Review: To the Duke, With Love

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: To the Duke, With Love
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: December 2017
Length: 352 pages
Series?: The Rakes of St. James #2
Genre: Historical, Romance

Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn is guardian for his sweet, younger sister. Due to his misguided past as one of the infamous Rakes of St James, Hawk is hoping to avoid the Season by securing a match for her before it begins. He has the perfect gentleman in mind, but for one infuriating―and unexpectedly intoxicating―obstacle: the intended groom’s own sister, Miss Loretta Quick.

Having narrowly avoided her own arranged marriage to an unacceptable nobleman, Loretta is determined that her dear brother―a gentle, good-natured soul―should marry for love. Matching wits with Hawk may be her greatest challenge yet. . .until she realizes it may also be her greatest pleasure. For the young duke’s irresistible charm has not only begun to crumble her stubborn resolve, it has claimed her heart in true love as well.

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my review

My Thoughts 

This is the second book in the Rakes of St. James series. I read the first book and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I was expecting so much from this next book. It fell flat for me. The obvious insta-lust was so strong, it didn’t even read right in this historical romance setting. I did not get the feeling that the primary couple actually fell in love with one another. “I want you” is not the same as “I love you.” Additionally, there was a great imbalance of financials, which rubs me the wrong way with that type of power play.

Sloane Knox, Duke of Hawksthorn, is one of the three Rakes of St. James who played a prank on a dozen debutantes a decade ago. Following last year’s season and a possible threat to the younger sister of one of the other Rakes of St. James, Sloane wants to bar any such threat happening to his younger sister, Adele, as she makes her debut. Arranging a secret engagement before the start of the season will ensure that Adele comes out successful with a suitor and free of any retribution. In efforts to arrange what Hawk believes is the perfect match, he travels to Mammoth House, set far in the countryside, remote and isolated. Eager to make arrangements with Paxton Quick, a handsome and kind man, Hawk is harshly surprised to find not Paxton, but his sister Loretta at Mammoth House. A confusing confrontation ensues, with lines drawn in the sand and Loretta firmly making her stance that she will do everything in her power to keep her brother from this marriage.

Despite being a drastic act, Loretta was once set up in an arranged marriage herself. It was a business transaction more than a love match. In fact, she didn’t feel anything for the man…and left him at the altar. Following her uncle’s severe embarrassment and ensuing rage, Loretta has been banished to live at the remote Mammoth House, not even allowed to visit the village. She is required to remain at Mammoth House and not allowed to leave and sees her uncle but once a year at Christmastime. Having suffered the repercussions, Loretta only wants her brother to marry for love.

Going against all etiquette, Hawk dines alone with Loretta that night as a massive storm blows in. Midway through, a young urchin is found at the backdoor. Hawk follows him into the storm and brings him back, while Loretta and the other staff nurse him back from the brink of death. Once he revives a little, he is feisty and foul-mouthed.

Hawk is bent on ensuring the match between Adele and Paxton, inviting them to London for a meeting. Going to the lengths to visit the Earl of Switchingham and fatten him up to the idea, Hawk also persuades him to allow Loretta to make the journey. Considering the earl will not be out one penny for any of the travel and it will only be acceptable for both siblings to make the journey, the earl agrees. Getting the responsibility of his nephew off his shoulders will be a welcome change.

Embarking to London, Loretta makes the last-minute decision to bring Farley with them. He needs to be seen by a doctor, but Hawk is cold to the idea and cold to Farley. He sees him as a street rat who will pilfer anything. The two males almost have a burning hatred in their eyes for one another. The boy is quick witted for sure and brings comedic relief and drama to the unfolding story.

The insta-lust is palpable even from the immediate start of the book, and continues on throughout the book. There are a few close calls where they are almost caught, and Hawk makes some pre-arranged tasks for others so that he and Loretta can be alone. Ironically, Adele and Paxton hit it off extremely well and their match seems inevitable.

There were a couple of inaccuracies (dollars in England?) that showed the lesser planning for this second installment. I was looking forward to this second book in the Rakes of St. James series and the insta-love and some of the awkward wording dropped the book significantly from the momentum established with the first book. I’m not sure what to expect with the next in the series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amelia Grey (aka Gloria Dale Skinner) grew up in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. She has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over twenty-five years. She has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire and now lives in Florida.

Amelia has won the coveted Romantic Times award for Love and Laughter, the prestigious Maggie award for best historical and Affaire de Coeur’s best American historical award. She has been a finalist for the Golden Heart and the Holt Medallion awards which are given by Romance Writers of America and numerous other awards. Her books have been sold to many countries in Europe, Russia and China.

Amelia likes flowers, candlelight, sweet smiles, gentle laughter and sunshine.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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Review: The Duke and Miss Christmas

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Duke and Miss Christmas
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: October 2015
Length: 65 pages
Series?: The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels #2.5
Genre: Historical, Romance

Crispin, the Duke of Hurst, has never met a woman he couldn’t handle—until he’s hit over the head with a basketful of mistletoe by a young lady who mistakes his intentions. When he gets into a tussle with her—and she can hold her own—Crispin knows he has finally met his match.

Miss Gwen Prim is mortified that she attacked a duke, but even more concerning is the way her resolve melts when she’s near him. She’s never felt this way about a London gentleman in her life. And with the magic of Christmas in the air, she may end up with a proposal she didn’t expect.

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my review

My Thoughts 

Crispin is the seventh Duke of Hurst and and a member of the Heirs’ Club, a group of young men who become embroiled in scandal. Waiting for the gossip to die down, he join his mother and siblings in America before returning to England and accepting an invitation to the Christmas Ball hosted by his friend, the Duke of Drakestone. While riding to Drakestone, Crispin stumbles upon a young girl named Sybil sitting in the snow. Cutting greenery in a tree, she fell and injured her leg. Crispin arranges Sybil on his horse. In the process, her leg is pressed upon, causing her to cry out. Crispin is suddenly attacked from behind. It is another woman with a basket, who wields it like a madman. Crispin tries to calm the woman and explain he was assisting young Sybil. Refusing to give her name, he calls her Miss Christmas.

Gwen Prim has returned to Drakestone following her season. Heartbroken by her journey into the ton, she flies into action when she discovers her sister being attacked by a strange man. Being the sister-in-law to the Duke of Drakestone, Gwen and her siblings are well-cared for. At dinner, she is shocked to learn Crispin is also a duke and staying at Drakestone. Her utter embarrassment is palpable and she silently cowers in her seat in mortal fear that it will be revealed that she struck a duke.

I liked the characters, both of whom come from large families with several siblings. Gwen is a fiesty redhead who protects her family. Crispin has a humorous, good nature for a duke.

The insta-love reaction to one another rankled. The one issue I had was with the steamy scene. I don’t buy it as a reader. Gwen was just giving narration about the potentials of pregnancy after a single encounter. Knowing the ramifications, the fact that she gives into a single encounter – in the snow – at the end of an outing with her sisters – seemed against Gwen’s morals and out of place.

This was one of the shortest novellas I’ve read. It was constantly moving along and was a funny Christmas read that can be read as a standalone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amelia Grey (aka Gloria Dale Skinner) grew up in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. She has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over twenty-five years. She has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire and now lives in Florida.

Amelia has won the coveted Romantic Times award for Love and Laughter, the prestigious Maggie award for best historical and Affaire de Coeur’s best American historical award. She has been a finalist for the Golden Heart and the Holt Medallion awards which are given by Romance Writers of America and numerous other awards. Her books have been sold to many countries in Europe, Russia and China.

Amelia likes flowers, candlelight, sweet smiles, gentle laughter and sunshine.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Review: My Lady Governess

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Sock Monster
Author: Elise Clarke
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: December 2017
Length: 200 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Historical, Romance

One knight, one runaway heiress, one rollicking romance: A breath of fresh air in Regency romance!

Proud and haughty, Lord de Waare is almost as medieval as his castle…until he accidentally abducts a governess, who turns out not to be a governess at all, and who shows this knight that his heart is not as armoured as he thought.

A girl with a dangerous past, Marina would happily disappear again, but since de Waare won’t let that happen, then the least he can do is help her clear her name. But moving back into society is dangerous for her and for the stern man she’s coming to love. She knows the rules of honour and society, and she won’t allow de Waare to compromise the principles that define him.

But de Waare didn’t become the Crusader by accepting defeat. Faint heart never won a fair lady, and de Waares always win.

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my review

My Thoughts 

Marina Frome takes her role as governess to her three charges seriously, but she is not one to cower to a bully. When Lord de Waare – among others – are invited to stay at the Kemp household while Lady Kemp preys upon her first daughter’s future husband and said daughter simpers like a fool. Marina sees the writing on the wall and intervenes in this plotting mama’s scandalous act, and winds up being abducted from her own residency by Lord de Waare himself – drunk, at that. The opening scenes were quite comical and albeit over-the-top with a fast pace.

On the way to his northern home, Tam discovers Marina Frome is not a frumpy, frizzy-haired, overweight governess. Instead, she is a slender blonde resembling a sprite with such a mind that there is no way she is anything but from the nobility. No servant would dare speak or act in ways such as she. Set to discovering her true identity, Tam gives Marina his own nickname that follows her throughout the book. Convinced she is ruined, Tam refuses any word on the contrary that he will marry her.

Marina soon discovers Tam’s dotting aunt, who seems to do exactly as he bids. A foreign concept to her. She also meets Tam’s younger brother who quickly falls into puppy love with her. Meanwhile, Marina is fighting her own growing attraction and affection for Tam. There are a few awkwardly funny scenes that weren’t fully fleshed out to reveal themselves as naive attractiveness and how Marina can’t handle that. The scene upon discovering Tam in the lake and stumbling all over in the snow comes to mind.

Soon Marina’s identity is revealed to Tam in the few items his friend collected from the Kemps. A small family Bible reveals her to be almost a princess in her own right. The gravity of this scene and Tam’s shock underscores just how massive a scandal this was when it happened four years prior. And the lies that were told only add up to one thing: greed. Marina would have gone on living in hiding, but Tam is determined to assist Marina in getting her inheritance back. And it starts with a visit to an asylum…

While Tam now knows Marina’s true identity, no one else does. They go on pretending, even as they travel to London. It is there that Tam’s wartime friends come into the light, as well as Tam’s very Moulin Rouge-like Uncle Quentin who tells such a tale of the war with the French…and Tam’s old flame, a tall, lithe, bombshell blonde. Once the troupe arrives in London, things take some very strange turns filled with surprises, jealousy, crazy, and blows to pride.

Despite her level head and all of her reflection over the past four years of her life, in addition to her own insistence of how spiteful and mean she was growing up (sometimes just because she could), I couldn’t reconcile such growth and maturity with the fact that Mariana STILL went into overly melodramatic hysterics and weeping on several occasions. The behavior was at odds with her character growth.

Just as there is a flaw in Marina’s character, there is an even bigger one in Tam’s. He lives and dies by honor, but he had an ugly nasty habit of domineering and physically abusing Mariana in what today would be labeled domestic violence. I also couldn’t reconcile that behavior with the man he seemed to be. When Mariana disobeyed him or refused to give in, he would grab her chin and jaw in his hand and jerk her head around to force her to agree with him on whatever subject was at hand. This didn’t add up to the character Clarke built of him being such a gentleman, right out of the Medieval period.

There was some superfluous wordiness at times that bogged down everything. I think it could have been worked out with some more editing and revising, or done away with altogether. I’m not sure the purpose of the particular scenes I’m thinking about being written in that way.

Overall, an enjoyable book if you can look past the few flaws. I did enjoy Marina’s character (minus the hysterics) and I loved Uncle Quentin’s own hysterically outlandish behavior. A roué indeed! I’m interested to see the books that feature Tam’s friends, the wounded Irishman and gorgeous hunk that is the prime meat of the marriage mart.

Review: Cactus Rose

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Cactus Rose
Author: Samantha Harte
Publisher: Diversion
Release Date: August 2015
Length: 238 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Historical, Western, Romance

Rosie Saladay needs to get married—fast. The young widow needs help to protect her late husband’s ranch, but no decent woman can live alone with a hired hand. With the wealthy Wesley Morris making a play for her land, Rosie needs a husband or she risks losing everything. So she hangs a sign at the local saloon: “Husband wanted. Apply inside. No conjugal rights.”

Delmar Grant is a sucker for a damsel in distress, and even with Rosie’s restrictions on “boots under her bed” stated firmly in black and white, something about the lovely widow’s plea leaves him unable to turn away her proposal of marriage.

Though neither planned on falling in love, passion ignites between the unlikely couple. But their buried secrets—and enemies with both greed and a grudge—threaten to tear them apart. They’ll discover this marriage of convenience may cost them more than they could have ever bargained for.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

I thought it was going to be a great book from the start. A woman looking for a husband in Arizona Territory — in the saloon?

Rosie Salady suspects her husband was murdered at his work site, far into the interior of their property that is much-speculated about in town to be a gold mine. Perhaps that was the motive, she believes as she eyes the nasty Wesley Morris trying to buy it up. But how can she prove it? Not to mention Abner’s work – it has to be protected! In order to keep her husband’s land and work site safe, Rosie hastily marries a stranger she finds in the saloon only a week after burying her husband.

Delmar Grant, a gunfighter, continually finds himself gambling away everything as he makes his way back home…a destination he will never reach. He is an attractive man and answers Rosie’s strange ad, surviving through the interview process. The judge marries them and Rosie takes Del home. He quickly surmises that Rosie lives in a shack and that her husband didn’t put in any work into the house, barn, or any other little things that needed doing. As they pick up married life, Del discovers that Rosie’s husband was only home to eat dinner and sleep on a mat in his own add-on to the house. Del quickly puts himself to work tending to things, fixing things, and putting them to rights to improve Rosie’s pitiful buildings. Slowly, as they live married life together, they slowly fall in love, even though Del has his own secrets.

Rose was a mill girl with no family. She came west to marry Abner…only to find out he wasn’t in need of a wife, but a housekeeper. Rosie kept the house up, cooked, and made sure to look out for absent-minded and dedicated Abner. Rosie’s life was so isolating and lonely it was heartbreaking. Del soaks it all in and treats Rosie with kindness and small touches of the love she didn’t have but craved.

Eventually Rosie takes Del to Abner’s work site – a beautiful indigenous community built into the side of a massive cliff. The residents long gone, Abner dedicated his entire life to documenting every single thing about the site in journals and collections. Del chooses to secret the journals away in the desert, which proves useful later. He also discovers an indication that Abner might have died of natural causes, in addition to his own regrets about Rosie in the last few weeks of his life.

As much as I enjoyed this book and its fresh take on mail-order brides, there were a few strange moments between the two main characters as the book went on. I understood its purpose to create tension and suspense, but it was quite strange. My take-away was that Del thought Rosie was absolutely crazy and told her so without mincing any words. There were a couple times Rosie’s freaking out was too much and some things she said didn’t make sense. I surmise these were difficult scenes to write. In all this chaos and a dirty underhand deal before Rosie ever set eyes on Del, Rosie is back to living a life of lonely solitude as Del tries to figure out all the players after Rosie’s land. He discovers a looter on Abner’s site and things begin to unravel at breakneck speeds from there with the looter and Wesley Morris.

An interesting read and commentary on protecting our history and historical sites as is, as well as shining the spotlight on women and their needs in their marriage. The concept of Abner’s native work site and treasures reminds me quite a bit of Baxter’s Draw by Juliette Harper wherein the three daughters of Langston Lockwood discover a hidden retreat in the property’s draw that contain beautiful native artifacts, artwork, and other items.

Review: A Devil in Scotland

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: A Devil in Scotland
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 311 pages
Series?: No Ordinary Hero #3
Genre: Historical, Romance

1806, Scotland: Wild, reckless Callum MacCreath is in no hurry to become someone’s husband. But when his responsible, steady older brother Ian announces his engagement to their childhood friend Rebecca, Callum makes a startling discovery: he wants the lovely young lass for himself. But it’s too late, and when Ian banishes him for his duplicity, he’s only too happy to leave Scotland forever.

1816: Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now, ten years later, Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Will he remember their spirited, fiery connection, or does he blame her for his brother’s unexpected death? This time neither of them can deny their scorching attraction, but will their hearts be burned in the blazing heat of scandal?

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my review

My Thoughts 

This is the third book in the series and while it can be read as a stand alone, there will be confusion as to why in the prologue Callum threatens the Duke of Dunncraigh seemingly unprovoked. It is all made clear in the previous book, My One True Highlander. You can read my review here.

The prologue characterizes Callum MacCreath as a drunk womanizer. At the time, he was. Upon learning his childhood friend, Rebecca, is going to marry his older brother, he insists and then insults her to marry him. His behavior is so despicable that he is banished, at which time he threatens the Duke of Dunncraigh that if anything happens to his brother or Rebecca, he’d be coming for him. Callum makes his way to America, to Kentucky, and builds himself a whiskey empire in his decade-long absence. During this time, Ian MacCreath sends continuous letters to Callum that are ignored. Never hearing word from him, Rebecca accepts the help and friendship of the Duke and his son after her husband’s death, soon followed by the loss of her father. The Duke and his son have set their sites on the widow and her home.

Everything they thought would happen comes to an abrupt halt when Callum does return to claim his inheritance. Despite burning every unopened letter from Ian, Callum cannot ignore a news story about his brother’s death. His brother’s death that he finds highly suspicious.

With his return, Callum does find that his brother and Rebecca had an enjoyable life. The inquisitive Mags, their daughter, is just as determined as her newly discovered uncle. It takes Callum aback. He wants to do nothing but kill the murderers and avenge his brother, despite their disagreement and Callum’s long-held anger. Though she was the love of his childhood, Callum does not trust Rebecca or her innocent act and he treats her so. While he firmly believes he knows his brother was murdered, nobody else does. It appears that Callum is still the hot-headed, irrational young man he left Scotland as. Rebecca refuses to leave without her daughter, and Callum will not allow Mags to be taken away, so they have to find a way to live together. As Callum continues to be present in her home, the feelings they had both let go of a decade ago resurface. Callum knows he must convince her and protect her, and prove himself to her that he is not the impulsive, reckless idiot that he was before. She does concede that if Callum can find proof that Ian was murdered, she will support him.

Rebecca’s choices made sense. She chose the reliable older brother, rather than the brash younger brother. When he returns, Rebecca is also suspicious of him. Regardless of her suspicions of Callum, he wins the heart of not only Mags, but also several members of the household. He is tenderly attached to Mags, who adores him and his wolf Waya. The wolf pack have been together since he nursed Waya back to health as a pup. Like Callum, Waya is ferociously protective and loyal. Rebecca’s heart begins to warm to the prospect of having him around. At first she was stringently against levirate marriage – something Callum brings up a several times – but as their situation continues, her unease grows.

When it becomes clear that Callum is on to something and his notion of murder is not as far-fetched as everyone believes, he must choose between building a life with her over his striking vengeance. It is not an easy choice, and Callum struggles heavily under the weight of what he must do. The evidence has finally been uncovered and things seem to fall into place. Until a desperate Dunncraigh inserts himself and takes drastic measures to steal the hope for their future.

I loved the way Callum and Rebecca fell into love together, despite (or maybe in spite of?) the surrounding circumstances. I adored Mags and her delightful “wolf pack”. They all fell into family life so easily and naturally. A fast-paced, conflict-filled story that is hard to pass up!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suzanne was born in Southern California sometime in the latter half of the 20th century. In the way that some people are born knowing they want to be astronauts or cellists, Suzanne always knew she wanted to be a writer. Early dreams of becoming a zoologist and writing true stories about her adventures in Africa were crushed, however, after she viewed a television special about the world’s most poisonous snakes; she did NOT want to write about how she’d been bitten and lost a limb to a cobra. Thankfully at the same time the movie “Star Wars” premiered, and she realized that she could make up adventures and write about them, and not be eaten by deadly predators while doing research.

She dabbled in romantic fantasy writing for a year or two after graduating with a degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, until her affection for traditional Regency romances led her to write one for fun. After several encouraging rejections from publishers, she snared the interest of the world’s best and most patient literary agent, who advised her to revise the manuscript. This ultimately led to the publication of her first book, The Black Duke’s Prize, from Avon Books in the Spring of 1995.

Suzanne is known for her humorous characters, sexy bad boys, and whip-sharp, witty dialogue. She currently resides in Placentia, California with several hundred guppies and various other tropical fish, and handful of very loud, spinach-loving finches. And her collection of action figures and statues from “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings”, “X-Men”, and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Everybody needs some inspiration, after all.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Wallflower Most Wanted

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Wallflower Most Wanted
Author: Manda Collins
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 307 pages
Series?: Studies in Scandal #3
Genre: Historical, Romance

A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overhead conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…

Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?

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my review

My Thoughts 

Sophia Hastings is one of four bluestocking women who inherit Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s home. She leaves behind a letter and clues for each woman in the vein of their strengths. For Sophia, it is artwork. Sophia is a talented painter, as was Lady Celeste. Unfortunately, Sophia’s letter is delayed in reaching her until well into the story.

One unusually early morning Sophia is on the cliffside painting. She gets so engrossed in her work, she tumbles off the cliff to the beach below. Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle, the local vicar, is walking on the beach when he sees Miss Hastings plummet. The two overhear an indiscreet conversation about killing off an artist in some nefarious undertakings. Determined to collectively get to the bottom of the matter, the two spend more time together to puzzle things out.

Being the second son of a duke, Ben knew he was destined for the army or the church. Having no penchant for war, and visiting the properties with his mother as a child, Ben enjoys helping others, so the church was the best choice. While he leads his flock and offers comfort, he takes no interest in the politics of the church. While I don’t typically think of men of the cloth as men to be desired, I suppose a good-looking man can be.

When newcomer Peter Morgan, an industrialist, begins making big waves in Little Seaford, quickly followed by personal and professional attacks against Sophia Hastings. Her artwork is reputed to be obscene and unfit for sensible ladies, even those not of the nobility, too look upon…much less Sophia paint. She is a woman who cares about the social issues that run rampant in society, and she depicts such contrasts in social class in her art.

The sexism is very much alive in this installment in the series, and Peter Morgan calls in everyone up the line he can think of. When Ben will not aid him in his cause to have Sophia’s work removed from the upcoming art exhibit, he then pulls political strings and has the Bishop of Chichester to threaten Ben’s future.

One of Ben’s brothers pays a visit to Little Seaford and enlists Ben to assist the Home Office in investigating a forgery ring that’s operating in the are. With Sophia’s lifework revolving around art, and her contact with the local artist colony, she becomes an integral part of the investigation. As the investigation wears on, Ben and Sophia grow increasingly close and uncover a few key clues.

The mystery and suspense of the forgery and all involved kept me turning pages. I thought I had the forger pegged and I was adamant that I was right (just like Sophia). Then the possibility of two forgers surfaced and my theories all went downhill from there. The pacing of the book was just right and the cast of characters were interesting and gave some more insight into both Sophia and Ben’s relationships with their families.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in Librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in with two cats, sometimes a dog, sometimes her sister, and always lots of books.

Find the author: Twitter | Goodreads

Review: The Rogue is Back in Town

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Rogue is Back in Town
Author: Anna Bennett
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 352 pages
Series?: The Wayward Wallflowers #3
Genre: Historical, Romance

Equal parts scoundrel and seducer, he’s returned to London determined to mend the rift with his older brother. All Sam must do is take possession of a tumbledown town house. A seemingly simple task, except the house is occupied—by an infuriating, whip-smart beauty who refuses to do his bidding.

Miss Juliette Lacey’s wallflower days are over. She has a plan to turn her eccentric family into the toast of the ton—but the devilishly handsome rake trying to oust them from their home thwarts her at every turn. How can one man be so vexing andmake her simmer with desire?

As her attraction to Sam deepens, Julie’s problems grow—she may have, once upon a time, secretly shared a kiss with his honorable older brother. Suddenly, Julie’s caught between a rogue and a marquess, between passion and respectability. Torn between two brothers, what’s a girl to do?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

My Thoughts 

Juliette Lacey is the final Wilting Wallflower, thus dubbed by her now brother-in-law. Surprisingly, that title didn’t come up too much in this final book in the series. Julie is not in a rush, trot, or even a meandering walk to find a husband for herself, in strike contrast to her uncle’s wishes. For now, she lives with her uncle (purported by the ton to be mad)  in his late wife’s townhouse and she cares for him and encourages him with his scientific work. To provide her uncle with a long-standing social interest for the rest of his life, she strikes a deal with him and helps him to that end. She will look for a husband after he has submitted his research to the Royal Society.

Little does she know love comes knocking so soon after that conversation when Lord Samuel Travis arrives on the doorstep to evict her and her uncle from the residence. Sam has recently returned from the continent in hopes of repairing his relationship with his older brother, Nigel. In the time since their father’s passing, who was the buffer between them, their relationship has been exceedingly rocky. Now to the point that Sam is turned out of every family property and no funds as a means to survive. Nigel orders him to remove the occupants of a property in town he discovered their father owned. Given no alternatives or resources, Sam tends to his task and is set on doing it.

Faced with this flustering news, Juliette refused to inform her uncle and refuses to leave. Sam decides to play a game and merely wait her out. Intent on proving the ownership belongs to her family, Juliette also behests Sam to request the deed from his brother to settle the matter. In the meantime, Juliette explains “Cousin Samuel’s” presence to every one in the household as coming to assist her uncle with his research. It is a new position that stupefies Sam, but ultimately he warms to the task and becomes an admirable assistant to “crazy” Alistair Wiltmore. At the same time, it warms Juliette’s heart to see her uncle interact in such positive ways.

Given the time, this would have been a highly improper and scandalous situation. For Nigel to even ask Sam to reside in the household with a young woman – married or not – seen over only by an elderly uncle is not something that would have likely have occurred. There are solicitors for that sort of business. The pretense of neither parties breathing a word of Sam’s stay is also unlikely, given Sam’s rakish nature.

The story is not without a villain, who is not one you would readily suspect. As the plot regarding the house moves further along, Sam begins to suspect he was sent merely to stir up trouble and create conflict in Juliette’s life. I was disappointed that this manipulative man wasn’t exposed and his reputation marred, especially considering the stark contrast between him and Sam.

I loved Julie’s uncle and all the places he shows up in the book. Alistair is an interesting character in many aspects. His love, devotion, and dedication to his wife even after all these years is something to be cherished and revered. While she may not grace their home anymore, she is still very much a part of his life. He keeps her memory alive. His research is also interesting, and he is a strong advocate against pollution of the Thames, which I feel was a novel concept of the time. Not something that was addressed, nor paid much heed. His elderly behavior and propensity for producing the wrong word at times makes him endearing and comical.

Juliette is a strong, independent woman. She is determined to solve problems on her own and vehemently refuses to call on her sisters or their husbands for assistance in the matter of the house. She is also pitted against and torn between the two brothers, Nigel and Sam. It seems her previous fancy of love isn’t love at all, and now she sees qualities in Sam that stir her emotions.

The plot is motivated by Nigel regarding the house, and through the course of the book the brothers are brought in stark contrast. They are incredible foils of one another. The perceptions of their personality and reputation by society and their true natures are in opposition, which Juliette discovers herself first-hand.

I enjoyed the conflict in the story, but I didn’t feel a burning love between Juliette and Sam. I think the circumstances and close quarters created a togetherness that otherwise wouldn’t have existed if Sam was lodging elsewhere and only visiting in the daytime to keep up the ruse of being Alistair’s assistant. In the end, the matter of home ownership is resolved, but there were a couple of dicey moments where I did think all was going to be lost and Juliette and Alistair would be living with one of her sisters.

Overall, a story with high conflict that is plot-driven. The two main characters are volatile in their reactions to one another, and Alistair provides humor and that hint of love that he so desperately wants for Juliette.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided historicals (with their balls, dukes, and gowns) were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® for Regency Historical Romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Her weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

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