The Duchess War – a wonderful historical

The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1)The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful historical romance with flawed characters that grow throughout the story. I love Ms Milan’s writing as she weaves stories with amazing characters.

Robert Blaisdell, the Ninth Duke of Clermont is a puzzling man who is trying to make amends for his father’s wrongs. His father was not in the habit of treating people well, including his wife and son. Robert has a secret that he does not want anyone to know about, yet it helps him deal with who he is.

Robert meets Wilhelmina Pursling while she was being accused by George Stevens, Captain of the town’s Militia of writing handbills that may cause worker upheaval and problems for factory owners, and although not a true beauty, he sees something in her that attracts him.

Minnie leads a quiet life living with her Great-aunts and has no wish to be the center of attention, as a matter of fact when she is in a crowd, many times she faints as she has a memory of a swarm of people surrounding her, calling out her name as they spit and throw rocks. She was twelve at the time and her world had just been destroyed. When Minnie was a child, her father passed her off as a boy for the first twelve years of her life. Her father loved and adored her and wanted to take her when he traveled, so he dresses her up as a boy and called her Maximilian Lane. She was a brilliant chess player and they both played all over while traveling, until her world crumbled around her and she was betrayed.

Minnie figures out Robert’s secret and although silently applauds his ingenuity, she does not want anything to do with it, as she does not want her past discovered.

As we learn about Robert’s past we see how his early years shaped who he is now and notice that he is an emotional wreak as he had no love while growing up until he was accepted unconditionally by a half brother he never knew about. Oliver was raised by loving parents however Robert’s father was cruel to both his mother and to Oliver, never accepting him. Robert would do anything for Oliver including telling secrets.

As Minnie tries to prove her innocence Robert is amazed by her and asks her to marry him. Because of her past and his, she doesn’t want to; feeling someone of her status should not marry a duke. She is also worried about what people will think if and when they find out who she really is.

What an emotional story, Ms Milan writes such compelling characters in all her books, they usually are surprisingly wonderful people with interesting histories. I loved how Minnie and Robert are not necessarily attracted to each other in the beginning and when they marry, they may not even feel love. However we see the feelings grow as they spend time together and when they have to deal with a crisis we see the emotional tug of war that goes on between the two and how heartrending to see how it is resolved. I really enjoyed the secondary characters which include Oliver, Sebastian and Violet and look forward to their stories.

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Loving Lady Marcia –

Loving Lady Marcia (House of Brady, #1)Loving Lady Marcia by Kieran Kramer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Loving Lady Marcia
Author: Kieran Kramer
Publisher: St Martin’s Press (August 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 125000988X
ISBN-13: 978-1250009883
Pages: 368

Lady Marcia Sherwood is the daughter of a Marquess and at fifteen she is in love with Mr. Finn Lattimore. Along with Finn’s brother Duncan (Lord Chadwick) the three embark on a journey to Dublin to meet up with Marcia’s parents. After arriving they spent two weeks in Dublin and on the night of her sixteenth birthday, Finn and Marcia share an evening together and she goes to sleep believing she is in love.

The very next day Finn is shipped off to American and when Marcia receives a letter from Finn she believes that Lord Chadwick sent him on purpose to keep them apart. She is devastated and vows to never fall in love again. Five years later Marcia is the headmistress of an all girls school and although loves her job she still has feelings for Finn.

While in London shopping for some new items for the school she meets Lord Chadwick again and still believing the worst of him gives him the cold shoulder. As she is visiting her parent’s home, she gets the news that Lady Ennis the benefactor of the school is firing her and Marcia is now without a job. Her parents are ecstatic as now they can plan for a Season and find her a husband.

Duncan has been cleaning up problems that Finn has caused all his life, including raising his son that Duncan has grown to love. Duncan has always been attracted to Marcia and was just starting to court her when Finn comes back and Duncan finds out just what else he will have to fix that Finn damaged years ago. Duncan must convince Marcia of the type of man Finn is as well as letting her know how he feels for her.

This was a fun book and the fact that it uses all the characters from the television show The Brady Bunch is even better. You can see the characteristics of all the family members we grew up with including the housekeeper Alice. Marcia and Duncan were delightful and the chemistry was convincing. There are laugh out loud moments as well as tender ones dealing with Duncan’s adopted son. There are several tense moments when Finn again causes trouble and they wonder if he will forever be a pain in their lives. Very enjoyable read and I can’t wait for Greg’s story.

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An Outlaw Christmas


Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin, 2012

Publisher Summary: Celebrate the holidays with a brand-new McKettrick tale by beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller.

With his wild heart, Sawyer McKettrick isn’t ready to settle down on the Triple M family ranch in Arizona. So he heads to Blue River, Texas, to seek a job as marshal. But in a blinding snowstorm he’s injured—and collapses into the arms of a prim and proper lady in calico.

The shirtless, bandaged stranger recuperating in teacher Piper St. James’s room behind the schoolhouse says he’s a McKettrick, but he looks like an outlaw. As they wait out the storm, the handsome loner has Piper remembering long-ago dreams of marriage and motherhood. But for how long is Sawyer willing to call Blue River home?

As the gray skies clear, Piper’s one holiday wish just might bring two lonely hearts together forever.

My Take:  Since I’m a hard-core Linda Lael Miller fan, I have wondered what would happen if I didn’t like one of her books – but An Outlaw Christmas is another winner. A story set in the 1800’s, where a schoolteacher rescues a wounded man, thereby ruining her reputation, but providentially he turns out to be a cousin of her closest friend’s husband, and someone with whom she falls in love so the ruined reputation is a moot point.

The book is a tag-along to the modern-day McKettrick stories – McKettrick’s Heart, McKettrick’s Luck, and McKettrick’s Pride. So it’s interesting and enjoyable to read about their antecedents. I must be from the south the way I like to connect dots on the family tree.

Ms. Miller simply tells a good story. The sweetness of the characters is not saccharine, but genuine. Piper St. James’ fear of losing her job is one indication Ms. Miller understands the times she writes about. We can snort at the ignorance of the townspeople, but the truth is, it could have been catastrophic. The only drawback was the book was too short, but we can always look forward to her next one.

My Rating:  5 out of 5

The Moonstone and Miss Jones – an alternate London is unraveling and the Moonstone is the key

The Moonstone and Miss Jones (Paranormal Investigator, #2)The Moonstone and Miss Jones by Jillian Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Moonstone and Miss Jones (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator)
Publisher: Brava (September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 075826898X
ISBN-13: 978-0758268983
Pages: 320

America Jones makes it back to London without Phaeton, and has no idea where he is, only that he is missing and seems to have deserted her. The only message she has received was a short note that said he had been shanghaied in Shanghai, she did not know what that meant or if she even believed him.

America goes to the flat that she and Phaeton rented, as it is familiar and she is sure Phaeton will return if he arrives back in town. On the way, she is attacked by a strange creature with skeleton arms and legs; she gets away with the help of Edvar, the gargoyle that has been by Phaeton’s side since he was a small child. She is told by the creature that there are many more of them in London. Meanwhile, Phaeton wakes up while still in the bowels of a vessel that he does not remember boarding, he only knows that he is soon to arrive in London and as he easily escapes the ship, he heads to the flat and is happy to see that America has already arrived.

America greets Phaeton hesitantly as she is not sure why he disappeared however she believes him when he tells her that he truly was kidnapped and forced onto this ship returning to London. They find out there are strange things going on in London and it seems some entity wanted Phaeton back no matter how he got here. They soon find out that the reason Phaeton is wanted back in town is because the orb (Moonstone) that was gifted to Phaeton by a Goddess has been stolen from Dr Exeter’s lab and according to several, Phaeton is the only one that can unlock the powers.

With the help of Gaspar Sinclair, a man who has been a thorn in Phaeton’s side for years and his team of Nightshade warriors, they piece together what they believe is happening. They find out there is an alternate London called Outremer, that exists and is unraveling and creating havoc in their current London. The Moonstone is the key to correcting the problems and must be retrieved as soon as possible.

Unpredictable danger follows Phaeton, America and the Nightshades while they travel back and forth between the two London’s following leads to the Moonstone. The story grips you from the beginning and does not slow down until the end as the gang tries to prevent a catastrophe. The ending is startling and leaves you wanting more.

What a wonderful gripping steam punk fantasy. I truly enjoyed the story. This is the second installment in the Paranormal Investigation series however it can stand alone as the author catches you up. I enjoyed both Phaeton and America, the chemistry between them is wonderful, and the secondary characters are a joy, the Nightshades are an entertaining group and I am looking forward to seeing them in future books.

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Never Seduce a Scot. The Highlands come alive with clans, feuds and romance

Never Seduce a Scot (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs, #1)Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Never Seduce a Scot
Author: Maya Banks
Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0345533232
ISBN-12: 978-0345533234
Pages: 416

The Highlands are all about clans, feuds and loyalties and the King is worried that some of his valued supporters, the Montgomery’s and the Armstrong’s are at war, which can hurt him in the long run. In his infinite wisdom the king thinks he has found the perfect solution, a marriage in an effort to halt the feud between the two clans. Although there is disbelief amongst the clans, they will both go through with the arrangement because to do otherwise would be to sign their death warrant.

Graeme Montgomery, the clan chief is worried, it is said that Eveline is still a young girl and it is thought that she isn’t right, that she is touched. Graeme would not want to hurt or scare the simple girl so she could never be a proper wife to him. Therefore this marriage would prevent him from having children to carry on the clan’s legacy; and although he does not like the idea, this responsibility will have to go to his brothers Bowen or Teague.

Eveline has not spoken a word in three years, ever since she fell from a horse and woke up several days later. At the time, she was betrothed to another man named Ian McHugh who is the son of a powerful clan leader that the Armstrong’s wanted an alliance with. The wedding had been called off after the accident when it was found that Eveline was not talking and did not seem right in the head.

Eveline is keeping a secret from everyone, she is so afraid of Ian that she is lying to all about what is wrong with her. During her betrothal, Eveline found that Ian was an evil man who enjoyed telling her in great detail of what would happen to her after their wedding, her life with Ian would have been a nightmare and although her parents love her and want nothing but happiness for her, they believed her fears were just normal fears before the wedding to someone she did not know well.

Eveline did suffer from her accident; she has been unable to hear anything and has been unsure of her voice, however she has developed the ability to read lips and is able to follow most conversations. She knows what others say about her, yet with the threat of Ian still around, she is keeping quiet.

She finds out about the marriage with Graeme and at first is shocked that the king would try to unite her clan with their sworn enemy however when the wedding party arrives and she first meets Graeme, she knows immediately that he is the man for her and she is all the sudden smiling. Graeme is taken back by her smile and is amazed that she is a very beautiful woman, not a girl at all. After the wedding, they head back to the Montgomery land where Eveline is introduced to very hostile clan members who do not welcome her and make her life miserable. She is very grateful for Rorie, Graeme’s sister as they form a friendship and bond which helps Eveline deal with several situations.

What a great story teller Maya Banks is, she blends wonderful tales with great romance. The characters are likeable and you enjoy getting to know them, the chemistry between Eveline and Graeme is electric and you see how close they become as the story progresses. The danger that finds both Graeme and Eveline on several occasions is exciting and gripping. They grow to love each other with trust and affection and are pleased when the clan begins to realize that although Eveline was born an Armstrong, she is quickly becoming a Montgomery in every aspect.

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Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed – A great historical romance

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1)Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed by Anna Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed
Author: Anna Campbell
Publisher: Forever (September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1455512079
ISBN-13: 978-1455512072
Pages: 416

Sidonie Forsythe is a young woman who is desperate to help her sister Roberta get out of a bad situation with Jonas Merrick, a bastard son of a Viscount. Roberta has some large gambling debts and does not want her abusive husband to find out and Jonas has given Roberta a way out. She is scared and a little immature to face her problems so goes to her sister for help. After eight years of marriage Roberta has changed into someone Sidonie does not like however Roberta is still her sister and she would do anything to protect her.

Roberta is the Viscountess Hillbrook and is married to William who is the cousin of Jonas. William gained his title when it was revealed that Jonas’ father and mother were not married. The hatred between Jonas and William is mutual and has a long history, including a time when they were in school and William attacked Jonas and ruining his face before anyone could intervene. When Jonas’ father passed away, he could not give his son the title however he could give his son the wealth, so even though Jonas is considered a bastard, he is very rich while William has not managed the small amount of money he inherited and is almost broke.

Sidonie has been living at Barstow Hall with Roberta and William however in a few months she will be able to go off on her own when she receives her small inheritance. Sidonie decides to take Roberta’s place and goes to Castle Craven to meet with Jonas, who is more than surprised to see the spinster sister.

After the first night, Jonas finds he does not want a martyr in his bed and wants Sidonie to come to him willingly, so they make a bargain, in return for her presence at Castle Craven for seven days, he will consider Roberta’s debts paid. Over the next week, they grow to care for each other and while on a visit to William and Roberta’s a sudden turn of events changes everything.

I really enjoyed this novel; a story about one person sacrificing for someone they love and another person finding how to forgive through years of heartache. Although in the beginning it took awhile for Jonas and Sidonie to grow on me because their connection seems rushed, however as the story progresses their feelings become more real and it broke my heart when Jonas felt betrayed and turned away from Sidonie, I truly knew the depths of their feelings for each other as they found their way back toward love.

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How to Disgrace a Lady

How to Disgrace a LadyHow to Disgrace a Lady by Bronwyn Scott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: How to Disgrace a Lady
Author: Bronwyn Scott
Publisher: Harlequin (August 21, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0373297041
ISBN-13: 978-0373297047
288 Pages

Merrick St Magnus is the second son of a Marques and he takes his position in life seriously, that is he enjoys being as scandalous as possible. When he finds out his father is coming to town to make some changes in his life, Merrick immediately looks through his mail and accepts the Earl of Folkestone’s invitation to a house party. A two week stay in Kent, well away from his father sounds perfect. Merrick knows the Earl’s son Jamie, as they went to Oxford together.

Although Merrick has never used the money his father deposits into an account each month, he still does not want his father chastising him for the various scandalous behaviors that have become legendary. Merrick has always lived by the turn of a card or a good wager, and it is those wagers that sometimes get him into trouble.

On the way to Kent, Merrick meets up with Ashe Bedevere and Riordan Barrett who also are second sons and have become great friends, they decide to cool off and finding a pond to swim, this is where a young maiden comes upon them and Merrick has some fun teasing her by making her blush and run away.

Lady Alixe Burke is the Earls daughter and needed to get away from the house, so sets out for her favorite place with a book. She has decided that she is done with London and the Season and has firmly put herself on the shelf. Her family is not done with trying to find her a husband so decides to bring London to her – hence the two week party. When Merrick and Alixe are introduced they recognize each other from the pond and he decides to tease her on several occasions, much to her dismay.

Archibald Redfield is a man trying to pass himself off as a gentleman and has his sights set on Alixe because of her money. Feeling there is something sneaky about him, Alixe has shunned his advances. While sitting around bored one night, the gentlemen (Merrick, Redfield, Bedevere and Barrett) plan a wager between Redfield and Merrick, Merrick has to steal a kiss before sunrise from a lady. Redfield decides on the library for the scene and Merrick accepts thinking that there is no one up this late visiting the library and if no one shows there is no winner or loser. However, Alixe comes in to work on translating an old manuscript and while talking she finds out that Merrick knows a bit of old French and starts to help her with the translation. While they were working, Redfield burst into the library with the Earl of Folkestone to catch them in a precarious situation, however innocent it seems the Earl purposes a deal to Merrick to make his daughter the toast of London in the six weeks left of the Season and find her a husband or marry her himself.

The rest of the story is how Merrick and Alixe grow close while spending time together in Kent before going to London, there are several twists and turns, as it seems Redfield still has things he is willing to try to get Alixe and there is still the problem of both Alixe and Merrick not wanting to get married. However after a dangerous situation arises, they find that true love does change your mind. This was a good book however sometimes hard for me to connect with the characters. I was not sure I liked Merrick or Alixe in the beginning , however they both grew on me. I enjoyed the two secondary characters, Ashe and Riordan and I will be picking their stories up when they come out.

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