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.



A GOOD DUKE IS HARD TO FIND by Christina Britton

August 3, 2020

8/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A GOOD DUKE IS HARD TO FIND by Christina Britton. Forever (June 30, 2020). ISBN 978-1538717493. 384p.



BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James

July 30, 2018

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The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book 3

From the publisher:

The richest bachelor in England plays matchmaker…for an heiress he wants for himself!

For beautiful, witty Lavinia Gray, there’s only one thing worse than having to ask the appalling Parth Sterling to marry her: being turned down by him.

Now the richest bachelor in England, Parth is not about to marry a woman as reckless and fashion-obsessed as Lavinia; he’s chosen a far more suitable bride.

But when he learns of Lavinia’s desperate circumstances, he offers to find her a husband. Even better, he’ll find her a prince.

As usual, there’s no problem Parth can’t fix. But the more time he spends with the beguiling Lavinia, the more he finds himself wondering…

Why does the woman who’s completely wrong feel so right in his arms?

This is a series I’ve read in order. I loved the first book, Wilde in Love, but I didn’t love the second book, which was most unusual for me as Eloisa James is one of my favorites. So it was with some trepidation that I read this one, but I am happy to say I loved it! Thank you, Eloisa.

These characters were well developed and I liked that Parth was biracial, you don’t see that a lot in Regency romances. The chemistry felt real and the sex scenes were hot but scarce. It was more about the relationship than the sex, not a bad thing in my opinion. The witty banter was good, too.

This book had a very interesting subplot dealing with laudanum addition. In the late 1700’s, women were often prescribed “drops” to calm their nerves and some became addicted. In light of the opioid addiction going on today, it was definitely worth pointing out the historical connection.

Another subplot dealt with the fashion of the day, how it was produced and the men and women in that industry. Parth owns a lace factory but his lace is not considered as fine as the handmade lace of Europe. The seamstresses are expected to work 18 hour days in poor lighting until Lavinia takes them on. There is a really touching scene where one of the maids explains to Lavinia how rare it is for a seamstress to be listened to and cared for, and that is rather extraordinary. James included some notes about these subplots at the end of the book. I really like when authors do that, especially in historicals. Those details make these types of book so much more interesting.

I am happy to say that I can highly recommend this as a fun, fast read that I couldn’t put down.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BORN TO BE WILDE by Eloisa James.  Avon (July 31, 2018). ISBN: 978-0062692474. 384p.


THE WICKED DUKE by Madeline Hunter

May 30, 2016

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Wicked Trilogy, Book 3

No, I haven’t read books 1 & 2 and I don’t think I’ve ever even read this author. But as has been my experience with historical romances, it doesn’t matter in the least.

The Duke of Aylesbury, Lancelot Hemingford, was the second son and was never supposed to inherit the title. But his brother died, and Hemingford is under a cloud of suspicion since the coroner hasn’t ruled murder out. Hemingford reluctantly moves to the country, laying low until his innocence can be proven.

His neighbor brings him an intriguing offer; marry his niece, and he will use his influence to see the Duke’s name cleared. Refuse, and he will produce a witness claiming Hemingford poisoned his brother. Reluctantly, Hemingford agrees to the marriage.

Marianne Radley is a bit leery of the Duke. He has a reputation as a rake, but when he proposes, she has her own reasons to accept. Neither of them thought this marriage would be anything but a convenience, but Hemingford is intrigued by his new wife’s intelligence, curiosity and passion, and she with his.

Interesting characters and the mysterious death of a duke combine to make this romance a real page turner. Guess I need to root out books 1 and 2.


05/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE WICKED DUKE by Madeline Hunter. Jove (May 31, 2016). ISBN 978-0515155181. 384p.



April 24, 2016

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Maiden Lane, Book 9

Way back in 2010, I read a couple of Hoyt books in The Legend of the Four Soldiers series and I liked them a lot. But I haven’t read her since; why, I’m not sure. After reading Sweetest Scoundrel, she is definitely back on my radar.

As my regular readers know, I work with a woman who is a huge romance reader and she often recommends books for me, which is how I found Hoyt originally. I picked up this book because it was short listed for the Romantic Times “Historical Romance of the Year  for 2015. I’d actually read most of the other books on that list so now I’m trying to hunt down the few I missed. If you like historical romances, it’s a great way to find new books to try.

Sweetest Scoundrel is a very fitting title. This book was a bit different than the usual because the main characters weren’t titled. Our hero is Asa Makepeace, AKA Mr. Harte, owner of Harte’s Folly, a theater and garden of entertainment. He is in the process of rebuilding, using funds from his backer, a Duke, although we never actually meet him. Instead, we meet his man of business, who in this case happens to be his half-sister, Eve Dunwoody.

Eve’s father was a Duke, but Eve is a by-blow, but her half brother takes care of her. Eve suffers from a traumatic event that happened earlier in her life, rendering her terrified of dogs and men. Her brother has provided her with a bodyguard who has been with her for ten years.

When Eve approaches Harte about how he’s spending his money, she is quaking in her shoes. He is a big, virile man, just the type to terrify her. But she is resolute and determined to go about her business. She moves a small desk into his office and begins her accounting of his books – or lack thereof.

Eventually they come to depend on one another, and Harte teaches Eve about her body and sex. There are some very erotic scenes in this book and yes, Harte is the sweetest scoundrel who helps Eve find her happily ever after – and she, his. A wonderful read and I will be looking for more books in this series.

04/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SWEETEST SCOUNDREL by Elizabeth Hoyt. Grand Central Publishing (November 24, 2015). ISBN 978-1455586363. 368p.


ONLY A PROMISE by Mary Balogh

July 5, 2015

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Survivor’s Club Series, Book 5

Just to recap, this series focuses on a group of men who all sustained injuries during the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke of Stanbrook, having lost his son in that war, had invited this group of men with various serious injuries, and one woman who had the misfortune of seeing her husband tortured and killed, to recuperate at his estate. They spend a few years there healing, form an eternal bond, and after they have healed enough to return to the world, they meet up once a year at the estate to renew their bonds.

By this fifth book, four of the men have married – all but Ralph Stockwood, next in line to be the Duke of Worthington. He lost his childhood friends in the war, and suffers extreme guilt that he talked them into fighting. While physically scarred from the war, it is the emotional scars that have truly crippled him.

With the Duke more than 80 years old, his mother and grandparents are pressuring him to marry quickly and produce his own heir. But Stockwood feels cold and empty inside, and hesitates to make a union when he knows he will make his bride unhappy. Nevertheless, with his title and his money, girls are lining up for him.

The Duchess has a young companion, Chloe Muirhead, who has had quite a bit of scandal and heartache in her young life. At 27, she has no prospects at all. When Stockwood arrives for a visit, he overlooks her presence and has a frank talk with his grandmother about his marital prospects. The next morning, Chloe steels her nerve and makes him a proposal –  a marriage of convenience. Neither wants nor expects love, but Chloe would like her own home and a family, and Ralph needs a wife and heir. They marry quickly, and prepare to face society.

Chloe and Ralph overcome many obstacles, which of course bring them closer together. Theirs is a slow growing love, which takes them both by surprise. The sex scenes were surprising to me, almost chaste and somehow seem fitting for the time period and this marriage – but that eventually changes.

Once again Balogh creates wonderful characters and a magical romance. I loved it.

7/15 Stacy Alesi

ONLY A PROMISE by Mary Balogh. Signet (June 9, 2015). ISBN 978-0451469670. 400p.

THE ESCAPE by Mary Balogh

September 21, 2014

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Survivor’s Club Series, Book 3

Just to recap, this series focuses on a group of men who all sustained injuries during the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke of Stanbrook, having lost his son in that war, had invited this group of five men with various serious injuries, and one woman who had the misfortune of seeing her husband tortured and killed, to recuperate at his estate. They spend a few years there healing, form an eternal bond, and after they have healed enough to return to the world, they meet up once a year at the estate to renew their bonds. And apparently each year, at least one of them will marry.

The Escape centers on Major Sir Benedict Harper, who had his legs crushed during the war. He was told that he would never walk again and the surgeon wanted to amputate, but he refused, and through sheer strength of will, has fashioned two canes that allow him to walk, albeit slowly, and with some pain.

Benedict is out riding and decides to try jumping a hedge, which he accomplishes but unfortunately, when he lands he scares a young woman and her dog, and his horse gets a bit spooked. He gets the horse under control and then notices the woman has fallen on her behind. His temper gets the best of him and she storms off.

It turns out she is Mrs. Samantha McKay, recently widowed after caring for her invalid husband for many years after he was injured in the war. Their meeting doesn’t get off on the best foot, but Benedict’s sister helps make amends. Then Samantha finds out that the home she thought was hers has been given to her brother-in-law and his family, and she is being sent to live with her puritanical in-laws, so she decides to run away to a cottage by the sea in Wales that her mother had bequeathed her.

Benedict offers to accompany her, and she reluctantly acquiesces. During that trip, that learn a lot about each other, and they fall in love but are hesitant to admit it. The village in Wales is dominated by a mansion on top of a hill that overlooks the town and the sea, and it turns out to be owned by the grandfather Samantha never met. Family issues are complicated, and Benedict leaves for several months to allow Samantha to finish her mourning for her husband, and to get to know her recently found family.

This is another terrific story in what has turned into a favorite series. I’m looking forward to the next book, but as an added treat, there is a short story called “The Suitor” that is included in the paperback that stands alone, but also ties up a loose end from The Arrangement.

9/14 Stacy Alesi

THE ESCAPE by Mary Balogh. Dell (July 1, 2014). ISBN 978-0345536068. 416p.

WHAT A DUKE DARES by Anna Campbell

September 18, 2014

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Sons of Sin #3

I found this title on the Top 10 Romance Fiction: 2014 list by Donna Seaman for Booklist. I had read a couple of titles on the list and liked them, so thought I’d give this one a try. I’m glad I did.

Yes, once again I am starting a series in the middle, this is the third book, but I didn’t feel like I missed a thing.

When Camden Rothermere, the Duke of Sedgemoor, proposes to Penelope Thorne, she turns him down and he is not happy about it. They grew up together, Penelope’s brother is Cam’s closest friend, and she’s been in love with him for years. But he has some serious dysfunctional family stuff going on, and love is not in any equation for marriage for him. Pen takes off, travelling through Europe until her brother passes away several years later. Cam’s made a deathbed promise to bring Pen home, and finds her under attack in the Alps.

Cam rescues Pen, and begins an arduous trip back to England. Along the way, they are forced to travel as husband and wife to avoid scandal, but when they run into some trouble, they really have to get married – but can they make this marriage work? Will Pen have her heart broken by a loveless marriage? Will Cam keep on avoiding love despite their passion?

I really enjoyed this Regency romance. The characters are believable, the settings are interesting and the romance is hot in this fast, fun read.

9/14 Stacy Alesi

WHAT A DUKE DARES by Anna Campbell. Forever (August 26, 2014). ISBN 978-1455557905. 432p.

THE PROPOSAL by Mary Balogh

August 23, 2014

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The Survivors Club series, Book 1

So I committed the cardinal sin – I started reading this series with the second book, The Arrangement. I liked it so much I went back and found book 1. Happily, the third book in the series, The Escape , is also available.

This series focuses on a group of men who all sustained injuries during the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke of Stanbrook, having lost his son in that war, had invited this group of five men with various serious injuries, and one woman who had the misfortune of seeing her husband tortured and killed, to recuperate at his estate. They form an eternal bond, and after they have healed enough to return to the world, they meet up once a year at the estate to renew their bonds. And apparently each year, one of them will marry.

This book centers around war hero Lord Trentham, who suffers from what today would be called post traumatic stress disorder. He is of the middle classes, but received his title from the King for his heroism during the war. He has arrived for their annual retreat and is walking on the beach when he finds a young woman who has trespassed, and seriously sprained her ankle. Lady Muir is a young widow and is terribly embarrassed to be carried back to the manse. The chemistry between them is palpable.

They both have lived through violence and death, and their differences seem too much to overcome. Meanwhile Lord Trentham’s young half sister needs his help to find a husband, and he needs Lady Muir’s help to that end. After much soul searching, eventually they all find their happy ending.

Balogh creates interesting characters with real depth, and we can’t help but root for them. This is a fast read and a good one.

8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PROPOSAL by Mary Balogh. Dell; Reprint edition (May 28, 2013). ISBN 978-0440245308. 384p.