A SCOUNDREL IN HER BED by Lorraine Heath

April 29, 2019

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Sins for All Seasons, Book 3

From the publisher:

The bastard son of a nobleman, Finn Trewlove was a shameful secret raised by a stranger. As Finn came of age, he had secrets, too—the clandestine nights spent with an earl’s daughter. But her promise of forever ended in betrayal.

Driven by a past that haunts her, Lady Lavinia Kent seeks redemption in London’s underworld, engaged in a daring cause inspired by the young man to whom she gave her innocence, and who then proved himself a scoundrel by abandoning her.

When their paths cross again, they can’t deny the yearning and desire that still burns. As they discover the truth behind the deceptions that tore them apart, Finn and Lavinia must fight to reclaim what they’ve lost, no matter how dangerous—because love is worth the risk . . .

I was so proud of myself; I have been reading this series in order.  But this book sort of threw me. It is the third book in the series but it moves back and forth in time for a while, making it sort of a prequel at times and then a sequel. It was an interesting was to create a third book in a series, leaving enough bread crumbs for first time series readers to find their way back to the beginning without feeling lost. Yet this book can stand alone as well, if that makes sense? We’ll just call it good writing because Heath, who has been writing romance for a long while, really knows what she is doing.

The series centers around a family headed by Ettie Trewlove, a baby farmer. Baby farmers were women that took in babies or children that were born on the “wrong side of the blanket.” They were paid to take the illegitimate offspring of wealthy men and women. For Ettie, a poor widow, it was an ideal way to have the family she always wanted. But many baby farmers were just in it for the money. In fact, there were many that abused the children, starved them, worked them to death, or even just outright killed them. It was not a good time to be illegitimate in England.

Fortunately for the family at the center of this series, Ettie was a kind and loving mother. I originally thought that none of the children she took in were related by blood, even as close as they all seem to be. But it turns out that two of them are half brothers, born weeks apart to two different mothers but sired by the same father. Ah, the English aristocracy. So debauched.

Lavinia is an interesting character. You do know, from the beginning, what happens to her and why she has left her Duke at the altar, and why she is set on rescuing children from baby farmers. But as the story moves on, it gets darker and more emotionally gripping.

Aidan is also an intriguing character. You can’t help but root for them to get together, especially as the horrors of their lives apart unfold. This was a really good romance, and the major plot about the baby farmers was eye opening and so disheartening. There has been mention of this sort of thing in other historical romances I’ve read, but this really delves into it. I am assuming that Heath did her homework as it really feels like she did.

Another excellent romance from one of my favorites. Can’t wait for the next book in this series! Oh, and the ending hints at who will be at the center of that one.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A SCOUNDREL IN HER BED by Lorraine Heath. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 31, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492663355. 352p.




April 20, 2019

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The Duke’s Den, Book 1

From the publisher:

In the first novel in Christy Carlyle’s sizzling Duke’s Den series, three men, intent on making a fortune,discover irresistible opportunities . . .

Nicholas Lyon gambled his way into a fortune and ownership of the most opulent, notorious gentlemen’s club in England. But when Nick’s cruel brother dies, he inherits a title he never wanted. The sooner Nick is rid of the estate that has always haunted him, the sooner he can return to the life he’s built in London. But there’s one obstacle—the exquisite Thomasina Thorne.

When the new heir to the Tremayne dukedom suddenly appears in Mina Thorne’s life, she’s flustered. Not only is he breathtakingly handsome, but he’s also determined to take away her home and position as steward of the Enderley estate. If Mina learns what makes the enigmatic duke tick, perhaps she can change his mind—as long as she doesn’t get too close to him.

With each day Nick spends with Mina, his resolve weakens as their colliding wills lead to explosive desire. Could she be the one woman who can help him finally bury the ghosts of his past?

This was a really emotional story. Our hero, Nick, has an unsightly scar across his face and how he got it is simply heartbreaking. As is his whole backstory. Mina’s story is much easier, thank goodness. I don’t think I could have handled any more. Interestingly, Mina is the estate steward, a job she trained for all her life and inherited when her father died. The new Duke is not aware of this, however, since Mina’s full name is Thomasina and she signs all her correspondence with her initial, just like her father. So when the Duke arrives, he is not happy that he’s been lied to.

Mina and Nick are an unlikely couple, and it’s just class that separates them. The bigger hurdle is the estate she calls home and he calls hell. They need to overcome many obstacles to reach their happily ever after, and it was not a smooth journey by any means. I was racing through this book but the last part sort of slowed down and meandered a bit, but ultimately it was worth it. No spoilers here – let’s just say there were some unusual plot twists that I really enjoyed.

I am really looking forward to the next book in this series, Anything But a Duke, which comes out April 30. A review should be out sometime that week – stay tuned!

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A DUKE CHANGES EVERYTHING by Christy Carlyle. Avon (November 27, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062853950. 384p.




April 18, 2019

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The Palace of Rogues, Book 1

From the publisher:

A mistress. A mountain of debt. A mysterious wreck of a building.

Delilah Swanpoole, Countess of Derring, learns the hard way that her husband, “Dear Dull Derring,” is a lot more interesting—and perfidious—dead than alive. It’s a devil of an inheritance, but in the grand ruins of the one building Derring left her, are the seeds of her liberation. And she vows never again to place herself at the mercy of a man.

But battle-hardened Captain Tristan Hardy is nothing if not merciless. When the charismatic naval hero tracks a notorious smuggler to a London boarding house known as the Rogue’s Palace, seducing the beautiful, blue-blooded proprietress to get his man seems like a small sacrifice.

They both believe love is a myth. But a desire beyond reason threatens to destroy the armor around their hearts. Now a shattering decision looms: Will Tristan betray his own code of honor…or choose a love that might be the truest thing he’s ever known?

In a very weird coincidence, I read two books in a row, both romances but one contemporary (Under the Table) and this one, historical, where the hero is named Tristan. This book actually came out at the end of February but somehow it slipped under my radar. I must confess to having a ridiculous number of books on my Kindle, hovering just under 3000. No, that is not a typo. I don’t know how many of those I’ve already read as Amazon has no way of me sorting them that way, but a lot! Figure a book a day for close to 3 or so years that I’ve read mostly on my Kindle so maybe about a third? (Side note to Amazon, you really should let me sort out the books I’ve read, it would be beneficial for me to be able to delete all the books I’ve read before I run out of room!) Lately I have been removing titles from my device when I finish reading them but that’s new. And sometimes I forget. Oh well.

Back to our story. So this Tristan is your basic, run-of-the-mill, tall, strong, gorgeous hero who, as many heroes are, is rather reticent in sharing his thoughts or feelings. So much so that it is a running joke throughout the book that he when he utters more than a word or two, it is commented upon. Cute.

Deirdre definitely falls into the new historical romance class of heroines who are strong, independent, and most unlikely given the time period, career driven. I don’t mind these liberties being taken in sacrifice of historical accuracy. It’s about time women were put in a better place, even if it rarely happened back then; I rather enjoy seeing it happen now.

The boundaries of realism are pushed even further when the wife and mistress of a member of the peerage end up in business and living together. It actually makes sense here so kudos to Long for writing such a believable suspension of disbelief, that is quite the coup. But best of all, it is a really good story with interesting, quirky characters, delicious humor and sizzling sex.

I started this new series with the first book – quite the coup for me, I tend not to do that for some reason – but I really have enjoyed this author’s previous books so when I saw a new one on Edelweiss (one of the homes of advanced digital galleys for reviewers) I grabbed it. I was very glad I did. This was a very enjoyable read and now I can’t wait for the next book in this series – this one ends on quite the cliffhanger! Very well done.

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LADY DERRING TAKES A LOVER by Julie Anne Long. Avon; Reissue edition (February 26, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062867469. 384p.



THIS SCOT OF MINE by Sophie Jordan

April 10, 2019

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The Rogue Files, Book 4

From the publisher:

A daring deception…

Desperate to escape her vile fiancé, Lady Clara devises a bold lie—that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. With her reputation in tatters, Clara flees to Scotland to live out her days in disgrace, resigned to her fate as a spinster…until she claps eyes on the powerful and wickedly handsome Laird Hunt MacLarin.

She’s the answer to his curse…

Laird of an ancient clan, Hunt needs an heir, but he comes from a long line of men cursed to die before the birth of their firstborn. When the Duke of Autenberry approaches him with a proposition—marry my ruined sister—it seems the perfect solution. Even better, the defiant lass stirs him to his very soul.

No escaping the truth…

Except marriage cannot set them free. No matter how much Hunt desires her. No matter how much Clara burns for him. Soon she is falling for her husband, but is love enough to end the curse? Or is the tragic history of the MacLarin Clan doomed to repeat itself?

This silly curse.

May all future lairds of Clan MacLarin live out their days knowing they are marked to love, but not to live. Until a laird of this line lives to see his first-born draw breath, this curse shall never be broken.

Clara thinks it’s silly. Her brother thinks it’s silly. But Hunt grew up with it and he and his grandmother strongly believe. She lost her husband before her son was born, and her son before her grandson was born. Hunt was raised knowing that if he procreated, he would die. So when he meets Clara, he thinks he met the perfect woman.

Clara is the daughter and brother of a duke. But when she is ruined in London, she is sent to live with her brother in Scotland. Everyone believes her lie and assumes that she is pregnant. Hunt happily acquiesces to the Duke and is happy to marry her and raise her child as his own, thus working around the curse and hopefully living a long life. Until the morning after the wedding night when he finds out about the lie.

Feeling that he is doomed, he tries to stay away from Clara but the attraction between them is sizzling hot. So is the sex in this book, for that matter. So despite his grandmother’s dire warnings and his own feeling of dread, Hunt and Clara find a way to their happily ever after.

No spoilers here, I’ll just say I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and thoroughly enjoyed this latest entry into one of my favorite series. I don’t think they need to be read in order, but in case you want to, here you go:

1. While the duke was sleeping
2. The scandal of it all
3. The duke buys a bride

4/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THIS SCOT OF MINE by Sophie Jordan. Avon (March 12, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062463661. 352p.



IN ANOTHER TIME by Jillian Cantor

March 29, 2019

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A beautifully written novel spanning both the period immediately prior to World War II and the period immediately after. It is a love story, and a brilliant piece describing the love of music, and also the love of reading and finding great books.

The action occurs in Germany, England, France, Austria and the United States. And the star crossed lovers are Hannah Ginsberg and Max Beissinger, both born in Germany. Max has inherited his father’s bookshop and enough money to be able to maintain a modest style of living while Hannah is a brilliant violin student with the inherent talent to become a major artist in the world of classical music. The book takes Max and Hannah from first meetings, through falling in love. It also begins in the period when Adolf Hitler rose to power and transformed Germany into a dictatorship with the mandate to expand via military conquest.

The stage is set; the action begins. First; Hannah is Jewish, Max is not and Hannah’s family finds it impossible to accept a union between the two. Second, Germany under the increasing power of the Nazi party begins to practice prejudice as national policy against several ethnic groups; among them: Jews. This beginning and also world events are unerringly the factors that guide the now and future actions of each of the couple.

Cantor utilizes alternating narratives by each of the principal characters in order to depict events in both the period involving Hitler’s rise and the time just after the end of World War II hostilities. This styling allows an excellent description of the emotions and feelings of Max and Hannah as well as descriptions of the events that occur. There is also a use of a concept of a wormhole (Black Space Hole) as a means of accelerated travel around the universe that had been discussed by Albert Einstein as well as having a place in many Science Fiction novels. What it does and how it affects Hannah and Max provides an interesting aspect and possibility for them is an important addition to events.

The novel and the styling used by the author insure an emotional appeal to the reader. The book must be finished in one sitting! It is impossible to put it down before finding out what happens to Max and Hannah; people who have become friends to those that read the book. An extremely well done work and one that will not leave memory for a long time.

3/19 Paul Lane

IN ANOTHER TIME by Jillian Cantor. Harper (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0062886231. 336p.



THE VOLUNTEER by Salvatore Scibona

March 28, 2019

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The novel by Scibona is a difficult one to understand and really enjoy. The author utilizes an almost stream of consciousness writing style which I must indicate does not work for this novel.

It touches on four generations of men; their pathways through life and the horrors of the war in Vietnam as it affects one of them. Vollie Frade is met at a point where almost on a whim to escape a bad home situation enlists in the Marine Corps. This is just in time to be sent to Vietnam where he witnesses the horrors of that war. On a second tour he is captured in Cambodia where American forces are not supposed to be. He is held in horrible conditions in prison with two other men and becomes the only survivor to escape and return home. This imprisonment does affect him through the remainder of his life.

In a similarity to Winston Groom’s novel “Forrest Gump” major events around the world are depicted during the course of the story and integrated into the story line. Unfortunately, I found that I could not retain an interest in the book due to the myriad of shifts and characters introduced with little or no interconnection.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE VOLUNTEER by Salvatore Scibona. Penguin Press (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0525558521. 432p.



THE CHAOS FUNCTION by Jack Skillingstead

March 23, 2019

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The author has combined a great deal of action with an interesting scenario right out of the world of Science Fiction giving his readers a very engrossing novel.

The story begins with Olivia Nikitas, a very successful war correspondent, in the midst of covering the civil war in Syria. She is accompanied by Brian, an AID worker and the man that she has found love with. While they are covering a battle in Aleppo Brian is killed with Olivia dragging him back into a chamber in a building adjacent to the area they had been covering. In a reverie experienced by Olivia traumatized by Brian’s death conditions change and it looks like her lover was only wounded.

The Science Fiction part comes across when returning to the United States Olivia is kidnapped by a group claiming to be guardians of a machine that allows conditions in the world to be changed. And that is why she experiences the shift from Brian dying and than still alive but wounded. Olivia has received the power to operate the machine from the individual that had it but was killed during the same time and place that Brian died in. She learns that she is the first woman to have this power during the many centuries that it has been utilized.

Escaping from the group with the help of two of their members Olivia uses the benefits of the machine tied to her mental ability to use it to change conditions in the world. Unfortunately, the new conditions created by her allow the spread of a man made epidemic of smallpox which kills off millions around the world. She realizes that her desire to keep Brian alive has forced the spread of the disease to take effect due to conditions created by Olivia’s machinations of world conditions.

The combination of circumstances involving a great deal of action with an interesting twist will provide a fascinating experience for the reader making the awaiting of future books by  Skillingstead a done deal.

3/19 Paul Lane

THE CHAOS FUNCTION by Jack Skillingstead.  John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1328526151. 304p.



OF FIRE AND LIONS by Mesu Andrews

March 10, 2019

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A well written novel based on the Old Testament story of Daniel. The author evidences a great deal of research in presenting a novel like account of the life and times of the prophet. Daniel lived during the tumultuous times characterized by the rule of Nebuchadnezzar over the city state of Babylon and his conquests of much of the known world. The novel begins as the young girl Abigail is taken prisoner by the invading army of the Babylonians conquering Jerusalem and taking her and many others captives. They are being brought to Babylon as slaves. Along with her are five young men including Daniel and four of his friends. Daniel takes a liking and interest in Abigail starting a lifetime of love between them.

Andrews does not gloss over the miracles attributed to Daniel’s times and caused by the one god, Yahweh, that was worshiped by his people. There is the survival of his friends thrown into a blazing furnace and the later survival by Daniel of being thrown into a pit with several hungry lions. He is brought to Babylon in order to be trained to govern under the sway of Nebuchadnezzar along with other selected Hebrews as a means of assuring the rule of a wide variety of men selected from Babylon’s conquests. This is seen as a means of assuring loyalty to Babylon and is a far reaching belief going beyond the period being looked at.

Andrews, as is her practice, has done a good deal of research into the period surrounding Daniel’s life both by close reading of the book of Daniel and other prophets of that era as well as other surviving works available at present day. Literary license allows the author to resurrect conversations that possibly could have taken place based on events depicted. As an historical work the recreating of the world of about 500 B.C. is truly an engrossing project. The book is made into both a captivating novel as well as the creation of life lived in another and stranger period. The novel is by any definition a mesmerizing read and an all nighter for the reader.

3/19 Paul Lane

OF FIRE AND LIONS by Mesu Andrews. WaterBrook (March 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0735291867. 400p.




March 3, 2019

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Highland Brides, Book 7

From the publisher:

A laird’s daughter kidnaps a Highlander—and loses her heart… in New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands’ new historical romance

Lady Evina Maclean has heard much about Rory Buchanan’s skill as a healer. What she hasn’t heard is how good the brawny Highlander looks bathing in a waterfall. But Evina can’t afford the distraction, for her ailing father urgently needs care. Only when she’s rendered Buchanan unconscious and dragged him back to her family’s castle does the truth emerge—it’s not Rory she’s kidnapped but his brother Conran.

Other ladies try to ensnare Conran with flattery. Evina hits him over the head with the hilt of her sword to save her kin—and Conran likes the spirited redhead all the more for it. He’s learned enough from his brother to heal Evina’s father, but there are other dangers swirling around the Maclean clan. And while the beautiful, independent lady has sworn not to marry, this wrong Highlander may be just the right man for her.

I started this series with book 5, and I didn’t love it. But I forgot that and read book 6, which I liked a lot so here I am. I really enjoyed this latest entry in the series so now I think I will try at least one of the earlier books.

I love historical romances with strong women characters, and Sands introduces a new one here in Lady Evina. She rides her horse astride, carries a sword and is expert enough in sword fighting that she helps train the men. So when her father is dying, out of desperation she takes off in search of Rory Buchanan, who is reputed to be the most skilled healer in all of Scotland. She arrives at the Buchanan property to find a horse with a saddlebag stuffed with medicinal herbs, but the rider is apparently showering under the waterfall. When one of her men approaches him, he lashes out and Lady Evina rushes in and knocks him out with her sword.

They take the unconscious healer, tie him to the horse, and set off at a rapid pace for home. Lady Evina is praying that her father is still alive when they get there. Eventually the healer comes to, they make it back and he immediately starts seeing to the laird.

The confusion arises because it turns out the man she kidnapped is not Rory, but his brother, the always helpful Conran. He was out helping his brother collect medicinal herbs when he was called away to attend a patient, leading to the mistaken identity. Conran doesn’t bother to correct them, he has helped his brother enough that he knows what to do.

Conran and Evina have instant attraction. When she tells him she is married, he backs off immediately. Then he finds out that she is actually widowed, and he decides a dalliance with the merry widow might be fun. Except turns out Evina was married and widowed as a child, leading to some very uncomfortable sex and a compromising position.

There is also a bit of suspense throughout this story, as there was in the other books I’ve read in this series. This time it appears someone is trying to kill Evina, and that suspense keeps building, helping make the pages fly by. This was another terrific read, and the Highlands setting is a good way to help me through the Droughtlander.

3/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE WRONG HIGHLANDER by Lynsay Sands. Avon (February 5, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062890672. 288p.




DEVIL’S DAUGHTER by Lisa Kleypas

February 27, 2019

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The Ravenels meet The Wallflowers

The Ravenels Series, Book 5

From the publisher:

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

I’ve read several of the books in this series and liked them all. Kleypas excels at portraying a world gone by, with terrific, well developed characters and always a strong storyline. This book is no exception.

Lady Clare is a widow with a heart of gold. She and her husband were childhood sweethearts and best friends, but their marriage was overshadowed by his illness. Henry had some sort of “wasting” disease, that left him weak and sickly for all of his life, and ended his life very young. Henry’s nemesis at boarding school was West Ravenel, a well known rake and a man with a very bad reputation. But for Lady Clare and West, there is instant chemistry.

That chemistry causes Clare to feel guilt and to fight it every step of the way. And West is determined to keep her at arm’s length, feeling that he does not deserve her and does not wish to harm her children’s reputations as well.

There are a lot of obstacles to overcome here, but their families see what’s going on and help them along to find their happily ever after. A fast, fun and sexy read – highly recommended with the caveat that it probably helps to read this series in order. There are a lot of characters, but I was comfortable with them because I remembered them all.

2/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DEVIL’S DAUGHTER by Lisa Kleypas. Avon (February 19, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062371935. 384p.