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, 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.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Some Like it Brazen by Deborah Raleigh

Enjoyable and sweet Regency romance
3 stars

Edward Sinclair is content being a lowly gentleman farmer when he is thrust into the role of Earl of Harrington when a distant relative dies. Not comfortable with the rules and decadence of the ton, his country manners and stark masculinity soon earn him the rather demeaning title of the Peasant Earl.

The daughter of an eminent Duke, Lady Bianca Carstone is used to getting her own way and what she currently wants is to marry Lord Aldron – a more sophisticated man than she could ever hope to meet. When her father forbids the match she sets out to exact her revenge by going after a man with an even worse reputation – the Peasant Earl.

But Bianca doesn’t count on the way that Edward will make her feel and what starts off as simply a game, suddenly turns into something a lot more.

This is the first book I have read by Deborah Raleigh and I’ll admit that I debated between giving it 3 or 4 stars. In the end I settled for 3, as even though I did enjoy it, there were a few issues that I had with it that stopped me ranking it higher.

I enjoyed both the main characters in the story – both of whom were very well written. Bianca wasn’t nearly as childish as I had feared and Edward was endearing as the man who didn’t really fit with society’s stereotypes. The pair had some good chemistry and this resulted in some sexy love scenes dotted throughout the book.

The main problem for me was with the plot and the fact that there wasn’t much of one. The first half of the book was simply the pair interacting with each other and then the second half contained some necessary hurdles for the couple to overcome. Unfortunately, the conflicts were so weak and resolved so quickly that there was never any worry that the pair wouldn’t work things out.

My other complaint was that despite the whole book being 314 pages long – the story stopped at 271 pages which I thought was quite short. Not only that but it stopped quite abruptly and I found myself wanting to read more. Even just an epilogue would have been nice.

Having said all that, this was a sweet, enjoyable story that is completely harmless and uncomplicated. There are no dramatic adventures or horrific complications but instead just a plain, well-written love story. This is by no means a bad thing and if that’s what you’re looking for then you can’t go wrong with this book. 3 stars.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

One Night With You by Sophie Jordan

Sweet, unassuming Regency Romance
4 stars

Widowed Lady Jane Guthrie is fed up with her family treating her like a servant and longs to have just one night of freedom. With the help of her friends, she dons the most daring gown and manages to sneak to a scandalous courtesans' masquerade ball. While there, she comes face to face with Seth Rutledge, her childhood friend and the man who broke her heart all those years ago by choosing her beautiful, title-hungry sister over her. But now, with a mask to conceal her identity, Seth definitely wants only Jane.

Just back from war and new to a title he never expected to inherit, Seth is entranced by the masked beauty before him and vows to reveal all her secrets. Determined to marry for duty alone, passion is something that Seth has no place for in his life. But he can't help but want the mysterious woman before him, possibly for more than just one night. But what will happen when he realises that his masked love is none other than his childhood friend Jane?

This was an unassuming and invariably sweet Regency romance and another winner from Sophie Jordan.

The plot of two childhood friends that come together and re-learn what they feel for each other captured me and I was eager to keep reading to find out what happened to the characters. Jane is uncomplicated and fresh - someone you might not necessarily relate to but certainly will root for. Seth too was an interesting hero. Slightly brooding and dark but with the tender streak I like in a leading male. I have to admit that I didn't really understand his motivations at times but that didn't really spoil the story for me.

The conflict in the story wasn't clichéd but I did feel that it was a little drawn out towards the end and I was wondering how many more obstacles would be thrown at Jane and Seth before they could reach their happy ever after. I'll also admit to feeling slightly let down by the speed of Seth's changing feelings at the end of the book, but as everything concluded the way it should then I really shouldn't complain.

If you're looking for a light, sweet and romantic Regency story then you really can't go wrong with this book. 4 stars.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Deeper Than Desire by Cheryl Holt

Uncomplicated but slow-paced romance
3 stars

Lady Olivia Hopkins is the last hope for her financially stricken family and she must marry in order to keep a roof above their heads. Their choice for her is the esteemed, but significantly older Earl of Salisbury. But their plans go a little awry when Olivia stumbles across an erotic book within the Earl’s library, and even more awry when the Earl’s devilishly handsome son stumbles across her reading through it.

Philip Paxton is delighted by his good fortune and takes full advantage of the situation and Olivia’s obvious titillation over the book. Very quickly, their shared passion turns into an electrifying affair, yet neither expect the emotions that their encounters evoke. But soon there are plenty of problems that tear the pair apart and they have to decide whether what they have is worth fighting for.

This was another enjoyable book from Cheryl Holt but, in my opinion, really not her best effort. The storyline was fairly slow and meandering, filled with lots of supporting characters and storylines. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I did feel that it made the story drag a little bit in places and at times we hadn’t heard from the two main characters for a few chapters or more.

Of the main players, Philip was a fine character and strong and manly without perhaps being as alpha as many of Cheryl Holt’s previous heroes have been. Olivia was a sympathetic heroine and one that I did find myself liking and rooting for but I really would have liked her to have a little bit more conviction and go after what she wanted a little more. Their chemistry together worked well although I would have enjoyed seeing a little more interaction between the pair. The secondary characters were also well written and I did enjoy their storylines and love stories almost as much as the main couple.

As with all the of the Cheryl Holt books I’ve read, this particular novel is littered with modern Americanisms which do tend to irritate after a while so if you want your Regency set books true to the period then this might be one to pass up!

Despite my criticisms, this was an uncomplicated, slow-paced erotic romance that I would still recommend to fans of Cheryl Holt. It’s perhaps not one to keep but it’s in no way offensive and it certainly passes a few hours. 3 stars.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Forbidden Fantasy by Cheryl Holt

Fairly standard erotic historical fiction
3 stars

Ever since she was a child, Lady Caroline Foster was betrothed to an esteemed Viscount. Now, 25 years later, her supposed fiancé has jilted her and in a rush to avoid any scandal, Caroline finds herself engaged to a man old enough to be her father. Needing someone to help her, she seeks advice from her ex-fiancé's illegitimate brother - the only man she's ever kissed.

Ian Clayton has been infatuated with Caroline for years and he can't quite believe that she is seeking him out and offering him all sorts of scandalous things. Things that he should refuse but that he just can't say no to. But as their relationship blossoms into something neither expected - there are more than a few obstacles to overcome and more than a few people who would gladly stop at nothing to make sure the pair are kept apart.

This was the follow on story from Complete Abandon and having been set up in that previous book, I was very much looking forward to reading about Caroline and Ian's romance. Unfortunately, it didn't really quite live up to my expectations.

Both Ian and Caroline were interesting characters and were well developed and people you could ultimately identify with and like. They had the necessary chemistry and the sex scenes were hot, although perhaps a little less emotionally involved and perfunctory than I would have liked.

The plot itself was well developed, quite dark at times and if anyone deserved a happy ending after what they were put through it was Caroline and Ian. We even had a very good secondary romance which I enjoyed very much.

My reasons for only giving the book three stars were as follows: The use of modern language and Americanisms was too numerous to count. The pages were littered with them and it really began to grate after a while. I can live with a few inaccuracies for the sake of a good story but this was too much. And probably more importantly - I just didn't understand why the characters were behaving the way they were. We are never really told why Caroline first seeks out Ian, or why Ian leaves her, etc etc. It was sometimes as if we weren't being told of their motivations or thoughts and feelings.

This is still an interesting book and one that is well written and engaging. It's really not Cheryl Holt's best book but if you're a fan and want to read the story of Ian and Caroline then you still will want to take a look. Unfortunately only 3 stars.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Complete Abandon by Cheryl Holt

Engrossing and titillating historic romance
4 stars

When Emma Fitzgerald, the local vicar’s daughter, storms into the home of John Clayton, the new Viscount Wakefield, she gets more than an eyeful when she witnesses him in the middle of a tryst with his mistress. Despite her curiosity, she is still outraged over his treatment of his tenants and she plans to be the one to take this infamous rake to task.

John has never been treated like a naughty schoolboy and certainly never been admonished by a woman – especially one as spirited and lovely as Emma. Despite her prim exterior, she manages to shock him further when she proposes a bargain: in return for his kindness to his tenants, she will offer herself to him. Completely.

John is determined to win back the upper hand in their battle yet as he introduces Emma to the art of sex, she might just be introducing him to the art of love.

I very much enjoyed this uncomplicated story about two people, so wrong for each other, yet who cannot stay away from each other. How they come together and ultimately fall in love is a delight and I could barely put the book down.

Emma was such a refreshing heroine. Real, spunky, with morals, yet not able to deny her attraction and desire for John. John was also a wonderfully written hero. He was unashamedly arrogant, handsome and virile yet underneath was lonely and looking for someone to love him. The way that Cheryl Holt managed to have him be so needy yet still completely alpha male made him a joy to read about.

The book is unashamedly erotic and the sex scenes, which are plentiful, fairly scorch the pages of this book. Personally, I didn’t feel that many of the characters would have behaved like they did had they truly been from Regency times – but this book really is more of a historical fantasy escape than a true to life read – so I was happy to forgive the inaccuracies.

There were a few Americanisms that crept in to the book which was jarring, but overall, this was a very engrossing erotic historical romance and one that I would happily recommend. The book also nicely sets up Ian Clayton’s story (Forbidden Fantasy) which I am now very keen to read. Fun, fresh and exciting – definitely worth 4 stars.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Every Night I'm Yours by Christie Kelley

Ordinary and uninspiring Regency romance
2 stars

Her best friend’s brother, the arrogant and irritating Banning Talbot, Earl of Selby, realises her plans and claims she has made a huge mistake. To protect Avis he makes a bold proposal – he will become her tutor for one night of reckless passion in order to satisfy all her deepest, darkest longings.

Neither Banning nor Avis can predict that one night will turn into many more or just how far an innocent lesson in desire can actually go.

I am very sorry to say that I found this book really quite dull. Avis (which I’m sure is the name of a car hire company!) and Banning are very two-dimensional characters and you never really understand them or their motivations. Their sexual chemistry is almost non-existent and despite really trying, the book built up absolutely no sexual tension before the two main characters actually got together.

I did really love the idea of the plot. It’s not new to have an innocent young lady paired with a jaded and arrogant man, but it’s a storyline that I have enjoyed previously and am happy to read again and again. My problems with it in this particular novel were that again, we never really go deep enough and I felt that I was being told everything rather than being shown. As a result I didn’t believe what was going on and had no emotional interest in the story.

Overall, I didn’t hate this book but I certainly didn’t love it – worse I found it quite ordinary. The writing flowed and I did manage to finish it (albeit almost forcedly!) I just didn’t feel a connection. As a result, I really can’t recommend this book. There are plenty of other much better Regency romances out there and I would suggest you give one of those a try rather than this one. Sadly only 2 stars.