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aerysa
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PostSubject: Book Reviews   Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:35 am

First topic message reminder :

Since reading takes such a great deal amount of time, it's always nice to hear other people's opinions before deciding whether you want to dive into the book yourself or not. As we slowly get to know each other better, and our various tastes in books, manga, etc., it also helps us determine a book's interest value in comparison to our own potential enjoyment.

I for one would rather hear the opinion of someone I know, rather than that vague voice out there somewhere.

haha, I guess this thread is mainly for you silvery since you seem to be the most prolific reader among us, but anyone can feel free to share their opinions! Even if it's a book you didn't enjoy. Don't feel shy Smile

(This thread is more generic than the other topics where this has been happening.)

Nov 18, 2013
Some of the older reviews do not follow this guideline, but please use it to help structure your review so we can gain some consistency in this thread. Thanks to silvery for "developing" it~

Formatting for reviews:

1) Title + Author (+ Series info, if necessary)
2) Characters involved (optional)
3) Summary/Synopsis
4) Review
5) Rating (out of 5)
6) Sizzle meter (out of 10)

The Sizzle meter is used to give a warning regarding the smut content within a novel. People have different comfort levels with it, so this rating helps people weed out books they would or would not want to read, based on that criteria.

Sizzle meter ratings
0-2 = no smut to chaste kisses
3-5 = may contain smut, french kisses
6-8 = moderate to high content of smut, kisses that burn
9-10 = very high content of smut, erotica

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Last edited by aerysa on Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:28 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Added format guidelines)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:36 pm

Thak you, silvery! cheers 

The sizzle meter is such a great idea! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:47 pm

It hasn't been shared as an e-book yet but I found this at my local bookstore and couldn't resist...
The Sum of all Kisses by Julia Quinn

Who: Lady Sarah Pleinsworth and Lord Hugh Prentice
What: (Summary from Juliaquinn.com)
Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't care that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless...

Review: I would recommend reading the first two books first. First because the duel mentioned here involves Daniel (the hero of the second book; A Night Like This) and Daniel's sister, Honoria (Heroine of the first book; Just Like Heaven) and second because this story takes place before, after and during the weddings of both siblings, about two weeks apart. As is usual with most of Julia Quinn's works, there is humour, human emotions, bickering siblings (Bridgertons, anyone?) and bossy, managing persons all about. I liked how the so called hate slowly changed into respect, friendship/like and finally love. While at the beginning it was mentioned that it's two weeks apart, I feel like it may have been longer, what with the "a few days later" peppered in several chapters. Also there to make the story lighter is the ever so precocious Frances, Sarah's 11-year-old unicorn loving sister. Eloise James fans will be delighted to know that there are guest mentions of characters from her story Once upon a Tower. I recommend it Very Happy
Ratings: 4/5
Sizzle meter: 4 (yes there's smut but towards the back of the book and not much. The kisses however...)

P.S. How high should my sizzle meter go? 0-10 or 0-5? I'd like a clear idea so that I can plan how to rate the sizzle... example: 0-2 (no smut, chaste kisses), 3-5 (may contain smut, french kisses), 6-8 (moderate to high content of smut, kisses that burn) 9-10 (very high content of smut, erotica). Do let me know if this is ok.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:33 pm

Knaves' Wager by Loretta Chase
Who: Lilith Devenant and Lord Julian Wyndhurst, the Marquess of Brandon
What: (Summary form Lorettachase.com)
Lilith Davenant's sensibilities are appropriately offended. How dare Lord Julian Brandon kiss her when he knows full well the man she is to marry is in the very next room! She never imagines that his amorous pursuit is the result of a wager that will sully her flawless reputation—or that one day she will yearn for Julian's irresistible embrace....
Review:This somewhat reminds me of Candice Hern's Lady be Bad from her Merry Widows trilogy. It involves an utter rogue and a highly improper bet. The reasons may be different but the conditions are the same. Julian has to seduce Lilith in eight weeks or Julian has to leave his cousin Robert alone and let him marry his mistress. Since Julian, like most men, can't resist when people tell him no, he's agreed and so begins the very dangerous game. While I enjoyed the story, I simply felt like I could not connect with Julian. His emotions seemed a little detached and he was more of a statue than Lilith was at times. While an ok read, I think there are better books, including her other stories like Viscount Vagabond and Devil Delilah
Ratings:3.75/5
Sizzle meter: 2 (no smut but some suggestive prose and hot kisses)
Notes: as with The Sandalwood Princess, there were some spelling errors but not too bad that it would turn you off from the story.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:15 pm

silvery wrote:
It hasn't been shared as an e-book yet but I found this at my local bookstore and couldn't resist...
The Sum of all Kisses by Julia Quinn

...

P.S. How high should my sizzle meter go? 0-10 or 0-5? I'd like a clear idea so that I can plan how to rate the sizzle... example: 0-2 (no smut, chaste kisses), 3-5 (may contain smut, french kisses), 6-8 (moderate to high content of smut, kisses that burn) 9-10 (very high content of smut, erotica). Do let me know if this is ok.  
haha, I think this was on my list of things to share! Once I get around to sorting out all my files of course... Rolling Eyes 

Well, for the sizzle meter, I'll let you decide. Your rating there seems fine to me! If it helps, I can add it into the first post, so people have a reference.

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:04 pm

Silvery -Thanks very much for your reviews. I appreciate them. I like romance stories that have some romantic elements to it, some hot scenes are okay if they are contribute to the story, it really depends on how it is written. Others that go over board such as those E_____Cave publications are truly smut and try to titilate rather than contribute to a romantic progression. I think your Sizzle meter entries are really helpful especially since you also place some comments describing why they have their rating. Thank you very much.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:57 pm

You're welcome, swede. It appears as if I'm the fastest reader around so I try to share my reviews so that they can be given a try. I'm halfway through another Loretta Chase book and should be able to share the review soon, so patience please Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:29 pm

swedesamurai wrote:
Silvery -Thanks very much for your reviews.  I appreciate them.  I like romance stories that have some romantic elements to it, some hot scenes are okay if they are contribute to the story, it really depends on how it is written.  Others that go over board such as those E_____Cave publications are truly smut and try to titilate rather than contribute to a romantic progression.  I think your Sizzle meter entries are really helpful especially since you also place some comments describing why they have their rating.  Thank you very much.
Ha! I know which company you're referring to and I'm pretty sure they publish erotica. I haven't read much of it, like maybe one short thing, and was completely turned off by it. It's not really a story for the sake of the journey, but just pure smut for the sake of smut. I know some people refer to romance as "literary porn", but seriously... I think that's what erotica is. I don't even know if I would call it "literary", but more "written". Literary implies some sense of art in my opinion.

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:53 pm

I must have reached my romance binge quota because I'm reading much slower than expected. But still, here's another review:

The English Witch by Loretta Chase

Who: Alexandra Ashmore and Basil Trevelyan
What: (Summary from lorettachase.com) Her father’s prodigal ways have forced lovely Alexandra Ashmore into an engagement with a stranger, a man blind to her charms—and to her bewitching effect on other men. And when she’s kidnapped in a foreign land, Alexandra thinks she’s doomed. But her troubles have only begun—for her rakishly charming rescuer, the notorious Basil Trevelyan, is determined to make her his own…
Review: It was a good read, even if I did take a long time to finish it. Basil and Alexandra are both witty, intelligent people who appear to be made for each other, even if they resist it all the way from Albania all the way to England. The only gripe I had was that Basil has a very large and confusing family (I believe this is because I didn't read the first book, Isabella, which was not included in the bundle, sadly Sad). It made identifying with the characters and understanding what was going on a little harder but still manageable after a while. There is a touch of humour here and there, but not the type that makes you burst out laughing like with Julia Quinn or Elizabeth Boyle. It is mostly about guile and how Alexandra tries to get out of marrying someone she doesn't love, and Basil trying to stop Alexandra from marrying people she doesn't love. Wink
Ratings:3.75/5 (I blame Basil's relatives for this)
Sizzle meter: 1 (Kissing and suggestion of seduction at the end but no graphic description of it)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:23 pm

Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase

Who: Mirabel Oldridge and Alistair Carsington
What: (Summary from lorettachase.com) Alistair Carsington really, really wishes he didn’t love women quite so much. To escape his worst impulses, he sets out for a place far from civilization: Derbyshire--in winter!--where he hopes to kill two birds with one stone: avoid all temptation, and repay the friend who saved his life on the fields of Waterloo. But this noble aim drops him straight into opposition with Miss Mirabel Oldridge, a woman every bit as intelligent, obstinate, and devious as he—and maddeningly irresistible.

Mirabel Oldridge already has her hands full keeping her brilliant and aggravatingly eccentric father out of trouble. The last thing she needs is a stunningly attractive, oversensitive and overbright aristocrat reminding her she has a heart--not to mention a body he claims is so unstylishly clothed that undressing her is practically a civic duty.

Could the situation be any worse? And why does something that seems so wrong feel so very wonderful?

Review: This is one of the author's more recent works and I believe that's what led to the more steamier scenes in the book. But back to the plot... Alistair is a wounded war hero and has gone to Derbyshire to convince the local gentry there about the building of a canal, which Mirabel strongly objects. As the two of them have a battle of wits, they slowly and obviously fall in love, even if Mirabel stubbornly refuses to admit it until almost the end. Mirabel is the stubborn, intelligent, independent woman who gave up dreams of love ten years ago when she came home to look after her father. Alistair is the somewhat indulgent third son of the Earl of Hargate, who has to learn how to be independent or marry an heiress. Of course pride won't let him and that is how he ends up in Derbyshire. He comes with emotional baggage, spoils from the war. So the two of them learn how to overcome the obstacles and of course thwart a villain in the process. I liked the chemistry (and reverse seduction Wink) between the two besides Mirabel's somewhat "addled" father, who makes for a few humorous incidents here and there. It's a different read compared to the previous books, namely because of the sizzle but still a good read.
Ratings:4/5
sizzle meter: 6 (some (yes, there's more than one) of the scenes are sensual/erotic)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:19 am

Still keeping busy with books I see! XD

Kind of funny how authors will up the ante as they grow? I know most of her books are pretty calm, but looks like she's taking the road that most authors go down - the steamy route. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but just kind of... A sign of the times?

Anyways, which book is Isabella's that you mentioned was missing? I haven't been keeping up with books lately, but maybe I can find it?

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:34 am

aerysa wrote:
Still keeping busy with books I see! XD

Kind of funny how authors will up the ante as they grow? I know most of her books are pretty calm, but looks like she's taking the road that most authors go down - the steamy route. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but just kind of... A sign of the times?

Anyways, which book is Isabella's that you mentioned was missing? I haven't been keeping up with books lately, but maybe I can find it?

Yes, but slower than with Allison Lane Smile

I agree, I think it's also probably at the request of the publishers... When I worked part time for a local paper, My bureau chief used to tell me "sex sells" when working on the angle of a story. We sometimes have a morbid fascination with what is considered taboo *shrug*

Well, the book title is Isabella. I usually bold the titles and italic the authors so that it's easier for the members. But yes, with a title like that, I don't blame you for the confusion Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:23 pm

love and other scandals by Caroline Linden

Who: Joan Bennet and Tristan, Lord Burke
What: (summary from carolinelinden.com) Joan Bennet is tired of being a wallflower. Thanks to some deliciously scandalous—and infamous—stories, she has a pretty good idea of what she's missing as a spinster. Is even a short flirtation too much to ask for?

Tristan, Lord Burke, recognizes Joan at once for what she is: trouble. Not only is she his best friend's sister, she always seems to catch him at a disadvantage. The only way he can win an argument is by kissing her senseless. He'd give anything to get her out of her unflattering gowns. But either one of those could cost him his bachelor status, which would be dreadful—wouldn't it?

Review: I almost never buy romance novels (why would I, when there are so many shares here? Wink). But yesterday when I was browsing at the bookstore I came across a book I just couldn't put down. Since I was smiling to myself and in the way of other browsers, it was obvious the book was coming home with me, whether I wanted it to or not. This is not the usual "I've been in love with you since I was a child" type of story. Tristan is such a scapegrace that he was only invited to the Bennet home once. Joan is also not the typical heroine, as she's somewhat tall and plump. I liked that the author kept to the period and it's fashions, making Joan realize that the latest fashions are not meant for someone her height or figure. There are no villains in this book, just a crisis to keep parents and brother at bay so that Tristan actually has a chance of being with Joan to actually fall in love. Another thing that made this book interesting is the so called "50 ways to sin", an erotic publication (which the author based on Fanny Hill) that left our heroine not really an innocent in mind at least. I enjoyed the book, so I don't regret buying it Smile
Ratings: 4/5
Sizzle meter: 5 (not really a lot of smut, but the problem lies in the excerpts of the "50 ways to sin" publication. But it wasn't really mentioned much)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:43 pm

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase

Who: Daphne Pembroke and Rupert Carsington
What: (summary from lorettachase.com)
Impossible
Rupert Carsington, fourth son of the Earl of Hargate, is his aristocratic family's favorite disaster. He is irresistibly handsome, shockingly masculine, and irretrievably reckless, and wherever he goes, trouble follows. Still, Rupert's never met an entanglement--emotional or other--he couldn't escape. Until now.

Outrageous
Now he's in Egypt, stranded in the depths of Cairo's most infamous prison, and his only way out is accepting a beautiful widow's dangerous proposal. Scholar Daphne Pembroke wants him to rescue her brother, who's been kidnapped by a rival seeking a fabled treasure. Their partnership is strictly business: She'll provide the brains, he, the brawn. Simple enough in theory.

Inevitable
Blame it on the sun or the blazing desert heat, but as tensions flare and inhibitions melt, the most disciplined of women and the most reckless of men are about to clash in the most impossibly irresistible way.

Review: I liked this one better than Miss Wonderful. While Alistair is every bit as impossible as Rupert, Rupert has the added charm of being a "blockhead". Not really an idiot but since he's always cultivated that facade of his, he riles Daphne up and throws all the villains off. Widowed Daphne has had the kind of condescending husband who had destroyed her self-esteem over the years. It was fun to watch her bloom. Also, the setting of the story in Egypt gives the story an exotic air and makes you wish you were there, exploring the tombs with them. Add in superstition and embellishments of Rupert's strength and you have a legend in the making Wink Enjoyable.
Ratings:4.5/5
Sizzle meter: 5 (seems about right... they're too busy adventuring to be having a lot of bedroom scenes)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:03 pm

look out, review spam! Last three books for The Carsington Brothers series by Loretta Chase

Lord Perfect
Who: Bathsheba Wingate and Benedict Carsington, Lord Rathbourne
What: (summary by lorettachase.com)
Ideal
The heir to the Earl of Hargate, Benedict Carsington, Viscount Rathbourne, is the perfect aristocrat. Tall, dark, and handsome, he is known for his impeccable manners and good breeding. Benedict knows all the rules and has no trouble following them—until she enters his life.

Infamous
Bathsheba Wingate belongs to the rotten branch of the DeLucey family: a notorious lot of liars, frauds, and swindlers. Small wonder her husband’s high-born family disowned him. Now widowed, she’s determined to give her daughter a stable life and a proper upbringing. Nothing and no one will disrupt Bathsheba’s plans—until he enters her life…

Scandalous
Then Bathsheba’s hoyden daughter lures Benedict’s precocious nephew into a quest for a legendary treasure. To recover the would-be knights errant, Benedict and Bathsheba must embark on a rescue mission that puts them in dangerous, intimate proximity—a situation virtually guaranteed to end in mayhem—even scandal!—if anyone else were involved. But Benedict is in perfect control of events. Perfect control, despite his mad desire to break all the rules. Perfect control. Really.

Review: When there are children involved, there's bound to be mayhem and laughter and a lot of troublesome feelings. This even more since Olivia, Bathsheba's daughter, is a sharp, liar and troublemaker as well. Then the fact that the both of them know that they're not suitable for each other but are still attracted to each other anyway makes you root for them, even though you know they will get their happily ever after. The other thing I liked was the involvement of Family, which I found lacking in the first book (the second can't be helped since it was in Egypt) touching at times, funny at others, you will definitely admire plucky Olivia and Pregerine's part of the adventure while feel touched at Benedict and Bathsheba's side of the story. Good read.
Ratings: 4.5/5
Sizzle meter: 5 (about there, give or take. I sort of skimmed the smut to get to the good parts)

Not Quite a Lady
Who: Lady Charlotte Hayward and Darius Carsington
What: (summary from lorettachase.com)
Irresistible Force
Darius Carsington is a spectacularly handsome rake with a rare intelligence and no heart, a man who divides his time between bedding loose-moraled women and writing scholarly papers. He finds society's “perfect darlings”....exceedingly boring. But there’s something intriguing, and not quite perfect, about faultless Lady Charlotte Hayward. He senses a crack under her polished surface, and finding it is a temptation he can’t resist.

Immovable Object
Lady Charlotte is so beautiful, charming, and gracious that no one has noticed what an expert she is at Not Getting Married. Early on, she learned a painful lesson about trust....and temptation. In the years since, she’s devoted her life to being all she ought to be--and she’s not about to let a man like Carsington entice her to do everything she shouldn’t.

A Spendid Collision
But the laws of attraction can easily overpower the rules of manners and morals, and sometimes even the best -behaved girl has to follow her instincts, even if it means risking it all.

Review: This story was somewhat touching (ok, fine, I cried like a sap, I'm a softie). Darius, as the youngest among his brothers, is frustrated at having to prove himself, one way or another. Charlotte, after one mistake in her youth is desperate not to repeat it again. Both recognize the attraction they have for each other but both resist it as much and as hard as they possibly can before the inevitable happens. In the mean time, there's some laughs, a jealous rival, a lot of drama (I cried after all) and truth in the phrase "blood is thicker than water". The series is getting better~
Ratings: 4.5/5
Sizzle meter: 5 (somewhat less smut but the quality is there...)

Last Night's Scandal
Who: Olivia Wingate-Carsington and Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle
What: (summary from lorettachase.com)
An unsuitable pair? Absolutely. But they just can't escape each other, no matter how hard they try.

After surviving the perils of Egypt, Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle is back in London, facing the most dire threat of all: his irrational family....and Miss Olivia Wingate-Carsington. A descendent of notorious—but very aristocratic—swindlers, the delectable redhead has the ability to completely unhinge him, and a long history of dragging him into her scandalous schemes.

Olivia may be Society's darling, but she's aware a respectable future looms menacingly. And so when Lisle is forced to go on a family mission, she sees this as the perfect chance for one last adventure—even if it is with the one man in the world she can't wrap around her finger: but really, she only wants to help…

Which is why Lisle and Olivia find themselves in a gloomy Scottish castle inhabited by spiteful ghosts and craven murderers...and a shocking secret: the greatest peril of all may be burning within their own stubborn hearts.

Review: This was a love story in the making since Lord Perfect. The two precocious children have grown up and leading lives of their own. Olivia was flitting from scandal to scandal while Lisle (I had problems with Bathsheba. If they'd called him by his given name instead of his title, I might have gone mad) was living his dream in Egypt. It's a pairing of Chaos and Order but since opposites attract, I can say it's like their adventure in Lord Perfect all over, except that they now have to fight that pesky attraction for one another. All the aspects that I like in a romance novel, laughter, attraction, a good rousing fight with each other (and the subsequent kiss and make up), interfering family, some drama and action are there so I really enjoyed this one. Their first kiss together was both cute and sweet and will remind you of a pair of teenagers Wink
Ratings: 4.5/5
Sizzle meter: 5 (well, they are young... and fighting an attraction for someone who's always been like a sibling to them)

*Overall, I found that the each successive story got better and was much better connected to the previous one. Miss Wonderful had the bad luck of being the first and a little "all over the place", but was still enjoyable. Recommended.
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:52 am

As silvery said in the Sharing in the Sharing Harlequin and other e-books thread here is my review of Isabella by Loretta Chase

ISABELLA by Loretta Chase
Who: Isabella Latham, Basil Trevelyan, Edward Trevelyan, seventh Earl of Hartleigh
What: This summary was provided by aerysa

Summary: WONDERFUL, WEALTHY ISABELLA

At twenty-six, wealthy and sensible Isabella Latham had abandoned all thoughts of marriage. Yet when she arrived in London to oversee the debut of two younger cousins, it was Isabella who was besieged by legions of suitors... all of whom had an excess of creditors. There was the wickedly attractive Basil Trevelyan, a rake whose charm Isabella could not resist. And there was his utterly handsome cousin, the Earl of Hartleigh, who made her heart flutter in spite of herself. Pity Isabella. Little did she dream that her delicate dilemma would bubble into a scandal that would rattle family skeletons, give gossip-mongers their due... and land her an ideal husband!

My Summary:
Twenty-six year old, immensely wealthy, business-wise, practical daughter of a tradesman Isabella Latham comes to London to chaperon her two cousins during their debut and their first "Season".  Isabella's two cousins come from very different worlds.  Her cousin Alicia is the daughter of her wealthy Tradesman Uncle Harry Latham. Alicia's mother wants her to marry into the aristocracy. Her cousin Veronica is the daughter of her mother's brother the Viscount Belcomb.  Her mother Maria Latham née Belcomb is considered to have married below her station and she and her daughter are generally shunned by her aristocratic relatives and well as by London Society .  Only the facts that the Viscount Belcomb if facing bankruptcy and that Maria and Isabella are footing the bill their daughters entry into society and that Maria Latham and the Vicountess of Belcomb would be discombobulated acting as chaperon for their reasons (health and poverty) enables Isabella to accompany her cousins as a Chaperon to the various soirée's on the Ton. Oh, by the way did I forget to say Isabella's business assets produce from 10 to 20,000 £ per year. (1-2 Million in today's reckoning)

Basil Trevelyan, the impoverished spendthrift cousin of  Edward Trevelyan, the seventh Earl of Hartleigh is immensely in debt in the tens of thousand of pound range (£10,000 from the early 19th century is well worth over £1,000,000 today). Basil hates his cousin because he has denied to pay his debts as his uncle the sixth Earl of Hartleigh had. Basil's chief accomplishments seem to be a spendthrift and a have the ability through guile, flattery, charm, seduction, promises, and whatever else it takes to satisfy his arrears just enough to prevent the Bailiffs from taking him to debtors prison. There appears to be no level of debasement that Basil will not lower himself to in order to procure funds, to support his spendthrift lifestyle.

Edward Trevelyan, on the other hand is a creature of honor and duty, he was a spy for the British during the Napoleonic wars; where he was captured, suffered great illness, and managed to escape back to England.  His spying career ended with the death of the sixth Earl of Hartleigh, upon when he took over managing the estates and works of his earldom.  One of his closest friends also in the spy trade asked him to raise his seven year old daughter, Lucy, upon his death. Lord Hartleigh is competent in war and estate management but is at a total loss how to deal with little girls.  (Not to mention Big girls)

Thus the scene is set for the story to unfold.  Before attending some of the events on the Ton Isabella must secure a proper wardrobe, seeing that her current wardrobe is more reflective of the country styles so out of fashion in "The City" – not a problem for her.  During a fitting she discovers the runaway ward of Lord Hartleigh, Lucy. Because of Isabella's caring and warm personality; Lucy bonds immediately with her. Isabella, donning her old-style clothing, decides to accompany Lucy back to Lord Hartleigh's residence, whence he bumps into her and upon discovering that Lucy is with her starts to berate her on a public street. Whereupon Isabella off-handedly reproaches him for his conduct and explains to Lucy that is must be from the exigencies of worry that has made him act so un-gentlemanly to a woman.

This off handed reproach will be the cause of Lord Hartleigh's undoing, for it begins his fascination with Isabella. A fascination that is to turn to Love.

Isabella not being a beauty is ignored in her first few appearances on the Ton circuit. And being of the ripe old age of twenty-six was immediately granted permission by those denizens of Almack to waltz.  This changes overnight when it is learned that she is not only rich but super-rich.  She is flooded with earnest beaus to no end.  That is she is being pursued by every deadbeat, lowlife, impoverished, spendthrift London produced in the early 1800's, including Basil.
Competition for Isabella between the two cousins and their antics to win Isabella's hand is the gist of this story.

Review: The story is immensely easy to read.  It is well crafted and does not have areas where the reader will stumble through.  I read the book in a hour and a half.  Which means it was extremely well constructed and organized.  The characters are well thought and fleshed out.  Even the secondary characters are well presented.  The plot flows, but Isabella despite her two suitors is really the star of the book.  You can feel the inherent goodness of the woman throughout her actions.  The deep dark secret that is revealed and how it affects her is a subject for a spoiler (That I am not inclined to write).  The only drawback to this book is that Basil is depicted as such a rotten person through-out this book that, even though I have a copy of the second Book in this series "The English Witch" I am loathe to read it.  I will probably wait a half a year before I read it –my antipathy toward Basil being so high, that I cannot see him as a hero.  This the first book that I have read by Loretta Chase and I must say she is a very good story teller, and if this indicative of her works I will definitely read more.

Ratings: 5

Sizzle meter: 1 (Kisses and Petting – Tastefully and passionately done.)



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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:42 pm

Oh yay! New reviews by new reviewers! I'm more of a collector rather than a reader (HAHA!), but I've come to offer my own as well!

To Wed a Rake by Eloisa James
(A novella - hence why I read it; previously also published as A Proper Englishwoman.)

Characters: Emma Loudan & Gilbert Baring-Gould (Earl of Kerr)

Summary:
Gilbert Baring-Gould, the Earl of Kerr, has no plans to settle down…regardless of his fiancée Emma, who lives in the country.

But Miss Emma Loudan is no quiet country mouse.

When the earl goes too far, announcing he won’t marry until his fiancée has his ring on her finger and his baby on the way, Emma takes matters into her own hands.

Before he knows it, Gil will find that his ring—and his virtue—are no longer his own…

And he’s fighting the battle of his life to woo the woman he planned to throw away.  

Review:
The story starts out as a series of letters from various people, which surround the latest event where Gil has been seen strutting around with his latest French amour. His engagement to Emma was decided between their fathers when Emma was just a child. Basically, Gil does what every man with means does when he's given "orders" such as that. He spends his life acting as he wants, without a care to how it might appear to his fiancee.

The latest rumors he has created centers around his response to someone questioning when he would marry his fiancee - when "she has his ring on her finger and his baby on the way". People started taking it literally, when he was actually quoting Shakespeare. He means to marry her eventually - eventually being the key word.

Emma prefers to live her life quietly in the country, but upon hearing this news, she takes that as a challenge. Being an independent, forward-thinking girl, she decides to take matters into her own hand. She sets out to meet his challenge, every aspect of it. Upon hearing that he has a weakness for French women, she decides to masquerade as a French widow and does everything she can to seduce him.

For it's length, I thought it was well written, but was a bit lacking because both characters have a bit of history to them, that just wasn't explored due to the shortness of it. Honestly, I enjoyed it, but I would have liked it to be longer! I liked both of the characters. Gil was a broken man with a sad history, and still gentlemanly, despite his past of being a rakehell. Emma was strong-minded and unconventional, knowing exactly what she wanted and not afraid to do what she had to, even if it was out of the norm.

Rating: 4/5

Sizzle meter: 6, maybe 7 (For a short piece, the smut scenes were a good portion of it.)

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:50 am

Very Happy reviews by other people! Thanks for the review, Swede, now I'll definitely read Isabella soon. Don't fret so much about Basil, he knew he was in trouble in the second book. Most of his relatives hadn't forgiven him yet.

As for your reviews, aerysa, it sounds like a good read too. I'll have to see for myself when I have the time. Thanks Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:11 pm

I did read Isabella and To wed a rake but since they've already been reviewed and I more or less agree with both ratings, I'm going to review something else

Emily goes to Exeter by M. C. Beaton
Who: Miss Hannah Pym, Miss Emily Freemantle and Lord Ranger Harley
What: (summary from MCBeaton.com) A dead employer's legacy of five thousand pounds allows spinster Hannah Pym to resign from housekeeping and find adventure travelling the English countryside by stagecoach. But adventure soon finds Miss Pym in the form of Miss Emily Freemantle, a spoilt violet-eyed beauty fleeing an arranged marriage to a rake she has never met.

What the girl's darkly handsome betrothed boards their stage, Miss Pym is certain Emily was rash to bolt from this aristocratic catch! And so as soon as the travellers repair to an inn, Miss Pym begins her matchmaking... and although Lord Ranger Harley complains he'll not marry an ungrateful minx, Miss Pym suspects once she's marshalled the couple into sharing intimate household chores, all romantic knots will be untangled

Review: I had to put Miss Hannah Pym in. She is the lead, even if she isn't the one who falls in love. The stories are simple and short, about a hundred or so pages. Emily is silly, but I suppose that is how she's supposed to be, based on her sheltered and pampered lifestyle. The central figure is Miss Pym (I can't think of her as anything else) who while was formerly an upper servant, has now more or less achieved the ranks of lower gentry. Swede will enjoy the period accuracy in the series, something which most other authors gloss over or use poetic license on. I enjoyed the first book and the second of this series and the third is also promising. Worth a read.
Rating: 4/5
Sizzle meter: 1 (light kissing only)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:14 pm

I guess I won't do my review either since I agree with yours on Kindred Spirits. It reminded me of her other story, The Rake and the Wallflower. A little bit dark with the broken characters, but very relate-able. If it weren't for the fact that I had limited time slots, I'm sure I would have read the book straight through.

I'm glad you're enjoying Marion Chesney! I really like her themes, so I hope I can find some of her other series. I think she writes kind of simplistic, but in a good way! Simplistic in terms of plot, so it's easy to read and still very entertaining. If I find some of the other ones, I'll definitely share them! I don't think I've read all of them either. There's one for sure I know I haven't read so yeah... Yay for books! Very Happy 

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:55 am

I'd been debating with myself for a while but I've decided to review the rest of The Traveling Matchmaker in one shot.

Belinda goes to Bath
Penelope goes to Portsmouth
Beatrice goes to Brighton
Deborah goes to Dover
Yvonne goes to York
by M. C. Beaton

Review: I know it's slightly different from my usual style but hear me out. To me, the plot is about Miss Hannah Pym, who loves to travel and go on adventures. Along the way, she meets men and women whom she feels are perfect for each other and so she attempts to match-make them. In any other story, I don't think I would have read their stories for the ladies are rather young and naive (in a shoujo manga these would be the airheads that I absolutely dislike) and the men range from proper to idle. It is the glue called Hannah Pym that holds the story together. Don't get me wrong, the historical accuracy and the somewhat improper footman, Benjamin, that she picked up along her journeys make it both interesting and sometimes funny. She has adventures galore and the friendship and love of some rather important lords and ladies (who owe their happiness to her meddling ways). And of course, at the end of the last book, Hannah has the Happy Ever After that was hinted since the first book. I enjoyed it a lot and I definitely recommend it.
Ratings: 4/5 (all of them are equally good to me Wink)
Sizzle Meter: 1-2 (from chaste to improper kissing, but nothing really bad happens when you have the proper Miss Pym as Chaperon)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:07 pm

More books to be reviewed... this time I chose Nicola Cornick

The Penniless Bride

Who: Jemima Jewell and Robert, Earl of Selborne
What: (Summary from nicolacornick.co.uk) Robert, Earl of Selborne, has a problem – relatives who did not consult each other before writing their wills!

The last will and testament of the late Earl of Selborne:

“My son is to choose a bride from amongst the young ladies present at the marriage of his cousin, Miss Anne Selborne, and is to marry one of them within four weeks of the wedding… Otherwise all unentailed properties and monies relating to the estate of Delaval will pass to my nephew…”

The last will and testament of the late Dowager Countess of Selborne:

“In order to prove himself worthy of his inheritance, I require that my grandson, Robert Selborne, demonstrate the same temperance in his private life as I shall expect him to do with his fortune… I am setting a condition of celibacy for one hundred days from the reading of this will…”

When Rob meets Jemima Jewell, the spirited daughter of a Master Sweep, he has the idea of making a marriage of convenience to meet the needs of both wills. Jemima has many talents – she can sweep a chimney, climb tall trees and speak the argot, but can she succeed as the wife of a peer? And can she meet the greatest challenge of all – that of making Rob love her?

Review: The wills of Robert's late relatives made me giggle. He needs to take a bride within a month but he can't consummate the marriage for about three months after that. It's a good thing he has a sense of humour. Jemima, who has had an education befitting a lady can't seem to fit anywhere. So when Robert proposed, it seemed like a dream come true, that she would be able to live an independent life that she has always dreamed of. Of course that was the initial plan. Add in Family (which Robert fails to inform Jemima about) and you have a recipe for either disaster or love. Good thing it was the second. I liked that the characters are human, with weaknesses and faults. And the supporting characters are also well fleshed out. I really enjoyed it.
Rating: 4/5
Sizzle meter: Hmmm... 4-5 (not really descriptive of the whole thing but enough)

The Notorious Lord
Who: Rachel Odell and Cory, Lord Newlyn
What: (Summary from nicolacornick.co.uk) Miss Rachel Odell and Cory, Lord Newlyn, are childhood friends but when Cory comes to Midwinter Royal to assist Rachel’s antiquarian parents in the excavation of the famous burial site, they find their feelings for each other have changed.

Rachel and Cory want different things in life. Rachel detests the travelling that has always been a part of her parents’ profession. To Cory the quest for adventure is as necessary as breathing. But now Cory has another pursuit on his mind… How can he make Rachel see that they could be so much more than just good friends?

Review: This is actually book 1 in the series called The Bluestocking Brides. Book 3 was also shared in the Nicola Cornick Bundle but sadly, Book 2, One Night of Scandal was missing. Oh well. This book is different in a sense that both Cory and Rachel realize that they love each other somewhat early into the story. It was a matter of finding a middle ground, since they what they both want in life are polar opposites. Besides this, there was the added threat of a possible invasion by France and rumours about a spy within their midst. While I liked the relationship aspect of the story, I found that the so called threat was not really fleshed out, besides one attack on Cory in this story. Perhaps it would be better revealed in the second and third book. Other than that, the characters are well thought out and you can see some of the possibilities for the other characters.
Rating: 3.75/5 (not as good in comparison with The Penniless Bride but I hope the other books will wrap it up nicely)
Sizzle meter: 4-5 (same reason as above)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:55 pm

A little tired in between assignments so here's a short review of one of the books shared

How the sheriff was won by Anne Gracie

Who: Jassie Mcquilty and Sheriff John T. Stone
What: Having being willed The Globe, a small town newspaper from her great uncle, Jassie McQuilty vows to run it for the requisited one year before selling it and movin back to the city. In the meantime, why shouldn't she have a fling like her friend suggested? She knows just the right guy... Sheriff J.T.Stone has been making her knees weak since the day she met him. If only he'd take a hint...
Review: I seldom read contemporary romances but I really enjoyed this one. Maybe because it's Anne Gracie... Jassie is the sassy city girl who's trying to get over a break-up and Sheriff Stone is the reluctant hero who's had bad experiences with women. While she's busy chasing, he's busy running. Throw in a small town where everybody knows what's going on, hilarity and mayhem ensues. I enjoyed the way the characters interacted and the fact that Jassie is a klutz, even if she won't admit it. While it was only a novella, I enjoyed every minute of it. Recommended
Rating: 4/5 (because it's a novella else I might have given more)
Sizzle Meter: 6-7 (for a novella, there were quite a lot of suggestive scenes, even if the actual smut wasn't much)
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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:09 pm

It's quite a feat, but I actually finished a book! Lol, there have been a couple that I started reading and haven't finished for one reason or another. Mostly because the desire to read left me partway through. But I'm here to make a tiny contribution to the thread...

The Inconvenient Duchess by Christine Merrill

Summary:
From fictionDB: Dear Cici and Father,

I have come to Devon and married a duke. And I'm more tired and hungry than I have ever been in my life. Please let me come home.

Compromised and wedded on the same day, Lady Miranda was fast finding married life not to her taste. A decaying manor and a secretive husband were hardly the stuff of girlish dreams. Yet every time she looked at dark, brooding Marcus Radwell, Duke of Haughleigh, she felt inexplicably compelled--and determined--to make their marriage real!


Personal: Lady Miranda finds herself in a dire need to be married, with the critical condition that the groom be wealthy. Following the instructions of Cici who has reached out to an old acquaintance, the Dowager of Haughleigh, Miranda ventures out to meet the woman. Upon arrival at the lady's abode, she is informed of the terrible news that the Dowager has already passed on to meet her maker. To make matters worse, a fierce storm is brewing outside and she is trapped at the residence in the presence of her two unmarried sons - Marcus Radwell, the Duke of Haughleigh, and his younger brother, St John.

There is nothing they can do to avoid the scandal, so Marcus has no choice but to honor his mother's dying wish that he wed the girl. In the process, Miranda finds herself tied down to a dirty, decaying manor which has seen years of neglect, and a husband who finds her presence to be stifling. Despite it all, she is determined to do her best, having tossed aside all notions of love and romance.


Review:
Just to start off with, this was the first time I've read this author's work. I enjoyed it. In my opinion, the plot line was different. The hero and heroine of the story jumped into marriage right at the beginning, given the circumstances, and end up trying to mesh their lives together because of that fact. Both sides carry secrets, or at least issues that they do not want to discuss.

Marcus was forced into the situation, but quickly does the honorable thing by offering his hand in marriage. He has the wealth to do a bit of poking around into her background and quickly finds nothing to be worried about. Instead, he finds his wife to be quite honorable as well. As a result, he does everything he can to assist her transition, only to find out that she is quite unconventional, his knowledge of women in general being turned on its head.

Miranda, knowing she forced the situation on him by her unexpected arrival, doesn't harbor unrealistic dreams of love. Instead, she understands her own position and does everything in her power to work the situation to their advantage. Though they might not have love, she offers her loyalty and dedication.

The antagonist of the story turns out to be the younger brother, St John, as there has always been bad blood between the two. The older was father's favorite while the younger was mother's favorite. Since they (the parents) had an unhealthy relationship, the animosity tricks down into the family situation. At the same time that he's the "bad guy", St John is also endearing in his own way, so you can't really hate him for his actions.

Overall, the story worked out really well and it was a good read. Right up front, you could sense that things were not good between the brothers with poor Miranda being thrust into the middle of it. It was never clear what caused that animosity between them since it was more than the parents' favoritism. That's one of the reasons why I kept reading - wanting to know why things turned out the way they did.

Also... Marcus was a really awesome hero! I won't say too much since it would give away his "secrets", but the way he treated Miranda... And just how chivalrous he was. It really hit a soft spot in my heart. Let's just say that they both were broken people, but managed to overcome it and come out stronger/better because of it.

Rating: 4/5

Sizzle meter: 5/10
There were a couple "make out" scenes and one complete sex scene, but at the same time, it wasn't like it was super descriptive like it can be in some instances.

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Wed May 07, 2014 3:09 pm

Wow! Back with another review... Go me! XD

A Season for the Heart by Elizabeth Chater

Summary:
Miss Melpomene Rand’s only refuge from a life of monotony and cruelty is the extensive library left to her by her grandfather. The fantastic notions and romantic heroes contained in those books are the only thing that distracts her from the abuse of her adopted family. But then a mysterious stranger, the Earl of Austell, finds they have a mutual malady of boredom, and he endeavors to rescue them both.

Review:
The summary does not do the book justice, but it is the original summary.

Miss Melpomene Rand aka Miss Pommy is an orphaned girl who is forced under the care of extended family who don't particularly care for her existence, especially when she has such fantastical imaginations. Her life is like a Cinderella story, except the evil step-relations are replaced with a harsh and overbearing aunt, and nasty bullying cousins. In one such situation where she is bullied by her prettier cousin, she finds herself stumbling her way to the nearest inn where she is expected to collect her cousin's parcel - during a stormy night.

While there, she finds herself soaked to the bone and the innkeeper's wife foists a cup of hot tea into her hands before she is overwhelmed by the activities of the kitchen. Since she is in the way, Pommy decides to make her way into a dark corner of the taproom as she waits for the mail coach (which was late) and sip on her drink. Once settled in, she overhears a nefarious plot that two men were making - to hold up her uncle's coach as they make their way to London in hopes of stealing his gold. This sets her over-imaginative mind into a frenzy and she rushes off, hoping to speak to someone about the trouble brewing.

In her haste, she stumbles into the darkened hallway that leads in from the back stables, only to find herself rushing headlong into the arms of a mysterious stranger. Though she doesn't know it, the man is the hero of our story. He kindly listens to her plight and promises to assist her during her time of trouble. He quickly sends her on her way home and goes to speak to the innkeeper, who informs him that there's not a thing to worry about. He knows quite well who those men were, and they were only spouting nonsense while deep in their cups.

He discovers that Miss Pommy has left the package she was sent to collect, worried that she would get another earful from her cousin. The stranger takes her package, and promises to deliver it to her house - only to discover that the poor girl was once again, being mistreated by her relatives. As a result, he whisks her away to London in hopes of establishing her as his sister-in-law's companion, a lady who quickly made her way towards being an invalid after her husband's untimely death.

(That kind of covers the first chapter.)

Anyways, all the while - insert a lot of humorous conversations between Miss Pommy and Derek Masterson, Earl of Austell. The Earl is amused by her fanciful thoughts that run along the lines of any good Gothic romance novel as the girl is undoubtedly a Romantic.

Miss Pommy is such a sweet and honest girl, there was no way you couldn't come to love her. The Earl, who is actually much older than her, is everything a gentleman should be, originally looking out for her because he couldn't ignore her dire circumstances - being kicked out of her uncle's house. At the same time, he enjoys her company as the two are quite bookish and have their literary jokes that only they understand.

Into the plot, throw in a mischievous sister-in-law/employer, a beautiful twit of a friend (to Pommy), a beautiful twit of a nephew (to the Earl; the sister-in-law's son), disapproving relatives, a gallant colonel uncle (to Pommy) and a silly Corinthian-wannabe.

The main characters were well developed and right from the get-go, you get the feeling that there was a special bonding between them, despite the larger age difference. It's never quite clear how big it is, but the Earl would on occasion, affectionately refer to her as "child" and "innocent". The sister-in-law also comments in the narrative that there must be close to 20 years difference in age. She herself is said to be in her late 30s, with a 21-year old son, married to the Earl's deceased younger brother. Pommy is close in age to the nephew. ... It doesn't detract from the story, and actually is part of the comic effect.

If anyone has read it, it reminds me a lot of Barbara Metzger's An Affair of Interest or Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. It's that type of romantic comedy where a lot of it is based on assumptions and misunderstandings.

The language is a little difficult to understand at times (out of date terminology) and the writing style seems a bit simplistic, but the story was originally released in 1982, so yeah... Even so, I had a lot of fun reading it. If it weren't for the fact that I needed to sleep, I would have read the story through in one sitting! I didn't really want to put it down, even though I was forced to.

For a fun romantic comedy read, I would definitely recommend giving this a read!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
There were mistakes here and there in the file, and that slow ponder of certain terms took away from it slightly. That, and I wasn't completely satisfied with the end -- I wanted more!! They're such a cute couple together, that I was sad to see the story come to a close.

Sizzle Meter: 1 out of 10
There was one chaste kiss on the lips between the couple, along with a few hugs between male/female characters, but that was about it.

Anyways, I'll share this in the other thread when I collect a few more things to share~

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PostSubject: Re: Book Reviews   Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:11 am

Been meaning to post this for a while but have been so busy...

The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

Who: Damaris Chance and Freddy Monkton-Coombes
What: (summary from annegracie.com) Damaris Chance's unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway- and have a season of carefree uncomplicated fun.
When handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes finds himself about to be trapped in an untenable situation by his match-making parents, he pays Damaris to enter into a faux betrothal. But then an accident throws them into a compromising situation, and they're both forced to reevaluate their position.
Will Damaris's secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?
Review:Book two of the Chance Sisters series. while I found Freddy to be a bit of a foppish airhead in the first book, here he seems to be better fleshed out (he is the hero after all Wink) As usual, the both of them come with emotional baggage, that both pull and push each other away. Damaris' missionary past in China makes her seem much more mature but distant than the rest of them. Freddy, who is estranged from his parents tends to hide his hurt in the carefree foppish manner that defined him in the first novel. Together they help each other overcome their past and realize that love is the answer. Overall, it was an engaging read that is signature to Anne Gracie. I recommend it and can't wait for the next one.
Rating: 4/5
Sizzle Meter: 5-6 (I think... I read this some time ago and all that... Embarassed)

I've been reading a lot of romance novels recently (a smartphone with an e-reader is awesome) but I haven't had the time to write out the reviews... maybe after my course is over...
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