THE DUKE OF HER DESIRE by Sophie Barnes

January 15, 2018

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Diamonds in the Rough Series, Book 2

Amelia Matthews became a Lady when her brother inherited a dukedom. But he goes off on his honeymoon, asking his best friend and neighbor, Thomas Heathmore, Duke of Coventry, to not only keep an eye on his sisters but help shepherd them through society. It’s important that Amelia makes a match as that will clear the way for her younger sister to do so the next season.

What Thomas didn’t know when he agreed to this was that Amelia is quite stubborn, and has a secret plant to turn a crumbling old home on the edge of a bad neighborhood, into a free school for poor children. Thomas ends up having to help her and they both end up in danger more than once. Of course, they also fall in love but both are too stubborn to do anything about it, until they have no choice.

This was not my favorite Barnes book but I did enjoy it.

1/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DUKE OF HER DESIRE by Sophie Barnes. Avon (December 26, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062566829. 384p.

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A HIGH PRICE TO PAY by Rick Gangraw

January 13, 2018

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Rensey Goode was a young boy growing up in the beautiful setting of the North Carolina mountains. His family owned a farm and he knew that he was destined to work with them in his future. The prospect was pleasant and awaited until a cataclysmic event occurred. Suddenly, his entire outlook changed.

The year was 1861 and several southern states including North Carolina made the momentous decision to secede from the union.  Their reason was to defend themselves against a northern government that was looking to make slavery illegal and in effect take way an agricultural system that provided a comfortable living for gentlemen farmers.

With war on the horizon, Rensey and several of his friends heeded the call to join the Confederate army in order to protect their way of life. Gangraw does a good job of depicting the boys moving from their initial enthusiasm into the horror of combat.  Suddenly they are thrust into the experiencing kill or be killed, maiming, and watching their friends die. They also become aware that the enemy is not evil but consists of men and boys like themselves forced into an armed defense of their country against the division facing it.

There are many books written by anti-war activists that call attention to the horrors of the institution. Gangraw joins their ranks with a good story of what combat really is like. His contention, like those of the others writing about these horrors, is that the only winners of any war are those that survive it. Glory is an empty phrase for those that have died supposedly earning it.

1/18 Paul Lane

A HIGH PRICE TO PAY by Rick Gangraw. White Feather Press, LLC (October 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-1618081612. 260p.

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THE TORCH BETRAYAL by Glenn Dyer

January 10, 2018

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The Conor Thorn Series, Book 1

Dyer indicates that he intends to write further novels using the character of Conor Thorn introduced in The  Torch Betrayal. Conor is an agent for the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services.)  The office was formed during World War II  and headed by (Wild) Bill Donovan who later became the first head of the CIA the agency that evolved from the O.S.S.

The event depicted in the book take place during WWII.  Operation Torch was the plan to establish a second front against Germany. It was the plan for the invasion of North Africa. Hitler was aware that an invasion was under action and did all he could think about to determine where it would be launched.

The action starts when a written page meant for eyes only of Allied leader is stolen during course of it’s being copied. The information was, of course, the plan for Operation Torch: where and when it would take place. To prevent the page from falling into the hands of the enemy General Dwight Eisenhower in command of the allied armies assigned groups of people to locate the document and the thief. Conor Thorn is one of those assigned to find it and was paired against his will with Emily Bright, a British Intelligence agent. She was naturally against being paired with Conor with the mutual antipathy laying a neat background for romance.

Dyer has done a great deal of research in preparation for this planned series. He is successful in bringing  his readers into the era described with good portrayal of the events and places as they were at the time.  Hedy Lamarr, an American actress of the day makes a short appearance.  We also meet the enigmatic Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the German Abweher whose sympathies were involved in getting rid of Hitler and initiating peace talks with the Allies.

The novel ends with the stage set for the next Conor Thorn book and the growth of the romance with Emily. An interesting read certainly enticing the reader to be on the lookout for the next novel in this series.

1/18 Paul Lane

THE TORCH BETRAYAL by Glenn Dyer. TMR Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2018).  ISBN 978-0999117309. 354p.


IF EVER I SHOULD LOVE YOU by Cathy Maxwell

January 3, 2018

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The Spinster Heiresses, Book 1

The Earl of Rochdale unexpectedly inherited the title, which came with a large estate in serious disrepair and some gambling debts. Short of cash, the Earl realizes the best way to settle his newly acquired debts and fix up the crumbling house and estate is to marry rich.

The three “Spinster Heiresses” are recommended to him, and to his surprise, he knows one of them. Years earlier, Leonie Charnock had found herself in dire straights, and Rochdale saved her and her reputation, to his own great harm. Now he feels like she owes him.

Those dire straights really soured Leonie on men and marriage, not to mention her own parents and the bad example they set with their tumultuous marriage. Nevertheless, she reluctantly agrees to marry the Earl, but keeps insisting that he promise that she won’t have to sleep with him. He ignores her and the wedding takes place.

This couple has major communication problems, but no fear, they reach their happily ever after. Maxwell tells a good story with some humor and sensual scenes. A very interesting subplot deals with alcoholism, and not in the usual way, as in men in their “cups.” I’ve noticed lately that serious issues are being addressed in some historical romances, which I find adds depth to these stories.

I am looking forward to the next book in this series, A Match Made in Bed, which doesn’t come out until April, 2018.

12/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IF EVER I SHOULD LOVE YOU by Cathy Maxwell. Avon; Reissue edition (December 26, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062655745. 368p.

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PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee

December 31, 2017

I wanted to get in one more really good book before the year ended and this was a wonderful selection. This was a National Book Award finalist and the paperback just came out a few weeks ago, so do yourself a favor and grab a copy.

The story follows a Korean family starting in 1910 through the 1980s. Sunja is the on ly child of a very poor couple in a small village in Korea. Her parents rent a small house and rent out space to local fisherman. The boardinghouse keeps them from starving, but when Sunja becomes pregnant, it could destroy the family. She won’t tell who the father is because when she tells him she’s pregnant, he tells her he’s married and has children, all living in Japan. Hansu is a wealthy Korean businessman and while he offers to keep Sunju as his mistress, she breaks it off with him.

The story follows their lives over four generations, from their move to Japan through wars, the division of Korea, and the immigrant experience of Koreans in Japan. It was a story I was completely unfamiliar with, and it is a heartbreaking one. Koreans, even third or fourth generation born in Japan, are not considered citizens of Japan. There is extreme prejudice against Koreans, and they actually carry Korean passports, even though many have never set foot in Korea.

This book was obviously a work of great passion, and I urge you to read the author’s note at the end. Apparently she worked on this for decades, and it was her move to Tokyo where she got to interview many Koreans about their experiences living in Japan. I found myself completely immersed in the world Lee created, and the book has stayed with me. It is an eye opening story that educated and entertained me and has found a place in heart. An excellent way to end this year of reading.

12/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee.  Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (November 14, 2017). ISBN 978-1455563920. 512p.

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DUKE WITH BENEFITS by Manda Collins

December 12, 2017

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Studies in Scandal, Book 2

Due to an illegal marriage, Alexander Westcott finds himself the new Earl of Riverdale. This was not something he coveted, especially when he finds that the previous Earl has let the estate go into disrepair. Alexander didn’t inherit money in addition to his title, so as the gentry is wont to do, he must marry money.

Wren Heyden is a neighbor of the new Earl. She has been a recluse for most of her life. Born with a large strawberry birthmark covering half of her face, she was scorned and abused by her parents until a kindly aunt took her in. The aunt married well, and they adopted Wren, giving her a comfortable life, albeit a lonely one of her own choosing. When her aunt and uncle die, she inherits everything.

The young heiress only wants for one thing; a husband. She invites a few of her unmarried male neighbors to visit, hoping to find a husband in one of them and is quite taken with the Earl. But as much as he needs to marry for money, he isn’t going to rush into anything. They agree to start a courtship, and Wren finds herself in way over her head. He has social obligations, a large family, and wants her to participate in his life. She is very much afraid, but takes small steps to that end, and finds herself falling for Alexander.

Alexander is not looking for great passion, just companionship, and affection. But the relationship deepens, much to their surprise. But Wren has to learn to get past her abusive childhood, and with Alexander’s help, she does.

This is an interesting, lovely romance from Balogh. The sex is more sensual than explicit, but the romance rings true. Another wonderful entry into the Westcott series.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DUKE WITH BENEFITS by Manda Collins. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (June 27, 2017). ISBN 978-1250109880.  320p.

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A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR by Loretta Chase

December 8, 2017

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Difficult Dukes, Book 1

This first book of a new series from perennial favorite Loretta Chase introduces the three “dis-Graces,” dukes who have been so badly behaved that they are barely welcome in society. But one of the dis-Graces, the Duke of Ashmont, has fallen for Olympia, especially after his uncle pushes him hard into the relationship. But on the morning of their wedding, he is left at the altar. The bride has run away.

The best man, another of the dis-Graces, the Duke of Ripley, takes off after the bride, determined to bring her back to his best friend. Ripley has noticed her over the years but kept his distance as he was and is not ready for marriage. The chase takes them on a road trip of sorts and leads to all kinds of complications, not the least of which is their growing attraction for one another.

Ripley may have a bad reputation, but his sense of honor is strong and he knows he cannot have his best friend’s affianced. Or can he? Olympia knows she needs to marry Ashmont to bring in money that her family desperately needs. Yet she can’t quite bring herself to do it.

Chase brings her trademark wit to this delightful romp. A wonderful start to the new series and I can’t wait for the next installment.

12/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR by Loretta Chase. Avon (November 28, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062457387. 400p.

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SOMEONE TO WED by Mary Balogh

November 17, 2017

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A Westcott Novel, Book 3

Due to an illegal marriage, Alexander Westcott finds himself the new Earl of Riverdale. This was not something he coveted, especially when he finds that the previous Earl has let the estate go into disrepair. Alexander didn’t inherit money in addition to his title, so as the gentry is wont to do, he must marry money.

Wren Heyden is a neighbor of the new Earl. She has been a recluse for most of her life. Born with a large strawberry birthmark covering half of her face, she was scorned and abused by her parents until a kindly aunt took her in. She married well, and they adopted Wren, giving her a comfortable life, albeit a lonely one of her own choosing. When her aunt and uncle die, she inherits everything.

The young heiress only wants for one thing; a husband. She invites a few of her unmarried male neighbors to visit, hoping to find a husband in one of them and is quite taken with the Earl. But as much as he needs to marry for money, he isn’t going to rush into anything. They agree to start a courtship, and Wren finds herself in way over her head. He has social obligations, a large family, and wants her to participate in his life. She is very much afraid, but takes small steps to that end, and finds herself falling for Alexander.

Alexander is not looking for great passion, just companionship, and affection. But the relationship deepens, much to both of their surprise. But Wren has to learn to get past  her abusive childhood, and with Alexander’s help, she does.

This is an interesting, lovely romance from Balogh. The sex is more sensual than explicit, but the romance rings true. Another wonderful entry into the Westcott series.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SOMEONE TO WED by Mary Balogh. Berkley (November 7, 2017). ISBN 978-0399586064.  400p.

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BLISS by Lynsay Sands

November 10, 2017

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Lady Helen Tiernay has had it with her neighbor, the awful Lord Holden. She has had to bail out some of his tenants, seen others removed from their homes and even disfigured. Thoroughly disgusted, she turns to writing letters of complaint to the King.

Lord Holden has been off fighting wars for the King. But his estate man has also been complaining to the King about the “tyrant of Tiernay.” When Holden arrives home, the King’s emissary pays him a visit. By royal decree, he is to marry Lady Helen, thus ending all the complaint letters and giving the King one less thing to worry about.

Lady Helen is appalled, and Lord Holden incensed – he has no idea who she is and has no desire to marry. But marry they will.

Lady Helen decides to keep from consummating the marriage, thus clearing the path to annulment. She tries various ways to kill Lord Holden’s ardor, from chewing garlic to serving him sour ale and moldy food. But the King’s emissary is not having it and forces them to consummate the marriage.

Eventually, Lady Helen realizes that she is falling in love with the man she thought an ogre, and he has no idea what has been happening on his estate while he’s been off fighting wars. He does know that he has also fallen in love with Lady Helen and is determined to get to the bottom of whatever is bothering her.

This is a very funny book with some great sex scenes, and even some of those often start off sensuously but end up hilarious. Set in England during 1173, I think this is the earliest historical romance I’ve ever read, and that aspect was very interesting. This is a really fun read, and I can definitely see why Lynsay Sands is so popular. I’ll be looking for more from this author.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BLISS by Lynsay Sands. Avon (July 25, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062019615. 384p.

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NO OTHER DUKE WILL DO by Grace Burrowes

November 8, 2017

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Windham Brides, Book 3

The Duke of Haverford, Julian St. David, has inherited the largest private library in all of England, 30,000 volumes and more. But he’s also inherited the debts his father and grandfather have accrued in building the collection, and he just hates all the books because of it. His younger sister needs to find a husband and doesn’t have much of a dowry, to say the least, so she decides to throw a house party. A party that lasts for weeks, culminating in a ball.

Julian is shocked at the expense but knows he needs to do it for his sister. He has no desire to marry and really the only way he could would be to marry some title seeking heiress, and that just isn’t his style. He is honorable and proud. On the other hand, his neighbor, a businessman named Sherbourne, is not quite so honorable. He has invited himself to the party and as he holds most of the Duke’s debt, he is not turned away.

When the Duke meets Elizabeth Windham, he knows she is out of reach but he can’t help but fall in love with her. She loves books and would like nothing more than to see lending libraries throughout Wales. They are a match, but circumstances are not favorable to a marriage. A dalliance, on the other hand, seems entirely possible.

This was a bibliophile’s romance to be sure, and should appeal to any book lover’s heart. It certainly did to mine, making this an excellent addition to this series.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NO OTHER DUKE WILL DO by Grace Burrowes.  Forever (November 7, 2017). ISBN: 978-1455570010. 368p.

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