Genre: Historical

ONLY BELOVED by Mary Balogh

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Source: Publisher
ONLY BELOVED by Mary BaloghOnly Beloved by Mary Balogh
Series: Survivors' Club
Published by Signet Genres: Historical
ReviewedbyMelissa

George, Duke of Stanbrook is lonely. He’s never seriously considered remarrying until now but wants a companion. And there is only one lady who he can see as his wife. Dora Debbins gave up on the idea of being a wife a long time ago when family scandal left her caring for her younger sister. When George proposes, Dora is stunned but finds herself agreeing. What begins as a marriage for companionship becomes something more as George and Dora find themselves falling in love. But when an enemy from George’s past returns, determined to prevent George from being happy, can he protect the unexpected love he’s found?

 

I love Mary Balogh. I think I’ve read every book she’s ever written! Only Beloved is a wonderful addition to the stellar historical romances I’ve come to expect from Mary Balogh. George and Dora were characters that I enjoyed every minute I spent buried in the pages with. I know that this is one that will quickly find it’s way to my keepershelf!!

THE SECRETS OF SIR RICHARD KENWORTHY by Julia Quinn

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This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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THE SECRETS OF SIR RICHARD KENWORTHY by Julia QuinnThe Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn
Series: Smythe-Smith #4
Published by Avon Genres: Historical
ReviewedbyShayna

Sir Richard Kenworthy needs to find a wife, and he needs to do it in less than a month.  Though he hopes to find someone he can have a decent life with, Richard knows he can’t be too picky.  Then he spots Iris Smythe-Smith trying to hide behind her cello at her family’s musicale and he knows he’s found the perfect woman to suit his plans.  Now if only he can get her to marry him quickly without asking too many questions…

 

Iris Smythe-Smith is no fool.  She knows Richard is hiding something, but for once she has met a man who not only sees her, he seems to actually like and understand her.  Still, after a lifetime of being overlooked she doesn’t quite trust his motives.  Then Richard forces them into a compromising position, and Iris has no choice but to marry him.  Though she doesn’t understand his actions, Iris truly believes she has a chance at happiness with her new husband.  Then Richard’s true reason for needing a wife comes to light, threatening to break their fragile bond forever…

 

Julia Quinn knows how to pen stories that are fun, charming, and impossible to put down.  The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy isn’t quite Ms. Quinn’s usual fare, but thanks to the author’s talent, the pages of the story do fly by.

 

Iris Smythe-Smith is a gem.  She’s a smart, quiet woman with a quick wit who generally blends into the background.  You want to see her shine and get the attention such a compelling heroine should get.  Simply put, Iris is easy to love.  She’s no saint, but that only makes her an even better heroine and it’s impossible not to root for her to get the love she deserves.  When Richard first courts her, even though you know it’s because he’s using her, the two of them are so delightful together it’s easy to be swept away by their banter.

 

However, some of the shine soon wears off of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, and that’s due to the hero.  All the internal flagellation in the world doesn’t make up for the fact that he locks in on Iris from the start in order to use her.  The ends may justify the means in his mind, but it won’t in anyone else’s.  His secret – the reason for him marrying Iris – seems pretty obvious from the start, and if this plotline hadn’t dragged on for so long, I might have liked Richard a lot more.  Ms. Quinn does a good job of showing that he isn’t a bad man, but that doesn’t make him a great hero.  And Iris really deserved a great hero.  I’m afraid I can’t say more about Richard without spoiling the story, so suffice it to say it would have been nice had there been a bit more to him that I could have latched on to so that his negative qualities (lying and manipulation) weren’t so stark.

 

It’s a testament to Ms. Quinn’s skill as a writer that even though I had issues with Richard I was entertained by The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy.  Ms. Quinn makes even the most serious of her books feel light on their feet and I devoured this story in one day.  Even though this is the final book in the Smythe-Smith quartet, I do hope that Ms. Quinn returns to the supporting characters one day, because after the all-too-brief appearances of the comical Winston Bevelstoke and the unicorn-obsessed Frances Pleinsworth, I am desperately hoping these two get books of their own.

IF THE VISCOUNT FALLS by Sabrina Jeffries

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This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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IF THE VISCOUNT FALLS by Sabrina JeffriesIf the Viscount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: The Duke's Men #4
Published by Pocket Genres: Historical
ReviewedbyShayna

Once upon a time, Dominick Manton had it all: a promising future and the love of his fiancée, Jane Vernon.  Then Dom’s life came crashing down around him, his inheritance stolen and the career he was to have taken from him.  He had no other choice than to trick Jane into jilting him before he dragged her down with him.

 

Twelve years later, Dom’s brother – the author of all the ills he and his half-siblings suffered – is gone and Dom has not only a successful investigation business, but the viscountcy as well.  There’s just one thing missing from his life: Jane.  She’s engaged to another and Dom won’t let himself think on what he lost by pushing her away all those years ago.  But fate hands him a chance when Jane comes to him for help.  Nancy, her cousin and Dom’s widowed sister-in-law, is missing.  For the first time in well over a decade, Dom and Jane must work together to solve a mystery that could change their lives forever.  And close quarters might just mean that Dom has a chance to win back the heart of the only woman who has ever held his.

 

I absolutely love a good second chance romance, and If the Viscount Falls is a great one.  Sabrina Jeffries’s final Duke’s Men novel brings this fantastic series to a satisfying close with a romance between two headstrong characters that is sure to make you smile.

 

I’ve been intrigued by Dom since meeting him in ‘Twas the Night After Christmas (the final Hellions of Halstead Hall book).  Dom can be serious and autocratic, but he’s had to be to survive and thrive in the conditions his brother’s betrayal threw him all those years ago.  Dom may be bossy, but he’ll sacrifice himself in a heartbeat for others.  He’s got a good heart, and when combined with his sharp mind and hidden sensuality, he makes an excellent hero.  It takes a strong heroine to match Dom, and Jane is exactly that.  She’s an intelligent woman who doesn’t back down from anyone or anything.  Long ago, she might have allowed Dom to sweep her up, but now with her feet firmly planted on the ground, he has to work to win her heart.  They’ve been apart twelve years, and it’s not a simple matter of true love making everything right.  Dom and Jane have to work for their happily ever after, and I loved that about them.  Their romance is passionate and engaging, and the back-and-forth between them makes the pages of If the Viscount Falls fly by.

 

A dash of mystery the missing Nancy and her possible condition provide rounds out If the Viscount Falls.  The Nancy plot isn’t a contrivance that throws Jane and Dom together only to be forgotten.  Instead it’s a storyline (which I won’t spoil) that has real consequences for Dom and Jane, and it only makes you root for these two more.  This subplot also gives previous Duke’s Men heroes and heroines a chance to play their roles in reuniting Jane and Dom, which – as a fan of the series – I adored.  You don’t have to have read What the Duke Desires, When the Rogue Returns, or How the Scoundrel Seduces in order to enjoy Dom and Jane’s story, but I believe having done so made me love the book even more.  But whether you’re a fan of the Duke’s Men series or are just looking for a wonderfully entertaining historical romance, you’re sure to enjoy If the Viscount Falls.

NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED by Sarah MacLean

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This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED by Sarah MacLeanNo Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #3
Published by Avon Genres: Historical
ReviewedbyShayna

All of London knows Temple to be the Killer Duke – the man who killed his father’s young bride the night before her wedding twelve years earlier.  Temple’s world came crashing down around him that fateful night and – worse of all – he cannot remember what happened.  Now he rules the underworld, powerful, frightening, and one of the four owners of The Fallen Angel.  Temple’s life is nothing like the one he was raised to live, but he’s (mostly) accepting of his fate.  Then Mara Lowe, the woman who he supposedly killed, shows up at his club, offering him redemption in exchange for his help.  Temple is furious, but now he has his chance for vengeance.  He just never expected to fall for the woman who ruined his life…

 

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is a bit difficult for me to review.  I was so excited to start Temple and Mara’s story and expected a passionate, exciting romance the likes of which I know a talented author like Sarah MacLean can deliver.  To the book’s credit, there is passion, and a satisfying ending for the romance, but… this book was a bit of a miss for me.  Temple is out for blood when he learns that Mara deceived him and left him – and society – believing Temple to be a murderer.  He wants vengeance, which is understandable, but his plan to achieve it is poorly conceived and, quite frankly, illogical.  Rather than go the direct route and unmask Mara, he comes up with an overly complicated plan that can only be justified by the fact that this would be a very short story if everyone were straightforward.  As for Mara, I was somewhat disappointed in her as a heroine.  She had so much potential, but was frustratingly secretive for absolutely no logical reason.  I understood her actions of twelve years ago; they weren’t right, but they made sense when you take into account that she was a frightened teenager.  Ms. MacLean goes a bit overboard trying to redeem Mara, throwing everything in the story from orphans to a deranged brother to a pet pig.  Mara does develop a guilt complex, but I would have more respect for a heroine who doesn’t keep secrets arbitrarily and gives honest, straightforward apologies.

 

Even though I have a number of issues with Mara and Temple and was a bit frustrated at the lack of honest communication that made little sense (other than to further the plot), No Good Duke Goes Unpunished has its good moments.  Ms. MacLean’s prose is smooth and the story moves at an excellent pace.  When they are open and honest with one another, Temple and Mara make a great couple.  There are enough moments in the book that I enjoyed that the story isn’t a total loss for me.  And, as I previously mentioned, the ending of the story satisfied my romance-loving heart.  The Rules of Scoundrels series has had its ups and downs, but I finished Mara and Temple’s book looking forward to the final installment of the series, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover.

I MARRIED THE DUKE by Katharine Ashe

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This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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I MARRIED THE DUKE by Katharine AsheI Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe
Series: Prince Catchers #1
Published by Avon Genres: Historical
ReviewedbyShayna

As children, the Caulfield sisters were told that the mysterious ring they possess will help them find out the truth of their parentage.  But for the secret to be revealed, one of the sisters must first marry a prince.  Arabella, the middle sister, carried her determination to marry a prince into adulthood.  Her latest employment – to prepare a prince’s sister for her London season – could be Arabella’s key to succeeding.  She just needs to get to her employer’s home.  And to do that, she must negotiate passage on the ship of a handsome pirate who tempts her to forget her lifelong goal.

 

Luc Westfall is no pirate, though he certainly looks the part.  In fact, Luc is the possible heir to a dukedom.  But he sees no need to let the pretty governess who catches his eye know that.  Luc has never met anyone like Arabella, and perhaps with a little seduction, he might be able to convince her that a potential duke could be a far more appealing prospect than a price.  But Luc may not get the chance to win the spirited Arabella’s heart if an old enemy of his has his way…

 

Katharine Ashe’s Prince Catchers series is off to a rollicking start with I Married the Duke.  I adored the first half of this book, thanks in no small part to the fabulous chemistry Arabella and Luc have.  When Arabella has a bad stroke of luck on her way to her new position, she manages to secure passage on the ship of a dashing pirate who is not all that he appears to be.  What follows is a journey fraught with sexual tension and the sparks that fly between Arabella and Luc make the story completely addictive.  When you have a sassy heroine and a seductive hero trapped together, you can’t go wrong.

 

So why isn’t this a perfect read for me?  Because everything fell apart in the second half of the book.  I don’t want to spoil the story by revealing what happens, so suffice it to say I Married the Duke becomes crowded, often disjointed, and unnecessarily complicated about halfway into the story.  Arabella and Luc – who are so charming for the first half of the story – argue, refuse to listen, and/or keep secrets for no discernable reason.  This is an incredible disappointment because the first half of the book is so much fun to read and I’m used to Ms. Ashe’s writing being a lot smoother.

 

While I Married the Duke left me feeling divided, the characters themselves are all wonderfully drawn.  Ms. Ashe has a talent for penning lively characters, which is why (even with the ups and downs of Arabella and Luc’s story) I won’t hesitate to dive right into the next Prince Catchers book, I Adored a Lord.

FORBIDDEN by Beverly Jenkins

FORBIDDEN by Beverly Jenkins

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MASTERING LOVE by Morticia Knight

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DARK BEFORE THE RISING SUN by Laurie McBain

DARK BEFORE THE RISING SUN by Laurie McBain

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CHANCE THE WINDS OF FORTUNE by Laurie McBain

CHANCE THE WINDS OF FORTUNE by Laurie McBain

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THE BEDDING PROPOSAL by Tracy Anne Warren

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THE EARL I ADORE by Erin Knightley

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THE HIGHLANDER TAKES A BRIDE by Lynsay Sands

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ONLY A PROMISE by Mary Balogh

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MIRAGE by Monica Burns

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THE BUTCHER AND THE BEAST by Sean Michael

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THE DUKE’S GUIDE TO CORRECT BEHAVIOR by Megan Frampton

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CATCH A FALLING HEIRESS by Laura Lee Guhrke

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THE DUKE’S DILEMMA by Grace Burrowes

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FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE by Eloisa James

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THE WARLORD’S WIFE by Sandra Lake

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