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review 2018-10-10 13:13
One Wild Winter's Eve by Anne Barton
One Wild Winter's Eve - Anne Barton

Lady Rose Sherbourne is quiet, proper and following the rules of the ton. No one would suspect there's anything remotely similar to passion under her placid exterior, but as she embarks on a quest to find out what happened to her mother, she discovers there's nothing more liberating than following one's heart...

I must confess, I much preferred the Honeycote portion of this series than the Sherbourne one. I simply felt there were things missing in the last two installments. Like spunk, spark, humor and passion.

Unlike her sister Rose was much more sedate and proper, but she was too placid, downright vapid at the beginning of the story. She captured my interest once she went rogue and sprung her boyfriend out of jail, but then almost immediately went back to huddling in on herself, fretting and feeling sorry for herself. She didn't appear to have much agency, most of her decisions were based on Charles, the hero.
Who was rather bland himself. I never got to really know him, beside in context of his puppy-like devotion to Rose and he also failed to have anything to do that would make him an individual instead of part of the couple with Rose.

The story only came alive once they were in the company either of Lady Boneville or Rose's family who at least brought some spark to the proceedings.

I liked the suspense sub-plot and would've appreciated it if it was developed a little further and more fully instead of only serving as catalyst to bring Charles and Rose together.

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review 2018-10-09 17:24
Scandalous Summer Nights by Anne Barton
Scandalous Summer Nights (A Honeycote Series Book 3) - Anne Barton

Lady Olivia Sherbourne has been in love with James Averill, her brother's solicitor and friend, for a decade, but the man is completely oblivious. She always thought she had time to make him notice her, make him fall in love, but that time is running out. James is on his way to Egypt. For two years. And Olivia finally takes off her gloves and decides to fight dirty.

This series certainly is hit-and-miss. I had in inkling I would particularly like this one, since I found Olivia to be too bratty and self-centered in the previous two books, but I thought that once she got her own book, her own story, she would grow on me.

Well, she didn't. She was a self-centered, spoiled brat for more than half her story, pushing and prodding, demanding to have it her own way, disregarding what others, namely the man she supposedly loved, might want and wish. And once she got it, she still wasn't satisfied. She truly reminded me of a spoiled child who, once she gets her toy, she doesn't want it anymore.
And, unlike the previous two novels, she didn't grow on me, because she didn't learn anything. She still got her way in the end without much suffering. She merely proved that all she needed was a fit and everything will be handed to her.
I would actually pity her hero, but I didn't much care for him either. He was bland a dull, without much character or agency, beyond catering to Olivia, her agenda, and her story. And I didn't buy his about face about her feelings either. It was too abrupt. It would've worked if he was infatuated from the start, but he actually noticed her only once she stopped flitting about him. Which makes him rather self-centered as well, come to think of it. He started pursuing her only once she stopped (at least outright) pursuing him.

In the end, I guess they pretty much deserved one another. And I didn't really buy the romance/love thing. They certainly worked better as friends with possible crushes on one another than lovers. But maybe that's just me and my general dislike of both of them.

I liked the supporting cast, though. Granted, they were relegated to the sidelines mostly, but it was still a pleasure seeing them and getting to know the new additions to the "family".

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review 2018-10-08 17:56
Once She Was Tempted by Anne Barton
Once She Was Tempted - Anne Barton

Benjamin Elliot, Earl of Foxburn, will do anything to prevent his best friend's younger brother from falling into the clutches of a fortune huntress. Which is what Miss Daphne Honeycote seems to be. Because Ben knows she's not the ethereal, innocent beauty everybody sees. Nope, Ben knows very well, what she hides underneath her clothes, because proof of it hangs in his study.

When her mother was ill, Daphne made a choice. She chose to pose for two rather scandalous portraits in order to get the money for her mother's medicine. Now that choice has come back to bite her in the form of the Earl of Foxburn and his blackmailing scheme; leave his friend's brother be or he'd reveal the truth.

But soon Ben becomes her ally, since Daphne has no idea what has happened to the other portrait, and Ben realizes his altruism toward his friend's brother was rather bogus. He wants Daphne for himself.

Yet another wonderfully told story. A little bit darker than the first book, mostly thanks to the hero and his broody, ornery, stubborn self, yet still packing quite a punch, even without the star-crossed lovers theme.

I loved Daphne. She might look all fragile and carefree, but inside, where it counts the most, she hid her worries and her pain, not letting anyone see it, until Ben came along.
Ben became rather annoying toward the middle, with his whining and feeling sorry for himself. I'm all for wounded, brooding heroes, I even adored his brutal honesty, but I couldn't stand his self-pity and pushing people away. And he almost succeeded in pushing the most important person away for good, only to pull his head out of his ass at just the right moment for everything to work out just fine. I wouldn't have minded a little bit more grovelling on his part, though.

The baddie was your regular spiteful asshole with a grudge, the bitch from the first book returned with a vengeance and once again failed to do any lasting damage, the supporting cast was perfectly placed and "proportioned", I was glad for Belle and Owen, I loved the character of Lady Bonneville and I hope to see more of her in the next two books, although I'm dreading the next installment a little, since it features more of Olivia, Huntford's slightly too self-centered sister (I'm growing tired of her droning on an on about her James).

This was a lovely story about self-discovery, courage and changes one is capable of under the right motivation.

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review 2018-10-05 17:40
To All the Rakes I've Loved Before by Anne Barton
To All the Rakes I've Loved Before (Honeycote, #1.5) - Anne Barton

Miss Amelia Wimple is a recluse, refusing to leave the house she lives in with her mother and go out into the ton again after the humiliating incident that happened two years ago on the eve of her would-be engagement. The man who was supposed to propose eloped with another and she and her overbearing mother became laughingstocks. But there's one bright memory from that dreadful night; Lord Stephen Brookes and his kindness toward her.

Now, her mother is off to Bath and Amelia has the house all to herself, but her short life of bliss is rudely interrupted by the man who jilted her bringing the unconscious, severely beaten Lord Stephen Brookes to her doorstep seeking refuge. Amelia, God bless her, decides to hide Stephen until his wounds heal enough that he doesn't scare people...But she might get more in return that she's bargained for.

Another cute and slightly humorous story in this series. Pity it suffered from its lack of length.

I liked the two protagonists; they were both hiding their true selves and only the other could see it. I liked the camaraderie between them, the strange friendship and the blossoming romance. But the latter was so quick and rushed, it failed to be believable. I could see the potential, but it certainly needed a few more chapters to be developed properly...Or, it could've been presented as the blurb insinuated; that Stephen has always had a tendre for Amelia and used the golden opportunity of his stay with her to his advantage.
Alas, the way it was written, it felt like it happened in the blink of an eye, when they barely knew each other. Not a good foundation for lasting love that.

Still, it was an enjoyable read.

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review 2018-10-04 19:32
When She Was Wicked by Anne Barton
When She Was Wicked - Anne Barton

Nothing is more important than family for Anabelle Honeycote. She's willing to do anything to save her ailing mother, even extort money from unsuspecting members of the ton. Anabelle's job as a seamstress doesn't bring much money and her mother's medicine is expensive, not to speak of rent or food...She has no other option. Still, she has rules; she never blackmails someone who cannot afford it, she only does it once per person, she never reveals the secret and she never socialized with her "victims".

But the fourth time everything unravels. Not only does her mark, Owen Sherbourne, the Duke of Huntford, lie in wait and catches her, he literally imprisons her in his home as a personal seamstress to his two younger sisters.

Soon a strange relationship blossoms between the mark and extortionist, a relationship that somehow blurs the lines between their opposing social standings and make them dream of possibilities that aren't meant to be. Not only can a union between a duke and a lowly seamstress never be, no matter their feelings and wants, Anabelle has a secret that might ruin her star-crossed romance with Owen and destroy her friendship with his sisters forever.

I loved this story so much, I don't know how to write an adequate review. I guess it's all still so vivid in my mind, but I have to write something, or I might just burst.

This was yet another impulse buy for me, but boy am I glad for it. I started reading without much expectations beyond hoping it wouldn't suck.

Not only it didn't suck, it blew me away!

The characters were so well-developed and depicted so vividly, I felt like they were in the room with me and we were old friends. Every scene was painted so masterfully, I felt like I was watching a movie, experiencing what the characters did, seeing what they saw, feeling what they felt, laughing and crying alongside them.
Not many authors can make me tremble with excitement with each scene they write, but I can safely say, Ms. Bennett is one of them.

I rooted for Anabelle and Owen despite the cards stacked against them, I loved Owen's sisters as much as he and Belle did, I suffered with them, despaired against the odds alongside them...It's such a cliché to say that two characters are perfect together, but Belle and Owen fit. They were both layered characters with hidden depths, both wearing masks in their lives, masks that only the other could see behind and embrace the real person underneath the persona of the duke and the seamstress.
Their strange relationship and budding romance were beautifully portrayed, and the conflict stemming from the social chasm between them was heartbreaking in its realism. But I loved the fact they came from two different ends of the social spectrum and how they both learned (but especially him), that nothing is more important than love and one's happiness.
And yes, the scene at the ball made me sniffle. It was just so perfect.

The supporting cast offered a lovely backdrop to the main story, from creating the opportunity for Belle and Owen to actually meet, offering support, friendship, care and family ties, to throwing obstacles in their path (the little perfect would-be duchess was so delightfully mean, it was a pleasure to discover her true nature and in the end cackle at her metaphorical demise).

This book was a real pleasure to read, literally unputdownable (I read it when I was supposed to be doing something else), I kept turning the pages, wanting to see what happens next, hoping against hope for a happily ever after. Yes, it's a romance story, so a HEA is pretty much a given, but the fact I trembled anxiously, the fact that I had doubts, speaks to the author's skill. She was able to transport me back in time, she made me fall in love with Bella and Owen...I was invested and I loved every second of it.

Thank you, Anna Bennett/Anne Barton!

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