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review 2019-03-18 00:12
Structure felt cobbled
The Highlander Who Protected Me - Vanessa Kelly

You know I don't flirt,” he said. Then he titled his head, as if considering. The late afternoon sunlight caught the red in his burnished mahogany hair, making it glow like fire. “Except with you.”

 

This is the first in the series but there felt like a lot of background I was missing. What I felt from our hero Royal was insta feelings and “ok, sure” from the heroine Ainsley. They seem to have met in a previous book where Royal abducted her, which she liked, didn't like? I really felt like I missed them bonding or getting to know one another.

 

The story structure of this felt off and cobbled together. The first half is Royal sad because he thinks there is no future for him and Ainsley, the middle is Ainsley lying while Royal is a mary-sue, and the last half is Ainsley lying, arguing with Angus (Royal's grandfather), and Royal wanting to sleep with Ainsley while being in pain with his leg injury.

 

This just didn't flow for me, it was a little over four hundred pages and whole sections dragged for me as we went round and round with Ainsley keeping some big secret from Royal, leg pain, and arguing. For Royal having such a large supportive family, I forgot some brothers even existed as their names were mentioned only a handful of times, I do know the twins were little devils to raise though, as it was mentioned over and over. I liked Ainsley's Aunt Margaret but after appearing in the middle part, she is never heard from again. Angus and Ainsley's relationship could have been a nice secondary addition if the fighting didn't last so long and feel so acrimonious and skim over their eventual starting to like one another finally.

 

Since it seemed some of these two's story started in another book, I missed their bonding; there didn't feel like any romance in this story. The pacing was slow and the structure had this feeling like three sections not melded together and characters spinning their wheels for four hundred pages.

 

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review 2019-02-06 04:28
The Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses #1) by Olivia Drake
The Duke I Once Knew - Olivia Drake

The Duke I Once Knew - Olivia Drake 

 

Lovely second chance story. Abigail and Maxwell were such a joy to read as a couple and as independent characters. They were sweethearts when young but circumstances beyond their control made them part ways. Years later, Abigail is what could be considered long in the tooth. She didn’t even get to enjoy a season because of her love for her aging parents and now that they are dead she’s forced to face her reality of being a spinster with no life of her own. With that in mind, she concocts a plan that would allow her to take the reins of her life and live life on her own terms. Unfortunately for her, Max shows up and ruins all of her plans. I loved that they didn’t act as if the years hadn’t changed them or made them perfect strangers (that’s actually one of my pet peeves when it comes to this trope) but instead, their relationships builds over time. I mean, it was still kind of fast because it all happened in the span of a week, but I still found it feasible.


The story includes a pugilistic match and I always find that kind of scenes fascinating. I think it keeps the story interesting. I also loved the fact that even though there were more than just a few characters, the story didn’t feel convoluted, on the contrary, each one of them helped the story move forward and feel more real. There might have been a few clichés and the story might not be the most refreshing take on the trope but it was still enjoyable and entertaining.


*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 2019-01-27 20:05
Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues - Julie Anne Long

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. 

 

No one, particularly not her late husband, had ever valued her for wits. Oh, but she possessed them.

 

Starting off the Palace of the Rogues series, Lady Derring Takes a Lover, is a magnificent return to historicals for Long. The first thirty percent of the book was perfection with our heroine Delilah being told by her solicitor that her late husband was in massive debt and eventually winding up going into business with said late husband's mistress. Their Grand Palace on the Thames boarding house becomes the setting for smuggling intrigue and romance.

 

Derring never laughed at my jokes. But I laughed at all of his, even though I didn’t find him amusing. He sulked if I didn’t,” Delilah said. “It’s a small but killing thing, isn’t?”

 

Delilah and the mistress, Angelique, start off very wary of each other but with fantastic telling some truths and learning lessons story writing, Long gives us a female relationship that you will ship hard. This tandem of women from different social levels and impoverished by the same man bonding together was just brilliant. Long played them off each other beautifully, they had their separate strengths and weaknesses but ultimately, their hearts beat for the same reasons. If looking for a immensely satisfying female relationship in your romance, this is it.

 

I am the king’s favorite hunting dog.”

 

Our hero, Captain Tristan Hardy, is all that is strong, contained, and eventually burning. Delilah and Angelique start off with more of the focus and are so strong, that Tristan ended up a little bit to the edges of the spotlight. It takes a little bit before Tristan and Delilah really get going, around 40%, which I know will make some antsy, but while their time seems a bit shortened by how full this first in series book is, they tended to make the most of it. From the first time Tristan sees Delilah, to the mandatory drawing room nights, and finally to the last 10% of their story, they had chemistry. Tristan might not have felt as fully fleshed out as I like, but let me tell you, the man can grovel/make things right with the top tier of romance heroes.

 

The notion of seducing her made him breathless, because he thought it was both possible and inadvisable for a dozen reasons.

 

While Delilah is living at and running the boarding house because it was the only thing not repossessed, Tristan arrives there because he is the captain of the blockade. His investigation into a cigar smuggling ring has led him to believe Delilah's husband was involved, along with The Palace of the Rogues, renamed The Grand Palace on the Thames by Delilah and Angelique. I thought the cigar smuggling investigation worked to get these two together but it moved very slowly and tended to feel almost ignored at times, not the strength of the novel. It is obvious the history of the former Palace of the Rogues is going to be the plot thread stringing the series together as we get a couple hints and clues here that will probably add to the building of an eventually completed puzzle (series).

 

It was nearly as much a collision as a kiss, at first, fierce and hard, as if they were both intent on punishing themselves and each other for wanting this.

 

Long did a great job interweaving secondary characters to create a full ensemble cast but I did think it took away from time I would have preferred to go to Delilah and Tristan. I loved Tristan's relationship with his Lt., providing a wonderful showing and not telling insight into his personality and character, wouldn't change a thing about Delilah and Angelique's friendship, but a very small secondary romance and some other minor focuses on characters could have been taken out. There is some on fire commentary dealing with women's rights but I did almost cringe at a very close to feeling forced mansplaining moment. There is some definite first in a series fullness happening here but again, Tristan and Delilah's moments are impactful when they have them.

 

Oh, now I see. You’re that Captain Hardy.”

 

The beginning was 5 stars, the middle 3.5ish, and the ending brought it back to 5 stars, for me. All in all, I was highly impressed with this first installment and am dying to read the next in the series, which I think will be about Angelique and a mysterious stranger that arrives late in the story. A brilliant female friendship, a loaded chemistry couple, and an ensemble cast that pulls you into their world, don't miss this one.

 

Know that I am at your mercy, now and forever.”

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review 2019-01-21 04:45
Find of the Century
One for the Rogue - Manda Collins
Manda Collins is an expert at banter and warm, light-hearted, sensual regency romance. It's hard not to like her characters. I loved that Gemma is a bonafide scientist and has goals for her life outside of being married. Also loved that Cameron respects and supports her in her goals. The couples from the other book in the Studies in Scandal series show up, and that's always fun. 

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.
 
 

 

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review 2018-12-29 17:47
Review: "Christmas Prince" (The Christmas Angel, #7) by RJ Scott
Christmas Prince - RJ Scott

 

~ 3 stars ~

 

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