for the action to pick up, but I never lost full interest in the plot. Since Livia was so likeable a character, I was emotionally invested in seeing how everything played out in the end, even if it meant gritting my teeth over some of the moments while everyone was in Bath. Likewise while I initially questioned the relationship between Gabriel and Livia, there were plenty of little moments scattered throughout the story where you could see each of them slowly seeing the other’s true qualities and soul so when they did finally come together I could accept it because I had those moments to look back on.

Overall this was a solid read from a debut author, which is why I have to give this book four paws and a tail wave of appreciation.

Excerpt:

She had been dismissed. Livia rose and after dipping the briefest of curtsies in Lady Glanville’s direction, went to the door with long strides, so angry that she felt she had to get out of there or explode. Behind her she heard Aunt Bella saying in a soft little bleat, “Livia! No word of gratitude! Pray come back!” Instead, she closed the door with exaggerated gentleness and leaned against it for a moment.
By the bannister stood a maidservant with an armful of gowns. With a muttered sentence of thanks Livia took them and hurried upstairs to her room where with savage satisfaction she flung the gowns against the wall, leaving them to lie in a crumpled heap on the floor. She paced back and forth, back and forth, until the red haze of rage subsided. Then she went to her bed and dropped full­length upon it with unladylike abandon, causing the old wood frame to creak alarmingly.
It was stupid of her, she knew, to react like that to the Orrs. But it was hard, so hard, when Cecily had every­ thing and she had so very little. No parents, no brothers or sisters; no money, no education, no prospects.
Your future must be thought of, too.
It was strange, now that she considered it, how little time she had spent thinking about her future. Possibly because there was no point to it. In her existence here she was like a great hoary tree, deeply, immovably, rooted into the earth.
She couldn’t even hang on to the morbid hope of inheriting anything from Uncle Charles when he died. He’d run through most of Aunt Bella’s money ages ago, and year by year everything had slowly declined, dwindled, faded away. Now there wasn’t much left; the estate barely brought in enough for Aunt Bella to pay for her cordial, and for Uncle Charles to spend his days hunting, drinking, and eating. Speaking of romantic marriages.
Well, it could be worse. At least she didn’t have a mother like that revolting Lady Glanville. Imagine having her breathing down one’s neck all day.
Still, this was only a small consolation. A very small consolation.
Livia thought about Cecily’s beautiful white gown and those elegant kid slippers with the dainty pink rosettes.
It was those rosettes that did it.
Envy, like a nasty little knife slipping easily into soft flesh, seemed to pierce her very soul.
Abruptly Livia twisted onto her side and stared at nothing.
She would not cry.
Crying never helped anything.
There came to her, suddenly, the memory of the first time she had met Cecily, some twelve years ago; they’d both been around six. Cecily and her mother had come to call. Livia, recently arrived from faraway India, desperately lonely, was so anxious to be friends with the lovely, beautifully dressed girl with the long shining curls. Shyly she had approached, trying to smile, and Cecily had responded by saying in a clear, carrying voice:
“Oh, you’re the little orfin girl. Your papa was sent away from here and he died. And your grandpapa was a runaway and he drownded. And your mama drownded, too. Why is your skin so brown? Are you dirty?” And she had backed away, to hide behind the skirts of her mother Lady Glanville, who had said to her, with that same cold smile that never reached her eyes, “Poor little Livia isn’t a native, my dear, she’s every bit as English as you and I. The sun shines quite fiercely in India, and she had no mama or papa to make sure she stayed under her parasol. Do you see?”
Livia had never forgotten the burning sense of shame from that day. Nor had Cecily made it any easier, for from time to time she would laughingly recall the occasion of their first meeting and how she had thought Livia to be unwashed, as if it was the funniest anecdote in all the world.
Livia did not like to remember, even if only hazily, how when she was four, the monsoon season struck Kanpur with devastating onslaughts of rain. Both her widowed mother and her grandfather had died in a great flood, and it was with grudging reluctance that Uncle Charles had sent money for his niece’s passage to England.
Upon arriving in Wiltshire, Livia was not so much welcomed into the home—if such the ancient, ram­ bling domicile known as Ealdor Abbey could be so termed—of Uncle Charles and Aunt Bella, as absorbed. Aside from grumbling within earshot about the expense of feeding her, Uncle Charles barely noticed her. Aunt Bella, childless, somnolent, always unwell, with interest in neither Society nor useful occupation, accepted Livia’s presence without a blink but also without care or concern for the little girl for whom she was, ostensibly, responsible.
Oh, you’re the little orfin girl.
Livia smiled without humor.
Yes indeed, Cecily certainly had a knack for getting to the heart of things.

About the Author:

Lisa Berne read her first Georgette Heyer book at fourteen, and was instantly captivated. Later, she was a graduate student, a grantwriter, and an investment banker, but is thrilled to be returning to her roots and writing her own historical-romance novels! She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a $25 gift card to a book seller of your choice, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81262

Dancer’s Review of When Planets Fall by Abby J. Reed

I’m excited to be a part of the tour event for Abby J. Reed’s novel, and would like to extend my thanks to Rockstar Book Tours for letting me share this review with you today! And I’d also like to thank Soul Mate Publishing for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. If you’d like to see the names of everyone involved in the tour, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Rating:

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Release Date: April 12, 2017

Series: Stars Fall Circle #1

Goodreads Description:

Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.

Review:

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to science fiction, I’m hit or miss with the genre mostly because it is difficult for me to envision space technology and such, but when I read the description of this book I knew I had to give it a try. As the first in a series, I was pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable the story was, and am looking forward to seeing what happens to everyone in the next book. This is one of those titles fans of young adult novels and science fiction will want to check out. It’s unique, filled with unexpected twists and turns, likeable characters, and will leave you on the edge of your seat in suspense.

I liked Malani the moment I met her. She’s been dealt a hard life, passed from one family to the next never knowing what a true home or acceptance feels like. She’s also experienced torturous pain at the hands of her enemy, so it’s no surprised that she has a lot of problems when it comes to self-worth, trust, etc. While she may come across to some readers as being a jerk, I saw her as vulnerable, but with a strong internal spirit. It was hard not to feel sympathy for her after everything she’s experienced in life. Breaker, on the other paw, was a jerk in my eyes. He’s demanding, unwilling to see the other side of issues, and got on my nerves a lot while reading. While I understand his goal is to protect his family and people, his behavior throughout much of the book left much to be desired, and his initial treatment and feelings toward Malani were horrible. I didn’t start to really like him until the final chapters of the book, which is sad when you consider the fact that he’s the primary character. This isn’t to say that other readers won’t enjoy his character, I can easily see why others would appreciate and gravitate toward him rather than Malani, I just personally struggled with my feelings toward him. Having said all this, Luka was probably the most genuine character out of the three for me. His motivations are clear, he doesn’t sugar coat his behavior, what you see is what you get. This isn’t to say that I liked him, but I had more respect for him than I did Breaker because I at least knew what to expect from Luka, and the fact that I could respect him made him a character I could appreciate in the end. I’m curious to discover how these three will develop and connect in the next book. I don’t know as if I could see them becoming fast friends, but I would love to see them reach an understanding and respect for each other as the series plays out.

I really enjoyed how Reed set up the chapters to be told from alternating character point of views. Rather than have the story centered solely around Breaker and told through his eyes, we’re given the story through Malani and Luka’s as well, which allows us to learn more about the people living on the planet Scarlatti and experience the world and events in greater detail thereby creating a richer, more memorable story. It also keeps the reader invested in all three characters lives, you want to keep reading in order to discover what happens to everyone and experience their internal growth as events progress. I would say my only complaint was there were not as many chapters given to Luka as there were Breaker and Malani, but that could be simply because he is that clear cut a character and so doesn’t need to have as much time devoted toward explaining his motivations as the other two.

The overall pacing of the story was good. There weren’t that many places where it felt like things were dragging, if anything I felt more of a desire for the story to progress faster simply because I wanted to know what happened next. I felt Reed did a great job creating a sense of urgency, both with the deadline Breaker had to repair the starship and the unrest between the three cultures. Likewise I enjoyed the plot of the book and felt it was a unique concept.

Honestly, what kept me from loving this book, aside from my frustration with Breaker, who really was the primary focus, was Reed’s word usage for the passage of time and for swearing. I wasn’t sure at first if the words used were actually what she meant to say until I started seeing it happen often in the book, so at first I thought it was an error while writing that would end up being fixed later on. When I first began reading I found myself pausing every time I came across words like dia and cycle whenever a character talked about time. Yes, it is more than obvious what is being conveyed every time you read a sentence discussing time, but the changes in words used to convey it caused my mind to stop simply because they are not the words I expected to see in these moments. I actually ended up substituting houryearday, etc. just so I could read the sentences at a smoother pace. And Reeds use of words like banging to convey swearing really put my mind in a tizzy. It took me a few times to realize what she was doing in those moments, and I will give a nod of admiration to her for finding a way to swear without actually swearing,  but it pulled me from my reading enjoyment just enough each time to make me a bit frustrated with the novel.

On the whole I feel this is a great start to what promises to be an engaging and intriguing series. Just when you think you know where the book is heading and think you know what will happen next, Reed adds a twist that will leave you flipping to the next chapter in order to find out how it all will be resolved. And just when you think you have your answers, a whole new set of questions arise toward the end, which will leave you asking, how long until the next book? Yes, the book ends on what some might call a cliffhanger, but I tend to think of it more in terms of the adventure finally starting, and the journey ahead the mystery we get to explore at a later point in time.

About the Author:

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint.

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***Giveaway***

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Sara’s Review of My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton

I’m thrilled to be participating in the tour for Megan Frampton’s newest novel, and would like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting me share this post with you today. I’d also like to extend my sincere thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, murr! =^.^=

~*~

Rating:

Publisher: Avon Books

Date Released: February 28, 2017

Series: Dukes Behaving Badly #5

Goodreads Description:

In Megan Frampton’s most recent installment of The Dukes Behaving Badly series, an unexpected duchess proves that behaving badly isn’t exclusive to the Dukedom.

The Unexpected Duchess

Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?

It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of her depth, she calls on an expert. And what an expert, with shoulders broad enough to lean on, and a wit that matches her own. Archie is supposed to teach her to be a lady and run her estate, but what she really wants to do is unladylike—run into his arms.

Review:

I’ve greatly been enjoying Frampton’s Dukes Behaving Badly series, so I knew when this book was announced that I would like it. As with the previous books in the series, this novel can be read as a stand-alone and contains just the right amount of humor, wonderful characters, slowly burning romance, and engaging plot. Fans of Frampton’s books will not be disappointed in this one, and new comers to the series will find this to be a delightful read.

Genevieve is one of those people who is much stronger than she realizes. While she may feel that she is not cut out and knowledgeable enough to be a Duchess and run a dukedom, I feel she knows quite a bit and simply lacks confidence in herself. Archie was a bit hard for me to get a solid read on personality wise when I first met him, and as I continued reading I still wasn’t entirely sure what my true thoughts were where he was concerned. He has a playful side that is enjoyable, especially when it comes out around Genevieve, but he’s also got a side of him that is guarded and prefers things to be ordered and regimented (unsurprising since he is a retired military captain). Together these two have a fun and slow burning chemistry that fully comes into its own toward the end of the book. I loved that Archie taught Genevieve to have confidence in herself and that she in turn taught him to let go and have fun by setting aside proper behavior from time to time.

This is one of those books that left me smiling periodically while I was reading, and sometimes even chuckling to myself. Genevieve just has this fun quality to her that you can help but love. Her grandmother and her godmother also bring a bit of mischief and humor to the reading; I’m reminded of a scene toward the end of the book that deals with “sparkling” sheep. It’s this quality to Frampton’s writing which I enjoy immensely and always look forward to when reading this series. They’re all just fun books, and I was happy to see this quality carry over into this novel.

There were only two things that kept me from fully falling in love with this title. The first was that there were issues that came up in the story that were never fully resolved. I don’t want to say that the ending felt rushed, but I do feel that one particular issue wasn’t as explored and dealt with as I would have liked. There’s a moment in the final chapter where you think you’re going to see something happen, but it’s left hanging there unresolved. Now this could be because Frampton plans to bring this particular character back in the next book in the series as an obstacle for the main characters in that story, at least that is my hope, but I was a tad disappointed with how easily this issue was handled. And actually, now that I think about it, this issue ties in with my primary problem with the book which was that the conflict was too simple, and we don’t see nearly as much of it as we could have. We have a character, a woman mind you, who has inherited the title of Duchess, something that in this time period was practically unheard of. She also hasn’t been trained to handle the proper running of an estate and all that the title entails. You would think that there would be more focus on the social stigma this would engender and more examples of Genevieve not knowing how to handle things, but we don’t really see that a whole lot in this story. Yes, we get some training, but what we primarily see is lessons in how Genevieve should act toward people, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t all that different from lessons young ladies receive prior to entering the Ton. Now, please bear in mind that I did find the overall plot of the story to be engaging, but I believe that there was more that Frampton could have done to truly let this book shine, and thus standout, especially since she chose to twist societal convention around.

Overall, I honestly feel that this was a wonderful addition to what is an enjoyable series, and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what Frampton has planned next. Would I recommend this book to others? Most assuredly! As I said toward the start of my review, this book works well as a stand-alone, and I feel that anyone who hasn’t read Frampton’s books would enjoy this one. But I also would recommend the series as a whole for readers to enjoy because each installment in the series brings about its own bit of fun and wonderful characters. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Frampton’s books, murr!

Excerpt:

1845, Lady Sophia’s Drawing Room

“There’s only one solution,” Lady Sophia said, passing the letter to Archie as he felt his stomach drop. And his carefully ordered life teeter on the verge of change. “You’ll have to go to London to sort my goddaughter out.” She embellished her point by squeezing her tiny dog Truffles, who emitted a squeak and glared at Archie. As if it was his fault.
He resisted the urge to crumple the paper in his hand. “But the festival is in a few weeks,” Archie said, hearing the desperate tone in his voice. He did not want to ever return to London. That was the purpose of taking a position out here in the country after leaving the Queen’s Own Hussars a year prior. His family was there, and his father, at least, had made it clear he never wanted to see him again. What’s more, he did not want to assist a helpless aristocrat in some sort of desperate attempt to bring order to their lives. Even though that was what he was doing in Lady Sophia’s employ. But working for her had come to have its own kind of satisfactory order, one he did not want to disrupt.
“There is work to be done,” Archie continued, hoping to appeal to his employer’s sensible side.
Although in the course of working for her he had come to realize his employer didn’t really have a sensible side, so what was he hoping to accomplish?
“Didn’t you tell me Mr. McCready could do everything you could?” Lady Sophia asked. “You pointed out that if you were to get ill, or busy with other matters, your assistant steward could handle things just as well as you.”
That was when I was trying to get one of my men work, Archie thought in frustration. To help him get back on his feet after the rigors of war. And Bob had proven himself to be a remarkably able assistant, allowing Archie to dive into Lady Sophia’s woefully neglected accounts and see into her investments, neither of which she paid any attention to.
Lady Sophia placed Truffles on the rug before lifting her head to look at Archie. Who knew, in that moment, that he was doomed. Doomed to return to London to help out a likely far-too- indulged female in the very difficult position of being a powerful and wealthy aristocrat.
Perhaps it would have been easier to just get shot on the battlefield. It certainly would have been quicker.
“It’s settled.” She punctuated her words with a nod of her head, sending a few gray curls flying in the air. “You will go see to the new duchess and take care of her as ably as you do me. Mr. Mc-Cready will assist me while you are away.”
Archie looked at the letter again. “This duchess is your relative?” he asked. That would explain the new duchess’s equally silly mode of communication. An “unexpected duchess,” indeed. What kind of idiot wouldn’t have foreseen this circumstance? And done something to prepare for it?
“She calls me aunt, but she is not my actual niece, you understand,” Lady Sophia explained. “She is my goddaughter; her mother married the duke, the duchess’s father. It is quite unusual for a woman to inherit the duchy.”
“Quite,” Archie echoed.
“But it happened, somehow, and since I don’t know anything about being a duchess . . .” Because I do? Archie wondered. But there wasn’t anybody else. She wouldn’t have asked Lady Sophia, of all people, unless there was nobody else.
Or if she was as flighty and confident as her faux-aunt. A scenario that seemed more and more likely.
“The only thing Mr. McCready can’t do is attract as much feminine interest as you do, Mr. Salisbury.” She sat back up and regarded him. “Which might make him more productive,” she added. She leaned over to offer Truffles the end of her biscuit.
Archie opened his mouth to object, but closed it when he realized she was right. He wasn’t vain, but he did recognize that ladies tended to find his appearance attractive. Lady Sophia received many more visitors, she’d told him in an irritated tone, now that he’d been hired.
Bob, damn his eyes, smirked knowingly every time Archie was summoned to Lady Sophia’s drawing room to answer yet another question about estate management posed by a lady who’d likely never had such a question in her life.
Archie responded by making Bob personally in charge of the fertilizer. It didn’t stop Bob’s smirking, but it did make Archie feel better.
“And you will return in a month’s time so you can be here for the festival.”
“Sooner if I can, my lady.” If this duchess needed more time than a month, there would be no hope for her anyway. Country life suited him; he liked its quiet and regularity. It was a vast change from life in battle, or even being just on duty, but it was far more interesting than being the third son from a viscount’s family. A viscount who disowned his third boy when said boy was determined to join the army.
Meanwhile, however, he had to pack to head off to a new kind of battle—that of preparing a completely unprepared woman, likely a woman as flighty and often confused as Lady Sophia, to hold a position that she was entirely unsuited for.
Very much like working with raw recruits, in fact.

About the Author:

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. You can visit her on her website, @meganf, and at Facebook.

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***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win 1 of 3 print copies of Megan’s Why Do Dukes Fall in Love, book #4 in the Dukes Behaving Badly series, please use the Rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open to US residents only.

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