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review 2018-06-01 18:25
Good Grief This Was Bad
The Courtesan Duchess - Joanna Shupe

Ugh. Well that's two romance buddy reads that did not end well, LOL. I love reading these books with WhiskeyintheJar Romance but wow. This one actually somehow maybe beat out the last book where we had the virgin kidnapped by the escaped convict who threatened her all the time, but somehow love happened.

 

"The Courtesan Duchess" had two leads who should have dusted their hands off after meeting and agreeing to go live separate lives. The first few sex scenes I had a hard time with (believable scale didn't quite register) but then I just got bored. Nick and Julia were not engaging and as Whiskey said, besides having sex with each other, there was nothing else there. Very boring romance with a plot you could call a mile away.

 

"The Courtesan Duchess" has Julia, Duchess of Colton traveling to Venice in order to seduce a husband she has not laid eyes on in 8 years. Julia plans on seducing the Duke of Colton, Nick, in order to become pregnant with his heir in order to call on the money that his cousin, Templeton, is now refusing to give to her. Did you follow all that? I think what kills me the most from this story is that Julia had other options, she had a very good friend who is also friend's with Nick who would have given her funds, could have written to Nick, etc. This scheme was so harebrained I couldn't do a thing but laugh at it.

 

Julia ends up taking lessons from a London courtesan on seduction and each chapter heading has some pearl of wisdom from her to Julia. I feel like I recall this from some movie about a woman who becomes a courtesan in Italy. I am not going to go looking it up.

 

Oh in case you are wondering why Nick doesn't recognize Julia, it's because she dies her head flaming red and I guess she grew in 8 years. I don't know. I had a hard time with that. I guess he never looked his wife in the face when he recited his vows and refused to have anything to do with her. 

 

If a romance is going to succeed, you have to want the two characters who are the hero and heroine to get together in the end. You have to want them to get past the issues and fall madly in love. Instead I wanted to shake Julia for being a moron with this plan and Nick for just being about 90 percent awful throughout the book. 

When Nick eventually realizes that Julia has done he takes it upon himself to banish her to the country and the time jumps in the story became ridiculous. I think from start to finish this book took place over a year. 

 

The secondary characters are not that interesting. This book also seems intent on positioning one of the characters as the main character in the next series. 

 

The writing was fine, I just did not care for Nick and honestly think he got off too lightly in this. 

 

"The display shocked Julia. Scandalous yet strangely alluring, the performance served as a reminder that her husband’s life was a world away from her own sheltered existence in London."

FYI, she's a virgin at this point. I don't even get what was happening here. 

 

"His black hair a bit long, it fell down around his collar to frame his perfect features: a straight nose, bold cheekbones, and a full mouth. He was truly breathtaking."

 

FYI, she is thinking this while watching him fondle another woman who is also "pleasuring herself" while everyone watches. 

 

"If Colton’s odious cousin, Lord Templeton, followed through on his recent threat to further reduce her stipend, in a few months she wouldn’t have enough funds to pay the servants or the rent on their small house in Mayfair. Colton’s mother had made it clear Julia was unwelcome at any of the ducal properties. Which meant she and her aunt would be destitute. Julia needed a male child, a legitimate one, to serve as the heir to the Colton estate."

Another thing that kills me about this dumb plan, what if she happened to have a girl? She does get that a baby is not automatically going to be a boy because she wants one right??

 

"God, it had hurt. But it was done—and he hadn’t noticed. Julia felt a surge of triumph, a roar of feminine power at the success. Now the pain was receding, just as Pearl said it would, and a strange new sensation, one of delicious fullness, dawned."

Of course we get the best first time ever scene. Courtney Milan has been the only who has ever written a first time scene that felt realistic to me in a romance book. 

 

The flow was up and down and that is really because of the time jumps. We go from a month, to maybe two months and all of sudden it's 9 months later. 

 

The book setting moves from Italy (which barely felt real at all) to England. I hope you enjoy Nick saying tesorina and bellissima. In my head he said everything with a terrible accent.  

 

The ending has a reveal that anyone that was paying attention could have guessed at and a happily ever after.

You can read Whiskey's review Hate the Hero

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review 2018-05-29 23:30
Awesome!
Cursed - A Spellbound Regency Novel - Lu... Cursed - A Spellbound Regency Novel - Lucy Leroux

Cursed by Lucy Leroux is part historical romance and part paranormal.  Ms. Leroux has provided us with a well-written book furnished with outstanding characters.  Isobel grew up learning witchcraft from her grandmother until her aunt was killed.  When her father passes away she's forced to take a position as a governess.  Matteo was cursed and he and his father traveled from Italy to find a witch to cure him, only to find she was dead when they arrived.  Matteo and Isobel rush to find a cure before it's too late.  Their story is loaded with drama, sizzle, action and suspense along with a big dose of paranormal.  I enjoyed reading Cursed and look forward to reading more from Lucy Leroux in the future.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book that I received from Instafreebie. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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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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