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review 2018-10-16 00:28
My review of How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan & Joanna Shupe
How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology - Sophie Jordan,Sarah MacLean,Tessa Dare,Joanna Shupe

How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology - Sarah MacLean,Tessa Dare,Joanna Shupe,sophie jordan 

 

For starters, DUKES! I don’t care how many make-believe dukes have been created, I’ll read them for as long as they keep writing them. Secondly, Christmas! I’ll admit that I prefer to read dark, scary, paranormal stories during the month of October, but c’mon, who can say no to Christmas stories, specially when they are written by some of your favorite authors and they all come together in one pretty package!
And that actually brings me to say that thirdly, it’s freaking Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe, what?! If you haven’t read books by them then let me tell you, you are missing out on some serious awesomeness. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a super fan of all of these ladies so forgive me if I gush too much.

 

Tessa Dare’s Meet Me in Mayfair was clever, funny, and oh, so romantic. It probably is one of the most charming and memorable “date” nights I have ever read.

Sarah MacLean’s The Duke of Christmas Present is a second-chance love story. There were some serious tug-at-your-heart scenes, specially when the heroine returns “home.” It was kind of hard for me to understand the reasoning behind both the hero and heroine’s actions but once I got to the end, everything made complete sense.

 

Sophie Jordan’s Heiress Alone was another great example of how chemistry between hero and heroine affects a story, even if it’s a short one and even if the romance happens rather quickly.

 

Joanna Shupe’s Christmas in Central Park had me worrying and suffering along with the poor heroine, and had me wanting to slap the hero upside the head for acting like a spoiled brat that just had to have his way. Their love story may had been full of funny and cringe-worthy moments but the way their forgive and reach their HEA made it all worth it.

 

In short, four different settings, four different kinds of delicious dukes, four great Christmas stories, and one happy reader that recommends this set to all historical romance lovers. Even if Christmas is not your cup of tea, the romance alone make this a perfect read. 4.5 stars.

 

*I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher**

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review 2018-10-04 18:21
A Notorious Vow (The Four Hundred #3) by Joanna Shupe (4.5 stars out of 5)
A Notorious Vow: The Four Hundred Series - Joanna Shupe

After a series of tragic events, Oliver becomes reclusive and apathetic. His only concerns are his sweet sister and his work. That all changes though after an unexpected encounter with caring and bashful Christina.
I had always thought that opposites make the best couples but Christina and Oliver proved me wrong. Christina was one of the most timid, introverted, fearful heroines I’ve ever read. Although I prefer my heroines to be more witty, self-assured, and even proactive, her tender heart and innocence made up for whatever traits I might have thought were lacking, not to mention her steel determination when it came to protecting Oliver made her a well-rounded character. 

The story kept the perfect pace. I was particularly happy that the budding romance between the main characters didn’t feel rushed or forced and I loved the way Oliver went from a grumpy recluse to a more pleasant man. And his world! It was fascinating to say the least, but unfortunately it was also ignorant and unjust. The treatment of “unorthodox” people in those days was truly appalling and if someone thinks otherwise needs to open a history book and educate themselves – At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it ¯_(ツ)_/¯

It was such a wonderful story and definitely my favorite in the series so far. If you love stories with plenty of heart, a troubled yet swoon-worthy hero, and a heroine that may seem meekly at first but proves to be a worthy opponent when she sets a mind to it, then this is the book for you. 




I received this book from the author at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher. 

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review 2018-06-01 18:25
Good Grief This Was Bad
The Courtesan Duchess - Joanna Shupe

Ugh. Well that's two romance buddy reads that did not end well, LOL. I love reading these books with WhiskeyintheJar Romance but wow. This one actually somehow maybe beat out the last book where we had the virgin kidnapped by the escaped convict who threatened her all the time, but somehow love happened.

 

"The Courtesan Duchess" had two leads who should have dusted their hands off after meeting and agreeing to go live separate lives. The first few sex scenes I had a hard time with (believable scale didn't quite register) but then I just got bored. Nick and Julia were not engaging and as Whiskey said, besides having sex with each other, there was nothing else there. Very boring romance with a plot you could call a mile away.

 

"The Courtesan Duchess" has Julia, Duchess of Colton traveling to Venice in order to seduce a husband she has not laid eyes on in 8 years. Julia plans on seducing the Duke of Colton, Nick, in order to become pregnant with his heir in order to call on the money that his cousin, Templeton, is now refusing to give to her. Did you follow all that? I think what kills me the most from this story is that Julia had other options, she had a very good friend who is also friend's with Nick who would have given her funds, could have written to Nick, etc. This scheme was so harebrained I couldn't do a thing but laugh at it.

 

Julia ends up taking lessons from a London courtesan on seduction and each chapter heading has some pearl of wisdom from her to Julia. I feel like I recall this from some movie about a woman who becomes a courtesan in Italy. I am not going to go looking it up.

 

Oh in case you are wondering why Nick doesn't recognize Julia, it's because she dies her head flaming red and I guess she grew in 8 years. I don't know. I had a hard time with that. I guess he never looked his wife in the face when he recited his vows and refused to have anything to do with her. 

 

If a romance is going to succeed, you have to want the two characters who are the hero and heroine to get together in the end. You have to want them to get past the issues and fall madly in love. Instead I wanted to shake Julia for being a moron with this plan and Nick for just being about 90 percent awful throughout the book. 

When Nick eventually realizes that Julia has done he takes it upon himself to banish her to the country and the time jumps in the story became ridiculous. I think from start to finish this book took place over a year. 

 

The secondary characters are not that interesting. This book also seems intent on positioning one of the characters as the main character in the next series. 

 

The writing was fine, I just did not care for Nick and honestly think he got off too lightly in this. 

 

"The display shocked Julia. Scandalous yet strangely alluring, the performance served as a reminder that her husband’s life was a world away from her own sheltered existence in London."

FYI, she's a virgin at this point. I don't even get what was happening here. 

 

"His black hair a bit long, it fell down around his collar to frame his perfect features: a straight nose, bold cheekbones, and a full mouth. He was truly breathtaking."

 

FYI, she is thinking this while watching him fondle another woman who is also "pleasuring herself" while everyone watches. 

 

"If Colton’s odious cousin, Lord Templeton, followed through on his recent threat to further reduce her stipend, in a few months she wouldn’t have enough funds to pay the servants or the rent on their small house in Mayfair. Colton’s mother had made it clear Julia was unwelcome at any of the ducal properties. Which meant she and her aunt would be destitute. Julia needed a male child, a legitimate one, to serve as the heir to the Colton estate."

Another thing that kills me about this dumb plan, what if she happened to have a girl? She does get that a baby is not automatically going to be a boy because she wants one right??

 

"God, it had hurt. But it was done—and he hadn’t noticed. Julia felt a surge of triumph, a roar of feminine power at the success. Now the pain was receding, just as Pearl said it would, and a strange new sensation, one of delicious fullness, dawned."

Of course we get the best first time ever scene. Courtney Milan has been the only who has ever written a first time scene that felt realistic to me in a romance book. 

 

The flow was up and down and that is really because of the time jumps. We go from a month, to maybe two months and all of sudden it's 9 months later. 

 

The book setting moves from Italy (which barely felt real at all) to England. I hope you enjoy Nick saying tesorina and bellissima. In my head he said everything with a terrible accent.  

 

The ending has a reveal that anyone that was paying attention could have guessed at and a happily ever after.

You can read Whiskey's review Hate the Hero

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text 2018-06-01 17:51
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Courtesan Duchess - Joanna Shupe

This book was awful. There was some plot here and there, but after a while I started to skim in self defense.

 

Nick was a terrible hero and Julia and her "plan" was beyond stupid. I still have no idea how they fell in love with each other.

 

We are also causally told that Nick's mother was raped by his father so that's why she didn't care for him growing up. I don't even know what to say.

 

The next book in the series is called the Harlot Countess. I am giving that one a hard pass. 

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text 2018-05-31 21:12
Reading progress update: I've read 55%.
The Courtesan Duchess - Joanna Shupe

Well he just cheated on his wife with another woman. What is happening here????

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