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.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Bedding the Heiress by Cathy Maxwell

Enjoyable addition to the series
4 stars

When a loathsome rake steals heiress Francesca Dunroy's most treasured possession she is determined to get it back. In return for the heirloom, she decides to offer the rake a kiss. But on the darkened terrace in the middle of a ball she makes a dreadful mistake - she seduces the wrong man!

Justin Maddox is London's newly titled duke and he's not enjoying himself at all with his new position. Although that all changes when the fiery Francesca kisses him with a passion that surprises them both.

With neither able to forget, or even stay away from each other - love soon starts to blossom. But what will happen when Justin's enemies decide that it's time for revenge?

This is the third book in an ongoing series (after The Price of Indiscretion and In the Bed of a Duke) which focuses loosely around the Cameron sisters. This book follows where the last left off and tells the story of Justin Maddox as he tries to come to terms with the fact that he is now an English duke and not the Scottish rebel he always thought he was. As it is part of a series, I really don't think that this book stands alone as there is too much back story that you need to know to understand this book.

Both Justin and Francesca are enjoyable, interesting characters and I liked the interplay between them and their honest interactions with each other. It was also nice to see some characters from previous books pop up in this one.

I guess my main issues were that this almost felt like a filler book. Francesca and Justin's story was central although there was so much anticipation of the next book and the underlying action/plot line that runs through all the books, that the romance almost took a back seat. And compared to previous books by Cathy Maxwell, this book lacked a lot of emotional oomph. And I found myself increasingly frustrated with various Americanisms that crept into the text and inaccuracies such as spelling Scotch whisky with an 'e'. This didn't affect my rating of the book but it was annoying none the less.

Having said all that - this book was still miles better than many others in the same genre. It was upbeat, interesting, a definite page-turner and if nothing else it has made me really look forward to the next book in the series. If you're a fan of Cathy Maxwell and are keeping up with this series then this is a book I would recommend.

Monday, 25 February 2008

His Mistress by Morning by Elizabeth Boyle

Fabulous and engrossing romance
5 stars

Shy and mousy Charlotte Wilmot has been in love with Sebastian, Lord Trent for most of her life while he can barely even remember her name. When she receives a mystery ring from her aunt, she uses it to wish that she was the woman that Sebastian loves.

The next morning, Charlotte wakes up to find herself entangled in the very naked limbs of Sebastian and he is definitely very much in love with her. Only she isn't mousy Charlotte Wilmot anymore but the scandalous and quite exciting Lottie Townsend.

She is the woman in Sebastian's heart but can she ever be the one he marries. And what about all the other changes her wish has wrought and the problems that go with them?

I have enjoyed other Elizabeth Boyle novels although this one has well surpassed all my expectations. It was engrossing, exciting and I just couldn't put it down.

Charlotte/Lottie is so well written that you barely notice how much she grows and learns because it is so seamless. And her chemistry and passion with Sebastian is just delicious. I loved the very real conflict and genuinely couldn't wait to find out how everything was going to work out.

The story itself is very well thought out and the way everything was relevant and came together in the end was genius! And as another reviewer pointed out, the magic element isn't too overpowering making the story much more believable.

This seems to be the start of a new series and I can't wait to read stories for the supporting characters in this book. This book is fabulous, engaging and really leaves you with that warm, happy glow when you're done - I can't recommend it highly enough. 5 stars.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Secrets of a Proper Lady by Victoria Alexander

Greatly amusing romance
4 stars

In order to save the family from financial disaster, Lady Cordelia Bannister’s father arranges her marriage to a man she has never met – much to her annoyance. Not about to let anyone run her life, Cordelia poses as her companion to find out more about her intended through his secretary – a man who soon captures her attention. But what Cordelia doesn’t know is that the man she is falling in love with is actually her betrothed – American Mr Daniel Sinclair.

Daniel is sure that he will win the wager he has with his friends to be the last of them to wed. But he never expected to find love and he never expected that his courtship would be the most delightful and confusing game that he has ever played. With the biggest prize at the end.

This is the third book in Victoria Alexander’s Last Man Standing series (after A Little Bit Wicked and What A Lady Wants) although I did feel this book could stand alone more so than others in the series.

Daniel and Cordelia were both excellent characters and I thought they were exceedingly well matched pair. Their banter, wit and arguments were delightful and greatly amusing and had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions.

I also really liked the plot line of mistaken identity and the crazy situations that ensued as a result of the deceptions of both Cordelia and Daniel. However, having said that, the plot really seemed to drag at the start of the novel. But when the deceptions started to unravel, the story really warmed up and it was really worth waiting for.

All in all, this book is another great addition to the series and one that shows off Victoria Alexander’s unique blend of humour and wit. Funny and romantic with crazy situations – 4 stars.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

What a Lady Wants by Victoria Alexander

Fun, fast paced and delightful
5 stars

Nigel Cavendish knows that he will be the last of his friends to marry - he's enjoying life, and women, far too much to commit to just one for the rest of his days.

When Lady Felicity Melville spies the handsome rake climbing from a neighbours window, with his conquest's enraged husband in hot pursuit - she knows that Nigel is the answer to her prayers. She always wanted a life of adventure and she is convinced Nigel is the man to give it to her.

So, with determination and a little help from fate, Felicity hatches a plan to make the infamous Mr Cavendish fall madly in love with her. But she gets her heart's desire in a way she never wished for when a stolen painting and an errant pistol shot mean that the pair suddenly find themselves forcibly wed.

Now Felicity must show her wayward husband that she is the only woman that he will ever want, or need.

This is the second book in Victoria Alexander's Last Man Standing series (after A Little Bit Wicked) which follows four men who have all wagered that they will be the last unmarried man in their group of friends.

Nigel and Felicity's story is delightful and full of Alexander's classic wit and banter. The way that Felicity and Nigel play off each other is so amusing and makes the book a real page turner.

Nigel, despite having what many would deem a slightly unusual name for a hero, is handsome, boyish and portrays a man who is very much confused when his life takes a turn he didn't anticipate. It's always nice to see a rake brought down by love! I also loved Felicity. She was honest and intelligent without ever coming across as a stereotypical bluestocking. The plot itself was fast paced, interesting and full of humour.

This book is a great addition to what is becoming a very good new series. If you're a fan of Victoria Alexander or even if you've never read her before, I'm sure that you will enjoy this fun and fast paced romance. 5 stars.

Monday, 11 February 2008

For the Love of a Pirate by Edith Layton

Engaging but slow-paced historical novel
4 stars

Lord Constantine Wylde is the perfect gentleman - there's not a black mark to his name or character. When it comes times to find himself a wife - he needs to find someone as well-bred, well-behaved and proper as he is. But all his perfectly laid plans go awry when a fierce, aging pirate bursts into his home with some shocking news: Constantine is already engaged to the pirate's lovely granddaughter, Lisabeth.

Lisabeth has dreamed of pirates and wild romances since she was a child and this nobleman standing before her is far removed from every girlish dream she's ever had - she will not marry him. Yet as they spend more time together she realises he may have a wild side that he's yet to discover and Constantine soon finds himself acting like the lusty pirate he never thought he'd be.

I'll admit that I wavered between giving this book 3 stars and 4. It was a very character driven book with the plot focussing mainly on how both Constantine and Lisabeth coped on their journey towards true love.

Constantine was a very well written character - so much so that I genuinely didn't like him at the beginning when he was so stiff and formal. But he grew on me as the book went on. Lisabeth was a very genuine, down to earth kind of girl and not nearly so wild as I had imagined she would be. Together they worked well although I didn't feel the passion and chemistry was as electric as I would have hoped.

The writing itself was excellent and the book was engaging enough to hold my interest throughout. I think the main reasoning behind my indecision between 3 and 4 stars was due to the book's title. With a title like 'For the Love of a Pirate', I was expecting pirate ships, heroic buccaneers and lots of wild action-adventure. When it wasn't there - I guess I was slightly disappointed. But that doesn't mean to say that the book wasn't very good in its own way, which is why I opted for the 4 stars.

All in all, if you enjoy a good, character-led romance which is well written and keeps you interested, you can't go wrong with this one. Just don't expect a high seas action adventure romance.