My American Duchess by Eloisa James

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford – an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés. 
But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.
The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear: All is fair in love and war. — Avon, 2016

Book Review:

Merry Pelford is independently wealthy, smart, funny, and busty.  You more than understand the Duke of Trent’s instant infatuation.  Trent’s burly physic, annoyance with polite society, (although I don’t know how insulting Merry and America at every chance makes the English ‘polite’, but it does give the opportunity for a great lesson on how to deal with bullies) and love of Merry’s directness and wit, makes the attraction mutual, despite Merry being engaged to her third suitor.  Between her past engagements and intelligence, you would think Merry would be a bit more cautious or at the least do a thorough background check before agreeing to another engagement, but no.  Putting Merry in the bind of breaking yet another engagement and being socially ruined in America and England or living the rest of her life in a loveless marriage.

The steamy sex scenes of the third act smooth over the drama of Merry’s wedding day and her spouse’s refusal to love her, despite moving hell and high water to have her, and makes the story overall enjoyable. –(High) Borrow it

Devil in Spring (The Ravenals #3) by Lisa Kleypas

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger. 
After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain. -Avon;2017

Book Review:

Pandora’s need for independence, refusal to obey any man and vivid imagination, makes her a character you can’t help but fall in love with. As the male protagonist, Lord Gabriel St. Vincent found out for himself. St. Vincent’s acceptance of Pandora and his desire to respect her wishes for independence, will have you screaming for her to soften her stance and just marry the man already! Pandora’s curiosity and adventurous nature make for some pearl grabbing scandalous sex scenes.  That same temperament puts Pandora directly in harm’s way as well as helps her to save the day.

Which this book did for me, by looking past the romance of marriage to point out the real world ramifications of marriage for women in the Victorian area.  That they become the property of their husbands with no rights of their own. And by breaking the monotony of damsels in distress or unworldly wasps in need of a man’s protection.  Or annoyingly contrarian female leads who would have been better off left to spinsterhood. -(Low) Buy it!

Dirty Deeds by Loreli James

Landscaper Nathan LeBeau knows exactly how to use his big equipment to make the earth move. The Native American bad-boy has a reputation for getting filthy—in and out of the bedroom. 
So when good-girl Tate Cross needs dirt work done, she hires the wickedly hot and surprisingly intuitive Nathan—secretly hoping she’ll get more than just her flowerbeds plowed. 
Smart and sexy Tate is exactly the type of woman Nathan’s been looking for. But he wants more than another fling, so he digs in his heels to prove to Miss-I-Don’t-Need-Romance that taking things slowly will lead them to something real.
But Tate isn’t interested in being romanced—even when Nathan’s sweet and charming ways are hard to resist. She’ll use every tool at her disposal to convince the former player to play with her and that getting down and dirty together is as real as it gets. — Ridgeview Publishing;2017

Book Review:

Inconsistent, unclear and huh? Overall surmises this story of two reluctant lovers.  When Tate and Nathan first meet, Tate is so nervous she is literally hiding in the bushes.  She was in good company cause Nate was also riddled with insecurities about his Native American heritage.  But they miraculously get over their nerves quickly, making illicit comments about wearing tassels, sharing a beer bottle and being aggressively handsy despite coming into the encounter like 14-year-old virgins.  Tate and Nate, say they want stringless sex, but to prove his ex-girlfriend wrong, Nate throws in some romance for the hell of it.  Making both of them sit through dates and put a lot of effort into a relationship that neither one of them claim to want. Making their motives and end goals unclear.

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Devil’s Daughter (The Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel. Avon, 2019

Book Review:

The witty repartee, steamy sex scenes and a man reluctant to marry, continue in the 5th installment of The Ravenels series.   This time around West Ravenel is reluctant to marry because his scandalous past transgressions could socially ruin the widow, Lady Phoebe St.Clare.  Had any of those transgressions,  a confrontation by a husband who’s wife West had slept with, or a barring from a  soiree because of his past disgraceful behavior, it would have added some real stakes and some rationality to West’s fears.  The lack of reciprocation just made West’s ‘woe is me’ act a tad tedious and drawn out.

Other than Kleypas’ formulaic chemistry, you root for the couple because Phoebe would probably loose her son’s inheritance without West’s guidance. Well not every heroine can be Pandora Ravenel.  –(High) Borrow.

The Sting by Sandra Brown

29203612When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn’t belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her. 
As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother’s ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive. –Grand Central Publishing; 2016

Book Review:

The tension drains the longer the story goes on and the clearer it becomes that Jordie Bennet should indeed be shot, or at the least be arrested.  Not only for withholding information from a federal investigation, but for being an insufferable damsel in distress without a single good comeback line for any of Shaw Kinnard’s insults.  In addition to having the nerve to fall for him despite having no discernible positive qualities, other than being the male lead in a romance novel.

But don’t worry if that recap put you to sleep.  Every scene is repeated at least twice from another character’s point of view,  without adding a drop of new information, so you won’t miss a beat!

All of Brown’s characters do have well defined personalities and there are a few plot twists that just barely keep this book from being thrown into the fire.  –-(Low) Borrow it 

The Mistress by Danielle Steel

Natasha Leonova’s  job is to keep Vladimir Stanislas happy, ask no questions, and be discreet. She knows her place, and the rules. She feels fortunate to be spoiled and protected, and is careful not to dwell on Vladimir’s ruthlessness or the deadly circles he moves in. 

Theo Luca is the son of a brilliant, world famous, and difficult artist, Lorenzo Luca, who left his wife and son with a fortune in artwork they refuse to sell. Lorenzo’s widow, Maylis, has transformed their home in St. Paul de Vence into a celebrated restaurant decorated with her late husband’s paintings, and treats it as a museum. There, on a warm June evening, Theo first encounters Natasha, the most exquisite woman he has ever seen. And there, Vladimir lays eyes on Luca’s artwork. Two dangerous obsessions begin.

— Delacorte Press, 2017

Book Review: 

The entire story is all tell, no show, no inferring, no voice.  Even the limited stilted dialogue adds nothing, but a reverberation of what the narration already said. And the narration can’t even keep it’s story straigt.  Vladmir is this grand master of business, known around the world, but he needs a referral to get a table for dinner?  Vladmir never cheats on Natasha…oh except when out with business associates. Huh?!

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A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay

Does a fruit taste its sweetest when it is forbidden? Is that which is prohibited always the most pleasurable? In this passionate and perceptive collection, Tatiana de Rosnay paints a portrait of the most forbidden of loves, in many different shades—sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartfelt, always with a dry wit and an unflinching authenticity. A PARIS AFFAIR is an enjoyable “undressing” of intimate delights, where laughter mingles with compassion and the heartbeats of illicit desire.–St. Martin’s Press;2015

Review:

A Paris Affair are a collection of short essays about married Parisians, in their early thirty, who have at least two small children and have or are a cheating spouse.   The essays do not go into the reasoning for the affairs, nor follow the couples in the aftermath their discovery.

The theme or overall lesson of the novel seems to be; ‘hey your husband will cheat, eh’.  The stories are well written and each have an interesting storytelling style, but with no real conclusion or point, they all left me with a feeling of hopelessness towards romance and marriage. –Borrow it

 

 

 

Grey (50 Shades as Told by Christian #1) by E.L. James

I thought hearing 50 Shades of Grey from Christian Grey’s point of view would bring some light to how the actions of the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy began. How this supposedly handsome, worldly, wealthy businessman became enamored by the witless, clumsy, penniless, plain Jane, Anastasia Steele. That question still has not been answered in this 4th installment of the 50 Shades of Grey series, if anything it deepens the conundrum.

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What You Need (Need You Book 1) by Lorelei James

The Lund family name is synonymous with wealth and power in Minneapolis-St. Paul. As the CFO of Lund Industries, Brady Lund is the poster child for responsibility. But eighty-hour work weeks leave him little time for a life. His brother and cousins stage an intervention and drag him to a seedy nightclub . . . where he sees her: the buttoned-up blonde from the office who’s starred in his fantasies for months. 

Lennox Greene is a woman with a rebellious past, which she conceals beneath her conservative clothes. She knows flirting with her sexy-but all-business boss during working hours is a bad idea. So when Brady shows up at her favorite dive bar and catches her cutting loose, she throws caution aside and dares him to do the same. 

After sparks fly, Brady finds that keeping his hands off Lennox during office hours is harder than expected. Though she makes him feel alive for the first time in years, part of him wonders if she’s just using him to get ahead. And Lennox must figure out whether Brady wants her for the accomplished woman she is—or the bad girl she was.—LJLA,LLC;2014

Book Review:

What You Need switches between the prospective of Lennox Greene; the reformed bad girl, and Brady Lund; the uptight CFO. Or so he says. When the story comes from Brady’s point of view, we are repeatedly told that he is a loner and has always been awkward.  To a point that his family has an intervention, confronting him on his anti-social, workaholic behavior. But as soon as he comes in contact with Lennox, he is as smooth as Issac Hayes. He says all the right things and is very forward with Lennox about his intentions for her. He is suave. Planning exciting dates, dancing the tango and whisking her off to grand locations. But he’s boring and awkward? Read more

Frost Line by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

Lenna is Strength, a manifestation of the Tarot card, and powerful beyond reckoning. But when she’s pulled into the human realm and tasked with protecting a young boy, everything is thrown into chaos. Lenna’s not supposed to be here, interacting with mortals. She’s definitely not supposed to be drawn to the sexy mercenary sent to retrieve her by any means necessary.

As a Hunter for magical beings, Caine’s duty is simple: return this compelling, impossibly attractive woman and secure the long lost Tarot deck that made travel between worlds possible. Instead he’s drawn into Lenna’s dangerous rescue mission and blindsided by his growing feelings. But there is more than one enemy to contend with. And as the clock runs out, failure means not just the loss of an innocent life and the woman Caine has come to love, but the destruction of Lenna’s entire world.  –Harper Audio; 2016

Review:

Frost Line has a lot of great concepts.  The idea of a humanoid manifestation of a Tarot card is what peaked my personal interest.  Now if Frost Line had fleshed out any of those concepts and ideas it might have actually been a great story. Read more