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review 2018-09-23 17:30
The Wicked Lady by Mary Lancaster
The Wicked Lady - Mary Lancaster

Lady Kate Crowmore is finally free of her monstrous husband, but the ton that expects her to mourn the bastard, has also turned her back on her, since she was found in her lover's bed the night she got the news of Crowmore's death. So Kate has come to Blackhaven to lick her wounds and to forget about the scandal...Yet the townsfolk also cut her. Except the mysterious curate, Tristram Grant.

Grant knows there's more to the wicked lady that meets the eye, but he'll need all his cunning and perseverance to get under Kate's protective armor. He just hopes, he's in time, before someone kills her.


This story was love-at-first-sight on steroid. They only met and he already said he wanted to marry her. Sheesh. Needless to say, I wasn't convinced about the romance. I wasn't really convinced about the main protagonists, in fact. I found facade of wicked lady a little too abrasive at times (I know she had her reasons not to let anyone close, but still), and he came across as too much of a doormat sometimes. In the end, I felt they worked better as friends and confidantes than love interests.

It was really the supporting cast that saved the day. From the supposed French spy who turned out to be Tris's half-brother (I didn't really care much about the other brother, though), Kate's maid, the good doctor (some other man than in the first book) and his wife, the magistrate and his wife, the Muirs and the happy couple Wickenden (I liked the "wicked baron" better than in his own book, he sounded lighter and happier, I guess).

And then there was the suspense. A little less prominent than in the previous book, but still intriguing, even though the big mystery was revealed quite early on. Still, it kept the reader guessing just what might happen next and just how the hired hands would get about ridding the world of Kate Crowmore.
It was the "resolution" that left a big question mark on everything. Why was the suicide needed?

The romantic sub-plot also had a slightly iffy resolution with all the passing of Kate between the two brothers (figuratively speaking) and I'm still not sure just what was with all the haste. She's already made up her mind, couldn't he wait another day?

It felt like the story was all over the place, really, with various plot elements not really connecting fully, creating a rather disjointed reading experience. It would've helped a little if the romance was solid.

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review 2018-09-22 08:39
The Wicked Baron by Mary Lancaster
The Wicked Baron - Mary Lancaster

Gillyflower "Gillie" Muir is straddling a line. She needs to host card parties at her home, a mere six months after her father's death, or risk destitution. On the other hand, she's ostracized by the "good" women of the little town of Blackhaven, including a countess, because of those parties. It looks like no one truly knows what is looks like to have to earn a living. And then an enigmatic stranger enters Gillie's dull and dreary life.

David Keath, the tenth Baron of Wickenden, is bored and tired of his persona of the Wicked Baron. So he decides to come to the coastal town of Blackhaven partly as a favor to his ex-mistress and partly to relieve his boredom. Little does he know the "hussy" that's supposedly bewitched his ex-mistress's son, is as far removed from a gaming-den temptress as she could possibly be...And that he will end up bewitched in the end. But first, he has to save Gillie from her various messes...And then from the one he put her in.


This was a cute, funny, quirky little story that certainly would've deserved a higher rating if it wasn't for the fact it didn't seem it took itself very seriously.

I loved the heroine. She was a genuinely good person, thinking of everybody else first (even the Wicked Baron) but herself and when she loved, she loved fully, without reservations, and was willing to do anything first to save the man she loved and then to keep him.
The Wicked Baron, on the other hand, needed some marinating time to ingratiate himself. He always seemed to have an ulterior motive for all he did. Even after the original ulterior motive was known, there still seemed like there was something brewing in his head, and he pretty much remained an enigma for the entire story and even at the end. I actually more scenes told from his point of view, since his feelings for Gillie seemed rather rushed and out-of-the-blue.

The rest of the cast provided a nice little backdrop for these two protagonists, from the brawny servant, to the slightly deaf aunt, the seemingly flighty brother, the earnest pretender for Gillie's hand, the dragon-y matron, the good-natured count and his sisters...They were a quirky bunch and they worked both inside the story and to compliment the two protagonists.

Then there were the various sub-plots. The romance was as quirky as the rest of it, sweet from the heroine's part, slightly hole-y from the hero's part (it felt like there were scenes missing, to connect the appropriate dots and believe what we were presented). The suspense seemed added more as an afterthought than an actual sub-plot in order to push Gillie and Wickenden together and once more, there appeared to be something missing. Why was Wickenden on the beach that night when the traitors were captured? Did he come to Blackhaven for that as well, or did he just tag along for the fun of it? Also, what happened to the traitors afterward?
This wasn't the only hole in the plot, or a loose end. We never got to learn the truth about the Spanish woman, for example. Was she who she claimed to be or just someone seeking a better life? Why didn't Kit make a bigger fuss that night on the road? Supposedly, Gillie made him see reason, but we didn't see that scene at all, etc.

There were bits and pieces missing throughout the story; scenes or mere sentences to bring it all together and make everything make sense in the end. Hence the quirkiness. Not only in the cast of characters, but in the story itself.

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text 2018-09-20 06:32
Mistress Spy by Pamela Mingle
Mistress Spy - Pamela Mingle

DNF @ 12%

The synopsis made me think of Nikita in the Elizabethan era.

Intriguing, right?

Wrong.

The first chapter was a battle scene, but you couldn't tell. It was all about the heroine, her rage, her need for vengeance and her utter hopelessness as a "soldier". Instead of putting the reader in the thick of things, where you can feel the cold nipping at your skin, where you can smell the blood and sweat of your fellow soldiers, the author spent the best part of the battle inside the heroine's head. And let me tell you, it was a very boring place.

The boredom proceeded with the next few chapters where absolutely nothing happened (no torture, no boiling oil, nothing), but for the heroine to notice just how attractive and gentle her captor was. Foreshadowing much?

So I went and read the last few chapters, to see if it was worth it...It wasn't. The last few chapters were as boring as the first few. The characters were rather bland, the pacing was plodding, and as original as the synopsis sounded, the story was nothing but.

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review 2018-09-19 14:43
Safe From Harm by Kate SeRine
Safe from Harm - Kate SeRine

One year after the murder of his best friend, yet another person Gabe Dawson loves is in danger. He barely manages to save Elle McCoy's life and almost dies himself. It looks like the father of his friend's murderer, an anti-government fanatic, is behind the attempted assassination and Gabe knows this is just the beginning...


Another great read in this series.

The cast of characters was once again wonderfully portrayed, especially the Dawson family dynamics and the tight bonds that bind the five men together.

And the romance worked much better in this one as well (no formulaic, pace-stalling sex scenes for Gabe and Elle). I loved the UST-filled bickering at the beginning and though, IMHO, the "conflict" went on a page or two too long, the two resolved their mutual issues rather quickly and satisfyingly.
Gabe and Elle worked very well together in my view. They were strong-willed individuals and they brought that grit into their relationship as well. And I was very happy that Elle was the one who truly brought the real Gabe out in the open. Theirs was a very cute and hot romance.

The suspense angle was different from the one in the previous book. First, there was the major difference in the topic (religious anti-government fanatics instead of human traffickers) and the identity of the villain(s) was known from the start, leaving the characters to grapple with just how to make something stick.
I'm rather miffed the final showdown seemed very déjà-vu-ish. I felt like I read those particular scenes with those particular characters (maybe even with rather similar names) somewhere else.

Still, overall it worked and now I really hope to be able to read the eldest Dawson brother, Tom's story someday (the quirky doctor sounds rather good as a heroine, especially after learning just what was going on in the final days of Tom's marriage). And let's not forget Mac, the patriarch, deserves a second chance at a happy ending as well.

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review 2018-09-17 06:44
Stop at Nothing by Kate SeRine
Stop at Nothing - Kate SeRine

Kyle Dawson has spent almost his entire life defying authority, thanks to his family legacy in law enforcement and his deep resentment of his father, an almost legend in the field. That's why he went into the FBI instead of becoming one of his father's deputies, like his three older brothers did. And the job also served him well in order to leave Indiana behind to avoid his family, but mostly to try to forget the woman who broke his heart three years ago.

Unfortunately, his defiance of authority comes back to bite him in the ass, when he's reassigned from New Orleans, without finishing a big drug-trafficking case, back to Indiana and very close to home. And then Abby, the heart-breaker, ends up in danger thanks to her uncovering some shady dealings involving her brother-in-law and...Human trafficking. It might be a coincidence, but Kyle seriously doubts it...And in the end, both he and Abby will learn it's impossible to run away from the past, and family ties are too strong to be severed, no matter what.


I really enjoyed this book, heck, I loved it to pieces most of the time.

Most of all, I loved the dynamics in the Dawson family; the four brothers and their taciturn, austere father were so similar in some aspects, but so utterly different in others. I loved how, despite their differences and disputes, they came together in the end when one of them needed help, and I loved how they ironed over those differences and disputes in a very manly way. I'm looking forward to what the next story brings in the Dawson family department (and I really hope Ms SeRine decides to write the older brother's and father's stories as well; they both deserve a second chance at happiness, methinks).

Then there was the suspense aspect of the story, which worked very, very well. It was gripping, intense, and it kept the reader guessing for the better part of the story about who's involved, what might happen next and just how it all will be resolved.
Unfortunately, the author dropped the ball a little with the main villain, since his identity was glaringly obvious from the start, despite the attempts at misdirection.
And I loved the gentlemanly assassin/independent contractor and his helping hand in how the story started to resolve. It was a nice little twist.

And we finally come to the main couple. I liked them both separately and together, and I felt their romance was nicely done and portrayed, although the main "conflict" made very little sense outside the heroine's mind. What I didn't like were the sex scenes. They came across as rather cold and formulaic, even repetitive towards the end. What bothered me the most was the lack of "connection" between the two protagonists while they were bumping uglies. There was no intimacy in the scenes, it was just sex.
There was chemistry and tension there when they were fully clothed or making out, the connection was there even when they were fighting. Yet, once the clothes came off...nothing.
And instead of helping in moving the plot (at least the romantic sub-plot) forward, helping in establishing the connection between the hero and heroine, the sheer amount of the scenes and rather "clinical" execution, only served in stalling the flow of the story. Ugh.

Barring the last part, this was a very good read. Gripping and intense, with wonderful family dynamics and brotherly relationships, a solid suspense arc, and a great cast of characters.

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