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Monday, February 18, 2019

Review: The Wayward Bride (Besotted Scots, #1) by Anna Bradley



Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Zebra (February 26, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: In only six weeks, Isla Ramsey is due to marry Henry Northrup, the sixth Earl of Sydney. But she remains haunted by memories of the dashing Hugh Courtney, the Marquess Pierce. The handsome aristocrat had hinted at forever and then tossed her aside, leaving Isla with few viable options. Now, as she awaits her new fiancĂ©'s arrival from London, she rides her horse past Hugh's estate at Hazelwood every day, pining for a man who was never truly hers.

Hugh Courtney may have left Isla's life, but he can't erase her from his thoughts. When he rescues her from a sudden snowstorm, they are forced to take shelter together at his private estate. In such close quarters there is no escaping each other. Yet no man wants a reckless wife—or a woman promised to another. As fate draws Isla further into his world, Hugh vows to keep her out of his bedchamber. However, some vows are meant to be broken.

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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Let me begin this novel by pointing out the fact that while there are multiple romances mentioned, there is a secondary main romance written into this story and well, it may not be everyone's cup of tea. The secondary romance (which to be honest I happened to adore just a bit more than the main romance) is a homosexual relationship - which may be why it was not written into the blurb. I feel like its a bit dishonest in a way, but I can see how it also may have been considered a spoiler as well.

So let's focus on the different romances, and why they worked (or didn't work). To begin with let's focus on the ones that were mentioned, but that didn't feature heavily within the story.

Henry and Isla were betrothed in order to protect both their reputations. Yes, Isla would benefit in the immediate sense, but Henry was hiding a secret of his own. I adored their friendship and the way they understood each other. And while it was obvious that their marriage would have some obvious complications, it would have been interesting to see how they managed. 

Hugh and Julianna are also betrothed, and again, by no want or desire of their own. Their betrothal comes from the fact that Hugh's sister and her husband are both dead, and Julianna's father has custody of Hugh's niece Grace. It is her father that pushes the marriage on them as a condition for allowing them to have Grace in their lives. I will admit that while I thought this particular pairing didn't have enough time to "shine", I will admit to being curious about Julianna and the Duke she has supposedly come to an understanding with. For all her words, and her release of Hugh from their betrothal, her actions once she closed the door make me think there is a lot more to her story than what she said. 

Now we can move on to the main romances. The first being the one between Hugh and Isla. Theirs is the kind of romance that frankly, is overdone and annoying. They had passion. They had chemistry. And they could have found their HAE a lot sooner if Hugh had only allowed Isla the chance to explain. Yes, I understand he was hurt and angry, but I'm so tired of these romances where people who are supposedly so in love with another person can just casually toss them aside without ever getting their side of the story, only to declare themselves later. I did enjoy watching these two as they were forced together and tried everything to get over their attachment to the other, but I wish they had just been open and honest with each other from the start. 

Finally we come to the romance between Henry and Lucas. The unexpected romance that managed to steal the show. Henry is nearly always smiling and able to look for the positive. He brings the best out in everyone. Lucas is more of the steadfast, serious type. As they call themselves they are the earl and the farmer. Their relationship is definitely not the kind you expect to see in a historical novel. And honestly, their romance is definitely thought of in more "modern" ways than I would have thought would have been acceptable given the time period. In fact, I would definitely be interested in reading more about them - how they managed to overcome the obstacles that would have no doubt been thrust upon them just for being in love with each other.

I think when you look at this story as a whole, the different romance work to enhance the experience. Overall, this is a well written novel that while it touches on characters from prior series' (some moreso than others) this story will appeal to those who enjoy historical romance. I would read more from this author!

DISCLAIMERI 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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                        The Wayward Bride is available from Amazon.com

Friday, February 15, 2019

Review: Dead of Winter (Mattie Winston Mysteries #10) by Annelise Ryan


Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington (February 26, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: Winters in Sorenson, Wisconsin, can be unforgiving. But it’s murder that keeps Mattie and her family from settling into their new home . . .
 
A new home, a new marriage, a new family. It’s a lot to sort out. But before medicolegal death investigator Mattie can smooth out the unexpected chaos of her new life, duty calls. At the local ER, a battered and bruised teenage girl has been brought in by a mysterious man who claimed she’d fallen out of a car. The staff is suspicious, but while they attend to the teenager, the unidentified man slips out. Then the girl dies, but not before informing social worker Hildy Schneider that the man had her little sister as well. 
 
Mattie’s exam reveals forensic evidence of long-term IV drug use and physical abuse, findings consistent with Hildy’s suspicion that the girl was a victim of human trafficking. They are able to confirm her identity as a teen who went missing six months ago, along with her sister—facts that are deeply unsettling to Mattie who now shares a home with her husband’s teenaged daughter. 
 
Working closely with Hildy and Sorenson homicide detectives, including her husband Steve Hurley, Mattie must delve into a dark underworld to stop the ruthless trafficking of human lives—before it's too late for another young girl . . .


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Although this is the tenth book in the series, this is the first in this series (and by this author) that I have read. The only thing I feel I am missing story wise is why Mattie is still using her ex-husband's last name instead of taking her new husband's. That is a little weird to me considering her ex has obviously moved on. 

As for the story - I wanted to like it. And really, it was  fairly complex and well written so it had that going for it. But the amount of times I had to read about someone farting (medical condition or not), or someone pooping, or some other juvenile variation thereof just diminished this story for me. Why would you ruin an otherwise gripping and engaging story with something so childish? It served no real purpose to move the story along. I was also highly disappointed that Mattie would take her dog to a place she wanted to investigate, and leave said dog locked in the car despite the fact that it was freezing outside. I also couldn't figure out why she was calling people, and investigating instead of passing along the information to her husband, or any of the other detectives on the force considering -  spoiler alert - she's not a cop! 

As much as I enjoyed the way the people involved were captured, and the author's take on this very real issue, I just can't get over some of the unnecessary fodder that was included in this story.  And while I am sure it will appeal to a variety of readers (especially those already familiar with this series), at this point I am undecided if I would read another from this author.

DISCLAIMERI 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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                            Dead of Winter  is available from Amazon.com



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review: Lady Notorious by Theresa Romain


Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Zebra (February 26, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: Who knew love would be her secret weapon? 

Cassandra Benton has always survived by her wits and wiles, even working for Bow Street alongside her twin brother. When injury takes him out of commission, Cass must support the family by taking on an intriguing new case: George, Lord Northbrook, believes someone is plotting to kill his father, the Duke of Ardmore. Decades before, the duke was one of ten who formed a wager that would grant a fortune to the last survivor. But someone can't wait for nature to take its course—and George hopes a seasoned investigator like Cass can find out who.

Cass relishes the chance to spy on the ton, shrewdly disguised as handsome Lord Northbrook's notorious "cousin." What she doesn't expect is her irresistible attraction to her dashing employer, and days of investigation soon turn to passionate nights. But with a killer closing in and her charade as a lady of the ton in danger of collapsing at any moment, Cass has no choice but to put her life—and her heart—in the hands of the last man she ought to trust.

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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I read the first book in this series, and I loved it! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on your point of view), I missed books two and three. So of course, I jumped on the chance to read the fourth book! Between remembering how much I enjoyed this author the first time, coupled with the synopsis of this book, I couldn't wait to dive in. 

And that is when the disappointment sank in. 

While I enjoyed these characters, the story-line itself seemed to drag on. I didn't find Cass' "alter ego" to be all that "Notorious" either. Sure, she did some things (both intentionally and unintentionally) that were a little note-worthy, but nothing that would really make her stand out. 

The chemistry between George and Cassandra felt real enough, and I think their budding romance was a large part of why the main clue, the one thing that brought the would be killer to light, was originally overlooked. When all was revealed, it seemed so obvious that I feel Cass with all her insight and intelligence would have figured it out much sooner if her feelings for George hadn't been distracting her.

All in all, this is a well written novel, and while I wouldn't consider it completely "historical" romance due to the nature of the material being a little more "modern" (both in ways of thinking and in how Cass was allowed to pursue things with Bow Street), I do think those who enjoy slow-burn romances will enjoy this story.

DISCLAIMERI 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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                                   Lady Notorious is available from Amazon.com

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Review: My Sister is Missing by Carissa Ann Lynch


Print Length: Somewhere between 197 & 208 pages
Publisher: Killer Reads (Sometime between February 8 and March 29, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: 

A twenty-year-old local mystery that has never been sold.
A bone-chilling VHS tape depicting a horrific crime.
Neighbors with something to hide.
And a sister who is missing.
Emily has to find out the truth. But is her sister Madeline the victim…or the one to blame?


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

First, let me apologize to my long-time followers for the unknown print length and publication date. At the time of this posting, there are two different print lengths and publishing dates available for this novel although both are published by the same company. 

Now that I've taken care of that, let's dive right in to this review. I'm starting to think that 2019 will the the year of the three stars. I've yet to read anything that captures my attention and keeps it without me rolling my eyes or putting it down. The synopsis of this was what drew me in. I was even interested for the first couple of chapters. And then.. it just seemed to fall apart for me. 

I live in a small town. The kind where everyone knows everyone else's business, so that part wasn't surprising. What WAS surprising is how certain neighbors seemed to keep their "dirty laundry" hidden for so many years, and how other people can be so oblivious to the obvious. There is no way the huge secret one neighbor harbors would have gone unknown by Emily even though it happened years before (even if she left town, her sister surely would have told her). I also had trouble believing that after years of refusing to come back, Emily would suddenly pack her bags and come return to her childhood home without more information from her sister. 

The majority of these characters are one-dimensional, focusing obsessively on the past, acting like they didn't have the brains to run an investigation (I'm looking at you Officer), or otherwise acting in a stereotypical way (the jerk of an ex-husband for example). It felt like instead of building something, the author just went from zero to sixty. The sister is missing, Emily is little worried, and then suddenly every one has a dark secret and no one can be trusted. 

I will say the ending did contain some surprise  twists that did not see coming, which honestly is what saved this from being a two star read for me. 

All in all, this is a well written novel, and I do think it will appeal to those who enjoy these sort of thriller novels. I would read more from this author.

DISCLAIMERI 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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                       My Sister is Missing is available from Amazon.com

Monday, February 4, 2019

Review: A Duke in Need of a Wife Annie Burrows


Print Length: 
Publisher: Harlequin Historical (February 1, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: A search for a duchess…despite his scandalous secret!

Oliver, Duke of Theakstone, needs a duchess, but who will accept his secret illegitimate child? He invites several eligible ladies to his estate to assess their suitability, including infuriating beauty Miss Sofia Underwood. Oliver is a master of cool practicality, so he’s hopeful when he sees the connection between Sofia and his daughter. What scares him is there’s nothing cool or practical about his attraction to Sofia!



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

While a little slow in some places, and a little repetitive in others, on the whole this was a mostly enjoyable read. The interactions between Oliver and Sofia were entertaining, I enjoyed the way she was able to get under her skin without even trying (or really even aware that she was doing it). I do wish there had been some loose ends tied up (for example what did Oliver say to Livvy's governess after he learned the truth, what really happened at the fireworks, etc), just like I wish there was an epilogue of some sort so we could see them in the future. 

The house party was a nice touch, even if it is a bit overdone as a concept. I liked how it gave Oliver and Sofia time to get to know one another, even if the majority of the others were title grabbing harpies. 

Livvy and Snowball definitely stole the scenes when they were on the pages, and I love how both caused Oliver to change his ways (even if just in little ways). 

Overall, I think this story will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction, and I would read more from this author.

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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                          A Duke in Need of a Wife is available from Amazon.com


Friday, February 1, 2019

Review: Blood for Blood (Ziba MacKenzie #1) by Victoria Selman


Print Length: 319 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (February 1, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: Ziba Mackenzie profiles killers. Now one is profiling her.

Rush hour, London. A packed commuter train is torn apart in a collision. Picking through the carnage, ex-special forces profiler Ziba MacKenzie helps a dying woman who passes on a cryptic message: He did it. You have to tell someone.

When a corpse is found bearing the gruesome signature of a serial killer dormant for twenty-five years, Ziba is pulled into the hunt for the perpetrator. As the body count rises it becomes clear he’s on a new spree. But what’s brought the London Lacerator back after such a long hiatus? And does his sudden return have anything to do with the woman on the train?

Ziba scrambles to profile the killer in the hope of predicting his next move. But time is running out. And the closer she gets to uncovering his identity, the closer he gets to destroying hers.


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The first chapter of this story by an unknown to me author had me hooked. Half-way in, I was beginning to have some small doubts, and by the end? I was left utterly conflicted. 

To begin with, how does book one in a series leave you feeling like you missed something? Was there a series prior to this where Ziba was a background character? The fact that I came into this novel simply hearing about her husband's death, I don't feel as though her grieving made me feel what I'm sure the author intended. Nor did I feel any strong feelings one way or another about her working with, or being around, his former friends and colleagues. I feel like I am missing some major plot-line by simply being introduced to her after her husband's death.

Then, while it is quite obvious that this author has a solid grasp on what makes a good story, and how to execute just enough "is it or isn't it" to keep you guessing, however I was left with A LOT of questions. The most glaring of which is how did the killer keep their identity a secret for so long? Considering the things that happened to them, I feel like someone, somewhere along the way would have caught on. Mental Health treatment is often expensive, and I cannot imagine his therapists, doctors, facilitators, etc, calling him just by the name he gave himself. How did they get paid? How did they keep tabs on him? Perhaps things are different in the UK, and this is plausible, however I just don't understand it. 

I also found Ziba to be a bit... snobbish? Standoffish? Unbelievable? Even with her impressive record (even more impressive when you take into consideration how old she is compared to what she has done), she still comes across as the person with all the answers. Even working with detectives who have been around awhile, she still sees things that (to me) should have been obvious, and she takes risks that are wholly unnecessary. 

All in all, this is a well written first novel, and I do think I will continue on with this series, just to see how the author and her characters evolve.

DISCLAIMER: This was an Amazon First Reads for January. 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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                              Blood for Blood is available from Amazon.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Review: Duchess by Deception (Gilded #1) by Marie Force


Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Zebra Publishing (January 29, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: Derek Egan, the dashing Duke of Westwood, is well aware of his looming deadline. But weary of tiresome debutantes, he seeks a respite at his country home in Essex—and encounters a man digging on his property. Except he's not a man. He's a very lovely woman. Who suddenly faints at his feet.

Catherine McCabe's disdain for the aristocracy has already led her to flee an arranged marriage with a boorish Viscount. The last thing she wants is to be waylaid in a Duke's home. Yet, she is compelled to stay by the handsome, thoughtful man who introduces himself as the Duke's estate manager.

Derek realizes two things immediately: he is captivated by her delicate beauty, and to figure out what she was up to, Catherine must not know he is the Duke. But as they fall passionately in love, Derek's lie spins out of control. Will their bond survive his deception, not to mention the scorned Viscount's pursuit? Most important, can Catherine fall in love all over again—this time with the Duke?



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This was one of those stories that I was so looking forward to that the actual deliverance left me truly disappointed. 

So we can end on a positive note, let me begin with all of the faults I found in this story. The insta-love between both Catherine and Derek, as well as her sister Madeline and Derek's cousin is something that I wish would die. It is so overdone these days, and more often than not its insta-lust not love. How do you truly love someone you don't know (and no that isn't a dig at Derek for lying to her).

The main issue however, was despite the horrible things Catherine's "boorish Viscount" did, despite the mistreatment she suffered both by her father and the man he tried to force upon her, in the end, nothing was done about the threat. Sure a short term plan was enacted, but what happens next? A threat is nothing when you think of all the ways the Viscount could hurt Catherine. I feel like there should have been more closure where that story-line was concerned. I would also have liked to see some form of private reconciliation between Catherine and her sister and their parents especially. It seemed a huge thing for them to overcome (even with the passage of time) that I would like to know HOW it happened. Did their father mend his ways? Did he apologize? If there is one thing I hate, its loose ends and this book had too many for my liking. 

However, I did say that I would end this in a positive note, and that is that this story (when you get passed all of the eye rolling I am sure you will do as they profess their love for each other within days of meeting, then Catherine learns the truth and makes him jump through the proverbial hoop to reconcile) this is a fast paced read. I am sure that I am in the minority in my opinion of this novel, as do believe it will still appeal to some historical romance readers.

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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                           Duchess by Deception is available from Amazon.com