Review: Journey to Honor by Alexa Aston

JourneyofHonor

Series:  Knights of Honor Book 4                               June 27th 2017

Published by Dragonblade Publishling, Inc.               ASIN:  B07118ZCNM

Rating:  5*

The Earl of Shadowfaire was a brutal man treating his wife and servants with a cruel and sadistic hand.  He went so far as to rape his wife’s servant who then held a lifelong grudge and bitterly hated him.   When his wife delivered male twins, the first babe (the heir) was dark looked exactly like the earl; the second twin was blonde, delicate, and looked like the mother whom the servant was devoted to.  The servant switched them around declaring the blonde weakly looking twin was the earl’s heir, and not the twin that resembled his father.

As the second son of the Earl of Shadowfaire, Kenric Fairfax was raised and trained as a warrior. On the day of his Knighting Ceremony a horrible tragedy took place – leaving Kenric to flee to the north of England swearing to never marry.  Now in the service of Lord Michael Devereux, Kenric was asked to lead an escort party from London to bring Lord Michael’s wife’s sister home to Sandbourne.

Avelyn Le Cler has spent time as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Phillipa and finds the treachery at the royal court deplorable.  She is looking forward to coming home and hoping she can convince her brother-in-law to bargain the King and Queen to let her remain back in the country.  During the journey home Avelyn learned the dastardly secret of the truth of Kenric’s birth, but unfortunately there was no way of proving the claim – even if Kenric should believe her.

****   This was really a wonderful read.   The plot was not necessarily a surprise but the malice and hatred of the innocent babe that was handed down to Kenric during his childhood was truly painful.  The efforts Kenric made to steer clear of Evelyn knowing of the feelings he had for her plus worrying that as a landless knight he had nothing to offer the daughter of nobility kept him from even having the barest of hope that he could make her his.   Avelyn on the other hand had fallen deeply in love with such a strong knight whose honor and goodness were evident for all to see.  Evelyn had a dowery that she was sure they could live on and wanted nothing more than to continue on and convince Kenric that she would be fine as long as they were together.

I have the first three books in this series and I must say that each book just seems to get better and better.  All are stand-alone but each one tells an unforgettable tale of the rugged life in the early 12th century with creativity and deep emotion.    Bottom line:  JOURNEY TO HONOR by Alexa Aston is a wonderful and exciting read which I highly recommend.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: The Sixth Victim by Tessa Harris

SixthVictim

Published May 30th 2017                                   by    Kensington Publishing Corporation

ISBN13: 9781496706546                                   Series: A Constance Piper Mystery #1

Rating:   4-1/2*

London’s East End,  1888     –    When Jack the Ripper roamed the streets London’s Whitechapel district had become the a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper.  No one was safe especially the women of the night who sold themselves.   Why even the young flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to the dread of being singled out by the Ripper even though she is more concerned with the strange feelings and dreams that seem to haunt her sanity.

During all this hullabaloo over Jack – clairvoyants were coming out of the walls claiming to have been contacted by the victims.  Constance’s mother is certain they’re real and wants to contact her dead husband in a seance.  Constance herself is beginning to think that she herself is having these powers.  Her dreams seem to be coming true, and she longs for her teacher and friend Miss Emily Tindall, but to all intents and purposes Miss Tindall seems to have disappeared.

***   Set in that turbulent time as Jack the Ripper roamed the streets of London, the author tells the tale of  the mood and terror the East Enders lived in while Jack roamed the streets, committing horrendous and brutally depicted slayings of the prostitutes that lived during that period.  However it brings to mind that possibly not all the grotesque murders were committed by Jack.

Told thru the eyes of Emily Tindall, and musings of others we examine the changes that were coming to life in Constance, who wasn’t quite able to understand the changes she was going through but was given glimpses of things that she knew she was meant to look into.   Not until a lady of means came to Constance asking her to help her find her missing sister did the messages Constance was receiving begin to make sense.

Bottom Line:  The mystery was actually quite good and even as I rather guessed at what was going on, I still had to read on to make sure my guesses were correct.  However, if the reader is expecting to discover the identity of Jack – this is not going to happen – that is still the mystery for the ages.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

 

Review: Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

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NET GALLEY July 11, 2017                             ISBN13: 9780345543820

Published: Ballantine Books                      Series   Troubleshooters #17

Rating:  5*

Navy men are pretty cool, but in spite of being highly intelligent, strong, determined and even bit stubborn, I am beginning to think that good looks are also a key to becoming a top Navy Seal.  Peter Green is a very tough cookie – he has to be to in order to accept only the top of the crop for entrance into the Seal program.  However, after his ex-wife’s death and his somewhat estranged daughter, Maddie came to live with him, Peter was at his wit’s end!   He thought he was doing everything right but tough rules and standards he taught his recruits were not something that his daughter was ready to accept.  In fact – Maddie had just disappeared and Peter had no idea where to turn.

Romance writer and author Shayla Whitman could solve all sorts of problems with her writing and the assistance of her imaginary sidekick Harry.  Never did she ever expect to be drawn into the drama her new hottie neighbor was having since his daughter had come to live with him.  However, she is a mother and having the experience of raising two sons, she was more than willing to steer Peter in the right direction to begin looking for clues and obtaining information the could help him in his search.

*** Well now here is the gist of the story.   Rather than think this is just a simple runaway kid theme – well it is – but it’s not.  Being new in town, Maddie was befriended by a not so good ‘friend’.  So called ‘friend’ happened to be dealing drugs unbeknownst to Maddie then left town leaving Maddie holding the bag – only the bag was empty and the bad guys believed Maddie had absconded with their ‘stuff’ so Maddie, aged 15, is on the run with her boyfriend who happens to be 21 and Peter finding this out is ready to roast the boyfriend alive.

However, Shayla, his neighbor has been sticking to him and advising him about how teenaged daughters react to somewhat overbearing fathers (who have never been part of their daughters life until now).  The dialogs between Peter and Shayla (including comments from Harry which sometimes Shayla forgets that Harry is imaginary and answers) are downright hilarious.   And naturally what would this very hot Navy Seal want with an older woman like her – even if she still looked pretty damn hot with a very active libido that could match his.

Bottom Line:  SOME KIND OF HERO was a terrific read, suspensefull, hard to put down, amusing, and sensual.  Obviously it is definitely a recommended read!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

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Narrator – Anne Dover Audible Audio, 13 hours and 2 minutes

Published January 7th 2016 by Hachette Audio UK Rating: 5*

In 1813, Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her lovely, frivolous mother and idle younger brother.  Venetia’s father Theo is an interior designer with whom Venetia shares his passion and talent for design.  While he is away traveling for new and exciting items and accoutrements for his wealthy clients, Venetia and her family are always excited waiting for him to come home.  In the meantime Venetia daydreams of one day having an interior design shop where she and her father can display only five finest in home furnishings.

Just before Christmas a handsome but fairly hostile stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage to deliver terrible and life-changing news.  Venetia’s beloved father is dead, her life turned topsy-turvey, and with no other options available to them Jack has come to escort the family to their new home in London -to the house in Quill Court.   Consequently, Venetia’s creativity, courage, and strength will be stretched to the limit, and the impossibility of discovering a love far greater than she ever could have imagined could be hers if only she can stay alive long enough to claim it!

***  I was totally immersed in this book from page one.  I loved Venetia right from the beginning, for her kindness in dealing with her frivolous and anxiety ridden mother and a little less for her catering to her lazy spoiled brother.   She was smart and her passionate artistic nature was a delight where I could almost feel her creativity flowing right through me.    I also felt her pain and disappointment in discovering her father’s ‘other’ family.     Unfortunately, Jack Chamberlaine, her father’s ward, was a little more difficult to warm up to having grown up with the ‘other’ family, he naturally felt that Venetia and her family were the upstarts and wouldn’t treat her step-sister kindly.  These were Jack’s assumptions without ever even trying to get to know Venetia.

The story was filled with great depth and very detailed scenarios.   All of which touched upon several of the secondary characters who all played really great parts in the overall story including, of course, some of the nasty villain(s) and their loathsome cohorts.  As I listened, the story and the all the characters seemed to find themselves up against the wall so many times and sometimes they were saved and other times, not so much.   As mentioned before the scenario’s and the villain were very well put together and trying to discover how the villain always seemed a step ahead of every plan will keep the reader on edge.

Bottom Line:   I loved this book, the story itself, the fast-pacing and the wonderful narration by Anne Dover.   This is highly recommended and I urge you to give this new author (at least for me) a try.   Highly enjoyable.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Darkest Corner by Liliana Hart

Tess Sherman had her life planned, intending to take over ownership of the local funeral home once the prior owner retired. Instead, he sold it to a mysterious stranger and now Tess has five sexy men working in the funeral home with her. She knows there’s something else going on as Last Stop, Texas is too small to need this much help at the funeral home. Unfortunately, she also can’t resist Deacon Tucker especially when he sets his sites on her. Deacon has secrets he can’t share with Tess, including the fact that his own country thinks he’s legally dead. However, a dangerous terrorist plot may pull Tess into Deacon’s world as she’s about to uncover all his secrets….

THE DARKEST CORNER is the first book in The Gravediggers series and I’m hooked already! Who can’t resist a story about men considered dead by their own countries and yet still willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good? Liliana Hart gives us pieces of the puzzle as we start to see more about these five mysterious and dangerous men.

I really like Tess and hope we see more of her in future books in The Gravediggers series. Tess is down to earth despite a scattered and unscrupulous upbringing by her mother, the infamous Theodora Sherman, and I love how she has risen past her family name to be her own person. My only wish is that we had delved a little more into her family’s history with Russia as we get hints at a bigger storyline.

Liliana Hart does a great job at weaving together a small-town romance with a deadly terrorist plot in THE DARKEST CORNER. The storyline and concept are intriguing and I hope we see more of Tess’ “merry band of death men” (as her friend Miller dubs them) soon. Highly recommended!

Review: Mulch Ado About Murder by Edith Maxwell

Cam Flaherty is embarrassed to see her mother, Deb, protesting outside of Westbury’s newest hydroponics greenhouse. After all, Cam has contracted with Nicole Kingsbury, the owner of the greenhouse, to start some of the seedlings Nicole will use.  Unfortunately, Cam’s irritation soon turns to dismay when she finds Nicole dead. Even worse, the death isn’t accidental and now Deb is hiding secrets. Cam knows her mother isn’t guilty of murder… but can she prove it?

MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is the fifth book in A Local Foods Mystery series but can easily be read as a standalone. Edith Maxwell does a great job at providing readers with enough background information to jump right in and thoroughly enjoy the story. However, each and every book in A Local Foods Mystery series is enjoyable so I suspect readers will find themselves wanting to read the rest of the series after getting a taste.

MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER provides us with some insight into Cam’s childhood as we get to know Cam’s parents, Deb and William. It took me a while to warm up to Cam’s parents, as Deb especially is quite secretive and almost cold at times. It’s easy to see why Cam’s Great-Uncle Albert and the farm are so important to Cam. Edith Maxwell does a wonderful job at bringing the storyline full circle, however, as Deb and William grew on me. In fact, I hope we see more of them in future books.

Edith Maxwell is quickly becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. I love the insight she gives into the ups and downs of an organic farmer’s life almost as much as I enjoy the mysteries themselves. However, it’s the wonderful characters and relationships that make A Local Foods Mystery series such a hit. MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is yet another great entry into the series and I look forward to what the next installment has in store for us!

Midnight Fever

Author: Lisa Marie Rice

Nick Mancino has been dreaming about Dr. Kay Hudson since their last meeting when he saved her grandfather. Kay seemed to be pushing him away, but when he finally catches up with her their night is totally mind blowing. Little does he know that within a short time he will find himself caught up in deadly danger with Kay in the center. There is no way danger will get to her unless it goes through him.

Midnight Fever is an action packed read. Sometimes when a series continues the writing seems forced as if it is a chore and no longer a desire for the author. This is not the case for author Lisa Marie Rice and her Men of Midnight series. Each one has the same intriguing feel and the men of Midnight are tough, strong, able men who turn to mush when it comes to their women. Which is something that I enjoy reading. This one centers on Nick and Kay and … wow … do they have a story. I thought it a nice twist that the reason Kay was pushing Nick away was to protect him … he was F.B.I. at the time and she already knew something was wrong with where she worked and was going to become a whistleblower and did not want to ruin his career in the process. That was an ahhh moment for the readers and for Nick himself.

I have to admit that some of the scientific chatter slowed the book down for me but there was enough gun action and steamy action to speed it right back up. I also enjoy the returning of the other members of the team, their wives and growing families, and watching them all work together to end the most recent danger to the world. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next offering by Ms. Rice as there were a few items in this book that lacked a definitive conclusion, so I am hoping the next will offer more information.

If you want high octane action, sweet and steamy romance, with a team of people saving the world from evil then Midnight Fever will fit the bill perfectly.

Review: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

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Paperback, 304 pages                      Publication: May 30th 2017 by Zebra

ISBN13: 9781420143904                   Series: Decadent Dukes Society #1

Rating:  5*

Adam Penrose the Duke of Stratton fled England for his mother’s homeland of France shortly after his father’s mysterious death. Now, returning to England his reputation as the dangerous duke of dueling in France, precedes him.  Because of some of the rumors in England that a particular family was a source of Adam’s father’s ruination, the Cheswick family reached out to Adam to offer him their beautiful younger daughter as a bride to bind the two families together and avoid any more dueling.

 

Lady Clara Cheswick’s  grandmother (and her brother the new Earl) had arranged a meeting to propose a truce with Adam and to introduce him to his prospective bride to be. Naturally, they offered him the hand of Clara’s much younger sister. However, at first sight, Adam decides that Lady Clara would suit him much more. Unfortunately, Clara’s single purpose in life was to continue to pursue her efforts in creating and publishing a journal she hoped turn into a weekly magazine of sorts.  Of course, Adam

instantly refused the younger daughter’s hand. However, his attraction  to one Lady Clara was hard to deny.   Moreover, what were Adam’s true motivations – ruin his enemies favorite daughter, or discover what transpired all those years ago that led to Adam’s father’s death?

***   I have been a fan of Madeline Hunter for many years and have always found her stories to be full of twists and turns with characters that come alive and are fully fleshed out with emotions and motivations.  I loved Clara right from the start.  Luckily she knew her own worth and because her father had left her extremely well off, she was able to follow her dreams of creating a journal/magazine with essays, recipes, news worthy articles and even gossip…. Probably a forerunner to Good Housekeeping for the discerning woman.

Adam was a wonderful hero who was deeply disturbed by his father’s death and the way his mother had been treated so badly she fled back to France after her husbands death.  It was natural to feel that Adam would want to ruin the family he believed responsible for his father’s ruination and demise, but right from the start the reader understood that Adam would never hurt a woman, but simply wanted to discover for himself the truth of what had caused the rumors and problems.

Bottom line:  This was a fully robust story and I loved the courting that Adam went through to gain Lady Clara’s affection. The sensuality was created slowly with deep feelings and I was engaged right from the very beginning.    Loved this book and can’t wait for the next books in this new series.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Wed to A Spy by Sharon Cullen

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Publication: May 23rd 2017 by Loveswept ASIN:   B01M6ATB84

Series:  All the Queen’s Spies #1 Rating: 4*

I’m beginning to think that there was more spying done during the middle ages than what goes on today.  Not only spying but assassination plots and betrayals abounded during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary which happens to be the setting of WED TO A SPY.

Aimee de Verris was just a young maiden in love with a charming French courtier but she was banished from the French court by Catherine de Medici.  Aimee was told to join the court of Queen Mary and report back to Catherine any information that would be useful.

Simon Marcheford has been a spy for Queen Elizabeth for many years and wants nothing but to settle down and swears that this is his last mission before he retires.   He is sent to Queen Mary’s court and while he is trying to discover a diabolical plot against Mary she orders him to marry her cousin Aimee de Verris and asks that he discover if Aimee is a spy from the French court.

***  Lots of threads to spin in this mystery of spies, betrayals and planned murders.  Having been watching the TV series of REIGN  I had some knowledge of the different characters and historical significance of what was going on.   However the romance between Aimee and Simon was fresh and appealing in it’s innocence and eventual passion.   After a murder occurred in front of Aimee who happened to be standing close to Queen Mary, Aimee was immediately put in a dangerous spot that pointed to Aimee’s involvement (which obviously was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time).  Here was where Aimee began to see Simon for the wonderful husband, man and protector he became after he rescued and helped Aimee escape Scotland to England.

Bottom line:  The character development was skillfully done, and the slow and sensual attraction between Simon and Aimee was slowly built and cleverly worked to perfection as Aimee discovered the difference between infatuation and true love.   Actually, this was a quite enjoyable read where history and fiction blended beautifully together.

Marilyn Rondeau