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review 2021-02-25 02:45
A DUKE, THE LADY, AND A BABY by Vanessa Riley
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby - Vanessa Riley

Patience wants her baby back. Lord Repington is now his guardian. She disguises herself as a nanny to be near her son. Repington will do whatever he needs to keep the baby safe and the nanny as well.

 

I loved this book. I loved Patience and Repington. I like how they try to deny their attraction especially as the truth comes out about what has happened to Patience's husband. They make a good couple. I enjoyed the story. This is a good set up for the series as it explains why these women fight to get what is theirs.

 

I also appreciated the short synopsis' at the end about the historical aspects of this novel. It helped me to understand how those of mixed races/blood/heritage were treated and the double standard applied to them. I also was glad about the short notes on some of the Peninsular War's battles and the effect of them on the time period's complications.

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review 2021-01-03 23:59
A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder (Countess of Harleigh Mystery, #3)
A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder - Dianne Freeman

Historical mysteries seem to be all the rage at the moment, and fortunately, publishers have yet to monetise and ruin the trend to such a degree that you can't find a selection of well written series to enjoy.  While the quality of cozy mysteries has been abysmal the last several years, Historical Mysteries have filled in the gap nicely for me.

 

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder is the 3rd in a series I discovered at my first (and so far only) Bouchercon convention.  It's a good series, and this book is a strong 3rd book, moving the characters' arcs along quickly, while presenting an interesting stand-alone plot, with clues easily missed and writing that skilfully misdirected the reader down several false avenues.  As the story moved along, some of the misdirection became obvious, but some of it didn't, rendering a delightful mystery well done.

 

My only groan over the book was the introduction of Countess Harleigh's mother who was caricatured for most of her page time, only to do the whole mama-lion thing and achieving what to me was an insincere redemption in the final pages.  Fortunately she's not around much in this book and it wasn't enough to really weight the book down.

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review 2020-08-09 17:56
Finally a genuinely good book with a solid story
Lady In Disguise (The Langley Sisters) - Wendy Vella



"...Let me sleep with you in my arms and wake you with my kisses. Only with you can I truly be the man I want to be. You fill all the places inside me that have been empty for so long and you take away the pain of who I once was and the people I hurt.”" - Lord William Ryder



Short summary:

Olivia Langley is the eldest of three sisters who have lost both of their parents in a short span of time and were left penniless and alone. Olivia shoulders most of the responsibilities now although her sisters help in everything and are equally involved in the house affairs. She has accepted the fact that she will never have a season in London and therefore will remain unwed just so all of the funds could be given to her second sister Phoebe's season and her third sister Bella's health requirements.

The funds that they don't have at the moment. So they turn to highwaymen robberies. And as luck would have it, the first person to fall as a victim to them is Olivia's first love, Lord William Ryder, a man who left 5 years ago without telling anyone and hasn't contacted anyone since then.

Atop of all of that, there is a looming threat of the sisters' being evicted from their home by their cousin, the new Lord Langley, who doesn't want to support them at all but he does have a more sinister plot in mind for all of the sisters.



“Only a strong woman could have done what you did, love, and no matter how I feel about the choices you’ve made, I cannot blame you for them. You did what you thought was necessary to keep your family safe.” - Lord William Ryder

 


Characters.

Olivia Langley is a strong heroine for her time. She stepped up to being in charge of the household, of her sisters' affairs, of preserving the fake facade in front of the rest of the town and of sacrificing her own happiness for her sisters'. She also rides in a Derby and robs people with her sister Phoebe, holding people at gunpoint and taking their money which is an offence punishable by death. But she isn't portrayed like a 'mary sue', a flawless super heroine that nothing can get to, no, she is portrayed as a multi-layered person who has her moments of weakness but does her best for her sisters' sake.



"Yet, how could you prepare yourself to see the man you loved while pointing a gun at his head?"

"...to my mind, anyone who buys me a cinnamon bun is someone worth my time.”" - Olivia Langley

 


Lord William Ryder is a man who was born with a title and into huge wealth. He, as the second son, did not bear the weight of responsibility from an early age as his brother did so he grew up spoiled. William was one of those men who knew they had money for life and little responsibility and so they went around living in debauchery and only cared about their bad company and their appearances. He was arrogant and irresponsible. That is why his brother could not stand him and they continuously clashed. In a moment of clarity, William saw that his life will not improve with the current circumstances so he left. He left without one word. He left to build his own life and himself in his own way and on his own terms. And for that I have huge respect for this character. And yes, not even sending one letter later was not good but I can understand it. He wanted to achieve something on his own before he comes back to this life he left behind.



"“I couldn’t possibly leave without going into the church; after all, I could walk out a better man.” “To the best of my knowledge, my lord, the last miracle performed here was two hundred years ago,” Olivia muttered." - William and Olivia

"I do not tolerate men who threaten women, especially not a woman whom I count as my friend.” - Lord William Ryder


 


Writing.

Writing is extremely smart if I can put it like that. The author is very skilled with her words. There is subtle foreshadowing presented, an interesting story, multi-layered characters that we immediately connect with, plenty of witty humour, nicely presented era, slow building emotions and tension... almost everything I deem perfect in a book like this one.



“There are plenty who will say they are your friend but only a few who actually mean it.” - Lord William Ryder

 


What didn't work for me.

I would have to go into spoiler territory to fully explain but I won't do that. I'll just keep it simple. Sisters have lost their parents and were left with no money. The youngest sister needs medical remedies. They need money to keep appearances so they will have at least some prospect of marriage, or at least one of them. All of that is pressuring them into desperate actions to get the money. And here is where it doesn't fully work for me.

So, the sisters would rather risk highway robbery and being sentenced to death if found out or even risking death at the robbery itself rather than ask for help. Especially from the Duke. I understand one has pride. And ego. And doesn't want to spoil the good name of their family. But you cannot tell me you'd rather risk death and hold people at gunpoint (people who could be struggling for money themselves) rather than explain the situation to the Duke whose family has always had connections with their family and all of them grew up together and they knew the Duke's character. And since this is a very big part of the story, it always ate at me because I could not understand it.

The author could have made it more difficult for them to ask the Duke for help, like for instance their late father offending him or them already owing money to him or a refusal of some sort in his youth from one of the sisters... anything that would explain it better.

 


All in all.

Wonderful read in almost all aspects. It is truly a page turner. You want desperately to see what happens next and what other things will surface and make everything extra complicated.

Absolutely recommended.

 


"...“You love me, Olivia Langley, otherwise last night would never have happened.” “No, you are mistaken, my lord, I—I love no one.” “Your eyes say the opposite to your lips, my love. When I return to Willow Hall tomorrow we will talk, Livvy, and you will tell me what troubles you. And while you lay in your cold bed tonight remember one thing. You are mine now and I will never let you go.”" - Lord William Ryder

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review 2020-08-02 18:59
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby - Vanessa Riley

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.

Widowed Patience Jordan is fighting to gain control of her son and home after a nefariously opportunistic Uncle Markham sends her to Bedlam. On a night she is sneaking out of her former home, her late husband's cousin, Busick Strathmore, the Duke of Repington, storms the gates and takes his legal position of being Patience's son's guardian.
Busick is trying to heal and keep his own secrets after being injured at Badajoz and hiring a young beautiful nanny for his new ward doesn't seem like a good idea in a house now full of ex-soldiers. He knows all about Markham and his fiendish ways and is set on finding his cousin's widow.
Patience and Busick will have to learn to trust if they're going to find love again.

It was a universal truth that no matter her background, face, or charms, a widow in possession of a fortune would be targeted for theft.

First in the Rogues and Remarkable Women series, this drops the reader right into Patience's struggles and life. I couldn't help feeling I was missing some introduction novella or prologue. I wish I could have gotten even a few scenes with Patience and her first husband to get a feel for their relationship and the troubles that seemed to plague him. I think this could have filled out the Uncle Markham villain storyline more. We also miss Markham sending Patience to Bedlam, how she became friends with Jemina (a character that is by her side constantly throughout the story), their escape from Bedlam, and how Patience gets saved/involved with the Widow's Grace. Lady Shrewsbury, the leader of the Widow's Grace, could have also been utilized, explained more. All the threads I mentioned seem vastly interesting but the reader comes into the story when all that has passed and I missed out on the depth of experience with Patience for them. Coming into the story when we do, left me at sea for a while but there was still a sense of undertaking that drew me in.

They dragged me, the mistress of Hamlin Hall from this place, from Lionel.

Our heroine Patience is originally from Demerara (modern day Guyana) and was brought to England by marriage. Her late husband, Colin, seems to have struggled with depression, lack of willingness to endure slights given overtly and covertly to Patience due to her mixed heritage, money issues, and a conniving Uncle Markham. They have a son, Lionel, but Colin abandons Patience in the country side. Patience's father left a trust for any offspring she may have and when her son turns a certain age, he will receive four thousand pounds, this money seems to be the catalyst for Markham conspiring against Colin and trying to dispose of Patience.

Our hero Busick is a soldier who fought and was injured in Badajoz, an injury that he tries to hide how badly affected him. He grew up with Markham and is aware of his villainous nature. In a structural choice, not seen often, Patience's pov is first person while Busick's pov is third. They each have their own chapters and until the end at some spots, the pov's are separated by chapter breaks. This helped me greatly in maintaining the flow of the story with the switching povs. I favor third person, so Busick's povs were easier for me to follow but Patience still was the better flushed out character because of more detail and emotion given to her personality and struggles.

“What’s not possible? For me to love or for me to love you?”

These two had some playful moments but overall I felt they were lacking chemistry and some heat. I like open door romances and sexually intimate moments on the page, this had some kissing but would definitely be categorized as very low heat, in regards to intimate scenes on page, this lack could have definitely affected how I felt about this. I also thought Patience not revealing her identity to Busick didn't ring true and was just keep some angst in the story. Patience actually returns to character and deals with this fairly quickly but what came before still felt forced and dragged out. These two had to deal with Markham issues, a possible ghost (seriously, why was this story thread put in there when it amounted to nothing??), and Lionel not liking pap milk and wanting milk (if I never have to read the words “pap milk” again, it will be too soon) for the majority of the story that their developing feelings weren't showcased enough for me.

There was no denying it. He was my beloved, and I was his.

There were some intriguing side characters, Busick's friend Viscount Gantry and his separation from his wife, who is also from Demerara, Patience's friend Jemina and her amnesia, and Lady Shrewsbury the leader of the Widow's Grace that look to have enough story to get books of their own. I missed having been with Patience on some of her past experiences and I would have liked more romance between her and Busick but this did have some venture and mystery that kept me reading.

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review 2020-06-06 19:33
The Gamekeeper's Lady by Ann Lethbridge
The Gamekeeper's Lady - Ann Lethbridge

Lord Robert Mountford has a bad habit of hopping into bed with flirtatious married women, but he steers clear of innocent virgins. Unfortunately, one catches him alone and, mistaking him for his twin brother, falsely accuses him of trying to kiss her. He refuses to marry her and is ostracized by everyone he knows. Even his own father kicks him out.

Three years later, Robert has managed to land a position as an assistant gamekeeper at Wynchwood estate, hiding his true identity as best he can. Frederica Bracewell, the young lady of the house, may prove to be his undoing. Sparks fly between the two of them as Robert helps Frederica with her secret project, drawing local wildlife and adding to her art portfolio so that she can eventually run away to Italy and become an artist.

I knew from the start that I probably wasn't going to like this very much. The book began with the hero naked in bed after having had sex with another man's wife. The woman, Maggie, started trying to match him up with her niece before the two of them had even gotten dressed. The whole thing repulsed me. Shortly after that, Robert was kicked out by his father for not marrying the young lady who said he'd kissed her, and then there was a "three years later" time jump.

Frederica was mistreated by her uncle, frequently punished just for being left-handed, and constantly interrupted because of her stutter. I generally like downtrodden heroines because it's fun seeing them come into their own, but I got so frustrated with both her and Robert that I just couldn't root for them. They were both idiots. When they met, it was instant physical attraction. Also, Frederica was happy because Robert didn't seem to take issue with either her left-handedness or her stutter.

If I remember right, the book had two sex scenes, and the first one happened after Frederica and Robert had spoken to each other maybe three times. Although Robert had just reminded her that he could be fired for letting her into his house alone at night, he for some reason agreed to model for her nude (or nearly nude? I wasn't entirely sure). One thing led to another and, boom, sex scene. Frederica lied and said she wasn't a virgin, which I guess prompted Robert to decide it was okay to risk the best job he'd managed to find in three years.

These characters were so very stupid.

Anyway, in the last third of the book, multiple characters revealed that they weren't who they appeared to be, and the sudden complications at least made things interesting, even though I didn't enjoy the romance. Maggie, the woman Robert was in bed with at the beginning of the book, showed up again. It was awkward, but not quite as bad as I'd expected.

The ending was...terrible. It was like most of the characters experienced personality transplants. Frederica and Robert had doubts about each other that were understandable considering that neither one of them really knew each other very well, but that made it very difficult to believe in their happy ending. Which was very, very happy, with everything wrapping up neatly.

I looked at the summaries of the other books in the series. Looks like Charles, Robert's twin, is the hero of the next book, Robert's friend John is the hero of the third, and the fourth features characters I don't think appeared in this book at all. I have no interest in reading any of them.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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