REVIEW: The Perfect Duchess by Erica Taylor

Perfect Duchess

Paperback, 392 pages                    Publication: April 17, 2018 by Amberjack Publishing

ISBN13: 9781944995577.                    Series:    The Macalisters #2

Andrew Macalister, oft regarded as the Stone Duke of Bradstone, hates his annual birthday ball tradition! He dislikes being a duke; hates the sycophants who only see him for his title; and hates that he has given up a chance to live a normal unencumbered life.  He’s simply biding his time until he can possibly slip away without anyone noticing. However, when he spots Lady Clara Masson across the ballroom he couldn’t quite believe his eyes. Clara’s twin sister is the woman who infamously jilted Andrew at the altar five years ago, but little does Clara know, Andrew had been smitten with her since childhood, and he finds her presence a ray of sunshine in a dreary dukedom. 

However when he notices another ‘Lady’ scornfully harassing Clara over the innuendoes her brother has been passing around to try and destroy her reputation, Andrew has to step up and save her.  They danced and for the first time in a long time Andrew felt himself actually smiling.

Because Clara had disobeyed her brother Jonathan in going to the ball, he was furious and tried to throw her out of his house with the clothes on her back.  A fight ensued and physical blows were rained down on Clara when he knocked her down and she passed out from the severe bump to her head.  It was at that time Andrew arrived to call on Clara when he realized Clara’s life was being threatened by her evil brother. Andrew did the only thing he could think of to save her; propose marriage. Between Clara’s trust issues and Andrew not caring a fig for what the ton thought, as well as Jonathan’s continued atempts to murder Clara, Andrew needed to discover what was going on in a madman’s mind!

Bottom line:  A GREAT read – loved the excitement and suspense of what was behind all of the mystery surrounding the Masson twin sisters!

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: The Hellion by Christi Caldwell

Hellion_Caldwell

Published:   April 3, 2018 by:   Montlake Romance

ISBN:   B07539FLHF                                 Series:    Wicked Wallflowers #1

Adair Thorne was reliving his nightmare! Once again his life was going up in flames.  Luckily none of his family would be dying this day but his gaming-hell dream was simply being turned into ashes.  Problem was he was certain he knew the rival gaming hell owner and family, the Killorans, were behind it.   His hatred, fury and passion for the Killorans was palatable, but when he met Cleopatra Killoran, a tart mouthed vixen who has made it her priority to ridicule him at every opportunity. If she were anyone else but a Killoran, Adair would unleash at the passion that devours him each time he looks at her.

No one can make Cleopatra do anything she doesn’t want to, but if it means protecting her siblings she would do it at a cost to her own happiness.  A peace accord had been reached whereby the Black family would sponsor Cleopatra  for a season in order to land a noble husband. But her heart seems to have a mind of it’s own Cleo  cannot allow her head to be turned by the infuriating and darkly handsome Adair Thorne.

*** What a terrific read, and what great characterizations! Can’t help but fall in love with Cleopatra – tough gal with an even tenderer heart she tries to hide from the world.  But little by little Adair, who really didn’t want to give an inch started to see her through different eyes and acknowledged that her ideas for the design of his new gaming-hell were both smart and sensible.  And though she was a slight ‘bit of a thing’ and not his usual type of round and buxom – Cleo was looking mighty fine.

Only one thing that threatens the rules of this game: Cleopatra has a secret! One that could unravel the families’ tenuous truce and shatter the unpredictably sinful romance mounting between the hellion…and a scoundrel who could pass for the devil himself.  But Romance being romance you’ll love the ending just as much as I did!

Marilyn Rondeau

REVIEW: A Lady’s Honor by A.S. Fenichel

Lady'sHonor

Published:   April 3, 2018                     by:   Lyrical Press

ISBN:   B073PB8P6N                     Series:  Everton Domestic Society #1

Rating:     5*

REVIEW:  Phoebe Hallsmith doesn’t regret the years of caring for her ailing grandmother.  No, discovering that the man she was once betrothed to turned out to be a rat-bastard doesn’t really bother her as well; so all in all Phoebe is more or less resigned to ‘spinsterhood’.   She has disappointed her parents and her brother has disowned her since she is now working as an employee of the Everton Domestic Society of London.  Phoebe generally doesn’t accept positions where she is acquainted with the client, but upon a special request she agrees to try and sort out the chaos of her best friend’s grieving husband’s life – Markus Flammel.

After Markus’ wife Emma passed giving birth to a beautiful baby girl he’d been drowning his grief inn a bottle.  Not even his toddler daughter can bring him  any form of happiness.  Phoebe who had been best friends and missed Emma was not about to let Markus get away with drowning his sorrows and neglecting his daughter – not if she had anything to do with it!

***  Again, I have been enthralled and moved by a book! I will also confess that I was originally drawn to this book by the luscious cover art and was thrilled to find that the beauty of the cover translated into a beautiful story as well!  Lucky me!!

Phoebe had known how much her friend Emma loved her husband, although she herself didn’t have that much interaction with him. However, knowing Emma, she knew that only a good, honest, and honorable man could have had her friend so mush in love.   For the sake of Emma’s beautiful daughter Phoebe would fight tooth and nail to bring Markus back to the living.  Once Phoebe convinced Markus to stop drinking and look at his daughter, she began the long process of bringing his estate back to rights and letting him discover the joy of loving the precious gift of his daughter that Emma left behind.

With a few twists and turns from an old beau and a new conquest, Phoebe now had to examine  her heart and decide if falling in love with her best friends widowed husband was the right thing to do.  Also, was Markus ready to move on as well?

Bottom line:  A wonderful story – high five star rating!

Marilyn Rondeau

Joanna’s Highlander by Maeve Grayson

Joanna's Highlander

Published:   April 10, 2018 by:   Loveswept Random House

ISBN:    B073YSNSLQ                       Series: Highland Protectors

Rating:    5*

REVIEW:      Grant MacDara still dreams of home – in tenth-century Scotland. His heart aches for what will never be again until a sharp-tongued, redheaded beauty leads a tour of senior citizens through his family’s North Carolina theme park, Highland Life and Legends. Though he’ll never forget his first love, Joanna Martin intrigues him like no other.  Deciding that she’s worth the risk of loving again, he tries so hard to hold her close that she nearly slips through his fingers.

Forced out of her job as a pharmaceutical sales rep by a devious ex, Joanna is trying to make the best of her quiet new life as a tour guide. But it’s not as if Joanna is immune to Grant’s charms, she’s just running scared from her poor choices in the relationship game which have made her think of herself as a “loser magnet”.  Although Grant seems to be the last honorable man left on earth, this mouthwatering stud needs a crash course in twenty-first-century women and Joanna is just the gal to teach him.

*** Let me say it – I LOVED this story!  First of all, Joanna was escorting a bevy of senior citizen widows who I believe were reliving their youth vicariously through interference in Joanna’s love life.   Having led a group of seniors once myself I need to tell you they’ll keep you hopping and find great amusement in embarrassing the hell out of you which is exactly what they did in trying to accelerate Joanna and Grant’s romance.   Those scenes were a hoot by the way!

What I really enjoyed was the dialogs between the two and the wonderful way Grant romanced her in the little things he did to show Joanna how he planned to cherish her!   There was, of course a bit of a hiccup in between before they had their happily ever after, but all in all – a TERRIFIC read!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

Wallflower Most Wanted

Mass Market Paperback, 307 pages

January 30th 2018 by                  Published : St. Martin’s Paperbacks Edition

ISBN13: 978125010990                                 SeriesStudies in Scandal #3

As  a dedicated artist, Miss Sophia Hastings could care less about finding Mr. Right then finding the correct angle of light for her paintings.   However, when she overhears a conversation indicating that there was danger for local artists she had to get involved.  It appeared that someone was making forgeries of famous works of art and passing them off as the originals.  What she wasn’t anticipating though was having to accept the assistance of the new impossibly handsome vicar who insists on accompanying her in her quest for more information.

Reverend Lord Benedict Lisle feels that Sophia is no damsel in distress, but he is not about to let her wander off alone either.  He finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature extremely  alluring and he is planning to save her from herself before she she gets further into a situation that is becoming more and more dangerous, and he was beginning to feel that he wasn’t about to lose the one woman who stirred more than just his heart!

*** I simply love a good mystery and romance and find it even better when the two protagonists seem so completely polar opposites.   However, one thing Benedict did realize right from the start is that no one should ever keep  Sophia’s art interpretation’s from being shown at the upcoming art exhibition.   Sophia’s art might be a bit disturbing but it was life  and not just the  lovely landscapes most genteel young woman were supposed to paint.

Their relationship grew throughout the story and it was a lovely development from regard, to valued friendship, and obviously a great passion for one another either wasn’t ready to admit to. I must say that this story was great, the culprit who was actually producing the fake masterpieces was quite a twist I never saw coming.  All in all, a wonderfully engaging story.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Gettysburg Ghost

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 10.44.14 AM

As young children Daniel Sutherland and Sarah McKee met, fell in love, and knew one day they would wed. Their plans to wed would be delayed when war broke out and the call to serve and preserve the country Daniel dearly loved beckoned so with promises to write every day Daniel went off to fight. At first the letters came regularly then after some months went by without word from Sarah, Daniel learned from a new recruit that back home he’d been reported as killed. What shocked Daniel most was that Sarah had wed his best friend so soon after hearing of his death. Terribly hurt and bereft of hope the inconsolable Captain Daniel Sutherland bravely led his men in a battle in which he was mortally wounded. He died in Trostle House where his spirit remained as he couldn’t resolve the conflict of why Sarah, whom he loved so dearly and thought loved him, would have married so soon after hearing of his death.

Some 140 years later a very sad and beautiful Lindy Dennsison and her friend Jane arrived at Trostle House for the 136th Annual Gettysburg Reenactment. Having just come off of another failed relationship Lindy had decided to start life anew. However, she could never have imagined that the ghost she encountered in her room would reach out and teach her the true meaning of love.

There are times when I am simply at a loss for words, when beautiful, gorgeous, heartfelt, and memorable just aren’t strong enough to describe the feelings that a story suggests. It took me a while to read through this short novella because of tears that streamed down my face caused by the sheer emotional intensity of writing that this beautiful love story evoked. Mr. Rogone’s writing was pure poetry. The letters from Daniel to his beloved Sarah were so heart-wrenchingly beautiful that I had to re-read them several times through tear-filled eyes. While Daniel and Sarah’s story was so heart wrenchingly sad, Rogone ventured further in picking up the various threads of other peoples lives and weaving them all together in one believable story to bring forth the truth of that long ago betrayal. In so doing he brings new hope and love to those in the present. This was a truly beautiful and moving love story that should make anyone yearn for that once in a lifetime special soul mate that so few of us are able to find. Rogone will not disappoint with this dramatically moving, memorable and engaging love story. If you are in love or hope to be some day, this would make the perfect gift for that very special someone in your life, or just as a gift to yourself.

Marilyn Rondeau, Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 10.44.14 AM

 

Review: A Duke In the Night by Kelly Bowen

Duke in Night

book, 368 pages

Published February 20th 2018 by Forever                               ISBN13: 9781478918554

Series:   The Devils of Dover #1                                            Rating:  5*

August Faulkner is a man of many talents besides being a Duke.  As a young boy he lived by his wits and only by chance, did he inherit a dukedom when a tragedy happened to wipe out the many family members who were closer in line to inherit than he.  Having lived a most destitute childhood he swore he would never be in that poor again.  He is relentless in buying and selling  companies from the mismanagement of aristocratic families who now censure his actions.  So he now makes his transactions less noticeable by using middlemen which is how he managed to acquire Haverall School for Young Ladies.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she’s reunited with August, all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago.  Even when her head tells her he shouldn’t be trusted, her heart can’t help but open to the very duke who could break it for good!

***  I was totally swept up in this love story between August and Clara.  He was not a romantic, and sometimes abrasive but I couldn’t help but believe that there was some good in him that Clara recognized in spite of the hurt he dealt her so many years ago.   Naturally his reputation over the last ten years preceded him and even though her passion was electrified by his presence Clara’s head was on straight and kept herself aware of the rumors of his womanizing and his behavior.

Just as Clara couldn’t help herself from her attraction to August, he was having similar feelings himself which he basically refused to let blossom.   August knew he wanted Clara (just like anything else he obtained for himself) but he was having trouble identifying the reason why!   It’s a guy thing!   However, just as I thought he would really screw it up, he came to Clara’s rescue and finally realized what he had almost lost.

Loved this book!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Where Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

WildCherriesGrow

Paperback, 368 pages

Published June 15th 2017 by Black Swan                            ISBN13: 9781784160739

Where the Wild Cherries Grow: A Novel of the South of France

Published February 13th 2018 by Thomas Dunne Books        RATING:  4*

I wasn’t terribly keen on this book from the beginning, but as I stuck with it I became more and more pleased with the writing.   At first the split between the time 1919 and fifty years later to 1969 was a bit aggravating but as I became more immersed in the story I found I had trouble putting this book down.

It wasn’t until I was finished did this line make sense to me “I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .”

Emeline Vane came from wealth, from Norfolk, England – she had lost her mother, her brothers and now it was only her, her young brother Timothy and her uncle.  She is haunted by memories of those she lost and suffers bouts of melancholy, so much so that her uncle is taking her to a convalescent home  to recover.   However, during their stop in France, Emeline, having been given drugs to keep her calm regained enough of her mindset that she decided to run away – recklessly boarding a train to run from her uncle and the nurse who was her jailer.

Her journey led her to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. A kindly cafe owner, Maman, takes her in and Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land and using your own hands to care for yourself.

Soon a love affair develops with Maman’s son as passionate as the flavours of the village. Fifty years later, a young solicitor on his first case finds Emeline’s diary, and begins to trace a story of betrayal, love and bittersweet secrets that will send him on a journey to discover the truth before greedy relatives steal her inheritance away.

I really liked this story.  The writing was superb and the descriptions of the food and flavors made my mouth water.  So very sweet with a surprise ending I didn’t expect.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

Romancing the Scot

Kindle Edition, 284 pages                                           ASIN  B0746MLYFZ

Published November 14th 2017 by Swerve           Series   The Pennington Family #1

Rating:  5*

Grace Ware is an enemy of the English crown along with her father, an Irish military commander of Napoleon’s defeated army. On top of that, her mother, was an exiled Scottish Jacobite. On a the way to deliver a new message to the wife of Napolean’s brother things went terribly wrong.  Her father and his footmen slain and Grace was in the run for her life. While running from her father’s murderers through the harbor alleyways of Antwerp, she hid in a crate never realizing that said crate would then be sealed moved aboard a ship.Grace’s luck went from bad to worse when the crate was delivered to the home of an aristocrat in the Scottish Borders. Baronsford is the last place she could expect to find safety, and Grace feigns a loss of memory to buy herself time while she recovers.

Hugh Pennington—Viscount Greysteil, Lord Justice of the Scottish Courts, and a hero of the Napoleonic wars—is also a grieving widower with a death wish. When he receives an expected crate from the continent, he is shocked to find a nearly dead woman inside. Her identity is unknown, and the handful of American coins and the precious diamond sown into her dress only deepen her mystery.

***  This was an absolutely terrific read with an amazing adventure and truly sensual romance.  Grace had spent her entire life caring for her father after her mother’s passing.  Bad enough to have seen her father’s murdered bloody body but when trying to escape she had the misfits to hide in a crate, which was then sealed and loaded onto a ship without food or water for five days.  When Hugh Pennington discovered her half dead body it was no wonder she wasn’t forthcoming with information about herself.  After the many days it took for her to recover, she discovered she was in the home of a man who had every reason to detest her for her father’s actions during the war.

However, there was even more hurdles to overcome when both began to feel the passion that seemed to be brewing in each others hearts and to realize someone  out there was still looking to capture and/or kill Grace for the secrets she was carrying without knowing herself what they were.

Truly a great read and one I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Marilyn Rondeau