Welcome to Cozy Jo's Romance Review blog. This is where you'll find reviews and discussions on historical or contemporary romance books and maybe a few other bits and bobs thrown in for good measure.
So come on in, sit down and find yourself a good romance book to read.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

My Only Love by Cheryl Holt

Romantic and dramatic love story
5 stars

Maggie Brown, daughter to a courtesan, has struggled much during her short life, especially since her mother’s recent death. When she and her friend Anne, herself a former courtesan, visit the seaside to decide what they are going to do to survive, Maggie is delighted to meet a handsome stranger and embark on her first, but brief, love affair.

When she returns to London, she is forced to try to become a rich man’s mistress and is more than stunned when her mysterious stranger returns and is the highest bidder. Adam St Clair, Marquis of Belmont never wanted and mistress but he can’t help but want Maggie. Leaving her once was bad enough and he never wants to do so again. But duty, family and life are all conspiring to keep the pair apart and with every day their love will be truly tested.

Unlike many other of Cheryl Holt’s novels, this one really isn’t very erotic but that isn’t a complaint as this book is filled with love, passion, betrayal, murder, romance – it has it all.

The story, while not being complex, manages to keep you gripped as there is constantly something happening that makes you want to keep turning the pages. It also manages to continually surprise with a multitude of twists and turns.

All the characters, from Maggie and Adam to the more minor characters are well drawn and very interesting. The way that Adam seamlessly changes and grows throughout the book is a delight to watch as we realise he has become the perfect tortured hero!

There are so many facets to this book that it really is a joy to read. And despite all the drama, it still manages to be wonderfully romantic with an ending that will leave you smiling. Definitely recommended - 5 stars.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Who Needs Mistletoe? by Kate Hoffmann

Tropical Festive Romance
3 Stars

Trey is equally delighted by his pilot and personal tour guide and despite it not being the way he usually spends Christmas Eve, he isn’t exactly heartbroken at being stranded alone with Sophie. Soon their inhibitions and clothes are left behind – but can what starts out as a holiday fling really turn into something more when the pair get back to civilisation?

This was a festive story with a twist as there was no snow, ice or any of the usual Christmas bits and pieces. I didn’t think it embodied much Christmas spirit but this had little to do with the tropical setting.

It took me a long time to warm up to the story and this was largely to do with the characters. Sophie was confident and had absolutely no hang-ups or inhibitions. While this is admirable, it didn’t make her a very real character in my eyes and I never felt that I could identify with her at all. Trey too wasn’t really very desirable to me and I felt he developed little from the ‘male equivalent of Paris Hilton’ that he was dubbed near the beginning of the book.

The story and emotions were believable despite the romance being set over such a short period of time (24 hours) and the writing flowed naturally. There was enough heat between the characters and a good number of sex scenes. The book was just let down by the fact that the two main characters weren’t hugely likeable. Good for a quick read or if you’re a fan of Kate Hoffmann, this book just isn’t a keeper for me. 3 stars.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Come Toy With Me by Cara Summers

Fairly enjoyable light romance
4 stars

In order to appease her new step-mum, Cat McGuire agrees to her father’s plan to have navy captain and former special ops agent, Dino Angelis, pose as her fiancé over Christmas and New Year. With his rugged good looks and the chemistry the pair have, it certainly isn’t a hardship. If only she didn’t have so much going on at her toy shop.

What Cat doesn’t know is that someone is using her toy shop as a front to smuggle drugs into the country and Dino has been sent to stop them. Now if only he could keep his mind on the job and his hands off Cat. But what will happen when Cat discovers that she’s just another assignment?

With all the snow and the setting of a toy shop – this is the perfect book to read in the run up to Christmas. Dino is a rugged and sexy navy captain while Cat, despite her job, is a feisty and strong woman. Together they have good chemistry which makes their scenes together nicely sexy. My problem with the romance was that the whole book took place over 2 days and that didn’t seem long enough for me to believe in the happily ever after.

There is a mystery/action element in the book with the plot of who is behind the drugs smuggling. The author did keep you guessing throughout the book but when it was revealed, it still didn’t come as much of a surprise which made things a little anticlimactic.

In the end I debated between giving this book 3 and 4 stars but settled on 4 because, despite its flaws, it’s still a readable, entertaining and enjoyable book.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A Seduction at Christmas by Cathy Maxwell

Adventure filled romance
4 Stars

Down on her luck and desperate to earn some money, Fiona Lachlan finds herself agreeing to help with a plan that has ended with her luring the notorious Duke of Holburn, Nick Lynsted, into trouble. When the plan goes terribly wrong, Fiona and Nick soon find themselves on the run from a murderous gang of men.

In order to protect themselves and stay alive, Fiona finds herself posing as Nick’s ward. But with a missing family ring, old friends turned enemies, a disapproving family and someone intent on murder – there is little time for anything else. Except maybe seduction.

Despite being a book that easily stands alone, this book features Fiona Lachlan, the sister of the hero from Maxwell’s previous book, In The Highlander’s Bed.

From the start, the book was filled with excitement, action, adventure and lust. Fiona is a flawed but feisty character whose character suits the slightly intense yet rougishly loveable Nick. The pair have good chemistry and a love you can believe in, even if their own romance sometimes seemed to take a back seat to the action/mystery.

Overall, this book was an interesting read that definitely kept you turning the pages. I felt that it wasn’t as strong emotionally as many of Cathy Maxwell’s previous novels yet it was still an enjoyable read and one I would recommend. 4 stars.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

On Santa's Naughty List

Erotic yet romantic Christmas tales
4 Stars

HOLIDAY INN by Shelby Reed
When a freak snowstorm strands Anna Shea alone in a motel with the gorgeous, leather-clad biker, Jesse Proffitt, the pair can’t help but turn a little bit of Santa’s magic into one amazing night together.

This was the perfect Christmas short story. The writer managed to weave emotion, eroticism, romance and Christmas magic into a believable and deliciously sexy tale.

UNWRAPPED by Lacey Alexander
Emily is madly in love with her boyfriend, the gorgeous Simon – so why does she get so panicked when he mentions anything naughtier than the missionary position? Emily knows that her inhibitions are causing problems with her relationship – so with the help of her sex-therapist friend, she plans to loosen up and give Simon the sexiest, most erotic Christmas present he’s ever had.

This story was very sexy, exciting and fun. With the couple being together from the start, there wasn’t so much build-up of the story, which made it the perfect, light read.

WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES by Melani Blazer
Every since she was a little girl, Kenna McGurly has had strange dreams about the one man she was meant to be with. In order to finally rid herself of the dreams, she rents a cabin for Christmas. But she doesn’t expect to meet Seth Parker, a man she has an extraordinary connection with, and then find herself snowed in with him over Christmas.

This was the longest story (at about 150 pages it was more than double the length of the others) and in my opinion, also the weakest. I could live with the whole psychic thing but in the end it got a bit weird for my liking. And, although raunchy, there was page after page of build up and sex scenes and for me, after a while it got a bit tedious. Still readable, but definitely not the best of the bunch.

I have to admit that when I started reading this anthology, I expected that there would be a lot of sex and very little story. I am very happy to say that I was totally wrong and each story offered lots of good substance to go along side the very erotic sex and happy Christmas cheer.

This book is ideal for anyone that enjoys erotica but doesn’t want to lose out on an enjoyable story or a good, romantic happy ending - a perfect stocking filler for Christmas.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Yule Be Mine by Jennifer LaBrecque

Deliciously sexy Blaze romance
5 stars

Feature writer, Giselle Randolph, has been looking forward to Christmas for ages. She’s flying off to Sedona to write a magical story. But her plans for a peaceful time are ruined when she realises her photographer is Sam McKendrick – the man she has been in love with for years…and her former brother-in-law!

For Sam, working in close quarters with Giselle is a dream come true. He’s felt a connection to Giselle ever since he met her. Unfortunately he was married to her sister at the time. But that’s all ancient history now and, with the help of a mystical shaman, Sam taps into every one of Giselle’s fantasies, and is determined to make all her dreams come true.

This book is one of a series that deals with forbidden fantasies – in this case, an ex brother/sister-in-law. Giselle is a particularly good character with insecurities enough to make her likeable and someone to root for. Understandably, she has reservations about a relationship with Sam, but in the end she can’t deny her feelings. Sam too was a great hero - sexy, slightly arrogant and passionate.

The pair had great chemistry and the book was filled with plenty of tension, heat and sex – perfect to heat up a cold night in the run up to Christmas.

The story was realistic and interesting, the emotions real and engaging and the characters, fun and likeable. Overall, this was a delightfully sexy story with a warm, happy ending – the perfect combination for a great Blaze romance.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Christmas Eve Kisses

Sweet Christmas Romance
5 stars

Single mum Amy Riley isn't looking forward to taking her young son and baby to see Santa at the local shopping centre but it's a Christmas tradition. When her son goes missing in the mall, Santa - who is actually police officer Nick DiCaprio - comes to the rescue. Who ever said that Santa wasn't sexy?

This was a sweet Christmas story that dealt well with what could have been some difficult themes without making the story too serious. I thought Nick was the perfect hero - sexy and brooding while Amy was a sweet single mum who really needed a strong man in her life. A fun tale for Christmas.

TV Reporter Merry Deluca is determined to film her piece on the commercialisation of Christmas at the local mall during the Christmas Eve last minute rush. But her story is about to get a new twist as she realises her cameraman is her recently ex-fiancé Patrick MacFarland - and he is determined to win her back.

I absolutely adored this festive story although I admit that I'm a sucker for second chance love! Well written, wonderful characters, love, snow and Christmas cheer - what more could you need?

Retail manager Joy O'Connell is having a bad Christmas season. She's all alone, the store have been playing Christmas carols since October and now she has to become a personal shopper for a dad and his three tearaway teenagers! Ed Hall is trying to keep cheery while shopping in the store on Christmas Eve but it's difficult. But then he meets their personal shopper and suddenly his Christmas begins to look up.

This was my least favourite of the three stories simply because I felt I couldn't really identify with either of the main characters as I don't have any teenagers of my own. I'm sure those who have been Christmas shopping with three enthusiastic, video game mad, teenage boys will identify (and sympathise) with Ed and Joy. The romance was sweet and the festive touches were nicely Christmassy making this a cute story.

All three stories will get you into the Christmas spirit as the characters spend Christmas Eve shopping at the local mall. It's nice that each story happened at the same time although they weren't linked in any other way. Each story was sweet, romantic, Christmassy and perfect to read on a cold winter's night. Recommended.

* This book was previously published in 2006 as Dashing Through the Mall. The individual story names have changed but otherwise remain the same *

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

No Peeking by Stephanie Bond

Fun & Sexy Blaze Romance
4 Stars

Violet Summerlin is a complete workaholic – professional, prim and proper. If she wishes that she maybe had a little bit more fun in her life – she’s just far too busy to worry about it.

Then she receives a letter that she wrote years ago detailing her fantasies about untamed, deliciously wild sex, and her mind goes into overdrive. Even more so whenever she happens to be in the same room as her sexy client, Dominick Burns.

Then Dominick invites her to Miami for a working holiday and soon the pair are fulfilling one of Violet’s fantasies. Mixing business with pleasure is always dangerous, especially when Violet realises Dominick has been hiding something from her.

This is one of Blaze’s Christmas stories and it’s a good, fun and festive read.

Violet is definitely a woman that most will identify with as she tries to change her life, and her sex life, for the better. Dominick seemed a slightly different hero than the norm as he was boyish and fun – but he still maintained the sexy, passionate and alpha qualities that made him a great hero. Together the pair scorch the pages.

The story was interesting, readable and perfect to heat up a cold, winter evening. If you like your romances with some fun, spice and a sprinkling of Christmas spirit, then you will enjoy this story. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Heating Up the Holidays

Stories to heat up the holidays
4 stars

Blaze bring together another set of three red-hot stories all about sexy firemen and what they want for Christmas.

EMT Dustin Mauer and tough firefighter Christina Lewis had one wild and sexy night together but now she’ll have nothing to do with him. All Dustin wants for Christmas is to make Christina realise that she’s madly in love with him.

This was a cute story with likeable characters and some delightful festive romance.

MY GROWN-UP CHRISTMAS LIST by Jacquie D’Alessandro
Sexy firefighter Brad Griffen was head over heels for flower shop owner, Antonia Rizzo, the first time he laid eyes on her. Too bad that she has one rule: she doesn’t date firefighters. But Brad is determined to change her mind – even if it takes all night.

This was my favourite story of the three as it was romantic, sexy and left you with a nice warm glow after reading it.

UP ON THE HOUSETOP by Jamie Sobrato
Dr. Lorelei Gibson was always the geeky girl at school yet she still had a crush on Ryan Quinn - the most gorgeous guy in school. Now all grown up, Lorelei is mortified when Ryan – now a hunky firefighter – rescues her from her rooftop, where she gets stuck, half naked. But that’s until she realises that perhaps she has a chance for a little sensual payback.

This wasn’t my favourite story of the anthology as it felt a little light without much depth or emotion. It was still a good enough read and easy to finish.

I always seem to feel that the festive content in these anthologies is a little on the light side – and this was the case in these stories, too. Having said that – the stories are readable, fun, sexy and will take your mind off the chaos of Christmas for a little while. 4 stars.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Double Fantasy by Cheryl Holt

Readable but disappointing erotic romance
3 stars

Jamieson Merrick and his twin brother Jack were hidden away at birth, denied their inheritance and forced to endure a tough and difficult life. Now they are back and Jamie is determined to get back what is rightfully his.

Orphaned Anne Carstairs has always been at the mercy of ruthless relatives and she’s not sure that Jamie Merrick – now the Earl of Gladstone – is going to be much better.

Anne is just a pawn in Jamie’s plans for revenge but he never guessed that she would be so alluring, so sweet and so tempting. But there are people that are less than pleased with the new earl that puts everyone in jeopardy.

I have always enjoyed Cheryl Holt’s erotic romances but unfortunately this one really didn’t hit the mark for me.

The characters weren’t particularly endearing and it was hard to muster much enthusiasm for them. Jamie was your typical overbearing alpha male but he took a little too long to realise his true feelings for my liking. Anne was the biggest disappointment for me as I found her far too weak and spineless and she really let Jamie (and some other characters) walk all over her.

The book was also quite erotic but it wasn’t as hot and spicy as many of Cheryl Holt’s previous novels and, for me, was a let down in that sense. I also found the behaviour of some of the secondary characters was quite disturbing and made for some quite uncomfortable reading – not ideal for a romance novel.

Despite all it’s faults, Cheryl Holt’s writing style makes her novels readable and easy to finish. It’s not a book that I would read again but it’s still worth 3 stars.

Monday, 24 November 2008

The Spanish Aristocrat's Woman by Katherine Garbera

Light yet enjoyable romance
3 stars

Heiress Kara deMontaine has always been self-conscious about her weight and body image – so she is the most stunned when delicious international playboy, Count Guillermo de la Cruz, announces their engagement just moments after the pair first meet. Unfortunately the man of her dreams has only offered marriage as an act of revenge against his former lover.

Kara should have stopped the charade before it began, but the way that Gui looked at her made her believe she was a beautiful woman. But could she really manage to tame the playboy and convince him they could have a happily ever after together?

This was a light, quick read with enjoyable characters and a very readable storyline. Kara’s insecurities made her a character that you could identify with and root for while Gui was definitely someone to fall in love with as he genuinely couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t find Kara attractive.

However, there were some negative points of the book and these reason that I only gave it 3 stars. The first, and biggest was that I couldn’t understand the motivations of the characters, particularly Gui. We also very rarely scratched the surface of the emotions of the characters and it just wasn’t deep enough for my liking. The story was also wrapped up too neatly for me to really believe in it.

It was still a light, interesting read but not one of the best stories I have read. However, if you like a sexy Spanish hero and a shy heroine then you still might really enjoy this book. 3 stars.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

What She Really Wants for Christmas by Debbi Rawlins

Sexy and enjoyable Blaze romance
4 stars

Liza Skinner’s life is a complete disaster. Thanks to a horrifically bad ex-boyfriend, she’s lost her friends, her job, her life and her share of millions of a huge lottery win. To top it all off – she’s being blackmailed.

Getting involved with someone is really not what she needs right now – even if the man she has in mind is hunky doctor, Evan Gann.

Soon she is able to forgot all about her problems as she learns Dr Evan is a whole lot naughtier than she expected him to be. But how will he react when he finds out all she’s been hiding?

This is the concluding book in the Million Dollar Secrets Blaze mini-series, which has seen various cast and crew of a talk show winning a huge lot of money on the lottery. Despite this, ‘What She Really Wants for Christmas’ still makes perfect sense if you haven’t read any other books in the series.

The book itself is a good, engrossing and enjoyable read with characters that you will learn to love. Evan is delicious as a not-so-stuffy doctor while Liza manages to win you over as you find out about her as the book continues. The pair have some sizzling sexual chemistry which makes for steamy reading in some places.

All in all this is a fun and sexy read from Blaze. Despite its title, it’s not a Christmas book or even really Christmas themed – but it’s still an enjoyable read to help you through the long, cold nights. 4 stars.

Monday, 10 November 2008

'Tis the Season by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Sweet, old fashioned Christmas romance
4 Stars

Anna Tilford has just bought the perfect rural retreat – a lovely old farmhouse in a small Connecticut town. Using it as a weekend retreat she is delighted by the place as it gives her a peaceful place to get away from her high pressured job as a New York interior designer.

But her peace looks like it’s going to be shattered when her gorgeous neighbour and Christmas tree farmer, Sam Garrison, wins a competition to have one of his trees as the centrepiece for the White House.

The rugged, outdoorsman is delighted by Anna’s move to the area and is even more thrilled when she agrees to help him decorate each and every room in his house for the cameras – starting with the bedroom!

This was a short and sweet festive tale with opposites attracting in city girl, Anna, and outdoorsy, country boy, Sam. Both characters were relatable, fun and had some lovely teasing banter. Unlike other of Vicki Lewis Thompson’s books, this one was not heavy on the sex and raunchiness. There was sex but it was more of a sweet, slow-burning kind of chemistry between Anna and Sam.

The Christmas theme ran throughout but was subtle enough to make you think of a good, old-fashioned and rustic Christmas time. The snowy, small town was perfect and made me want to visit.

My only problem was that I felt the ending (despite being the traditional happily ever after) could have been written a little better so as to wrap up all the loose ends.

Having said that, it’s still a fun, festive and really enjoyable, quick read for the dark cold nights in the run up to Christmas. 4 stars.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Must Love Mistletoe by Christie Ridgeway

Fun & festive romance
4 stars

Despite her family owning a Christmas themed store, Bailey Sullivan hates the whole holiday. But now that her mother and stepfather are fighting, she’s been called back to her small home town to save the store. She knows what she must do: arrive 1st December, save the store, leave by the 25th.

What she didn’t anticipate was that sexy bad boy, and her long-lost high school sweetheart, Finn Jacobson, would also be back for the holidays and living right next door. Soon the sparks are burning brighter than the town’s Christmas lights and Finn and Bailey have to decide whether they believe in the magic of the season!

This was a fun and festive book with some wonderful characters. Christie Ridgeway writes in a really informal and chatty style and really makes you care about the main characters. Bailey hates Christmas, and understandably so while Finn is a rough, tough man who is hiding a heart of gold. Seeing the pair fall in love was beautiful and heart-warming.

The book was hot, the plot kept you reading and I loved the little Christmas facts at the beginning of each chapter. This book is followed by Not Another New Year’s and I’m looking forward to seeing if that one is as good as this one.

If you’re looking for some festive, romantic and sexy escapism then this book is definitely worth a read. 4 stars.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Snowy Night With A Stranger

Readable historical romance
4 Stars

A HOLIDAY GAMBLE by Jane Feather
Newly returned from India to take his place as the Viscount Allenton, Ned Vasey finds himself at the mercy of the weather when he gets stuck in a snowstorm. To make matters worse he is accosted by highwaymen and must take shelter in nearby Selby Hall where he meets some unscrupulous people as well as Lady Georgiana Carey – a woman with secrets Ned is determined to uncover.

This was a readable story but I found it lacked any passion, excitement or sparkle. It really suffered from being a short story and silly little editing mistakes (such as at one point changing the hero’s name from Ned to Nick) didn’t help either.

WHEN SPARKS FLY by Sabrina Jeffries
Heiress Elinor Bancroft is on her way home for Christmas with her aunt and young cousins when their coach gets into an accident during a snow storm. They seek shelter at Thorncliff Hall, home to the notorious Black Baron, about whom there are some dreadful rumours. Despite Martin Thorncliff’s reputation, Ellie is determined to bring some Christmas joy into his heart for the season.

I love Sabrina Jeffries and found this story delightfully festive and sweet. I wish it could have been longer to develop the characters more but they still had some great chemistry together and it was perfect for a winter night by the fire.

Lady Fiona Haines must find her brother to protect him from scandal. Unfortunately for her, he’s hidden away in the Highlands of Scotland and she needs someone to take her there. Laird Duncan Buchanan is scarred after a terrible accident and agrees to take her even as he obscures his ruggedly injured face. But what will Fiona do when she realises the identity of her protector?

I liked the idea of this story and the writing was engaging and kept you reading. However, the story was enormously let down by the embarrassing attempts at Scottish accents (why do all American’s assume every Scottish person speaks with a Glaswegian accent?) and the constant inaccuracies – you won’t find woodchucks in Britain, for example.

Sabrina Jeffries story was the stand out story in this collection although all three were readable and quite enjoyable. If you like historical romance and are looking for something to read on a long winter’s night then you really can’t go wrong with this collection. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer

Murder, Mayhem, Fun & Sex
5 stars

Food columnist, Agnes Crandall is having a bad week. She has the wedding of the century to plan all while someone attempts to sabotage it; she has dog-nappers appearing in her kitchen; the threat of losing her house and a fiancé who is more interested in making money than in her. And then Shane, the hitman, appears through her bedroom window and Agnes realises her old problems were nothing compared to what’s about to come.

This book is a deliciously chaotic but fun crime caper and really shows off Jennifer Crusie’s humour and how well she and Bob Mayer work together.

Agnes, given the moniker of ‘Cranky Agnes’, is more feisty than cranky and she is funny and despite her issues, someone you want to be like. Although this isn’t really a romance, her interactions with Shane (who himself is a gorgeous man’s man) are great and very sexy.

The body count in the book is high but the crime and murder isn’t particularly gruesome (despite the book being full of mobsters and hitmen!) and is more fun and entertaining than anything. There is so much going on that you really are kept guessing and I wasn’t sure exactly what was what until the very last chapter.

Overall, this is an entertaining and sexy romp of a read and certainly one that will have you turning the pages. Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer seem to be perfect writing pairing and I look forward to more of their collaborations in the future. Definitely recommended. 5 stars.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Cutting Loose by Susan Andersen

Passionate, exciting and fun romance
4 Stars

Jane Kaplinski is very proud of her cool, calm and collected persona – she grew up with drama and theatrics and she will not let that into her life as an adult. But all that goes out the window when she meets Devlin Kavanagh, the man that’s just been hired to work on the mansion Jane and her friends have just inherited.

Dev knows that uptight Jane is not as prim as she appears, despite the conservative way she dresses. The pair virtually shoot sparks off each other and soon they are embarking on a passionate affair. But Jane thinks passion isn’t for her, and Devlin doesn’t do commitment – so it’s probably time for them both to cut loose!

I am a huge fan of Susan Andersen and I’m really happy to see her back with the start of a new trilogy of books. This series, The Sisterhood Diaries, focuses on three friends, Jane, Poppy and Ava, who have just inherited a mansion.

In this book we get to meet all the girls, as well as Dev’s family, but it really is Jane and Dev that stand out. Jane is an independent, modern girl with enough faults and hang-ups that you can really support and love her. Dev is a typical Susan Andersen hero – strong, alpha, rugged and deliciously sexy. Together the pair are passionate, fun and burn up the pages.

As always with Susan Andersen, there is an element of suspense/danger in the story but it is minor enough to not eclipse the main story yet is interesting enough to keep the pages turning.

I wouldn’t say that this was Susan Andersen’s best book but it was still a fun, interesting and passionate read. The characters really stand out and I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the Sisterhood Diaries. 4 stars.

Monday, 29 September 2008

To All A Good Night

Sexy and entertaining romantic anthology
4 Stars

UNLEASHED by Donna Kauffman
Emma Lafferty has just landed her biggest job to date – pet-sitting for a multi-millionaire in his remote, palatial mansion over Christmas. What she doesn’t expect is her peace to be interrupted by the billionaire’s rather distracting and delicious great-nephew Trevor whose reasons for being there are definitely suspicious. And that’s before the pair get trapped together in the house during a snowstorm.

An enjoyable story with two likeable characters and a romance that you can suspend belief and just believe in. While being wintry and a perfect story for a night in by the fire, it wasn’t at all Christmassy and I was rather irritated to find that the ‘great mystery’, which was the whole reason for Trevor being there, was actually just the premise for another of Donna Kauffman’s books.

FINDING MR RIGHT by Jill Shalvis
Brilliant scientist Maggie Bell is an absolute dating disaster, always managing to pick men who turn out to be Mr Wrong. Sexy contractor Jacob Wahler, despite being gorgeous and sweet, definitely seems like a Mr Wrong, but Maggie has decided that a Mr Wrong might turn out to be oh-so right.

Again this story wasn’t Christmassy but it had wonderful characters and was fun, sexy and romantic. Jacob is a hero to die for while Maggie was someone most people could identify with. The story of the ‘mysterious potion’ was funny and kept the pages turning.

One week before Christmas and Natalie Pritchard is in a complete panic. The sexy tape that she made for her ex-boyfriend is missing and she desperately needs help to get it back. Unfortunately the only person she can turn to is her nemesis, deliciously handsome and sexy defence attorney Spencer Donovan but will Natalie be willing to pay his price?

This was a cute story about a curvy woman who is still coming to terms with the way her last relationship ended and her insecurities about her body. Spence is a great hero and perfect for Natalie but the story really does suffer from being so short and the Christmas theme is quite thin on the ground.

This set of three, sexy Christmas stories is let down by the lack of festive content, but all of the stories are still fun, sexy and very readable. These will still warm you up and are perfect for a cosy winter night by the fire. 4 stars.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Beauty and the Beast by Hannah Howell

Endearing medieval romance
4 stars

Gytha Raouille has always known she is to marry the heir of Saiturn Manor but the day before he wedding she is told that the current heir has died and she is now to marry Thayer Saiturn – the one they call the Red Devil.

A battle hardened knight, Thayer has been scarred by battle and had his heart broken in love. So he is less than enthused by the prospect of wedding the beautiful and lovely Gytha but as a matter of honour he will go ahead with it.

As the pair come to terms with each other, and married life, they must contend with many twists and turns but they can only have a happy ending if Gytha can look past Thayer’s scars to see the lonely man inside.

This was the first book of Hannah Howell’s that I have read and I found that I very much enjoyed it. Both main characters were entertaining and endearing and had an excellent chemistry together. Gytha was especially interesting as she truly was feisty as well as being kind-hearted. And I always love a big, strong man – especially one that is slightly insecure, lonely and in need of the love of a good woman!

The plot meandered along nicely and there were enough twists and turns to make you want to keep reading and to hold your interest to the end. The two negative points I would have to make were that the constant head-hopping between different characters’ perspectives at the drop of a hat was slightly confusing. The other was that having two characters with such similar names (Robert and Roger) made me really have to pay attention!

Despite this, the book was fun, lively, romantic and certainly a book I would recommend if you’re looking for an interesting medieval romance where love conquers all! 4 stars.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Seduced by Christmas

Enjoyable romantic stories
4 stars

Mills and Boon bring together two authors for a pair of stories about love and the Christmas season.

Three years ago, Taylor Sommer disappeared out of Dante Russo’s life, leaving just a brief note to thank him for their passionate affair. Sicilian tycoon, Dante, has never got over the fact that someone left him so he hires an investigator to track Taylor down. When found, the pair still have that essential spark but all Dante wants is her in his bed so he can sate his desire for her once and for all. However, things have changed in three years and the pair must learn to put the past aside as well as revealing their deepest secrets, even at the risk of their new-found relationship.

While not being a particularly new or innovative plot, I still very much enjoyed this story and the characters in it. Dante was a strong, passionate, alpha male who also had a tender side while Taylor, or Tally as she’s known, is a feisty and independent woman who will do anything to protect her family. The story was interesting, readable but you can’t look too deeply into the emotions of the characters as in one breath they hated each other and the next they loved each other, and so on. Without particular festive touches, the story didn’t work as a Christmas tale for me, but as a romantic, love story it worked well.

Virginal Holly Christmas has loved her boss for years but high-flying Connor Knight has never noticed her in that way. Until the Christmas party. Their fiery, passionate night surprises them both – especially when they learn that Holly is pregnant. But Holly feels she doesn’t belong in Connor privileged world, while he needs to be sure that she really does want a family, him included.

The standard plot line of the secretary and her boss is used here but it still stands out as an original tale. Holly is a woman with a past that has managed to pull herself through and become somebody yet she still has a lot of demons from what happened to her as a child. Connor is a typical alpha male – strong and passionate but at times I was uncomfortable with how controlling he became. Despite that, the pair still worked well together and you are really pleased that they get their happy ending. Again, this story didn’t feel Christmassy enough for me, but it was still an enjoyable tale.

Overall, if you’re looking for festive stories then there are definitely more Christmassy ones out there. Yet these stories are still readable, enjoyable, sensual and most importantly, romantic. 4 stars.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Lessons from a Courtesan by Jenna Petersen

Engaging and exciting Regency romance
5 stars

The ton is abuzz with the mystery and beauty of "Ria". The men and consumed with desire for her and the woman are all jealous of her. Each needs to find out all they can about the lady that has been dubbed 'England’s greatest courtesan'. All except Justin Talbot, the Earl of Baybury. He knows very well that the mysterious "Ria" is actually his estranged wife.

Three years ago, the day after their wedding, Victoria Talbot was abandoned in the country to live on her own. Now she is in London on a mission to help her friend but if she also manages to drive Justin a little mad with lust and jealousy, then that's all he deserves! Justin is determined to find out her secrets and as the pair spend more time together they realise that the games they are playing with each other might just be leading to something a whole lot more.

I very much enjoyed this well-written and very engaging story. Both Justin and Victoria were intelligent and drawn-out characters that had fabulous chemistry and very real emotions. I loved the pair together even if they both had to, at times, work hard for their happy ending.

As I said, the plot was really engaging and it made you want to keep reading to find out what happened next. There were lots of twists and turns and secrets to be revealed that meant there were no dull moments from beginning to end.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was exciting, well-written and reminded me of books by Debra Mullins or Sabrina Jeffries. If you're looking for a book to escape with then you should definitely give this one a try. 5 stars.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Naked Truth

Charming and Entertaining Contemporary Anthology
4 Stars

This is a collection of four contemporary novellas focussing on the misunderstandings between men and women on the path to true love.

The Winning Truth by Erin McCarthy
Tansey Reynolds has decided to swear off men until she can raise enough money to go back to college. But that is before she meets JT Kowalski in line for a radio station competition. In order to win $25,000 the pair must live together in a SUV where the prize might be even bigger than the cash.

This was a really simple story of a pair that meet and fall in love during a strange radio competition. It was a fine enough story but far from exhilarating or different.

The Naked Truth About Guys by Alesia Holliday
Newspaper humour columnist, C.J. Murphy is fed up with being treated like ‘one of the guys’ – even if she does tend to dress like one. So she enlists her glamorous best friend to give her a makeover. Soon she has two guys fighting over her but only Hugh sets her pulse racing. If only he can convince her that he likes her whatever she wears.

This was a fun, engaging and cheery story written in the first person. While enjoying the story immensely, for the first 30 pages I genuinely thought that a man other than Hugh was supposed to be the hero of the story!

Truth or Dare by Donna Kauffman
Soap Opera writer, Bailey Madison, has just landed her big break – ghost-writing the autobiography of the wealthy billionaire, Franklin Dent. Unfortunately for Bailey, Franklin also intends to shoot a documentary of his life at the same time and his filmmaker of choice just happens to be Noah Morrissey – the very same man that walked out on their 6-month relationship without a word.

I love a story where the characters get a second chance at love and this didn’t disappoint. It was entertaining, well-written story with enjoyable characters and an interesting plot.

Nothing But The Truth by Beverly Brandt
It’s Valentine’s Day and Madison Case has to organise three proposals to help with the promotion of Rules of Engagement – the marriage preparatory place where she works. Unfortunately, everything that can go wrong is going wrong except for the appearance delicious divorce lawyer Scott Seaver.

This was definitely the worst story of the anthology, in my opinion. The goings on seemed farcical, the hero and heroine spent little time together and I really didn’t like the fact that Madison’s ex-husband dumped her for her surgically enhanced sister on national TV and Maddie didn’t even hold a grudge.

Overall, this was an enjoyable enough set of three stories. Being so short, they did tend to lose a lot of the character and plot development you would find in a full-length story, but if you’re looking for a quick, fun read then you really can’t go wrong with this book.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Merry Christmas, Baby!

Well-written and likeable anthology
4 Stars

This is a Mills & Boon anthology where each story is centred around the Christmas season.

Cinderfella by Susan Wiggs
Down to earth reporter, Jack Riley and his new boss, socialite Madeline Langston couldn’t be from more different worlds. But when Jack does a good deed, a good deed is done for him in return, and he goes to Madeline’s Christmas party to show her that he might just be her Prince Charming.

This Cinderella parody is sweet, funny and very cleverly written. I didn’t find it especially festive but it was a good story all the same.

Grady’s Kids by Bobby Hutchinson
Rancher Grady Hughes admits that he was wrong to try to stop a train from killing his cattle by holding the train up at gunpoint but he was at the end of his rope. When he is put on probation by the judge he doesn’t expect his parole officer to be as sweet as Fiona Bennet. Grady knows she has fallen in love with his home and his kids, but can she ever feel the same way about him?

This was another very enjoyable story that didn’t feel overly Christmassy (despite all the snow!) Good and memorable characters made this a joy to read.

It Takes A Miracle by Karen Young
Little Jessica and Jamie really want their Uncle Nathan to get a wife for Christmas – especially since he’s now their guardian. They also have the perfect woman in mind – his ex-wife, Emily. That’s exactly what Nathan wants, too, but convincing Emily is going to take a miracle.

This was definitely my favourite story of the anthology, as I love a story where a couple are reunited! I sighed at the happy ending of this tale and liked the way the story seemed almost magical. Wonderful.

Overall, apart from the last story, this wasn’t really festive enough to be called a Christmas anthology, in my opinion. Having said that, the stories are all enjoyable, well written and are perfect for a quick read, whatever the time of year. 4 stars.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Santa Paws

Pleasant, canine themed anthology
3 Stars

This is a collection of 4 stories with all the couples finding love thanks to some delightful, determined canines.

Shakespeare and the Three Kings – Victoria Alexander (England, 1893)
With the death of his beloved aunt, Sir Oliver Stanhope inherits her home and her three pampered, terribly annoying Yorkshire Terriers. Luckily, before her death his aunt managed to acquire the services of a dog trainer. Unfortunately for Oliver, the dog trainer just happens to be the love of his life, an American that broke his heart ten years before.

Not very Christmassy but still a satisfying tale of redemption, forgiveness and love.

Athena’s Christmas Tail – Nina Coombs (Regency London)
When Robert, Viscount Brockton brings home his new wife, she hopes to make the best of their life together but he treats her very coldly. Aware that the pair are in love with each other yet neither can admit it, the couple’s dogs decide to do a little bit of matchmaking.

Not particularly deep, this story is still a fun tale (even with some of the story being told from the dogs’ perspective) but not at all festive.

Away In A Shelter – Annie Kimberlin (Modern Day)
Camille Campbell is a dedicated volunteer at the animal shelter when she agrees to work the shift over Christmas. Unbeknownst to her, Roger Matheson has also agreed to volunteer which does not bode well as the pair can’t stand each other. But that soon changes thanks to a timely blizzard and an adorable abandoned dog.

This was an enjoyable story that could have done with a little more time to make the ending seem less rushed.

Mr Wright’s Christmas Angel – Miriam Raftery (Los Angeles & Alaska)
A few days before Christmas, Joy Winters gets fired from her job as a doctor in a Los Angeles hospital. Feeling depressed, when a mysterious man named Kris Kringle offers her and her daughter two tickets to Alaska for a truly magical and old-fashioned Christmas, she jumps at the chance. When she arrives and promptly crashes her car, she is delighted to be rescued by the mysterious Nicholas Wright and his amazing dog.

I really adored this genuinely magical and sweetly festive story where you really root for all the characters on their way to a delightfully happy ending.

This Christmas anthology is certainly not the best that I have read as many of the stories really lacked any festive touches at all! Having said that, I did find that the last story really captured the true spirit of Christmas and it was definitely the highlight of this book for me closely followed by Victoria Alexander’s tale.

Perhaps not a book that you would go out of your way to find, this is still a good collection of wintery stories that offer a pleasant enough read. 3 stars.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Christmas Spirit

Magical Christmas Anthology
4 Stars

A set of three Christmas stories where each of the characters find true love with the help of some ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come.

Bah, Humbug! – Leigh Greenwood
Advertising Executive Nate Jerome spends his whole year making Christmas commercials so he really hates the holiday season and plans to escape by flying to Aruba. But his plans change when he meets his beautiful neighbour Milly Thurston who adores Christmas as she shows him that there’s much more to life than work.

This was an okay story but nothing special and I actually found it too long and drawn out. The characters changed their feelings at the turn of a page and I didn’t think they spent nearly enough time together for me to believe in their happily ever after.

Christmas Present – Elaine Fox
When Susannah Murphy comes home for Christmas she is sure she will hate every minute of the small town life that she tried so hard to escape from. Things don’t start well when she crashes her car and has to rely on Joe Cameron for help – the one man in town that could turn her life around.

This was a sweet story with plenty of Christmas cheer and romance. The love story felt realistic and the man helping the couple on their way to true love was a nice festive touch. Very enjoyable.

Blue Christmas – Linda Winstead
Jess Lennox is determined to spend a quiet, calm Christmas on her own in her flat. When musician Jimmy Blue invites her to spend the holidays with him she refuses as she has vowed never to date another musician. Alone in her flat that night she is visited by a Christmas Spirit who shows her just what will happen unless she learns to open her heart.

This was a delightful story which had a nice ‘Christmas Carol’ feel about it. I really loved the concept of seeing into the future and then changing the present and how the imperfect is sometimes the most perfect. It sounds quite cheesy but this really was a sweet, sensual and festive story that I very much enjoyed.

Overall this is an enjoyable set of stories each with a magical twist. The last two stories really stand out and make this anthology well worth picking up if you’re looking for a quick read during the hectic Christmas season or at any time of the year.

Monday, 18 August 2008

One Hot Weekend by Katherine Garbera

Readable and entertaining romance
3 stars

Assistant District Attorney Sophia Deltonio is determined to work her way to the top and earn the promotion that the office is abuzz about. To do so, she needs to win a high profile case that is the talk of the town. And she’s squaring off against hotshot lawyer and ex-lover Mitch Halloran.

Ten years ago, Sophia broke Mitch’s heart when she betrayed him in order to get into a prestigious law firm. Now, not only does Mitch want to win the case, he desperately wants revenge against Sophia.

So the pair make a bet – whoever wins the case gets the other as a sex slave for a whole weekend. But the pair will soon find out that it’s not revenge that’s so sweet and perhaps one hot weekend isn’t nearly enough.

This was essentially a fun, interesting story that starts off as a quest for revenge but quickly turns into one of love. Both Sophia and Mitch were interesting characters and both were believable and relatable. The chemistry was perhaps not scorching hot but still produced a good sizzle.

The reason I gave this book 3 stars was that it didn’t really grip me or thrill me. It was interesting, very readable and easy to finish but it didn’t really have that emotional oomph that would have made it a great story. Fine for a lazy afternoon read, this isn’t a keeper for me but I will still look for other books by Katherine Garbera in the future.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Total Surrender by Cheryl Holt

Not her best but still fairly entertaining
3 stars

With her dissolute brother having gambled away every possession she owns, Lady Sarah Compton knows that her life will soon be very difficult. Before she accepts her fate, she travels to a country party, determined to enjoy herself one last time. What she doesn't realise is that the country party is actually a trysting event for the decadent members of the aristocracy.

The bastard son of an earl, Michael Stevens loves his reputation as a debauched seducer yet he is drawn to the innocent Sarah for reasons he can't fathom. When she refuses to leave the party when he warns her of the dangers, the pair embark on a very exciting journey where Michael promises to teach Sarah everything he knows of seduction. And in turn, Sarah might teach him everything she knows of love.

I am a fan of Cheryl Holt but I have to admit that I didn't feel that this was one of her better books. Michael was a very deep and complicated character while Sarah was a typical feisty yet innocent lady. They did have good chemistry but surprisingly their sex scenes were almost overshadowed by the numerous other sex scenes within the book.

There was also an awful lot of introspection for both characters which really slowed the pace of the book for me. It wasn't a problem to finish the book but I was never overly eager to return to the story once I'd put the book down. There was also often the problem of overly flowery language within the book alongside the numerous Americanisms.

As I said, I personally don't think it was her best effort but it's still an okay read if you're a fan of Cheryl Holt or if you're looking for a little historical erotic escapism. This book is also the follow on from Love Lessons which featured Michael's brother, James. Unfortunately only 3 stars for this book.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Further Than Passion by Cheryl Holt

Engaging and erotic historical romance
4 stars

Despite being highborn, Kate Duncan has been practically forced to serve her aunt and spoiled cousin since she became an orphan when she was a child. While visiting London for the first time, her young charge is determined to win the delicious but notorious Marcus Pelham, Earl of Stamford and the way she intends to force his hand is by having him drink a love potion.

Determined not to let Marcus fall into her cousin’s trap, Kate drinks the potion herself and finds herself stumbling upon Marcus in the middle of a very erotic tryst. Luckily Marcus is too busy to notice her watching… or so she thinks.

Marcus is titillated by the lady watching from the shadows and subsequently smitten by the passionate woman he discovers when he seeks her out. But despite their increasingly sensual encounters, there are secrets and plots about that may just keep the pair from discovering a most unexpected love.

This was another enjoyable story from Cheryl Holt and sticks to her tried and tested style of the innocent miss, a very delicious alpha male and some uninhibited and deliciously erotic sex scenes.

The story itself does everything right – the main characters are worthy to be cheered on, the villains are devious enough to hate and get their comeuppance in the end and we have an engaging story on the way to a satisfyingly happy ending. As seems to be a regular occurrence for Cheryl Holt’s novels, this one is littered with an exasperating amount of Americanisms and modern language. While annoying, you do learn to ignore it as the story unfolds. If you’re looking for a delightfully erotic, fantasy historical romance to keep you occupied for a few hours then you should be pretty happy to choose this book. 4 stars.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Sinful Nights of a Nobleman by Jillian Hunter

Another satisfying Boscastle romance
4 stars

Devon Boscastle is one of the most elusive bachelors of the ton. He's also one of the most wicked and decadent. At a garden party in the country, he's determined to find an equally wicked lady for a midnight rendezvous.

By some stroke of fate instead he finds innocent Jocelyn Lydbury, who has come to the party in the hope of a proposal from a respectable gentleman. Being found in a compromising position was not in either of their plans.

Forced into marriage is not the best start for the pair but it soon becomes clear to Devon that his sweet, unassuming wife can also be a tempting seductress. And while he is determined to maintain his bachelor lifestyle, she is equally determined to win his heart.

This is the fifth book in the Boscastle family series this time focussing on the young, devilish Devon. Most of the characters from previous books do appear in this one yet there is no need to have read any of the previous Boscastle novels for this one to make sense.

I am very much a fan of the 'marriage of convenience that turns to love' storyline and this one did not disappoint. Devon is a devilish rascal who is the perfect hero as he lives his life of excess and debauchery. To see him brought down by love is amusing, romantic and oh so satisfying. Jocelyn is his perfect foil – an innocent miss with a backbone and sharp wit. I enjoyed reading about her and was happy to root for her in her pursuit of Devon's heart.

The book was enjoyably sensual and Devon and Jocelyn had some sparkling chemistry throughout the book. The mystery sub-plot isn't too mysterious but then it's the romance that we're supposed to focus on, so that's not really a problem.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable addition to the Boscastle series with endearing characters and some good, old-fashioned romance. If you're looking for a Regency romance to take your mind off things for a while then you can't go wrong with this book. 4 stars.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman by Jillian Hunter

Enjoyable addition to the Boscastle series
4 stars

Lord Drake Boscastle is the catch of the ton with his smouldering good looks, extreme wealth and devilish charm. But the one thing he lacks is true happiness. To try and remove himself from his melancholy, he arranges for a liaison with England's most celebrated courtesan. Cooling his heels until it is time to meet for his night of pleasure, he bumps into Eloise Goodwin, a spirited, proper governess who captivates him with her voluptuous curves and sparkling wit.

Drake can't get Eloise from his mind and happily sweeps her off her feet into a world she has only dreamed of. But before true happiness there are other matters that must be addressed such as an errant charge, a blackmailer, duels and one extremely angry courtesan. Through all the confusion people begin to wonder whether the handsome scoundrel, Lord Drake, has finally been tamed.

This is a very enjoyable novel and an excellent addition to the Boscastle family series. This is the fourth novel in the series and despite characters from earlier books popping up throughout, it does read as a stand alone story.

Both Drake and Eloise are well-written characters and you really get to know them and understand them. Happily, the pair also have some nice chemistry which makes for some pleasant sex scenes. There are also a supporting cast of secondary characters including Devon, Drake's younger brother, who had some very amusing banter with the hero throughout the book. His story follows on from this one in The Sinful Nights of a Nobleman.

The plot of this book was engaging enough to keep you turning the pages and there were lots of different things going on so you never got bored. By turns amusing and exciting, romantic and sweet - this is definitely a book I would recommend if you're a fan of Jillian Hunter or if you're simply looking for a fun Regency with dashing heroes and virtuous yet feisty heroines. 4 stars.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Wedding Night of an English Rogue by Jillian Hunter

Enjoyable, if slow paced, addition to the series
3 stars

Lord Heath Boscastle has never forgotten Julia Hepworth - possibly because the first time they met, she shot him in the shoulder! While tending his wounds, the pair enjoy on a very nearly compromising afternoon. Too young to understand the overwhelming passions, the pair part.

Years later Heath, now a decorated war hero, is asked to protect Julia by his former army commander - who is now her fiancé - while a dangerous French spy is captured. Heath soon regrets his decision as the passion that engulfed the pair so many years ago is burning brighter than ever before. And when Julia's fiancé's indiscretions come to light, Heath decides it's time to finish what they started all those years ago.

This is the third in Jillian Hunter's Boscastle Family series (after The Seduction of an English Scoundrel and The Love Affair of an English Lord) yet it does stand entirely on it's own so there is no need to have read the other books in the series to understand this one.

I did enjoy this book but there were a few problems with it that stopped me from giving it more than 3 stars.

Both Heath and Julia are excellently well-rounded characters that play well off each other and never fall into the trap of having ridiculous misunderstandings or random attacks of stupidity. There is little in the way of sensuality until near the end of the book when it comes out in full force as if to make up for the beginning of the book. That's not really a complaint though!

My main problem with the book was that despite the hint of danger and action, it really never materialised and as a result, the book felt quite slow paced. The French spy was mentioned quite a lot and we are supposed to believe that it is a terrible danger yet I personally felt the conclusion of this part of the story terribly anticlimactic.

Regardless of this, the story is still engaging and you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens to Heath and Julia. It's also always fun to see the large cast of Boscastle siblings popping up throughout the book. While not being her best book, this is still a fairly enjoyable and entertaining read. 3 stars.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Kissing the Bride by Sara Bennett

Delightful medieval romance
5 stars

Lady Jenova of Guninghorn feels that she is finally ready to marry again although she knows she will never give her heart to a man ever again. But first she feels she should get the opinion of her oldest and dearest friend, Lord Henry of Montevoy.

Upon his arrival, in a moment of madness, the pair give in to the sizzling attraction that is burning between them. Afterwards, the pair can’t believe that they have nearly destroyed the friendship they both hold so dear – but neither can they give up what they have found in each other.

But dark secrets from the past have a way of popping up at the most inopportune times and certain people have plans to exploit the secrets that will ensure Henry and Jenova have to fight to keep the happiness they have found together.

This is the first Sara Bennett book that I have read and if all the others are of the same standard as this then I will definitely be looking to read them all! I believe this book is part of a series but it completely stood alone so there is no need to have read the others to understand this one.

I really enjoyed this story of two old friends who suddenly realise that they meant more to each other than either ever expected. Around the love story there was a very intricate and well crafted storyline which never faltered and really kept you interested from beginning to end. All the characters, especially Henry and Jenova, were so well crafted and had so many layers that it was impossible not to fall in love with them. Henry was such a wonderful character – I adored how he was so strong yet very vulnerable. And everyone, villains included, was intelligent and far from being two-dimensional which gave the storyline a lot of depth and excitement.

The sensuality in the book was delicious and towards the end, the emotional climax had such punch that I had tears in my eyes.

This was such an enjoyable book and one that I found I couldn’t put down. It had intelligence, drama, emotion, sensuality and, of course, romance. I will definitely be looking out for more of Sara Bennett’s books in the future. 5 stars.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Love Letters from a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle

Entertaining Regency Romp
4 stars

Felicity Langley has always dreamed of marrying a duke – and now she’s managed to get herself very nearly betrothed to the very respectable, very lofty Duke of Hollindrake. But first she has to meet him. What Felicity doesn’t realise is that she has actually met the man she intends to marry – he’s the altogether too handsome, too virile and too rakish man that she has just mistaken for her new footman.

Thatcher was never meant to inherit the dukedom and the first thing he intends after returning from the continent is to tell this presumptuous, title-hungry young chit that he has absolutely no intention of honouring this supposed betrothal. But he’s quickly charmed by her determination, passion and spirit.

She would marry him in a heartbeat should he tell her of his true identity but Thatcher wants to know whether she would marry him without the title. So he begins his ruse, determined to show this unconventional woman that life as a duchess can’t compare with a life of passion and love.

This book is technically the second book in Elizabeth Boyle’s Bachelor Chronicles series (after This Rake of Mine) but characters from numerous other of the author’s books also appear. Despite this, the book stands entirely alone so even if you haven’t read any other books by Elizabeth Boyle, then this book will still make sense!

The story of deception isn’t particularly new but it’s a plot that I very much enjoy and it was written well enough to be fresh, exciting and interesting. You want to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen and the plot is constantly entertaining and amusing.

It took me a while to get to like Felicity but this actually worked well as it helped you understand Thatcher’s own feelings towards her as he too discovered her true character. She’s feisty, determined and makes you want to root for her. Thatcher was a strapping, delightful hero despite the fact that he never once truly behaved like a footman – especially around Felicity! The book isn’t particularly sensual but the pair had some sweet chemistry and good banter throughout.

While also setting up the next two books in the series, this book is, itself, a fine, well-written and entertaining Regency romp. If you’re looking for something fun to take your mind off things for a while then you can’t go wrong with this one. 4 stars.