2016 Book #56 – His Wicked Wish by Olivia Drake

516qyNe8MnL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: His Wicked Wish
Author: Olivia Drake
Date finished: 5/30/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: #5 in the Cinderella Sisterhood series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

MARRIAGE TO A NOBLEMAN? NOT IN HER WILDEST DREAMS. . .
The daughter of a disgraced woman and a common actor, Madelyn Swann has been shunned by the nobility. No proper lady would traipse about on a Covent Garden stage, let alone sell herself at auction to the highest bidder. So why in heaven’s name would Nathan Atwood, Viscount Rowley, make a generous offer for her hand?
Turns out Maddy is exactly the type of woman Nathan wants as his wife. Finally, he can embarrass his snobbish and cruel father, the Earl of Gilmore—and scandalize London society—with his beautiful, unsuitable bride. Then he’ll depart England forever and leave his wife behind. Having secret plans of her own, Maddy is happy to play the role … only to find that enjoying her husband’s seduction requires no acting whatsoever. But as she falls madly in love with Nathan, can she persuade him to stay with her for always?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I love anything involving fairy tale retellings and so when I saw this book available on NetGalley I definitely wanted to read it. It didn’t turn out to be quite the fairy-tale retelling that I was expecting but since it is part of a series I suspect that each book in the series holds a piece of the plot that ties it to the Cinderella story. For this book there was a godmother who, while not a fairy, was instrumental in bringing the two lovers together and there was also a pair of fantastical shoes. This book tells the story of Nathan Atwood, who returns home to England after spending 10 years in the Far East when he receives a distressing letter from his godmother. Nathan thinks (really hopes) that he’s returning home to a dead father but he is surprised to learn on his arrival that his father did not die from smallpox, but his brother did. Shocked that he is now the heir, Nate determines that he will marry some tawdry loudmouth in the hope of embarrassing his father. That’s where he thinks Maddy comes in. Maddy is a very successful actress who has dreams of a bigger future. Her mother was actually the daughter of a duke, shunned when she married a lowly actor. Maddy wants to find her grandfather, the Duke, and confront him over how he treated her mother so many years ago.
Overall I liked this book a lot. There were a lot of pieces included in the plot development that I really liked, including a secret granddaughter, questionable parenthood, a tawdry actress, lots of snobbish behavior, a villainous rogue, and a dimpled hero. The only thing that really did not appeal to me with this book is that I thought the development of Maddy and Nate’s relationship was not quite what it could have been. I usually like to see the relationship between the hero and heroine be full of emotion and a deep connection, but I didn’t necessarily feel that in this story. I still really liked the book and would still recommend it. I am excited to try another book in the series as I liked the author’s plot developments.

The bottom line: This was an ok book for me. I would probably read more in the series. The relationship development between the hero and heroine was somewhat lacking for me but other than that this book had some great plot developments and was highly entertaining. I would recommend it and I will try more in the series once I have time in my reading schedule.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #55 – Lana and the Laird by Sabrina York

51+OIAoGJ8L._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Lana and the Laird
Author: Sabrina York
Date finished: 5/29/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Untamed Highlanders series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD
Lachlan Sinclair cannot escape his accursed heritage in his Highlands homeland. Somewhat resigned to the fate that destroyed his ancestors, he is prepared to live his life without an heir, without a wife―without love. But when he meets the woman of his dreams in the flesh, the bewitching lass makes him want to throw away his cursed, restrained existence…and unleash the highlander within…
Lana Dounreay has only seen the Duke of Caithness in her dreams as a wild, rugged man, while in reality, his life has been cramped by curses and cravats. He may have forgone his kilt and lost his brogue, but Lana knows that the heart of a true Scotsman beats within his broad, muscular chest. But what plans does the mysterious, passionate Lachlan have in mind for her―and can she convince him that love is stronger than all else?

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I have a secret weakness for Highlander novels so when I saw this book available on NetGalley I was excited to read it. I’ve never read anything by this author before but I have one of the earlier books in this series on my TBR list. This book tells the story of Lana Dounreay, the third sister featured in the Untamed Highlanders series, and Lachlan Sinclair, her laird. Lachlan grew up in England learning how to be a proper duke, but when he nears his thirtieth birthday he returns to his Scotland home. Lachlan believes that his family is cursed and that he will die before his thirtieth birthday. Haunted by his father’s ghost, Lachlan returns to Scotland with the main purpose of restoring his family home. His plans change however, when he meets Lana at her brother-in-law’s castle. Lana’s brother-in-law is the Laird of Dunnet and is a Baron of Lachlan’s. Lachlan is desperate to do whatever it takes to appease his father’s ghost before he dies himself, even if that means drastic measures, but once he meets Lana he discovers that maybe there are more important things to do with the short amount of time he has left.
Overall I really liked this book. I loved Lana’s character, she was extremely feisty/opinionated and I thought it was awesome that she could see and communicate with ghosts. While most people found this scary, Lachlan found this fact interesting and even appealing because of his experiences being haunted by his father. I really enjoyed the supernatural aspect and the fact that Lana and Lachlan had this in common. The whole cast of characters was just extremely amusing, especially Isobel, Lana’s niece. After reading this novel I would definitely be interested in reading the other books in this series, in fact I am quite eager to do just that! The only thing I can say was somewhat frustrating was Lachlan’s naiveté (for lack of a better word) in regards to the villain of the story. Lachlan was being tricked for most of the book and I kept wanting to yell at him to open his eyes! Other than that though, I thought this was a sweet and engaging story. It was entertaining and dramatic and very romantic. I would definitely recommend this one.

The bottom line: I very much enjoyed this book! I am eager to read the other two books in the series when I can find time in my reading schedule. The relationship between the two main characters was well developed and I loved the supernatural element in the book. Great read I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #54 – Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

51OK+NK3wVL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Duke of Sin
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Date finished: 5/28/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #10 in the Maiden Lane series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A MAN OF SIN
Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.
A WOMAN OF HONOR
Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.
A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH
Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I have been a big fan of the Maiden Lane series from the beginning, this one being the tenth book in the series. This is my second book I’ve finished during my Reading Retreat, the first one being the previous book in this series. This book starts up pretty much right where the last book left off, with a scene between Valentine, the Duke of Montgomery, and his housekeeper, Bridget Crumb. The last book in the series left off in something similar to a cliffhanger, meant to entice the reader by leading them into this book’s story. (***SPOILER ALERT***) As we learned in the last book in the series, Bridget was planted in Val’s house on purpose in order to retrieve certain items he was using to blackmail women that Bridget knew well. While working for Val though, Bridget grows to care for him (somehow) and even though she knows he is somewhat evil, she still finds herself falling in love with him (again somehow).
Overall this was not my favorite book in the Maiden Lane series. I was really looking forward to this book because Hoyt (usually) does such a great job of taking a total jerk and making the reader like him. And Val had been mentioned in the last few books in the series as a quasi-villain so I was interested to see how she was going to turn his character around. I didn’t really feel like that ended up happening though. Val kept up with his blackmail and actually killed someone in front of Bridget in this book and she still ends up liking him. Most of the other villain-y heroes in the Maiden Lane series have some kind of redeeming quality but from what I could tell from this book Val was pretty much a sociopath. He had no version of right or wrong, he thought he could do whatever he wanted without caring about consequences, he was power-hungry, and he thought everything revolved around him. He did act redeeming in certain situations, for example his actions towards his sister Eve, but overall I didn’t see how anyone could’ve fallen in love with him and survived. He wasn’t really a good man. He was willing to join the Lords of Chaos for more power without really caring about the fact that they were harming women and children. So anyways, suffice it to say I couldn’t really connect with the hero and heroine in this book. It was still a good book and it was interesting to hear Val’s story but it wasn’t what I expected.

The bottom line: This definitely wasn’t my favorite in the series but I would still say that this is a good addition to the series so I would still recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #53 – Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt

51JCXeLmnuL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Sweetest Scoundrel
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Date finished: 5/27/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Pages in book: 328
Stand alone or series: #9 in the Maiden Lane series
Where I got the book from: Purchased

Blurb from the cover:

SHE’S TAKING CHARGE
Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother’s investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London’s premier pleasure garden, Harte’s Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can’t be controlled.
HE’S RUNNING THE SHOW
Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn’t have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden’s larger-than-life owner, he’s already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He’s not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience-and her fiery clashes with Asa-Eve is determined to turn Harte’s Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There’s no denying the smoldering fire between them-and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all . . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I hadn’t read this book yet even though it was released last year, and this is one of the series that I usually try to stay up to date on. But I was approved for the next book in the Maiden Lane series on NetGalley so I decided to catch up before reading the newest release, out this next Tuesday May 31st! This book is about Eve Dinwoody, sister to the wicked Duke of Montgomery. The Duke of Montgomery has been a semi-villanous character in the last few novels in the series, though he doesn’t really seem truly evil. His actions towards his half-sister show that the Duke of Montgomery is in fact soft-hearted. Eve is acting as her brother’s “man-of-business” while he’s exiled to the Continent. Because of this, she is put in direct contact with Asa Makepeace, also known as Mr. Harte and the owner of Harte’s Folly, a theatre and pleasure gardens. At first meeting, Asa doesn’t find Eve appealing at all but the more he gets to know her, the more he falls for her.
Overall I liked this book a lot. When Asa was first introduced, I didn’t think there was going to be any way he could redeem himself as a character. I was pleasantly surprised in that I actually enjoyed his surly attitude by the end of the book and found his personality endearing. And Eve as a heroine was wonderful, she inspires empathy from the reader but at the same time we’re not encouraged to pity her since she really is a strong person. You can feel the tension between Eve and Asa coming off the pages and there are some pretty steamy scenes between these two. And I thought it was great that a lot of the characters from previous books were brought back in this book for a variety of scenes. I think that this book did a really great job of setting the stage for the next book, The Duke of Sin, which features the awful Duke of Montgomery. I find that to be a prevailing characteristic in some of Hoyt’s novels in that the heroes aren’t always a paragon of gentlemanly ways and honor. They’re a little crude and rough around the edges but she still gets you to fall for them all the same. There aren’t many authors who attempt that, let alone succeed so continuously. I’m looking forward to the next book, which by the time I post this I’ll have already read!

The bottom line: This was a good book and a great addition to the series. Hoyt does a great job of making the heroes rough around the edges but also endearing. I would definitely recommend this one!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page