Genre: Historical Romance

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted August 8, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewThe Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal
Published by Avon on August 28, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 373
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson.

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

I love Tessa Dare. Her witty banter, strong heroines, and swoony heroes are unparalleled. Unfortunately, her new Girl Meets Duke series doesn’t seem to be as magical for me as her Spindle Cove and Castles Ever After series were but that doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this book! I had so much fun reading it, and really liked all the characters. I think The Governess Game is Tessa’s first book (that I’ve read, anyway, which is a lot) that includes children as main characters. I nearly always shy away from books that include kids, which I suppose is kind of weird… but I don’t see children as romantic. lol. But it’s Tessa Dare! So I read it. Anyway… As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Alexandra is a strong, bookish lover of astronomy. She was raised by her dad alone, on the decks of a ship. This makes her unique in my book. Women during this time period were not into the sciences, nor were they typically brought up in such a rough and unrefined way. She’s spunky and stands up for herself. She takes no crap, and has no problems calling Chase on his idiocy. She shows up to Chase’s home to do one job, and accidentally becomes the governess for these two wild girls. She has no idea what she’s doing, but at least she’s got better ideas than Chase! I really liked her! Her unconventional teaching methods were refreshing.

2. Chase is nothing extremely special in the beginning. I suppose it’s honorable for an unattached, playboy of a bachelor to bring in two little orphaned girls because nobody else in his family would take them, but I felt bad about how he treated them. He had no interest in showing them any love or compassion. He wanted Alexandra to come in and train them so they would be accepted into society and become someone else’s problem. I love kids, so this made me sad. He spent his days furnishing and decorating his man cave for optimal sexytimes with a revolving door of women, rather than making sure the girls were happy. I struggle a lot with heroes in books that are notorious playboys. I don’t find those kind of men attractive. He was pushy with Alexandra, and really left a lot to be desired. But he does melt and become a better person as Alexandra works her magic on him along with the girls, and I grew to understand what she saw in him.

3. Daisy and Rosamund are sweet, odd girls. I can’t remember which girl this is, but one of them has a very morbid curiosity with death. She has a doll named Millicent, and every morning this doll dies of something new like consumption or internal bleeding or a bowel obstruction and the girls drag Alexandra and Chase in for a very formal funeral. Chase has to perform a different eulogy every morning while holding hands with the girls and mourning Millicent’s death. It’s actually quite sweet and was one of the reasons I grew to like him so much. I actually really liked these girls and their antics, which surprised me since I’m not usually a fan of children in romance novels like I mentioned above.

4. I loved all the astronomy talk and the telescope.

5. The romantic chemistry between Alexandra and Chase wasn’t as swoony as I would have liked. It felt more like lust and less like love, which is not what I’m used to from Tessa Dare. Maybe this is less the author’s fault and more back to the fact that I don’t like playboy heroes. Alexandra just seemed like another notch on Chase’s bedpost at first. He had a hard time convincing me that he thought of her as different than all the others. They do have some great banter, though!

All in all, this was another fun Tessa Dare book! I always like reaching for one of her titles when I need a pick-me-up and some light fun. While it’s not a favorite, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys unique, strong heroines.


The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare | Mini Book Review

Posted July 18, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare | Mini Book ReviewThe Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Also in this series: The Governess Game
Published by Avon on April 22, 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 389
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules… 

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.


But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And unlimited teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

This is a suuuuper mini review, but I just don’t have a ton to say! Everyone knows that I love Tessa Dare, but this book was not a favorite of hers. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t particularly memorable. I really enjoy marriage of convenience stories, and I liked Ash and Emma. I found it funny that these two were going to try and keep the passion out of the marriage and just make a baby, when it’s so obvious that they’re falling for each other. I liked the dual points of view. I loved the cat, Breeches. I enjoyed the romance and the banter. Really, I don’t have any specific complaints other than the fact that the magic just wasn’t there for me like it usually is. I’ve loved some of Tessa’s other books more than this one!


Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted January 11, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewBeauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #3.5
Also in this series: Once Upon a Winter's Eve, A Night to Surrender
Published by Avon Impulse on April 30, 2013
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 148
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
At last, Diana gets a romance of her own! But with the last man anyone in Spindle Cove expects...

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman. At least, that's what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana's not excited by dukes and lords. The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. By birth and fortune, they couldn't be more wrong for each other...but during stolen, steamy moments in his forge, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?

I always love returning to Spindle Cove, and I was so excited to see Diana get her own love story this time even though it was super short and left me wanting more. I’ve loved Diana from the other books in the series, and it was fun to lean more about her and watch her sand up for herself. Her mom wants her to marry a nobleman, but she’s got her eyes set on the village blacksmith, Aaron. And why would she NOT!? Why go for a wimpy, wiry nobleman with no strength or grit when she can have a muscly blacksmith!? Aaron is a swoony hunk of man, but so sweet and caring as well. He’s so concerned about making his relationship with Diana work because they’re from different social classes. I love forbidden romances, and this one is filled with sneaking around and tension. SO much fun and so cute! Tessa Dare never ever disappoints me. This novella is crammed full of so much heart and love, and while I wish there had been more it was perfectly satisfying just the way it was.


How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book Review

Posted December 24, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book ReviewHow the Dukes Stole Christmas by Joanna Shupe, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Tessa Dare
Published by Avon on October 15, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 392
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Christmas magic is in the air... From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up some unforgettable romance...with a little help from some enchanted shortbread.

"Meet Me in Mayfair" by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless--and unexpectedly handsome--Thorndale himself. Now the duke's holding her future in his hands...and he's not letting go.

"The Duke of Christmas Present" by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm--the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can't resist the woman he never stopped loving...or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay...but if ever there were a time for miracles, it's Christmas...

"Heiress Alone" by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister's family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss ... until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

"Christmas in Central Park" by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker's weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column's author, can't even boil water. When the paper's owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing--especially when Duke's attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?

I actually picked this up because I love Tessa Dare so much and make sure I read everything she writes. I’ve also been interested in Sarah MacLean, though, and have enjoyed Sophie Jordan’s YA books so I had a feeling this was going to be good! I really love historical romance, and when Christmas is thrown into the mix it’s even better. This was a wonderful set of novellas that I really loved for the most part!

My thoughts on “Meet Me In Mayfair” by Tessa Dare:
This was a very fun story about a girl trying to save her beloved home from the duke who is planning to take it away from her. I liked the chemistry between Louisa and the Duke of Thorndale. There was also a TOn of Christmas in this. They spend an entire night exploring the town of Mayfair in the snow getting to know one another and falling in love. It’s very sweet and the snow made it so magical. The writing was great, and I loved the banter between the characters that I’ve come to expect from Tessa Dare.

My thoughts on “The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean:
This was my first story written by Sarah McLean! Jacqueline and Eben have quite the history, and she’s back home for Christmas after twelve years of being gone. I really loved the flashback scenes interspersed throughout the present day scenes, and I thought the author did a wonderful job of really developing the story despite its short length. I felt like I got a fully fleshed out novel with the backstory, the baggage that each of the characters carry, and all the feelings and emotions as they figure out their past and their future. Eben is very tender, and Jacqueline is very weary. The story was filled with Christmas spirit, and quite a bit of steam as well! It was very fun to read.

My thoughts on “Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan:
This one was a bit rocky for me because I didn’t love the Scottish-style dialogue of some of the characters. I love books that are set in the Highlands, but I honestly could not figure out what was being said at times without actually reading parts out loud. It took some getting used to. And what family accidentally leaves a member behind!? And then there’s this plot line that deals with magical/bewitched shortbread… it was kinda weird. I didn’t really like the love story or the main characters. I liked the service staff, but the main couple was meh. I did love the castle setting and the added mystery with the scary brigands!

My thoughts on “Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe:
This was my least favorite of the novellas in the book, and I found it hard to get through. I liked the less commonly seen setting (New York City) and the idea of the story, but something was missing for me and I’m not sure what it was. I did have a problem with the dialogue. A character will slip from perfectly proper word choices and not using any contractions to sounding like a character from modern time partway through a paragraph. Characters would go from sounding like an overly proper robot to a silly teen outside the movie theater in the blink of an eye. It just didn’t work for me, and kept undermining my efforts to try and convince myself this was a historical romance. I also didn’t feel that this story particularly complimented the other stories, which felt more traditional and historical than this one. Oh well. You can’t win them all! I did like the Christmas party!

All in all, I really loved Tessa Dare’s novella, am excited to read more from Sarah MacLean, think it’s worth looking into more of Sophie Jordan’s adult books, and might possibly try another Joanna Shupe because she deserves a second chance. I love the Christmassy feels from all of them, some were just better than others.


The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review

Posted December 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book ReviewThe Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander
Series: The Lady Travelers Society #2.5
Published by HQN Books on October 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
A fake fiancé and a Christmas engagement are a recipe for trouble in this delightful holiday romp featuring New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers Society

Miss Anabel Snelling needs a fiancé, and fast. If her father, Sir Archibald, has his way, she’ll be married in time for Christmas—to a man she doesn’t love. That’s why she and her aunt have concocted a brilliant plan to hire an American actor to play the role of her suitor. But the charming Wesley Grant is playing the part a little too well, and Anabel is in danger of falling for him. What Anabel doesn’t know is Wesley is not the actor her aunt hired. Still, what kind of a gentleman would he be if he didn’t come to her rescue? He has a new plan of his own—win Anabel’s heart…for real.

I really love fake romance tropes because these kinds of relationships are always laced with tension and wondering and so many feelings. I also love historical romances set at Christmastime because they feel so cozy and traditional, with the candles and the traditional Christmas decorations. I’d been intrigued by The Lady Travelers Society series as well, so I was happy to jump into this novella for multiple reasons. While it was cute, it did fall victim to the same plight that so many novellas to: the shortness prevented character and plot development.

I did really enjoy what I saw of these characters, which is always the most important thing to me in any story I read. Anabel is resourceful and liberal during a time when women did what they were told. I loved that she and her aunt dreamed up a plan to fake an engagement in order to avoid an arranged marriage set up by Anabel’s father. I loved Wes, and the fact that we’re dealing with mistaken identity with him made things even more fun. I liked watching him try and figure out how to play the part of an actor. The romance was a bit fast and unbelievable for me, but I guess that’s where the magic of Christmas comes in! The three elderly ladies who meddle and snoop and conspire under the surface cracked me up. I’m not usually a fan of silly characters like this, but I liked them.

All in all, The Dance Before Christmas was a fun little holiday romance that got me into the spirit of he season. I wish the characters had been a little more developed because they had such great potential to be. I wish the story had a little more depth as well, but that’s what I get for reading a novella. I’m definitely interested in the rest of The Lady Travelers Society series!


Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book Review

Posted July 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book ReviewUnder the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
Series: The MacDonnells #1
Also in this series: Sound of the Heart
Published by Berkley on January 3, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams— and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her.

They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever.

Lots of things about this book excited me. I love historical romance, the back of the book and the cover reminded me of a light, fluffy romance with a paranormal twist (like a Lynn Kurland book), and I loved the idea of telepathic communication across the world, between two characters who have never actually met each other. During tough times these two characters appeared to one other to help, either delivering advice or actual strength. As they got older, their ability to communicate grew stronger and they began to fall in love. The romance was incredibly sweet. They were childhood sweethearts, who were there for each other all the time, even though they were on completely different continents. I love this idea.

While I did like it, this book is far from the light, fluffy romance I was expecting. The cover is quite deceptive, as this book is a rather heavy and sometimes dark read. This time period was a pretty awful time, especially for women, and the author does not sugar coat it, which I respected. At the very beginning of the book, Maggie witnesses the death and/or murders of several family members. She and her sisters are abducted by men hoping to sell them, and are beaten and raped to within an inch of their lives. Andrew goes to war in Scotland, and also experiences a lot of death and heartache. This is all described in great detail, and it actually upset me so much that I thought I would not be able to continue. I was so curious to see how things ended, though, that I decided to continue on with it. To all my fellow tender hearts out there, if you can make it to page 115, you are going to be just fine. The book does lighten up, and it even gets suspenseful and exciting!

A tribe of Cherokee Indians rescues Maggie and her sister from their captors, and takes them in as part of their family. I loved this entire protective and loving group of people. I have not had the opportunity to read much about Native American tribes, except for my history books in school. I learned so much about the culture and belief system of this tribe, and was captivated by their story and strong, almost religious, ties to Mother Nature.

I really, really liked Maggie and Andrew. Maggie is so incredibly strong and resilient. I admire her, and wish I had the kind of strength she has. Andrew is the perfect sexy Scottish highlander. He cares so much for Maggie, his family, and his friends. He’s also very loyal and honorable. We see him interact with two very young orphaned children, and he is amazingly sweet with them. He really is pretty perfect, and I know I would love it if he came to me in my dreams! His accent is also pretty adorable, but sometimes I had to read his lines out loud in order to understand them. :)

Genevieve’s writing style is gorgeous. Her word choice stirred the same emotions in me that her characters felt. She sent me to the woods where Maggie was held captive, to the battle fields of Scotland, to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, and to the deep southern colonies of North America. The dreams Maggie and Andrew had about each other were mystical and magical. Everything seemed so real to me, and I was completely captivated, even though parts of this book really upset and disturbed me.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical romances with a bit of a paranormal twist. Yes, it’s heavy and dark in places. Yes, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish it at one point, but I am so glad I did. You can’t fault the author for retelling history. This all really happened, and I was amazed reading what people are willing to do to each other. The story is also magical and romantic, and I really loved reading about Maggie and Andrew’s journey to find one another. We are left with no loose ends, and you’ll be very happy with how things turn out in the end.


A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare | Mini Book Review

Posted February 8, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare | Mini Book ReviewA Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #1
Also in this series: Once Upon a Winter's Eve, Beauty and the Blacksmith
Published by Avon on August 30, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are... nowhere to be found. Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn't belong here. So far as he can tell, there's nothing in this place but spinsters... and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It's a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram's makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle... but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

It goes without saying that I love Tessa Dare. She’s amazing, and always delivers when I need a good dose of historical romance filled with swoons, banter, and warm fuzzies. I discovered her Castles Ever After series and devoured those quickly. Then I decided to read her backlist starting with Spindle Cove. Guys, Spindle Cove is this adorable, quaint little seaside hamlet that I completely fell in love with and the people there have really big hearts.

Susanna and Bram are such a fun couple. They are one of those hate-to-love duos that I so enjoy. She’s in Spindle Cove to build it up and take care of the other ladies who society has kind of rejected for one reason or another. Bram is there to infiltrate their leisurely lives and build a volunteer militia from the town’s citizens (honetly, what were they thinking sending him to a town like this?). Luckily the ladies in Spindle Cove are no strangers to weaponry, as they shoot on Thursdays. Why not build a militia of spinster women? Susanna and Bram butt heads like you wouldn’t believe, but that passion ignites a romance that gave me all the swoons. The supporting characters are all wonderful, and it’s exciting to think about returning to visit them and read their love stories as well. While this is not my favorite romance, it definitely sets the tone for a series that I’m sure will continue to get better and better.

Dare’s writing is wonderful. She’s so great at capturing humor and romance and hatred and rolling them together into a romance filled with sparks and tension and excitement. This is a very sweet story that I’d definitely recommend.

 


Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted December 11, 2016 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewOnce Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #1.5
Also in this series: A Night to Surrender, Beauty and the Blacksmith
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Some wallflowers bloom at night…

Violet is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. The gentlemen aren’t beating down her door.

Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet’s feet. He’s wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

Only Violet understands him. And she knows he’s not what he seems.

She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable… Love.

A Christmas ball crasher! Guys, I love Tessa Dare’s stories. They are always so unique and swoony, and this one doesn’t disappoint at all. I’ve always been the quiet, bookish wallflower type, which is why I loved Violet Winterbottom in A Night to Surrender (review coming in January). Now I love her even more! She’s smart and sassy and sweet. She’s also assertive and strong. She’s been through a LOT. I loved the mysterious injured man, and who he became to Violet. Boy, was his entrance memorable the way he stumbled into the ball injured and delirious and fell on her lap. The mystery and conspiracy surrounding him were super intriguing, and I really enjoyed getting to know him. He doesn’t speak English, so Violet’s language expertise brings them together as she tries to figure out who he is. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say… he’s not who he first appears to be.

I think I liked this story more than the one in A Night to Surrender! I wish it were longer because I really connected with these characters and the story. I hope to see more of them in the next Spindle Cove novel so I can see what they’re up to. Definitely read this book if you plan to stick with Spindle Cove or if you’re looking for a quick romance (it can stand on its own but there’s a cameo of the characters we met in the first book so that’s fun!). Sometimes novellas feel rushed or incomplete, but this one didn’t! I loved it!


Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey Excerpt | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted April 27, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Giveaway / 2 Comments

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey Excerpt | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey Excerpt | Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey
Published by Swoon Reads on April 19, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Amazon Barnes & Noble Add to Goodreads
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

Welcome to my spot along the blog tour for Love, Lies, and Spies hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! Cindy Antsey is a 2016 debut author (yay Debut Author Challenge books!), and I have an excerpt that is sure to get you excited to grab a copy soon. Make sure you enter to win a print copy of the book as well!

“Oh my, this is embarrassing,” Miss Juliana Telford said aloud. There was no reason to keep her thoughts to herself, as she was alone, completely alone. In fact, that was half of the problem. The other half was, of course, that she was hanging off the side of a cliff with the inability to climb either up or down and in dire need of rescue.

“Another scrape. This will definitely give Aunt apoplexy.”

Juliana hugged the cliff ever closer and tipped her head slightly so that she could glance over her shoulder. Her high-waisted ivory dress was deeply soiled across her right hip, where she had slid across the earth as she dropped over the edge.

Juliana shifted slowly and glanced over her other shoulder. Fortunately, the left side showed no signs of distress, and her lilac sarcenet spencer could be brushed off easily. She would do it now were it not for the fact that her hands were engaged, holding tightly to the tangle of roots that kept her from falling off the tiny ledge.

Juliana continued to scrutinize the damage to her wardrobe with regret, not for herself so much as for her aunt, who seemed to deem such matters of great importance. Unfortunately, her eyes wandered down to her shoes. Just beyond them yawned an abyss. It was all too apparent how far above the crashing waves of the English Channel she was—and how very small the ledge.

Despite squishing her toes into the rock face as tightly as possible, Juliana’s heels were only just barely accommodated by the jutting amalgamate. The occasional skitter and plop of eroding rocks diving into the depths of the brackish water did nothing to calm her racing heart.

Juliana swallowed convulsively. “Most embarrassing.” She shivered despite a warm April breeze. “I shall be considered completely beyond the pale if I am dashed upon the rocks. Aunt will be so uncomfortable. Most inconsiderate of me.”

A small shower of sandy pebbles rained down on Juliana’s flowery bonnet. She shook the dust from her eyes and listened. She thought she had heard a voice.

Please, she prayed, let it be a farmer or a tradesman, some-one not of the gentry. No one who would feel obligated to report back to Grays Hill Park. No gentlemen, please.

“Hello?” she called out. Juliana craned her neck upward, trying to see beyond the roots and accumulated thatch at the cliff’s edge.

A head appeared. A rather handsome head. He had dark, almost black, hair and clear blue eyes and, if one were to notice such things at a time like this, a friendly, lopsided smile.

“Need some assistance?” the head asked with a hint of sarcasm and the tone of a . . .

“Are you a gentleman?” Juliana inquired politely.

The head looked startled, frowned slightly, and then raised an eyebrow before answering. “Yes, indeed, I am—”

“Please, I do not wish to be rescued by a gentleman. Could you find a farmer or a shopkeep— anyone not of the gentry—and then do me the great favor of forgetting you saw me?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I do not want to be rude, but this is a most embarrassing predicament—”

“I would probably use the word dangerous instead.”

“Yes, well, you would, being a man. But I, on the other hand, being a young woman doing her best not to call attention to herself and bring shame upon her family, would call it otherwise.”


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When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted February 16, 2016 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewWhen a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #3
Also in this series: Romancing the Duke, Say Yes to the Marquess
Published by Avon on August 25, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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4 Stars
On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After series made me remember why I love historical romance. I loved the first one, Romancing the Duke, and Say Yes to the Marquess is one of my favorite historical romances to date. I really enjoyed When a Scot Ties the Knot (hello, Mr. Highlander), but it was not my favorite of the series. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really only have one complaint, but it’s kind of a big one. I didn’t feel like there was a ton of chemistry between Maddie and Logan. There was heat, yes, but I didn’t really buy the romance like I did in the previous two books. This felt more lusty to me. I suppose I started feeling it at the end, but the romance wasn’t sweeping and swoony like I have become accustomed to as of late.

2. I loved Maddie. I thought she was hilarious, plus she’s bookish, artsy, and painfully shy. I get her. While I don’t have panic attacks when I’m surrounded by a few people, I know what it’s like to be a wallflower. And I know what it’s like to view life through an artist’s eye. I love that she wrote letters to an imaginary captain to avoid jumping into the dating pool. That’s something I could totally see myself doing. All in all, I’m a fan of hers.

3. Logan… He started as as being the epitome of my least favorite highlander. He’s big and cocky and doesn’t really do romance. He storms in to Maddie’s isolated castle and blackmails her, telling her that if she does not marry him and give him her castle and the land surrounding it, he is going to take her fake romance to the media and have her publicly ridiculed. I don’t do blackmail. I don’t do men who come in to the scene and bully or take advantage of women. But… I really started to like him more when he softened up and started thinking with his heart and his emotions over his selfish need to provide for the soldiers who fought under him. Maddie does a great job of tugging at his heartstrings and making him feel things, and I slowly became a fan of Captain Mackenzie’s as well.

4. The story is super unique, which I really enjoyed. A romance that blooms out of the mindless musings of a teenage girl to an imaginary man is pretty awesome. I LOVE this idea. It would have been better if there had been a stronger feeling of romance, but… I digress.

5. I’ve come to expect awesome witty banter between Tessa Dare’s characters, and I got it. I do love sizzling, flirtatious, witty banter.

6. This book is funny! Just read this:

What have I done? Most lasses like it when a man kills the bugs. Along with reaching high places and giving sexual pleasure, it’s one of the few universally popular qualities we have to offer.

(Maddie is an artist and draws bugs for a client who is putting together a collection of… bug drawings. Logan gets chewed out after smashing an already dead bug pancake. These are his thoughts after said chewing out occurs.)

There are many more funny passages like this!

7. The cast of supporting characters is wonderful! I really liked Logan’s burly band of misfit soldiers, particularly one who reminds me of Dory from Finding Nemo. He has no short-term memory, and so his friends keep having to tell him where he is. He’s very endearing because he loves Maddie every single time he meets her… which is multiple times per day.

8. The bookishness. I can hardly handle the bookishness! I LOVED IT! Here’s my favorite quote:

He was lying on the bed, a loose shirt hanging open at the neck to reveal a wedge of his chest. His brow was lightly furrowed in concentration, and those spectacles were perched on the strong bridge of his nose. One muscled arm was flexed and propped behind his head. And in the other hand, he held . . . Devil take him. Heaven help her. A book. Not just any book, but a thick one bound in dark green leather. And he was reading the thing.

Haha! I can’t! This is probably the best passage I’ve ever read in a book ever. I laughed out loud. Props to Ms. Dare for making books sexy. Spectacles! Come ON!

All in all, I really enjoyed When a Scot Ties the Knot. Was it my favorite? No. But only because Tessa Dare can only outdo herself so many times. This book was so much fun and the story was so unique and the characters were so likable (even if it took me longer with some of them) that I could not help but smile as I flew through the pages.

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