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review 2018-05-27 00:21
Hate the hero
The Courtesan Duchess - Joanna Shupe
For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read Courtesan Duchess



Hero marries young heroine, leaves before they even consummate wedding night and stays away for YEARS. Why? His father made him get married because he wants to make sure hero continues the family line. Hero does not want to continue line because he hates his father. Why hero didn't just leave before getting married? I don't know. 

Heroine is left to the horrible mother-in-law who doesn't live in their home and gets a stipend controlled by the cousin who wants the dukedom to himself. Realizing she has to do something to insure her and her aunt aren't left destitute in the streets by the getting worse cousin. Heroine decides to get hero's friend, who she has becomes friends with too, to bring her to hero in Italy and pretend to be a courtesan and get pregnant, with hopefully a boy so she can gain control of the dukedom's riches. 

What follows is a bunch of sex that I skimmed because the insta-lust was immediate and I didn't feel connected or that I knew the hero and heroine to let alone feel connected to them as a couple. I honestly felt the hero was trash and he never redeemed himself. After he finds out the courtesan he was hot for was his wife, he calls her a whore and then thinks she was pregnant by some other dude and was trying to pass it off as his. He stays away from her as we get massive month jumps and only shows up when she goes into labor. He was staying away because if she gave birth too early he would know the baby wasn't his. He never grows to trust the heroine's word. 

I do like the set-up of the abandoned wife taking charge to get hers or what seems like in this case, survival but the hero was just absolutely trash. The writing fundamentals were good but wasn't a fan of the plot or characterizations.

 

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review 2018-05-23 17:41
Personal dislikes
The Viscount and the Vixen - Lorraine Heath

I thought I could do this one because I enjoy Heath's writing but my personal dislike issues got in the way. Not a fan of secret trying to pass off as hero's baby angst, insta-lust, or first chapter starting off like this:

Leaning forward, he dug his elbows into his thighs. “I’m simply striving to determine why a woman as young and lovely as yourself would be willing to lie on her back so a man as shriveled as my father can slide on top of her.”
“Locke!” his father bellowed. “You’ve gone too far. Get the hell out.”
“It’s quite all right, my lord,” she said calmly, never taking her challenging gaze from Locke’s, not flinching, not blushing, not so much as arching a thinly shaped eyebrow at him. “I don’t see that your father’s preferred position for coupling is really any of your concern. Perhaps he will take me standing while coming in at me from behind. Or on my knees. Or upside down. But I assure you, he will not be shriveled.” 
Then she slowly lowered those damned whiskey eyes to his lap, and he cursed his cock’s betrayal. With startling detail, images of him with her in all those positions had flown through his mind. He’d grown so hard and aching that he couldn’t have gotten up and walked out if he wanted.
 


In a contemporary, would love this heroine's response, in historical, just not what I am personally looking for.

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review 2018-05-20 21:51
Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean
Wicked and the Wallflower - Sarah MacLean

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Felicity Faircloth is clinging to the edges of respectability and she is tired of it. Deciding to show her former friends that she is just as good, if not better than them, she tells a little white lie and claims she is betrothed to the Duke of Marwick.
Devil has never been respectable and doesn't care. What he does care for is a childhood pact, one the Duke of Marwick is looking to break.
Felicity gets caught up in a decades old feud and Devil finds himself in a trap of his own making.
 
“You are too late for the duke,” she repeated, knowing, even as she spoke, that she must stop the words from coming. Except they were a runaway horse—loosed and free and wild. “Because I’ve already landed him.” 
 
First in The Bareknuckle Bastards series, you will recognize Felicity from The Day of the Duchess but everything else is a fresh introduction to this world MacLean has created. The background that holds this series together is three bastard brothers, a girl they call their sister, and the monster father that tried to pit them against each other. There is a flashback to show how Devil (Devon) gets together with his brothers and father but any other past happenings are either inner monologue from Devil or some reminiscing/discussion with Whit (Beast), Ewan (Duke of Marwick), and Dahlia (Grace). I actually would have preferred more flashback scenes of them together as children to get a better feel for their relationships and what happened to them as children. I imagine since this is a series, the author wants to keep some mystery for the other characters and events and thus why we get more of an outline in this one, but it did hurt the emotional impact of Devil's background.
 
No heirs was the rule. The only rule. 
 
The plot is Devil threatening the Duke of Marwick to stop his search for a wife, which Marwick is only doing to get Devil and Whit to come out of the shadows and have them tell or reveal where Grace is. It is kept a bit shady but apparently Marwick threatened or is a danger to Grace. There is talk about how the children made a pact to never let their father win and they would never give him the heirs he was so desperate for to continue his line. By taking the title of Marwick, Ewan fought "for" his father and the other kids ran away to save themselves. There is talk about Grace and Ewan loving each other, more than a brother sister relationship Devil and Whit seem to have with her, but Devil seems to think he must keep Grace away from Ewan for her safety. Felicity walks into their battle when she declares to be betrothed to Marwick, giving Marwick more validity that he is willing to get married and heirs if they don't tell him where Grace is. Devil decides to create a plan where he seduces Felicity and get her to break the betrothal, showing Ewan he will always be there to ruin his plans.

He took a step away from her, rubbing the back of one hand over his lips. He shook his head. “Christ. You’ll burn me down.” 
 
Devil inevitably finds himself captivated by Felicity and falling in love with her but incessantly thinking he is not good enough for her. There is a lot of talk about how Devil is dark, from the darkness, dwells in the darkness, etc. but, as with a majority of the story, it is a lot of telling and not showing. Our couple meets up right away in the story and I kind of missed getting to know them outside of their developing relationship. Felicity was the stronger character for me and I liked her emerging, building of confidence, and self-actualization but her relationship with her family felt a bit whiffed on and she pretty much is all in with Devil right away. Devil begins to feel a bit silly and repetitive with his supposed darkness, lusting, and "I'm not good enough for her." They have fun banter in the beginning but I just never felt like I "knew" them and therefore their chemistry was lacking for me.
 
It was him. Here. In her bedchamber. As though it were perfectly normal. 
 
The set-up with MacLean’s characters and relationships is promising but the emotional impact, possibly because of a shallow look at their childhood here, was not really there. There is a little bit of cheese factor too, with the supposed darkness of Devil and how he and his brother run their rookery. Devil’s brother "Beast" does a lot, and I mean a lot, of grunting, it becomes rather silly after a while but he seems interesting with his underground fighting. Grace probably shined the most with her personality, ownership of a for women bordello, and only one to point out that holding onto a pact made in childhood may not be completely mature in adulthood; I do find myself very curious about her and Ewan's relationship. Overall, this started off as fun escapism with the good girl wanting to go rogue and the Devil encouraging her but losing his thought to be nonexistent heart. As it went on though, it never developed the depth and emotion I look for and ended up feeling like window dressing with not a lot to back up the pretty cover. 
 
“You should not have come.”
She swallowed, refusing to let him win. “Why not?”
“Because it is dangerous,” he said quietly, sending a shiver of belief through her. “Because the rookeries are no place for pretty girls with a breathless anticipation of adventure.”
 

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review 2018-05-18 04:45
Great first two chapters
Dangerous Passion - Lisa Marie Rice

Standing in the shadows in the cold of a Manhattan winter or the steamy furnace of a Manhattan summer for an hour or two a month, without his bodyguards, without any security whatsoever, for a glimpse of a woman…it was madness. 

The beginning of this was crazy good. The suspense, danger, and action was gripping. Then the story started to become the hero constantly talking about how the heroine is not like any other woman and his fantasy of banging her. We don't get a sex scene until the second half, which shocked me because this is categorized as erotica but the constant fantasizing by the hero and then the second half focus on sex more than earn that category. 

I wanted more action because the author wrote it so well. The villain was good, the hero's dark background was good, and I could even handle the very good girl but,

It had also been clear that she wasn’t wearing a bra, because she didn’t need it. Her breasts were perfect as they were.

No. She's sweet, amazing, no make-up, perfect no-dyed shade hair, amazing artistic talent, etc, etc, but no to the perfect breasts not needing a bra to look "perfect". I can sustain my disbelief only so far. Really though, I just couldn't with the perfect all other women are scum heroine, as viewed by the hero.

The sex didn't grip me because I didn't "know" the characters enough. Great first two chapters, though.

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review 2018-05-17 18:22
Roundheads, Cavaliers, and a Italian
The Black Madonna (Roundheads & Cavaliers Book 1) - Stella Riley

'You believe it’s the King’s right to command Parliament; I don’t. You’ll fight to preserve His Majesty’s prerogative; I won’t. And we could argue till kingdom come without it making a blind bit of difference.’
‘You want His Majesty turned into a puppet?’
‘No. I want Parliament turned into something more than a cipher,’ came the swift reply. And then, ‘A balance has to be struck. The King stands for stability and tradition – and no one wants to see him safely back on his throne more than I do. But Parliament represents the people and must be allowed to act in their interests without fear of being dissolved on a royal whim.’
‘’Tis to preserve His Majesty that we against him fight,’ sang Francis.
 


For quotes and comments as I read - Buddy Read The Black Madonna

Historical Fiction with a romance element, if you enjoy Donna Thorland's books, you want to put this on your list.

This follows the Maxwell family (Roundheads), the daughter Kate is highlighted, the Langley family (Cavaliers), small glimpses of the Cliffords, Luciano del Santi, and the English Civil War. There is a lot of history in here, you get a good look at the players, circumstances, and events that lead to the war and then how it affects the family and friendships. Luciano and Kate are the romantic element but they do spend more time apart than together. Luciano is on a revenge/justice mission to find out who orchestrated his father's death. This worked to keep Luciano away from Kate and some added angst, but for me, it felt unnecessary and clogged up the story, we have a whole Civil War lead up and beginning to deal with.

The author does an amazing job with her characters, their relationships, and development of story with historical persons and events weaved in. The last thirty percent was tension filled with a focus on the Basing House siege and Luciano finally meeting his enemy. I was totally sucked into these characters and their stories, there is a wide cast with even secondary characters stealing your attention. Since Luciano really doesn't have a side in the war, besides the mentioned Basing House and some Powick Bridge, direct contact with battles, blood, and death isn't focused on. The feel of the war is through Kate's father Richard (you'll fall in love with him and his wife Dorothy and their relationship) and the political dealings he navigates in the parliament, the emotional dividing it causes for our characters, and nightly news feeling updates. 

The beginning was a little difficult to navigate as a lot is thrown at you, the middle you grow to love the characters, and the ending was a crescendo of the building tension. Kate and Luciano have biting banter and oodles of chemistry when they manage to get together but like I said, the whole little Civil War thing and Luciano's search for justice, keep them apart more than not. Definitely sticking with the series as there are many characters I need to know what happens to.

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