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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 2018-10-10 22:45
A Most Unsuitable Match (Sisters of Scandal, Book 1) by Julia Justiss
A Most Unsuitable Match - Julia Justiss

A Most Unsuitable Match (Sisters of Scandal Book 1) - Julia Justiss 

 

Johnnie and Prudence's story was a delight. It had the right amount of funny moments mixed with the perfect drama. The perfect example of why I love to read historical romance. 
Prudence is a woman tainted not by her own doing but because of her mother’s reputation. Johnnie is considered the black sheep of his family and even though his reputation is not considered perfect, it’s still much better than Prudence’s because he is a man. 
Their relationship was sweet yet full of passion. He cared for her but knew that his friendship would further diminish her chances of marrying into a good family. Prudence was no innocent naiveté but always behaved with propriety, just as it was expected from her. There were lots of times when I thought society was being so unfair to her (and basically every other woman) and it sure made me glad that I didn’t get to live back then. I was happy when they managed to find a way to be together without having to give up on the things they wanted out of life. 
This book was not as “spicy” as the author’s previous series but it was definitely full of heart and tender moments, and of course accurate to its times which is one of the reasons I love this author. 

**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 2018-10-10 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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