Saturday, February 13, 2016

Review: Enticing Her Unexpected Bridegroom (Lady Lancaster Garden Society #4) by Catherine Hemmerling


Print Length: 201 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Scandalous (January 25, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: London, 1814

Sarah Jardin has been quite dreadfully in love with David Rochester her whole life. As the youngest of five daughters, her family and society neglect her. She's outspoken, brash, and terribly ungraceful. In short, not at all a lady...until she's taken under the benevolent wing of Lady Lancaster and invited to join the Young Ladies Garden Society.

But Sarah's new life—filled with the mysteries and intrigues of high society—is interrupted by an unexpected scandal. Her scandal. In a moment of kindness, David comforts her...and they are discovered and forced to marry. Even as the newlyweds must come to terms with their new arrangement, they find themselves drawn into the investigation of a dangerous conspiracy. 

With life and love on the line, their unexpected marriage will either end in rapture...or ruin.



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

There were some aspects of this story that didn't seem to gel as well for me as others, for example - while I have a basic understanding of how society worked back then (being forced to marry or face ruin), I don't quite understand why these two decided to marry in so short a time. I'm sure just a betrothal announcement would have sufficed and it would have given the pair more time to explore what feelings (either romantic of platonic) they may have had for one another. As it was, it seemed as though even though they had been friends since they were children, neither one really had an understanding of the other at all, and as such it made David's feelings seemingly come out of nowhere and I found them a bit harder to believe. As it was, it seemed that he was more in lust with his wife than in love with her as we were lead to believe. 

And while I found the characters to be quirky and endearing, I also found it hard to believe that regardless of the loss Sarah's father had faced in his life, that he would allow his youngest daughter to essentially be raised by servants (the butler and his wife). Because of her "lack of proper upbringing" we are lead to believe that her outspokenness and clumsiness are no fault of her own, however I cannot imagine her not being taught at least the minimal decorum necessary for a young woman of society. 


What I found to be the better part of the story was the mystery that the pair found themselves submerged in. What started out as a simple misunderstanding between another Earl and a family member of someone near and dear to Sarah, turned out to be so much more and I deeply enjoyed watching that story-line unfold. There was just enough mystery and a sense of adventure that kept me reading until the very end determined to find out the truth. 

All of those things considered, I would still recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a bit of romance tossed in. I would also read more from this author myself. 


DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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Enticing Her Unexpected Bridegroom is available from Amazon.com

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: Color of Deception (The Sullyard Sisters Book 1) by Ruth J. Hartman


Print Length: 179 pages
Publisher: esKape Press (January 09, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: When artist Kitty Sullyard draws a strange symbol in her toy panorama, she doesn’t expect it to be life threatening. Tossed into a situation she never asked for, she learns the hard way who not to trust. 

After Kitty mysteriously disappears, Nathaniel Bexley has only a single clue with which to find her. It’s something only he would know. Will he be able to decipher the secret message she’s hidden in a drawing, or will Kitty be doomed to the hands of her kidnappers? 



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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was another sweet and enjoyable read from the mind of Ruth J. Hartman! This book contained everything that I have come to expect from reading one of her stories - there were flawed characters that were well developed, a sweet (and clean aside from a few kisses) romance, a cat (seriously - all of her novels manage to sneak at least one adorable cat in), and enough suspense and intrigue to tie everything into a nearly perfect package. 

I do have to admit that I would have loved to read more about certain aspects of the overall story (that I unfortunately can't go into too much without giving too much away), but I wish there had been more when it came to their cousin Robert, and again when it came to the kidnappers. I felt there was a great potential for a showdown that was just never fulfilled. 

However, even without that, the romance between Nathaniel and Kitty more than made up for what I felt was missing. Theirs was not an easy road, but somehow they made it work. I especially liked the fact that these were not your typical characters. Nathaniel had a physical disability that he worked hard to hide, whilst Kitty came from a family who needed to work in order to make ends meet (not to mention the fact that she was a self-proclaimed flirt). It was a refreshing change from the characters you usually see within these types of novels. 

In closing, I have to say that I cannot wait for the next installment in this series. I absolutely loathed Nathaniel's cousin Stratford in this story - however Ruth has an unusual gift of taking even the most despicable of characters and giving them redeeming qualities later on - and since the next book centers on him - I can't wait to see what she comes up with! It is sure to be brilliant! 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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Color of Deception (The Sullyard Sisters Book 1) is available from Amazon.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review: Jilting the Duke (The Muses' Salon #1) by Rachael Miles


Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra (January 26, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: BROKEN PROMISE, BROKEN HEART

Aidan Somerville, Duke of Forster, is a rake, a spy, and a soldier, richer than sin and twice as handsome. Now he is also guardian to his deceased best friend’s young son. The choice makes perfect sense—except that the child’s mother is the lovely Sophia Gardiner, to whom Aidan was engaged before he went off to war. When the news reached him that she had married another, his ship had not yet even left the dock.

Sophia does not expect Aidan to understand or forgive her. But she cannot allow him to stay her enemy. She’s prepared for coldness, even vengeance—but not for the return of the heedless lust she and Aidan tumbled into ten years ago. She knows the risks of succumbing to this dangerous desire. Still, with Aidan so near, it’s impossible not to dream about a second chance…

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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
As I read this story, I found it hard to believe that this is a debut novel from a brand new author. Everything about this story was engaging and amazingly well written - something I would have expected from a seasoned author instead of one just getting started. Not only were the characters complex, and the story engaging, but the attention to detail was simply fantastic. You could easily visualize the story as it was happening, even when you weren't entirely sure which side to root for! 

One final thing - I was so excited to learn that this is only book one of a new series! At first I was disappointed that there seemed to be no real conclusion to the overall plot (aside from the romance), which tends to be a turn off for me as I like stand alone novels even when they are part of a series. However - this story was so good that I didn't mind. In fact, it only enticed me to read the rest of this series as it becomes available. Hopefully by the end all of the secrets have been revealed (and we see more of these two delightful characters). 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own. 

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 Jilting the Duke (The Muses' Salon #1)  will soon be available from Amazon.com. The link will be forthcoming.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Teach Me Under the Mistletoe by Kay Springsteen


Print Length: 147 pages
Publisher: esKape Press (December 26, 2015)

From Goodreads.com: Caroline "Kitty" Tyndall is tired of being overlooked, considered a child by the man she desires. He likes worldly, more experienced women – something she’s not. So she convinces the new groom, Hugh McCollum, to teach her how to kiss the way a man likes to be kissed… 

All kinds of trouble could result from young Lady Caroline's request to teach her how to kiss. But Hugh had never been one to run from trouble... or a challenge. Besides, if no one found out, nothing would come of it, and it might prove an enjoyable distraction. 

After all, he was only supposed to teach her how to kiss. 

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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was a cute and clean regency story that was perfect for the winter months! A quick read (it took me about a day and a half to finish), this story was impossible to put down. I had to find out what was coming - would Kitty manage to snare the man she had set her cap on? Was he even worth snaring? And what of Hugh - would he be able to let her go if it meant she would be happy? What would happen if they were caught during one of their lessons? The possibilities of this story were endless. 

The one thing that I have to say was probably the most enjoyable part of this story (for me anyway), was the way that it overlooked pre-conceived notions  of how things were supposed to be, and instead took a more realistic approach. This was truly a story where true love won out over all the obstacles in the way. 

On the flip-side of that, I felt that we were missing out on potential story arcs. We are introduced to a certain female character with whom Hugh's brother had a history - but she was only there for one scene and really didn't seem to serve much of a purpose aside from upsetting the Heroine. And what of Lord Randall? Did he ever find someone to love him for his flaws? 

All things considered I would definitely recommend this story to those that enjoy a well thought out (if a little unconventional) romance. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own. 

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Teach Me Under the Mistletoe is available from Amazon.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender


Print Length: 329 pages
Publisher: Point (August 25, 2015)

From Goodreads.com: In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.

And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.


From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Let me begin this review by saying that I am incredibly picky when it comes to reading something geared towards the teen or young adult crowd. In fact, its rare that I ever pick up anything geared toward someone my daughter's age. However, after my oldest picked this up at her school's book fair, read it in two days and did nothing but gush about it afterwards, I decided why not? If its a horrible read, then I won't both reviewing it and no one will be any the wiser. 

So after a few months of not picking it up from the shelf my daughter had placed it on when she told me that I HAD to read it - I finally did. And actually - got hooked myself. 

This story is different in that Delia is not a human who can sense a place is haunted. Nor is she a human that can interact with ghosts. You see, Delia has become a ghost herself. I found this twist to be one of many that drew the reader in and kept their attention. When you read this, you get to experience first hand what Delia is going through - and to a certain extent - what the other girls have gone through. 

The majority of the characters were different and unique to the story, each contributing something in their own way to the overall feel and story-line. I say the majority because it seems as though the only male character in this story (Theo), really doesn't contribute anything to the overall plot. He almost seemed like an after thought of the author, or as someone who was thrown in to make the original closing of the institution "make more sense". 

For a pre-teen, this book may have been spooky. For an adult? Ehhh not so much. But the writing was solid enough, and the story moved quickly enough and had just the right amount of suspense (and even a couple of twists thrown in) that overall, it was an enjoyable read. 


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The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall is available from Amazon.com

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: How To Capture A Duke by Bianca Blythe


Print Length:  pages
Publisher: (January 28, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: 
One reclusive bluestocking…
Fiona Amberly is more intrigued by the Roman ruins near her manor house than she is by balls. When her dying Grandmother worries about Fiona’s future, Fiona stammers that she’s secretly engaged. Soon she finds herself promising that she will introduce her husband-to-be by Christmas.

One dutiful duke…
Percival Carmichael, new Duke of Alfriston, is in a hurry. He’s off to propose to London’s most eligible debutante. After nearly dying at Waterloo, he’s vowed to spend the rest of his life living up to the ton’s expectations.

One fallen tree…
When Fiona tries to warn a passing coach about a tree in the road, the driver mistakes her for a highway-woman. Evidently he’s not used to seeing women attired in clothes only suitable for archaeology waving knives. After the driver flees, Fiona decides she may as well borrow the handsome passenger…


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My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This was one of those novels that started off strongly, and managed to keep the momentum going until the very end. There were unexpected twists that kept things interesting throughout, and the writing was strong enough and fluid enough to capture the readers attention and keep you glued to the pages. 

As for the characters, I found them to be complex enough to be interesting, but not so overly done that I found them to be unrealistic. The fact that Percival was not only physically flawed made him stand out among the other male characters that I have read in other novels. I also enjoyed the fact that despite the circumstances surrounding how they met, she was able to convince him to stay and help her with her plan. 

This book definitely did not lack for details. The author was able to paint a vivid picture of Fiona's castle home as well as the surrounding areas. I felt as though I were a part of the story, not merely reading a novel. I also felt that the author made a wise choice setting it up the way that she did. It was just the perfect length to not only introduce you to the characters, but to set up the initial meeting and allow you to see the Hero and Heroine together before they arrived at the castle. As their relationship blossomed, you could almost feel the chemistry and attraction that they had for one another. It wasn't like the romance happened overnight, but rather the author took the time to develop it in some depth. 

All in all, I would highly recommend this novel to anyone that enjoys a good historical romance, and I definitely plan to read more by this author myself. 


DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Revealed (Rumors #2) by A.C. Arthur


Print Length: 239 pages
Publisher: Alloy Entertainment (October 27, 2015)

From Goodreads.com: When Nathan Hamilton was accused of killing Landy Connor just weeks before their college graduation, he lost everything—his friends, his reputation, and the love of his life, Tenile Barnes. For ten long years, the murder has remained unsolved, nothing but false leads and dead ends. Desperate to bring Landy’s killer to justice and win back Tenile’s heart, Nathan starts his own investigation. But the first break in the case comes at a high price: Landy’s old roommate Nicole is kidnapped . . . possibly by the same person who killed Landy.

Nathan and his old friends comb through every memory, every photograph, and every trace of evidence for clues about who killed Landy then and who has taken Nicole now. As they separate fact from vicious rumor and piece together what really happened that night, they discover that the truth is darker and more twisted than they ever imagined. The killer is close, waiting in the shadows, ready to strike again.


In the shocking sequel to Rumors, will the friends finally reveal Landy’s killer . . . or will Nicole be the next to fall?
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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Even knowing this was book #2, I had to read it from the synopsis alone. And while there were instances in this book where I kind of felt as though I had missed out by not reading the first one, it wasn't bad enough that I couldn't follow the current story-line.

And what I found? Honestly I didn't really like. 

To begin with, it seemed as though the author could never keep the time-line straight. One minute it had been weeks since the memorial, weeks since Tenile found Nicole in bed with her fiance. Then it turned into months. By the end of the story, it was revealed that Landy had been dead for 10 years. Which left me wondering - which was it? If Landy had been dead for 10 years, why did everyone come home for the memorial that took place only weeks ago? At first I thought maybe the characters just moved on fast from partner to partner - but the more I read this story the more confused I became. Just how long had it been since one character had been with another? 

And speaking of the characters... what an incestuous little bunch they had been. I don't mean that in the literal sense - but rather in the sense that apparently at one point one of the male characters had been dating Landy - and cheating on her - and then mere weeks, months, whatever later he was engaged to another of the group - whilst cheating on her. It seemed as though these characters that were supposedly "friends" changed partners an awful not. Even if the story had taken place over the supposed ten years - I still found it weird and odd that instead of finding someone new, they just went on to the next "friend". 

Aside from that I found the story to be very anti-climatic even though it had the potential to be great. Without giving away any spoilers I can say this: there was a great build up to a certain scene - and then when the story continued after that, I, as a reader, had to wonder why. And then the truth came out, but yet the story still continued. Instead of giving closure, it just felt as though the story was being dragged on for a higher word count. 

In the end, I was highly disappointed by this one. The author showed great promise, but the story just didn't deliver. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own. 

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Revealed (Rumors #2) is available from Amazon.com