SEVEN MINUTES IN HEAVEN by Eloisa James

February 11, 2017
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Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers, #3; Desperate Duchesses, #9 

Eugenia Snowe runs the most exclusive agency in London for governesses. There are waiting lists for her services, and she only places her governesses with the best families. So when Edward Reeve bursts into her office, demanding a governess, she tries to show him out but he’s not leaving.

He’s also gorgeous and one of the richest men in London, despite not having a title as he’s a byblow. But his half sister and brother are titled, and orphaned, and in desperate need of a governess since he is now their legal guardian.

Ward, as he is affectionately known, isn’t taking no for an answer. He plays on her sympathies and soon finds himself with a Snowe governess, but she isn’t working out. He also finds himself starting a correspondence with the beautiful Mrs. Snowe.

Eugenia has been widowed for years and never even thought about another man. Until she is pursued by the brilliant Ward. He proposes an affair but Eugenia falls in love. All Ward is concerned with is making sure his half siblings have the best possible start in life, and because he hasn’t socialized with the gentry, he has no idea who she is, other than perhaps a former governess.

Another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.

 

2/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

Avon (January 31, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062389459. 432p.

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BREATHLESS by Beverly Jenkins

February 9, 2017
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Old West Series, Book 2

As my regular readers know, I haven’t been reading romance, at least historical romance, for very long, just a few years or so. But as a librarian, I know how popular it is and wanted to learn more about the genre. To that end, I showed a documentary at my library that was put out by the Romance Writers of America called Love Between the Covers. It’s available for streaming from Amazon Prime and Netflix and probably other places, too, and if you have any interest in romance novels, I highly recommend it. I found it fascinating.

Many of the my favorite authors were featured, along with one I had never heard of: Beverly Jenkins. According to Wikipedia, she is an African American author “of historical and contemporary romance novels with a particular focus on 19th century African-American life. Jenkins was a 2013 NAACP Image Award nominee and, in 1999, was voted one of the Top 50 Favorite African-American writers of the 20th century by the African American Literature Book Club. Jenkins’s historical romances are set during a period of African-American history that she believes is often overlooked. This made it difficult to break into publishing because publishers weren’t sure what to do with stories that involved African-Americans but not slavery.”

So a very interesting time period indeed, one I certainly knew nothing about. Breathless is set in the Arizona territory, and the main character, Portia Carmichael, manages an upscale hotel for the aunt and uncle who took her and her sister in. Portia’s mother was a whore who sent her children away when they got in the way of her business. Because of her childhood, Portia has a strong fear of men, which she gradually got over as she lived with her new family.

But she’s not all the way there yet – Portia loves her job and her home and never wants to marry. She can’t understand her younger sister’s constant flirting either. Until Kent Randolph shows up at the hotel.

Kent is an old friend of the family, and Portia hasn’t seen him since she was a girl, when he nicknamed her “Duchess.” He has been drifting for years, and is smitten the minute he sees Portia. As they get to know one another again, they both fall hard and Portia is confused, to say the least. Kent is getting past all her barriers and she his.

There are some interesting problems that crop up and I feel like I really learned a few things about the American west and black culture of the time. But it was the romance that got me!

An interesting romance for sure, but with all the requisite passion and troubles along the way to the happy ending.

2/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

BREATHLESS by Beverly Jenkins. Avon (January 31, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062389022. 384p.


IF I ONLY HAD A DUKE by Lenora Bell

February 4, 2017

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The Disgraceful Dukes, Book 2  

Once again I start a series in the middle – literally – this is book 2 of a trilogy.

Lady Dorothea Beaumont is an only child whose mother has spent a lifetime training her to marry up. But Dorothea’s first three seasons were a disaster and she’s not at all sad about it. In fact, she spent a summer with her maiden aunt in Ireland and loved it. Her plan is to move in with her aunt and enjoy her freedom. Her mother, on the other hand, has other plans.

Dorothea is dragged out once again to a ball where Dalton, Duke of Osborne, asks her to dance. The Duke is the most eligible bachelor and hardest to pin down, so his selecting Thea for the first dance makes her immediately and eminently marriageable. Her parents are delighted, but Thea is not – instead, she runs away to the Duke, demanding he take her to Ireland and save her from marriage to an old duke. Feeling somewhat guilty, he agrees and they hit the road.

Adventures abound, not to mention love and sex. This was a fast, fun read and I hope I can find the other books in this series.

2/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

IF I ONLY HAD A DUKE by Lenora Bell. Avon (August 30, 2016). ISBN: 978-0062397744. 384p.

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ONE FOR THE ROGUE by Charis Michaels

January 11, 2017
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Bachelor Lords of London Series, Book 3  

I still haven’t found the first book in this series but if I stumble across it, I’ll definitely read it. Like most romances, they really don’t need to be read in order but it is more fun when I can do it that way.

Charis Michaels appears to be a new romance writer and she is definitely on my to-be-read list. In fact, I had stopped reading Avon Impulse books but I’ve changed my mind because of this author.

We briefly met Beau Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh, in the Virgin and the Viscount. At the end of that book, Beau’s brother Bryson turns the title over to Beau, who has no interest in being a viscount whatsoever. He refuses to move into the mansion, instead lives on a small, dirty boat that he is working on.

Lady Emmaline Crumbley is in dire straights. Her parents married her off to a Duke who was forty-some years older than she was, and then they died. The Duke died shortly thereafter leaving her the Dowager Duchess and dependent on her stepson who is considerably older than she. She is also responsible for taking care of her teenage brother who is “simple”.

Emma is determined to get to America and sell off the books her father had published, it’s her only chance at financial freedom. But the new Duke wants to get his hands on the money in trust for her brother, and keeps them under close watch.

The previous viscount makes an offhand remark that he wished she would teach his brother the ways of proper society, and she offers to do so in exchange for passage to America for her, her brother and the books.

This is not as complicated as it sounds, and it’s a good story. Emma and Beau have a strong attraction and this is their love story – and it’s pretty good. A very enjoyable read.

1/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

ONE FOR THE ROGUE by Charis Michaels. Avon Impulse (January 10, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062412973. 416p.

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THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian

January 9, 2017
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A prodigious amount of research has obviously gone into the writing of this novel by Chris Bohjalian, whose books cover a wide variety of subjects.

Many people sleepwalk; most fortunately without causing themselves severe harm. Others are not so fortunate and in their walks can do injury to themselves and even possibly kill themselves. Annalee Ahlberg has a history of sleepwalking and is enrolled in a medical project to try and help her. She is also taking medicines prescribed for sleepwalkers.

The novel is written from the viewpoint of Lianna, the oldest of her two daughters, and describes one instance where Lianna actually saved Annalee’s life when she pulled her back from the Gale River Bridge near their home in Vermont. Both Lianna and her younger sister Paige have had episodes of walking in their sleep although nothing apparently as severe as Annalee.

One evening Annalee disappears and just does not appear shortly afterward. After a massive search by neighbors, friends and authorities it becomes fairly apparent that she is dead, possibly drowned in the Gale River. Paige starts to swim the river fairly frequently looking for any clue or sign pointing to the whereabouts, dead or alive, of her mother. No trace is found.

Lianna has a meeting with the police to attempt to determine if they are still investigating her mother’s disappearance. In the course of attempting to get information she meets Gavin Rikert, a detective with the local police department. Lianna and Gavin develop an attraction for each other and it comes out that Gavin is a sleepwalker who is also being treated by the same doctor that worked with Annalee. Also discovered by Lianna is the fact that her mother and Gavin met for talks several times without her father being aware of it. Were they lovers?

Bohjalian has no problem keeping the reader glued to the book. He provides information about forms of sleepwalking, which among other things can include sleep sex on the part of one of the partners. A very intellectually rewarding novel as well as commanding the rapt attention of the reader, and certainly another well done book by Chris Bohjalian.

1/17 Paul Lane

THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian. Doubleday (January 10, 2017).  ISBN 978-0385538916. 304p.

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THE OLD MAN by Thomas Perry

January 4, 2017
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The refrain from an old song is “The Old Man ain’t what he used to be.” But Dan Chase is the very viable exception to that supposed rule.

Thirty five years before the story begins, Dan was an extremely capable agent for U.S. Army Intelligence. He was sent to Libya to covertly assist a rebel army by presenting 20 million dollars to a man acting as the agent for the rebels. The deal went sour when Dan found that said agent had kept the funds. He acted based on his own assessment of the situation and absconded with the money. Now 35 years later he is living in Vermont, retired, a widower with a grown daughter on her own. He has two huge dogs to keep him company.

Unlike other retirees, Dan has amassed a cache of “survival” gear including weapons, cash, fake passports and licenses. And just when he believes himself safe after all the years that have passed since the action in Libya, he is attacked by mercenaries that want to kill him. His instincts propel him into action that finds him embroiled in fighting hired killers, stuck in a precarious car chase, and not knowing if those hunting him were hired by the man in Libya from whom he took the cash, or his previous employer, the US government.

In fleeing from his home in Vermont, he rents a room in an apartment owned by a divorcee who happens to be attractive and drawn to Dan. When he is forced to leave this apartment and flee his enemies the woman goes with him and apparently is in love with him.

Perry’s writing is fast, compelling, and draws in the reader. The only reservation I experienced was that the ending is sudden and too pat. This does not make the reading experience any less enjoyable, just not fitting the temper of the rest of the novel. But I certainly would look for a sequel and pick it up if Perry decides that he would like to go in that direction.

1/17 Paul Lane

THE OLD MAN by Thomas Perry. Mysterious Press (January 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-0802125866. 352p.

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THE SPARTAN DAGGER by Nicholas Guild

December 26, 2016
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A well told tale of a feud taking place in Greece during the Peloponnesian conflict period occurring about the 4th century BC. During that era, the city states of Athens and Sparta were jockeying for supremacy in the area.

Guild has published many novels with diverse subjects including books set in the ancient world. In these novels his research has led him into fiction in settings that existed during the periods discussed and allowed him to paint protagonists with the probable thoughts and reactions prevalent then.

The Spartan Dagger follows two men living in the times depicted, traveling throughout Greece for many reasons and reacting to the events occurring at the time. Sparta has a culture and system for developing almost superhuman warriors taking young boys away from their families and inculcating them with ideals of war and bravery. The phrase when men went out on war was “Come home with your shield or on it,”meaning victory or death but never surrender.

Shortly before the period of this novel, Sparta had held off a force of about 250,000 Persians with a mere 300 men at Thermopylae giving enough time for Athens to get their navy ready for war. In addition, time was saved for Sparta itself to rally their regular army.

Two Spartan brothers were ordered by their father to go out and prove themselves men by killing members of the tribe of Helots than living in subjugation to Sparta. They do so, coming upon a family who were eating dinner. They kill the father, mother and a daughter but a son escapes. His name is Protos, meaning destiny, and his starts that night. He chases after the brothers managing to kill one and takes his dagger. He spares the other brother but vows he will eventually kill him.

This event starts the many years of conflict between the two. The Spartan boy in manhood becomes a statesman and leads men into battle. Protos finds himself traveling throughout Greece and due to a natural ability as a warrior becomes a leader of forces opposed to Sparta. Each finds love in the book which plays an important role in their development.

Guild is again successful in taking the reader into another era and making events live. Very well done.

12/16 Paul Lane

THE SPARTAN DAGGER by Nicholas Guild. Forge Books (December 27, 2016).  ISBN 978-0765376510. 384p.

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THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN by Lorraine Heath

December 13, 2016
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Hellions of Havisham Series, Book 3

It’s my week for Viscounts, I guess, which are pronounced Vie-count, no “s” at all – I double checked.

I actually read the first book in this series, but somehow missed the second so guess I’ll have to go dig that up. This was really good.

Lord Lockley is heir to the Viscount but his father, while still alive, is mad as a hatter. Lockley’s mother died in childbirth, and his father went mad with grief. The house has fallen into disrepair, but Lockley gets a shock when a beautiful young woman shows up at the front door.

Portia announces that she is there to marry the Viscount and Lockley gets his hackles up. His father apparently put an ad in the paper seeking a wife of child bearing age. Since his son hasn’t married, he wants to produce his own “spare”.

Portia is seeking financial security, and Lockley isn’t about to let a fortune hunter take advantage of his father. After reading the fine print of the contract, he realizes that he can protect his father if he marries the young widow himself, and he does so immediately. There is an incredible physical attraction between them, but both are also determined not to fall in love. Lockley fears madness and Portia fears heartbreak.

But what good is a romance if no one falls in love? Yes, there is a good deal of very erotic sex (that Heath is known for) but love – well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

An excellent addition to the series.

12/16  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN by Lorraine Heath. Avon (November 29, 2016). ISBN: 978-0062391056. 400p.

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THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT by Charis Michaels

December 12, 2016
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Bachelor Lords of London Series, Book 2  

So I’ve fallen back on my bad habits and I started this series with this book, the second in the series. I had a digital review copy that I had requested because it sounded interesting, but then I realized it was from the Avon Impulse imprint, which I had sworn off because I read a few in a row that I didn’t care for. But I had it on my iPad, needed something to read at a doctor’s office, and forgot why I hadn’t read it before. And I was happily surprised – it was really good.

Charis Michaels is a new romance writer from what I can tell, it looks like this was her second book and a third has come out since. She is definitely someone to watch.

Lady Elisabeth Hamilton-Baythes is the virgin in the title. Her parents were killed by highway men when she was a young teen, and she was kidnapped and sold to a brothel where she’s branded and left in a room while the owners tried to get the best price for a night with her.

But before she can be deflowered, a young lord Bryson shows up in her room. His father has decided it is time for him to lose his virginity, and the humiliation is just an added bonus. He and Elisabeth climb out the window and he helps her escape to an aunt’s house in London.

Fast forward several years and Elisabeth’s aunt is hosting a party for Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh, a rich and powerful man. The same man Elisabeth has mooned over since he saved her. But while he doesn’t recognize her, he is attracted to her and in need of a wife.

You can figure out what happens but let me say that there is a lot of drama, some hot sex and some heartbreak along the way. Looking forward to more from this author.

12/16  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT by Charis Michaels. Avon Impulse (August 23, 2016). ISBN: 978-0062412959. 416p.

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WHILE THE DUKE WAS SLEEPING by Sophie Jordan

November 14, 2016
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The Rogue Files, Book 1

One my favorite Christmas movies is “While You Were Sleeping“, Sandra Bullock’s first starring role and if you, too, like that movie, you will like this book. The film:

Lonely transit worker Lucy Eleanor Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) pulls her longtime crush, Peter (Peter Gallagher), from the path of an oncoming train. At the hospital, doctors report that he’s in a coma, and a misplaced comment from Lucy causes Peter’s family to assume that she is his fiancée. When Lucy doesn’t correct them, they take her into their home and confidence. Things get even more complicated when she finds herself falling for Peter’s sheepish brother, Jack.

This book is the same story, only set a couple of hundred years earlier.

Poppy Fairchurch is a salesgirl in a flower shop where the Duke of Autenberry shops nearly every day. He is handsome, kind and generous, and Poppy fancies herself in love with him. He, of course, doesn’t even know she’s alive.

One day after shopping, Poppy sees the Duke throw a punch at another man. The Duke ends up in the road and a horse drawn cart is racing down upon him. Poppy flings herself on the Duke, pushing him to safety. A moment later, the other man in the fight pushes Poppy to safety.

Turns out the men are half brothers and don’t get along. Poppy’s boss insists she accompany the unconscious Duke home, where due to a mis-overhead conversation, the housekeeper thinks they are engaged. The Duke is in a coma, but family is delighted with Poppy somehow, despite the difference in their classes.

Meanwhile Struan, the half-brother, who was raised in Scotland, is intrigued with the shopgirl and can’t quite believe she is engaged to the Duke. The Duke’s best friend knows it isn’t true, but he peruades Poppy to allow the family to think they are engaged.

Poppy and Struan are both fighting an intense physical attraction but none too successfully, and there are a few steamy scenes there.

The happy ending is eventually reached, and Poppy and Struan realize they fell in love while the Duke was sleeping.

11/16  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

WHILE THE DUKE WAS SLEEPING by Sophie Jordan. Avon (October 25, 2016). ISBN: 978-0062222541. 384p.

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