THE WEDDING WAGER by Eva Devon

October 25, 2021

From the publisher:

All Lady Victoria Kirby wants is to dig in the dirt, take notations, and record history, thank you very much. Bumbling through ballrooms and getting disdained by the ton for her less than ideal looks, on the other hand, is the last thing she wants. But her reckless father has a different idea for her future when he puts up the ultimate ante—her hand in marriage—and loses. Over her dead body.

The Duke of Chase cannot bear to see a woman misused. After all, he saw that often enough as a child. So when he’s witness to a marquess gambling away his daughter to a lecher of a man, he has no choice but to step in and rescue her. Lady Victoria has a reputation for being as tart as a lemon and as bitter as one, too. So, he may have just found the perfect wife to keep a promise he made to himself long ago–to never have an heir. With her, surely, he’ll never be tempted to take her to bed and break that promise.

But when he meets the wild, witty intelligent young lady he’s bound to marry, he knows trouble is headed his way… And everything he ever swore to uphold may very well come undone, especially his heart.


There is an unusual setup here for a Regency romance; Lady Victoria’s father has put her up as collateral for a bet at his club. He is rolling the dice on her future with an old lech, and the Duke of Chase, a bystander, is not going to let that happen. One of the most sought after single men in London, the Duke comes from a very old, very distinguished family and is one of the richest men in London as well. He has vowed to never marry or have children, but Lady Victoria has a reputation as being a very plain woman, and a very bright woman, with a sharp tongue. She may be the answer to his prayers; if he marries her, he’ll have a Duchess he has no desire for. She is also very independent and works as an assistant to her father, an archeologist. That is where her passions lie.

Victoria cannot believe her beloved father would force her into marriage, but he has. She meets with the Duke, and he outlines his plans; she will have the income and freedom to do whatever she wants, and so will he. Theirs will be a true marriage of convenience, with each of them living their own lives.

Chase has a terrible reputation as a womanizer, and has caused several women in the ton to get divorced. What no one knows is that in truth, he never sleeps with any of them. These are women trapped in bad marriages, like his mother was, and he helps them escape their confines by helping them get divorced and supporting them as needed. No one knows about his good deeds, and he certainly isn’t going to tell his new wife.

Chase has an assignation scheduled for a few days after the wedding. Victoria agreed to allowing him to continue being a rake without complaint, but he feels badly about it. It cannot be helped, so off her goes. When her husband walks in on them, he jumps out the window as his wife is driving by in the Ducal carriage. She stops to let him in, and doesn’t say much at all. He is amazed that she isn’t yelling or crying, and he is impressed even more with her. Chase is drawn to her despite himself, and he especially loves the way she is so thoughtful and smart about everything. She soon figures out that he is not at all what he portrays himself to be.

They end up as lovers, but he is always very careful not to get her pregnant. He may have broken his vow to never marry, but is determined to never produce an heir. Instead, the Dukedom will go to his wastrel of a cousin. But things between Chase and Victoria get more complicated, and she decides it is time to travel the world, excavating wherever she can. But rest assured, these two find their happily ever after.

This was a really fun, fast read. The characters are developed enough that I wanted them to find their happiness, and the story was a good one. This author was new to me, but I would certainly read her again.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE WEDDING WAGER by Eva Devon. Entangled: Amara (October 25, 2021). ASIN: B0951RX59Z. 277 pages.

 


ONE NIGHT WITH AN EARL by Tina Gabrielle

October 23, 2021

Daring Ladies series, Book 1

From the publisher:

Ana Gardner is determined to lose her virginity before her thirtieth birthday. She’s no stranger to fake identities, having posed as a chaperone since the scandal that destroyed her titled family. So she dons a mask, changes into a low-cut red gown, and attends the city’s most elite brothel, the Silver Chalice.

Oliver Bedford, the imposing Earl of Drake, is only at the Silver Chalice to appease his debauched friends—until he spots Lady Scarlet. She’s refreshing…and a complete mystery. Certain she’s a lady in disguise, Oliver is determined to learn her identity, but she eludes him at every turn.

The night with Oliver was unforgettable. But when he arrives at her employer’s home, she’s horrified to discover her lover is the Earl of Drake, the son of the man responsible for her father’s death and subsequent family ruin. And that he’s there to court her young charge.

Oliver never had any interest in the debutante, but he is drawn to her chaperone—a woman he soon realizes is his Lady Scarlet. Now that he’s found her, she claims she wants nothing to do with him, even though her kisses say otherwise. Fortunately, Oliver is not one to give up when he finds something he wants…and he wants Ana. In his bed, and in his life. Forever. But first, he must persuade her to trust him—and to believe that one wild, passionate night can turn into forever.


This was my first read from this author, and I am looking forward to more; this is the first book of a new series, so more will follow.

Anahit was born to a Lebanese mother and her father was an English Baron. Her mother died fairly young, and her father never recovered, ignoring his children and drowning his sorrows. The end came for him when he lost his home gambling with an Earl. After his death, Ana sold her mother’s jewels to pay for school for her much younger brother, changed her last name, and found a position as a chaperone to a young woman.

As she nears her thirtieth birthday, Ana is determined to lose her virginity. She approaches the madam of the finest brothel in London, and arranges to spend one night there. The madam allows her to select whoever she wants, and she spots a dark, brooding man that captures her attention. He is entranced with the dark haired, dark eyed beauty, and they spend a very passionate night together. He can’t understand what a virgin is doing in this place, but she is masked and not talking. He is completely intrigued with the woman he dubs Lady Scarlet, for the sexy red dress she wore.

The madam won’t tell him who she is, but he finds out soon enough. Oliver inherited his position after his father, then his older brother, died. He has always been the serious one of the family. His father and brother were all about drinking and whoring and gambling. In fact, he is only at the brothel because he feels an obligation to spend some time with his brother’s friends, even though he shares nothing in common with them.

The Earl’s grandmother sets him up with a young woman new to the marriage mart. He acquiesces and goes to see her, but has no interest in this young girl. Herchaperone, on the other hand, seems familiar. He soon realizes he found his Lady Scarlet. She assures him that one night was it, she can’t afford to lose her position but the pull between them is so strong, neither one of them can fight it for long. Of course that leads to all sorts of trouble.

This is a very sexy Regency romance with interesting characters and a good storyline. There isn’t as much humor or witty dialogue as many Regency romances have, but it was a very enjoyable, engrossing story and I highly recommend it.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE NIGHT WITH AN EARL by Tina Gabrielle. Entangled: Amara (October 18, 2021). ASIN: B09H5JGNM8. 324 pages.

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THE DUCHESS HUNT by Lorraine Heath

October 3, 2021

Once upon a Dukedom, Book 2

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath continues her Once Upon a Dukedom series with this lush love story of a duke who discovers what he desires in a wife may not be what he needs…

If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.

But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?


We all have secrets, and that is at the heart of this Victorian romance. Penelope Pettypeace has been the Duke of Kingsland’s secretary for eight years. King may be ahead of his time in hiring a woman for this very important position, and she has done an outstanding job for him. In fact, she is his right hand, so when the woman he was courting throws him over for someone else, he tasks Pettypeace to find him a duchess. He advertises for a wife, and lets her sort through all the letters to narrow down the list.

Turns out the Duke, his brother, and his mother were severely abused by his father. When King inherits the title, he finds out his father has left them penniless. But King is smart and turns their fortunes around by his judicious and farsighted investing. Now all he needs is a wife.

The Duke is a shrewd businessman, and Pettypeace is privy to all his secrets, or so she thinks. Turns out he is hiding a monumental one, but she is unaware as she herself dwells on her own very shady past. It is hinted at throughout the book but we don’t find out either secret until pretty much the end. No matter. Meanwhile, the Duke wakes up one day and realizes he is attracted to Pettypeace and decides to see where it goes. For both of them, the best situation is that they have an affair by night and are professional by day. Of course we know how that is going to turn out.

Heath writes steamy romances, and this is no exception, but it has a really sweet ending once you get past the big secret reveals. I liked these characters and although King was very much oblivious to his feelings for most of the book, Pettypeace was not, and it was her struggles with her feelings that really made this such a compelling read. This is another excellent addition to Heath’s body of work. If you like sexy Victorian romances, you will be a happy reader – I was!

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DUCHESS HUNT by Lorraine Heath. Avon (September 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062952011. 368 pages.

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SCOUNDREL OF MY HEART by Lorraine Heath

October 2, 2021

Once upon a Dukedom, Book 1

From the publisher:

Amazon April 2021 Best of the Month Pick

Lorraine Heath begins an exciting new series with a breathtaking romance about a young woman who must marry a titled gentleman to obtain her inheritance and the usuitable man she begins to fall madly in love with…

She is desperate to wed a duke…

Lady Kathryn Lambert must marry a titled gentleman to claim her inheritance and has finally gained the attention of a duke. Yet she is unable to forget the scandalous second son who aided in her achievement—or his betrayal.

He wants what he can never possess…

Lord Griffith Stanwick is tormented by the bitter truth that as a “spare,” he will never be able to give Kathryn what she yearns to possess. But when his father is found guilty of treason, Griff detours into the dark and dangerous corners of London, haunted by memories of the woman lost to him forever.

Love not to be denied…

As the duke’s courtship intensifies, Kathryn discovers Griff has become a man to be reckoned with. When old passions flare and new desires ignite, she must decide if sacrificing her legacy is worth a lifetime shared with the scoundrel of her heart.


Heath is one of my favorite authors – her books never disappoint. This is the first book of a newish series; it’s actually a sort of spin off of the Sins for All Seasons series, which is great. You definitely do not have to read that series to enjoy this new one.

In the last book of the Sins for All Seasons series, Beauty Tempts the Beast, we met the Stanwick family. There are three siblings, Althea, Griffith, and Marcus, who have their world turned upside down when their father, the duke, is hanged for treason. Lady Kathryn Lambert was best friends with Althea until all of the siblings disappear after the scandal.

Griff grew up as the second son, the spare, and his father always made him feel less than. After his father’s treason, he was penniless and is working on the docks. Lady Kathryn planned to marry a man with a title in order to gain her inheritance, a cottage that she longs to live in. The Duke of Kingsland is supposed to offer for her, but she doesn’t love him. When she sees Griff again, she realizes that she has deep feelings for him. Will she be strong enough to give up her plan to gain her inheritance, or will she marry for love? If you’ve ever read a romance, you know the answer.

I loved this story and these characters. This is a steamy, historical romance and a terrific read.

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SCOUNDREL OF MY HEART by Lorraine Heath. Avon (March 30, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062951960. 368 pages.

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PORTRAIT OF A SCOTSMAN by Evie Dunmore

September 20, 2021

A League of Extraordinary Women, Book 3

From the publisher:

Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one’s unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do?

London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted just three things in life:

1. Acclaim as an artist.
2. A noble cause.
3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman.

Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions….

When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old desire for revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.

But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything–as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.

The Instant USA Today Bestseller!
One of Marie Claire’s most anticipated romances of 2021!
One of Cosmopolitan’s most anticipated fall books of 2021!
A BuzzFeed Best Summer Read of 2021!


This was my first read of this author or series. One of my reviewers, Caitlin, read the first book, Bringing Down the Duke, and loved it. I meant to read it, but forgot – so many books, so little time! I liked this book a lot and didn’t really feel like I was missing anything having not read the first two books in the series. I may poke around my Kindle though; I probably have both of them on there somewhere.

The main character, Hattie, is a suffragist and an artist. She is not titled, but her father is a very wealthy man so her life is easy. As easy as it gets for women in Victorian England. Her parents indulge her interest in art by allowing her to take classes at Oxford. When she hears about a tour being given for a private collection of art, she decides to ditch her protector/chaperone/security guard, and sneaks out to the exhibit. But when she gets there, no one seems to know anything about a tour. They leave her in one of the rooms filled with art and sculpture and tchotchkes galore, and then a man comes in, walks up to her and kisses her. She slaps him good, and that is the meet cute.

The man is Luke Blackstone, and it is his home that she is visiting but he doesn’t know about any tours. He just knows she is an unaccompanied woman, and like many who have visited him in the past, he assumes she is visiting to have sex with him. He is also not of the gentry but is possibly even wealthier than her father. Blackstone has a terrible reputation as he has bankrupted many of the aristocracy by collecting their debts.

Blackstone is intrigued and attracted. A short time later, an actual tour is planned but somehow Hattie ends up alone in the drawing room with him and he tries to kiss her again – and she leans in for it. Unfortunately for her, the mirrors in the room are actually two-way mirrors, so her family and friends all witness the kiss. Blackstone quickly announces they are betrothed, and gets to working out a deal with her father as was often done.

Hattie is angry that she is being forced into a marriage with a man she doesn’t know. But she is attracted to him and after speaking to him about what she wants in a marriage (which I found quite unbelievable for the times) he acquiesces to her demands and they marry. The wedding night is not great, but he is kind and when she asks him to stop, he does. And the next night. And so on. But other things happen to cause her to want to leave, and her best friend is an expert at helping women escape bad situations and arranges for her to go to France. But Blackstone is one step ahead and whisks her off to Scotland before she can leave him.

Blackstone owns a mine in this small town and is trying to determine how to help the people who work there. Hattie visits some of the local women and decides to learn how to take their photographs, in an artistic way, in hopes of creating a gallery show to raise money for the town. They are forced to stay in the only inn in town in a single room with only one bed and the marriage is finally consummated.

But when Hattie finds out her husband basically paid for her and figures out that he arranged for them to be caught so they would have to marry, she is angry and asks to leave. Blackstone agrees even though he is in love with her. Eventually, he goes to her and they work things out.

This was a very interesting book, I liked learning about early photography and the mines and the miners lives. I did find it a bit slow and had a hard time believing the characters behaviors in the time period. But suspending disbelief is part of the deal and I did like the book enough to go look for the earlier books in the series.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PORTRAIT OF A SCOTSMAN by Evie Dunmore. Berkley (September 7, 2021). ISBN: 978-1984805720. 432 pages.

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WHEN YOU WISH UPON A DUKE by Charis Michaels

September 17, 2021

Awakened by a Kiss, Book 2

From the publisher:

USA Today bestselling author Charis Michaels returns to her Awakened by a Kiss series where overlooked fairy tale characters get their own happy endings, with a captivating romance about Miss Isobel Tinker and the duke who makes her believe in magic.

All it takes….

After a childhood spent cavorting around Europe with a dangerous crowd, Miss Isobel Tinker has parlayed her experience and language skills into a safe, reliable life. Working as a clerk in Mayfair’s Everland Travel Shop, she dreams of someday owning her own travel agency and has vowed never to leave the familiar shores of England ever again. When a handsome duke arrives at her doorstep, she realizes her staid existence is about to take flight.

…is faith and hope

Jason “North” Beckett, the Duke of Northumberland, desperately needs a travel guide. He’s inherited a dukedom but has a final mission for the Foreign Office—rescuing his wayward cousin from Nordic pirates. Isobel Tinker is the ideal translator, discreet and unknown, but she’s also uncooperative, stubborn, and disarmingly beautiful.

And a little bit of trust

In exchange for her help, North promises Miss Tinker her own travel agency upon return and strict professionalism at sea. Isobel cautiously agrees but soon realizes “strict” and “professional” are not how she would describe her feelings for the irresistible duke. As their adventure sweeps them to the shores of Iceland and beyond, can temptation and growing trust give way to the magic of wild, passionate love?


I’ve read a few of this author’s books from a few different series and I’ve liked them all, but this is the first book I’ve read in this series.

Isobel is a unique character, especially for historical fiction. She is the offspring of nobility (her father) who had an affair with her mother, a famous, well regarded actress. As a young child, her father came around often but eventually stopped. Isobel traveled with her mother throughout Europe as she performed. A bunch of the children of the cast and crew ran wild, traveling together and getting into all sorts of trouble, and Isobel was no different.

Isobel’s all grown up now and managing a travel agency for a lovely family. But when the couple who owns it dies, she has to deal with their son, who is lazy, lewd, and just not a very nice person. But she manages because she needs the job and the apartment it comes with above the shop.

The Duke of Northumberland, North as he is known, inherited the position after his father and two older brothers passed away. He never wanted the title. He has been working as a spy for the Foreign Office, and dreads giving it up to run the family estate. He has one last mission, to rescue his cousin and his associated who have been taken captive by pirates in Iceland. North asks Isobel to help, as she has traveled extensively there and knows the language.

It takes a lot of convincing and a major bribe – her own travel agency in her own building with an apartment for her -and she eventually agrees. There is a mutual attraction between Isobel and the Duke, which intensifies as they travel together, but there is also a lot of excitement (pirates!) and drama before they get to their happily ever after. This was a very fast read, and I really liked the characters. I will go back and read the first book, and then just have to be patient and wait for the next.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A DUKE by Charis Michaels. Avon (August 24, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062984975. 416 pages.

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HIGHLAND THIEF by Alyson McLayne

September 9, 2021

The Sons of Gregor MacLeod, Book 5

From the publisher:

This Strong Laird is no Match for the Stubborn Lass He’s Long Had His Heart Set On

When a Highland laird decides to marry, nothing can stand in his way…not even the bride.

No one ever accused Kerr MacAlister of being a nice man. Everyone would agree, however, that when the laird makes a promise, nothing can stop him. Which is why everyone knows Isobel MacKinnon will end up his wife.

Isobel spent most of her childhood in love with the tall, dark, and sexy Scot. It wasn’t until she was fifteen and failed to entice Kerr into kissing her that things turned sour. Now, Kerr is the one trying to entice her, but Isobel won’t be swayed…no matter how tempting he might be.

Then Kerr discovers she may be eloping with someone else, and he has a choice to make―is this Highlander’s fate to steal her away himself, to a place where both love and danger lurk, or let her go and face losing her forever?


This author was new to me, as was the time period; the book starts off in 1453. Isobel has something most women of the day do not. Her mother granted her permission to choose her own husband, where pretty much all marriages are arranged by families but Isobel can say no. Most unusual. But the laird of their neighboring clan, Kerr, has decided to marry her even though she isn’t very nice to him. He knows he did something to make her angry, but he doesn’t know exactly what it was.

Isobel is sister to the laird, and while he is in charge of all their people as judge and jury, Isobel handles the little discrepancies that help make peace among their people. The way she does this is by setting traps or tricking them, ultimately humiliating the offender and making everyone happy that justice has been served. But she’s never been able to trick Kerr, he sees everything. But she’s not done trying.

Kerr realizes that the only way she will agree to marry him is if they spend some time together. Isobel plans a trap for him, telling him she is going to elope with another man. He finds her waiting by a boat, and the next thing you know he jumps in it with her and starts rowing away to the other side of the loch. The only fear Isobel has is of the water as she can’t swim, so she is panicky. Kerr tries to get her agree to go back, but she is angry and won’t do anything he wants. That leads them right into the middle of an army that is trying to take over Kerr’s clan.

There is a lot of action and fighting in this story, along with some humor. Kerr and Isobel have a steamy relationship, both in bed and out, but eventually they find their way to marriage and their happy ending.

This was a fast read and while the tricks plotline grew old for me, for the most part I enjoyed this. It’s always a pleasure to visit the Scottish Highlands, even if I can’t get there in person!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HIGHLAND THIEF by Alyson McLayne. Sourcebooks Casablanca (August 24, 2021). ISBN: 978-1492654629. 384 pages.

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I’M ONLY WICKED WITH YOU by Julie Anne Long

September 6, 2021

The Palace of Rogues, Book 3

From the publisher:

USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long continues her Palace of Rogues series with a brand-new romance about an ambitious American and a headstrong British heiress.

Nothing can stop Hugh Cassidy’s drive to build an American empire…unless it’s his new nemesis, the arrogant, beautiful, too-clever-by-half Lady Lillias Vaughn. The fascination is mutual. The temptation is merciless. And the inevitable indiscretion? Soul-searing—and the ruination of them both. Hugh’s proposal salvages Lillias’s honor but kills their dreams for their futures…until they arrive at a plan that could honorably set them free.  
But unraveling their entanglement inadvertently uncovers enthralling truths: about Lillias’s wounded, tender heart and fierce spirit. About Hugh’s stunning gentleness, depth, and courage. Soon Hugh knows that as surely as he’d fight a thousand battles to win her…the best way to love Lillias means breaking his own heart. 


I think this is my favorite book of the series so far! This series is supposed to conclude with the next book, but who knows. It seems simple enough to add characters who are staying in the boarding house at the center of the story.

Hugh Cassidy is an American from New York. His mentor’s daughter has taken off for England, and Hugh offers to go after her. He can’t help thinking of her as a possible wife, but he is more concerned for her father, who is very worried. Hugh is staying in the boarding house, and because he has building/construction experience, he volunteers to help out the ladies who own the house.

Then an aristocratic family comes to stay in their newly acquired addition to the boarding house, an annex with suites for families. They are having some trouble with a snake missing in the house, and are staying put until it is found. The eldest daughter, Lady Lilliana, appears to be a typical debutante. She’s gorgeous and expected to make a good match with a titled man, and those plans are pretty much set in stone. But when Hugh enters the annex to work, he finds her there, smoking. He brings her back to her father and tells him, and she is grounded for a couple of weeks.

Hugh is immediately taken with Lady Lilliana, but realizes she is out of his league. Nonetheless, they start spending some time together, until they are caught in an embrace by her family and some friends. Hugh immediately realizes her reputation is on the line, and tells everyone they are engaged.

The only fly in the ointment is that Lilliana is in love with her childhood friend, except that he is expected to follow a long standing family tradition and marry a cousin. Lilliana is devastated, but can’t show it. Hugh realizes what she is feeling, and cares enough about her to try and help her land the man of her dreams. But when she does, she realizes that Hugh is the man for her.

There is a lot of drama, laughter, and some sizzle before Hugh and Lilliana reach their happy ending. This was a fast paced story and I just loved it.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

I’M ONLY WICKED WITH YOU by Julie Anne Long. Avon (August 24, 2021). ISBN: 978-0063045088. 400 pages.

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ANGEL IN A DEVIL’S ARMS by Julie Anne Long

September 5, 2021

The Palace of Rogues, Book 2

From the publisher:

From USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long comes the second book in an exciting new historical romance series, the first since her beloved Pennyroyal Green series.

He has devil’s blood in his veins. At least, that’s always been the legend. How else could the Duke of Brexford’s notorious bastard son return from the dead? The brutal decade since Lucien Durand, Lord Bolt, allegedly drowned in the Thames forged him into a man who always gets what—and who—he wants. And what he wants is vengeance for his stolen birthright . . . and one wild night in Angelique Breedlove’s bed.

Angelique recognizes heartbreak when the enigmatic Lord Bolt walks into The Grand Palace on the Thames, and not even his devastating charm can tempt her to risk her own ever again. One scorching kiss drives home the danger.

But in the space between them springs a trust that feels anything but safe. And the passion—explosive, consuming—drives Lucien to his knees. Now his whole life depends on proving his love to a woman who doesn’t believe in it . . . because his true birthright, he now knows, is guardian of Angelique Breedlove’s heart.


I really liked the first book in this series, Lady Derring Takes a Lover, which ended on a cliffhanger and still, I somehow missed this next book! But as the third book just came out (and the last book is due in November) I decided to catch up.

I think it is helpful to have read the first book, but probably enough explanations are given to make this an easy read for someone new to the series. The story is set at The Grand Palace on the Thames, a boarding house near the docks in London, so not the best neighborhood. But the two women who run it, Angelique and Delilah, have something in common – Delilah is the widow of an earl, and Angelique was her husband’s mistress. The first book explains how they end up living and working together, but all you really need to know is they are as close as sisters. Delilah met her husband in the first book, and now it is Angelique’s turn.

The first book ended with a mysterious stranger reserving the best room in the boarding house. In this book, he turns up. He is Lord Bolt, who has long been thought dead. He was thrown into the river ten years earlier, and when a body was found, it was assumed to be him. Instead, he was rescued by a passing ship and he worked on that ship for ten years, learning a lot and earning a lot. Now he’s back in London for revenge.

The characters who live in the boarding house are the source of much of the humor. Bolt doesn’t quite seem to fit in, yet he makes it his business to do so. Meanwhile, he and Angelique have some sizzling chemistry. He is looking for one and done, she is not. Eventually they find their way to one another and their happily ever after.

This was a fine sequel to the first book and there is definitely some heat here along with the humor and the drama. All in all, I really enjoyed it and went right for the next book in this series – review to follow!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ANGEL IN A DEVIL’S ARMS by Julie Anne Long. Avon (October 29, 2019). ISBN: 978-0062867490. 368 pages.

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SOMEONE TO CHERISH by Mary Balogh

August 30, 2021

The Westcott Series, Book 9

From the publisher:

Is love worth the loss of one’s freedom and independence? This is what Mrs. Tavernor must decide in the new novel in the Westcott series from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.

When Harry Westcott lost the title Earl of Riverdale after the discovery of his father’s bigamy, he shipped off to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, where he was near-fatally wounded. After a harrowing recovery, the once cheery, light-hearted boy has become a reclusive, somber man. Though Harry insists he enjoys the solitude, he does wonder sometimes if he is lonely.

Lydia Tavernor, recently widowed, dreams of taking a lover. Her marriage to Reverend Isaiah Tavernor was one of service and obedience, and she has secretly enjoyed her freedom since his death. She doesn’t want to shackle herself to another man in marriage, but sometimes, she wonders if she is lonely. 

Both are unwilling to face the truth until they find themselves alone together one night, and Lydia surprises even herself with a simple question: “Are you ever lonely?” Harry’s answer leads them down a path neither could ever have imagined…


I think there are too many books in this series. I’ve not really had this issue before, and I’ve read some pretty long series; for example, Virgin River has 19 books and I’ve read them all. I’ve read about half of the Westcott series, but I really felt like I was slogging through this book. The entire first chapter is just introducing the family and all those characters from previous books. Then it seems like every time one of them is mentioned, there is a brief explanation of their circumstances or relationship, making this a very slow read for me.

I liked the characters, at least the main characters, and their story was a good one. Lydia is a young widow of the church vicar. Her husband was a charismatic and fervent leader, which led him to make some interesting life choices. He was also very good looking, and Lydia fell head over heels for him. But the marriage wasn’t a happy one, not that anyone ever suspected. He called her his “helpmeet” and made her feel as if her only purpose was to serve him and God. She wasn’t allowed to think or feel or have friends outside the church.

Lydia is much beloved in this small village. The vicar died while saving a child from drowning, elevating him to practically saint status – along with his widow. But it’s been more than a year, and it is time for Lydia to start living her life. She refused to move home with her father and brothers, and instead purchased a small cottage at the end of town where she lives alone, without even a servant. So when Harry is seen entering her home, then again at night, the scandal is real.

Harry is turning thirty, and his enormous family wants him to come to London. He doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t want a birthday party, and he really doesn’t want his family picking out a wife for him. He does attend the local parties he is invited to, and he finally meets Lydia, whose cottage is basically at the end of the driveway that leads to his estate. He ends up walking her home where she blurts out a few remarks about loneliness, and intimates that she would be open to taking Harry as a lover.

This is a small village, but Harry is intrigued. Lydia is not the woman he thought she was, a shy, retiring, invisible helpmeet. And he likes her. Things progress but there is that scandal, which in these times means marriage. But Lydia refuses him.

Lydia loves her freedom and independence. For the first time in her life, she is making all her own decisions and has some women friends. She is not willing to give that up to “obey” another husband.

We all know how this ends, and there is enough interesting backstory to keep the story moving, although all those pesky relatives slow things down too much for my taste. I think it is time I retired from reading this series. Probably.

8/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SOMEONE TO CHERISH by Mary Balogh. Berkley (June 29, 2021). ISBN: 978-1984802415. 416 pages.

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