2018 Book #99 – The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake

Title: The Duke I Once Knew
Author: Olivia Drake
Date finished: 12/28/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 31, 2018
Pages in book: 333
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Unlikely Duchesses 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:

When two childhood sweethearts find themselves together after years apart, does their romance have a chance to be rekindled now that he’s a duke and she’s a governess? Olivia Drake’s new Unlikely Duchesses series begins with The Duke I Once Knew, where first love is always the sweetest…

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her parents and her siblings’ children. Now, eager to create a life of her own, Abby seizes upon a position as a governess on a neighboring estate. Unfortunately, her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the notorious rake who once broke her youthful heart. But since he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years, Abby assumes she’ll never have to lay eyes on him ever again. Then, from out of nowhere, Max appears. He is stunned to come face to face with the girl next door he fell for years ago—before he went away, and she stopped writing to him. . .even though Abby swears that he is the one who left her without a word. Could it be that this spirited, witty spinster has won Max’s heart all over again—and that they may have a second chance at love?

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 tend to accept more requests for first books in a series since it is sometimes easier than trying to jump in on the middle of a series. This book is the first in a new series by this author. Max (the hero in the story) was a little rough around the edges, it took me longer than I had expected to really start to like him. He ended up being an ok guy but he wasn’t my favorite hero. Abby was ok too, if a little weak. There was a plethora of characters but for the most part they were easy to keep track of – I made up a little Linton family tree with the first chapter to help me keep everything straight. Overall the childhood sweethearts reunited trope is not my favorite – it always makes me so sad that they’ve lost so much valuable time together. Overall the book was pretty good – there were parts of the book that I liked and parts that I didn’t like. It was definitely an enjoyable read though and a very sweet love story – I’d recommend it!

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2018 Book #97 – Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Title: Not the Duke’s Darling
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Date finished: 12/23/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: December 18, 2018
Pages in book: 496
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Greycourt 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:

Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

My rating:  4.0 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’ve really enjoyed Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series over the past few years, so I was excited to see that she had a new series coming out. I liked this book, the plot was really interesting. It was a very feminist inspired novel, which I’m cool with. It is always nice to read a book that empowers women, especially historical romances. I will say that this book had a lot going on – there were a lot of characters and a lot going on with the plot line. I had to take notes at first because I wanted to make sure I kept track of what was going on. I’m glad I stuck with it because the plethora of plot points and characters made for a really interesting story – I didn’t want to put the book down! The small down side was that I felt like we didn’t get to know some the characters very well since there were so many characters involved. I still really enjoyed it though and I’d recommend it! I look forward to seeing what’s next in the series.

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2018 Book #91 – My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes

Title: My One and Only Duke
Author: Grace Burrowes
Date finished: 11/25/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Pages in book: 465
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Rogues to Riches 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:

One minute, London banker Quinn Wentworth is facing execution. The next, he’s declared the long-lost heir to a dukedom. Quinn has fought his way up from the worst slums, and now he’s ready to use every dirty trick he knows to find the enemy who schemed against him.

Jane Winston, the widowed and pregnant, crosses paths with Quinn while her father is preaching to the prisoners. Believing his days are numbered, Quinn offers her marriage as a way to guarantee her independence and provide for her child. Neither thinks they’ll actually have a future together.

He’s a wealthy gutter rat out for vengeance. She’s a minister’s daughter who must turn a marriage of desperation into a proper ducal union. Are they doomed from the start or destined for a happily-ever-after?

My rating:  3.0 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.

This one was pretty long. For the most part I was able to stay interested but there were a couple parts where I though it got a tad dull. Overall though I thought the plot for this book was pretty creative – I haven’t read many other romance novels with similar plots. That being said I thought the ending wrapped up a little too quickly, for how drawn out the rest of the story was I thought the ending all came together pretty fast. Due to the length the reader is able to get to know the characters a little better, which I did enjoy. I didn’t love Quinn’s character though, even with the extra time. He was a little too deceptive for my tastes and Jane was so generous and loving. Other than items already discussed, I did enjoy this book. It wasn’t necessarily my favorite (mostly because it took me so long to get through) but I did enjoy it. I’d recommend it, especially since the plot was so different. 

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2018 Book #92 – The Duke of Kisses by Darcy Burke

51eQF-PRE9LTitle: The Duke of Kisses
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 11/27/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Pages in book: 254
Stand alone or series:  The Untouchables series Book #11
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR 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:

Frances Snowden can hardly believe her good fortune when she’s whisked away from her boring life by her sister who is now a duchess. Instead of becoming the third wife of her parents’ stuffy neighbor, she can be anything she wants: a doting aunt to her newborn niece, a debutante in London, or even an independent spinster. But when she meets and kisses a mysterious man on a walk in the countryside, she knows exactly what she desires—him.

David Langley, Earl of St. Ives, is resigned to marrying the dull woman his parents chose when he was a child. His future is suddenly, and happily, diverted when he encounters a captivating young woman who shows him everything he’s been missing. Ready to embark on a blissful life together, a long-buried feud between their families makes their marriage impossible. Nothing is more important than duty and family, but can he turn his back on love?

My rating:  3.5 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’ve been following this series for a little while now and I do enjoy each of the new stories that come out.  I really liked Fanny’s character in this book, though that is definitely not my favorite name for a heroine. David and Fanny were a really sweet couple and their story was definitely romantic. I felt bad for the other girl (Miss Stokes) since she seemed to like David and couldn’t really understand why she was being thrown out of the running. Also – there were a ton of characters in this book, and I had a lot of trouble keeping track of who everyone was, especially with their first and second names being used interchangeably. Other than that though, I did enjoy the book as it was romantic and sweet. I would recommend giving this book a read, along with the rest of the series!

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2018 Book #90 – Duchess by Design by Maya Rodale

51JSvzJkfVLTitle: Duchess by Design
Author: Maya Rodale
Date finished: 11/12/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: The Gilded Age Girls Club series Book #1
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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:

In the first novel of Maya Rodale’s enthralling new series, an English duke vows to make an American seamstress his duchess…

In Gilded Age Manhattan, anything can happen…

Seeking a wealthy American bride who can save his family’s estate, Brandon Fiennes, the duke of Kingston, is a rogue determined to do the right thing. But his search for an heiress goes deliciously awry when an enchanting seamstress tumbles into his arms instead.

…and true love is always in fashion

Miss Adeline Black aspires to be a fashionable dressmaker—not a duchess—and not even an impossibly seductive duke will distract her. But Kingston makes an offer she can’t refuse: join him at society events to display her gowns and advise him on which heiresses are duchess material. It’s the perfect plan—as long as they resist temptation, avoid a scandal, and above all do not lose their hearts.

My rating:  3.0 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 was really drawn to the cover on this book and I’ve heard good things about this author so I decided to check it out.

I didn’t end up loving this book. And it was definitely just because of personal opinions but I wasn’t a huge fan of the plot line, it just didn’t click for me. It just felt like a no-win situation. And while, yes in relationships you have to compromise for each other, it just felt like both the hero and heroine their whole thing on what they were working towards, they each decided to kind of give up a little in the end on that. Like Adeline – what happened to the people in her New York shop that she was employing? Did they find other jobs? I just was left feeling slightly unhappy I guess and it didn’t sit right. I never loved the hero to start I think was also part of the problem. Again – was totally a personal thing but I just didn’t click with him. And (again, personal) I don’t love that the American and English sides were mixed, for some reason in my mind they do better when they’re separate. These are really weird things that feel very nit-picky for me to complain about, which is why I’d still definitely encourage people to read it. I think it was a good book it just wasn’t a great fit for me personally. I did like the “feminist” kind of message included in the book and that one of the main points was the advancement of women in the workforce and as business owners.

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2018 Book #89 – The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly

51hHzWO0HELTitle: The Highlander Who Protected Me
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Date finished: 11/7/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Clan Kendrick 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:

Lady Ainsley Matthews, heiress and darling of the ton, was expected to make a magnificent match. Instead she’s hiding on a remote Scottish estate, terrified that her vicious former fiancé will use her pregnancy to force her into marriage. One man can help her—Royal Kendrick, son of a distinguished Highland clan. Though a mistake drove them apart long ago, Royal is the only person Ainsley trusts to protect her baby—even if that means agreeing to never see either of them again . . .

Scarred in body and soul by war, Royal suddenly has a purpose—caring for an innocent babe and thereby helping the woman he can’t stop loving. But when Ainsley ultimately returns to Scotland, determined to be a real mother to her child in spite of the risk, there’s only one solution: marriage. And only one likely outcome: surrendering to the desire that’s simmered between them for so long, no matter how dangerous it may be . . .

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.

There were a lot of things that I did like about this book. The plot line was pretty good – there were a lot of emotions embedded into the writing and there was danger and excitement. It definitely kept me interested and made me want to keep reading the story. At the same time though, I just could not catch on with Ainsley’s character. I thought she was selfish for pretty much the entire book and really just so rude to Royal, who is going out of ANY way to protect her and give her whatever the heck she wants. She was also really quick to push or pull on Royal’s emotions to suit whatever her needs were without enough thought to the consequences sometimes. Obviously everything worked out in the end (it is a romance novel) but I was pretty fed up with her mid-way through the book. And oh my gosh I thought the ending was heart-wrenchingly sad. I lie romance novels mostly because I’m guaranteed a warm and fuzzy, everyone’s happy ending. But this book threw me for a bit of a loop. Other than those things though, I thought this was a pretty interesting read. I’d recommend it.

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2018 Book #85 – First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett

51AoQV1O4LLTitle: First Earl I See Tonight
Author: Anna Bennett
Date finished: 10/27/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Debutante Diaries 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:

Recently jilted by his fiancée, David Gray, Earl of Ravenport is not in the market for a wife. Even if Gray didn’t have his hands full renovating his crumbling country house, it would take more than a bold marriage proposal from a headstrong young beauty to thaw his frozen heart. Gray is confident that spending a week at his ramshackle estate will change her mind about marriage, but every passionate moment he spends with her tempts him to change his…

A talented artist, Miss Fiona Hartley desperately needs her dowry money to pay off a blackmailer set on ruining her sister. The handsome earl seems a sensible choice for a husband…if only she can convince him that romance will play no part. But marrying in name only may prove difficult for Fiona. Gray can’t help but be dazzled by her genuine warmth. Yet as their feelings deepen, Fiona’s deadline looms. Will her secrets destroy them, or is true love their final destiny?

My rating:  4.0 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 had read a couple other books by this author recently and enjoyed them, and I’m very glad that I ended up reading this one because I really enjoyed it. Fiona’s character was determined and independent, while Gray’s character (even though he started out kind of cold) was warm and romantic. All the characters were wonderful, caring people – you could feel the love jumping off the pages of the book. The characters also were very well developed through the novel. I really liked how much Gray trusted and believed in Fiona. Even when faced with a situation that would confuse many hero characters, Gray stayed true to his feelings and loyal to Fiona. This story had just enough intrigue and danger to add interest, but the love story was really the feature and I thought it was very well done! I really liked Lily’s character also (Fiona’s sister) and I am looking forward to reading her novel also. I would recommend giving this one a read!

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