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.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries

Last but not least
5 stars

Celia Sharpe is the last unmarried Sharpe grandchild and has only 2 months to find a husband or her Gran plans to cut all of them off. Setting her sights on three eligible bachelors she plans to get a proposal, show that she can get married, cry off and still get the inheritance for her siblings.

Bow Street Runner, Jackson Pinter, has been hired to investigate Celia’s three suitors. But with Celia bedevilling Jackson both day and night, the last thing he wants to do is help her find a husband. But with danger lurking and passions stirring it doesn’t take long to realise that’s because he wants her for himself.


This is the final book in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series following The Truth About Lord Stoneville, A Hellion in her Bed, How to Woo a Reluctant Lady and To Wed A Wild Lord. It’s probably not essential that you read the books in order but I would strongly suggest that you do simply to get the back story and to get to know the characters.

I’ve been looking forward to Celia and Pinter’s story since the first book as I do love a couple that start off with an antagonistic relationship that turns to love. The book didn’t disappoint and the pair still had that passion and spark with each other even once the relationship progressed.

We really got to know Jackson and I felt both his desire for Celia and his anxiety over the barriers to their happily ever after. Celia, too, was a fine character that I liked and rooted for. She was impulsive, feisty but still had sense and intelligence.

I liked the fact that the other characters from the previous books appeared although I would have liked a bit more interactions between the couples. Gran was also on fine form with her meddling although if I’m honest she really irritated me with her unwillingness to unbend when Celia was so obviously unhappy.

As the last book in the series we finally find out the answer to the mystery of the parents’ death. This could easily have overwhelmed the romance but I’m happy to say that it sat alongside it nicely. I was slightly underwhelmed by the solving of the mystery but that’s probably just because it’s been built up over the course of five books. It couldn’t have gone any other way and I was still satisfied.

Despite the couple of niggles I’m still giving this book 5 stars as the writing is superb, the characters come to life and it’s a fantastic end to a series that I have really enjoyed. I’m glad to see that some of the secondary characters are to get their own stories so although the series ends, hopefully the characters that I’ve grown to love will appear again.

The Christmas Knight by Michele Sinclair

A sweet and festive tale
4 stars

Unprotected and alone, Bronwyn de Breton must protect her younger sisters and their home at Hunswick Castle. Things go from bad to worse when a war-hardened, scarred warrior arrives as the new lord of the castle with orders to take the youngest daughter as his bride. Bronwyn refuses to let a man as reputedly hard and wild as the new lord marry her sister so she steps up and pretends to be her sister.

Ranulf de Gunnar, however, is not so easily fooled. He knows that this woman is not his intended but as they are forced to spend time together he cannot seem to resist this woman who teaches him passion, loyalty and love.


I have never read Michele Sinclair before but I can’t resist a Christmas tale and this one seemed right up my street with a scarred man made whole by the love of a good woman. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

Ranulf was, for me, the perfect kind of hero – brooding and angry but underneath so vulnerable; I just wanted to hug him! Bronwyn was also an exceptional character and was a spirited and likeable female that still felt right for the medieval time period. They worked fantastically together and I liked their chemistry and how together they were stronger – once they got over their insecurities, that is.

The book mainly covered the relationship between Bronwyn and Ranulf although there was a little bit of intrigue and danger. Some might find this makes the book a little slow but I was gripped from start to finish. There were also lovely little snippets about Christmas and festivities in the medieval period which were a nice touch and really fascinating. There were a few too many modern Americanisms for my liking but I’ll admit that this is a personal peeve of mine in any historical book.

I see that there are books planned for Bronwyn’s sisters and I very much look forward to reading them and hope that I enjoy them as much as I did this one. Overall, this was an entertaining book that I couldn’t wait to continue reading and one that I would very much recommend. A high 4 stars from me.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Virgin Unwrapped by Christine Merrill

A fair, quick romance
3 stars

Even the thought of Robert Breton sets Anne Clairemount’s heart racing and fills her with a scandalous heat. But he is the business partner of her fiancé and her family’s future happiness depends on her going through with the marriage even if her betrothed is cold and unfeeling.

Then Robert gives her a heartfelt kiss under the mistletoe and Anne is thrown into turmoil. Should she go through with the wedding to please her parents or grab hold of what is sure to be the love of a lifetime?

This short and sweet romance is the sequel to Christine Merrill’s A Regency Christmas Carol. I’ve never read the first book and this one still made perfect sense so I don’t suppose you need to read them in order.

Having said that, it is obvious that Anne and Robert’s story had to fit around things that occurred in the other story – things that didn’t really make sense if you hadn’t read it beforehand. I also get the impression that these two characters, or at the very least Anne, weren’t painted in a flattering light in the first book which meant that some character traits were attempted to be explained away in this one. It made for some disjointed reading at times.

I also wasn’t overly fond of Robert if I’m honest. He was a little bit harsh and unfeeling of Anne and even towards the very end he expected the worst of her. I also felt that he took advantage of Anne’s innocence which made the sex scenes a little flat for me.

This was a short story that was a quick and ultimately satisfying read. I didn’t feel much emotional attachment to the characters but the story is worth a read at the price. 3 stars.

Storming the Castle by Eloisa James

A fun but short romantic story
4 stars

From a young age Miss Phillipa Damson has known that she will marry Rodney Durfey no matter what she might prefer. So when she hears that there is an ill baby at a nearby castle she sees it as her chance to escape her lot in life and runs away to take a position as nursemaid.

Jonas ‘Wick’ Berwick, the illegitimate brother of Prince Gabriel, serves as majordomo, overseeing the day to day running of Pomeroy Castle in Lancashire. His position in life – not quite a servant but not quite a gentleman – means that he has vowed never to marry. But when Philippa arrives at the castle he can’t help but wish for something different for his life.

This short story is a sequel from James’ A Kiss at Midnight which is the first in the Fairy Tales series. The series is set in Fairytale time with a dusting of the Regency so they aren’t as strict when it comes to historical detail and accuracy. You probably want to have read A Kiss… before reading this one but I don’t suppose it’s 100% necessary.

I’m really glad that Wick got his own story and from the start I thought Phillipa a great match for him. She’s that perfect blend of smart and strong but with a vulnerability in her that makes her likeable and relatable. Wick was also a good hero being proud and strong but truly in need of the love of a good woman. The pair had good chemistry and I was rooting for them throughout.

I debated between giving this 3 or 4 stars but decided in the end to be generous. My reason for this indecision was that due to its short nature the declarations of love came a little too abruptly for me. The conflict was also surrounding whether Wick and Phillipa could be together due to their different statuses but when the book concluded this was apparently a forgotten problem.

Overall this is a fun, quick read with characters I’m glad got their happily ever after. It’s not the best I’ve ever read but it’s a good read to pass an hour or so.

Scrumptious by Amanda Usen

Unlikeable heroine ruins story
2 stars

Joe Rafferty isn’t just an excellent chef but he’s gorgeous to boot. When he agrees to help out at his friend’s restaurant until she finds a full-time chef then he sees it as a great time to cook some food and make time with the lovely pastry chef, Marlene.

Marlene likes the look of Joe but if he thinks he’s going to waltz into her best friend’s restaurant – the place she’s put her heart and soul into – and simply take over then he’s got another think coming.

Soon their battle of wills turns into a battle of the heart but who will take home the sweetest prize of all?

As someone who loves both romance novels and food – I’ve been keen to read stories that combine the two. Unfortunately I haven’t found any that do justice to my expectations and this book was no exception.

My first, and main, complaint was about Marly. I just didn’t like her. She was over confident, happy (and proud) to sleep around, quite juvenile in her reactions and not someone I could either relate to or aspire to be like. I’m all for strong, confident women in stories but Marly’s casual attitude turned me off.

Joe was a likeable character who was doing his best to make changes in his life although to be fair he wasn't particularly discerning either when it came to his relationships. His character was fairly well developed and I liked him but he certainly wasn't a hero that I would swoon over. Regardless, his relationship with Marly was, for me, clouded by the fact that I wanted him to find someone better!

The story was okay but towards the end it all went a little bit ridiculous and I was a little confused as to why it had changed for no apparent reason. I also couldn’t really understand much of the tension or conflict in the book. Surely a conversation between best friends, Marly and Olivia (another unsympathetic character and owner of the restaurant) would have made much of the point of the book disappear.

Overall this wasn’t my thing at all. The writing wasn’t terrible which is why I’ve given the book 2 stars rather than 1, but it was really hard to finish and I can’t recommend it, unfortunately.

The Accidental Mistress by Kate Harper

Bad, clichéd short story
1 star

Devereux, Marquis of Roxburghe has his eyes set on the lovely Alice Gaskell. But he’s not ready to settle down so he plans to steal her away and make her his mistress instead.

The lady’s cousin, Sophie Hartwell, is appalled at the plans and realises she must save Alice from making a huge mistake. So when Dev comes to take Alice away it’s really Sophie taking her place.

Dev is furious once the ruse is revealed but realises that his plans needn’t change even if it’s the wrong girl he’s ended up with. But he doesn’t count on Sophie’s spirit and charm changing something inside him that makes him realise maybe he got the right girl after all.

I bought this at the same time as the disappointing His Wayward Ward by the same author. Had I not, I would definitely not have downloaded this one but I had so I felt I should at least give it a go. Unfortunately, I wish that I hadn’t bothered.

Within the first few paragraphs I had taken a huge dislike to our ‘hero’, Devereux. I normally like a dissolute rake that is redeemed by the love of the heroine but in this case it was his character and morals that were flawed and not just his behaviour. At one point he choked Sophie and bruised her but, don’t worry, he was sorry – he has a temper and it would never happen again!! Shocking that such a leading man could be in a romance novel.

Sophie was a fair enough character but she lacked any excitement or strength and you felt it was only lust that the two characters felt for each other. I also couldn’t forgive her for putting up with Dev’s behaviour towards her.

The plot was staid and clichéd but nothing truly offensive. There was also nothing particularly sexy about the story despite it being billed as a risqué Regency romance.

Overall this isn’t worth buying and I can’t recommend it even if it was free. Sorry.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Too Hot To Touch by Louisa Edwards

Too Boring to Read
1 Star

Max Lunden is a fantastically talented chef and a major hunk to boot. He’s never been able to settle down and prides himself on never staying in one place too long. But when problems at the family restaurant in New York call him home he realises things have definitely changed since he was there last.

Juliet Cavanaugh loves the Lunden family and the restaurant she now calls home. There’s no way she’s going to let some other chef come in and take over – even if he is the gorgeous Max that she had a crush on as a young girl. Now the pair must work together to win a cooking competition and it’s not just the kitchen that will be heating up.

I started reading this book and after three nights of reading before bed I realised I hadn’t moved past page 45. It really should tell you something when sleep sounds like more fun than continuing a book. To put it bluntly – I was bored.

The characters were one dimensional, boring and yet still managed to irritate and annoy me. Well, to be fair, Juliet was so bland that I barely even remembered her from one page to the next. I know this is down to personal preference of what you like in a hero but I just couldn’t like Max either, I’m afraid. He was cocky, smarmy and far too self absorbed for my tastes.

I’ve never really watched any of those American chef competitions like the one described in this book but if I had liked the other elements then I’m sure that wouldn’t have mattered one jot. I just couldn’t get into the competition and the passion and excitement was missing. The author just didn’t sell it to me, I’m afraid.

I know I’ve been pretty harsh about this book but that’s simply because the writing style, story and characters just really weren’t to my taste. I will now put the other side of the argument forward and say that I have read of many, many people who not only liked but adored this book and all the things that I wasn’t keen on. I really do hope that you like it if you’ve bought it but unfortunately I just can’t bring myself to recommend it. Not my cup of tea. 1 star.

Monday, 9 January 2012

A Lot Like Love by Julie James

Another sharp and sassy romance
5 stars

As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of her own boutique wine store, Jordan Rhodes’ name is on the guest list of all the best parties in Chicago. But it’s just one party that the FBI want her help to get into – the exclusive party thrown by a renowned restaurateur and alleged mob money launderer. Jordan’s not keen on her “date” but she’ll do what she has to do in exchange for her brother’s release from jail.

As the top undercover FBI agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has been in his fair share of tricky situations. But pretending to date Jordan tops his list of difficult tasks when the pair can’t be alone together for more than 5 minutes before the sparks begin to fly and the arguing starts. But when their one date turns into two, this straightforward assignment starts to feel like something a whole lot more that neither of them expected.

This is another winner from Julie James and it is chock full of her trademark wit, humour and smart and sharp banter. It stands completely alone but we did get little cameo appearances from Cameron and Jack from her previous book, Something About You.

My favourite thing about Julie James’ writing is always the way that her main characters spark off each other. Despite this being a constant in her books the plot and characters are always so fresh and new and a joy to read from start to finish.

Jordan was a great character – strong and confident yet still likeable and relatable. But it was Nick who stole the show and my heart. I just love brooding, dark and mysterious men who fall hook, line and sinker for the girl of their dreams. Nick and Jordan together had great chemistry and some sexy scenes that greatly complemented the story.

I was also very happy to hear that Julie James’ next book (About That Night) will be Jordan’s brother, Kyle’s story.

The more I read of Julie James the more I love her writing style and her stories. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking out for a sexy, sassy romantic story. 5 stars.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Something About You by Julie James

Another excellent romance from Julie James
5 stars

All Assistant U.S. Attorney, Cameron Lynde, wanted when she checked into a luxury hotel was some pampering and a good night’s sleep. Instead she was kept awake by the amorous couple in next room which ended in murder. Now she’s under FBI protection and, of course, the man assigned to the case is Special Agent Jack Pallas – the same man who blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago that nearly ended his career.

So now the pair have to work together to solve the crime and keep key witness Cameron safe. It’s no surprise that being in such close proximity will make the sparks fly but it’s a surprise to both when it’s the sparks of lust and not animosity that start to burn.

This is another great contemporary romance that I couldn’t put down from start to finish. I loved the sassy, intelligent characters and the great chemistry between the pair. Cameron was a strong woman but far from a stereotype and someone I admired, rooted for and wanted to be! Jack was the perfect foil for Cameron as well as being a first class hero. Glowering, broody and a man’s man – he is the kind of guy any woman would wish for.

The story was interesting, exciting and didn’t rely on the obvious conflicts or dramas to move the story on. While involving a little bit of suspense over the killer, the book wasn’t in the least bit scary and I’m a complete wuss when it comes to things like this! This is definitely the kind of story that you just have to keep reading and that you really invest in both the characters and the book as a whole.

Julie James is truly becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors. Her characters are smart and witty with great chemistry and banter and the story has the right balance of romance and action/suspense. Furthermore she always leaves me wanting more and with that happy glow when I’m finished a book. Now a definite auto buy for me and something I’d recommend for everyone especially fans of Susan Andersen. 5 stars.