Review: The Redemption of Lord Rawlings by Rachel Van Dyken

The Redemption of Lord Rawlings

Title: The Redemption of Lord Rawlings

Author: Rachel Van Dyken

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book

Pages: 204 pages

Release Date: March 2012

Genre: Romance – Regency/Historical

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Lord Rawlings is in trouble. His inheritance comes with strings. He must get married before his next birthday or he loses everything. After having given up his chance with his former betrothed for a life of wild oats, he now finds himself with no money, no prospects and no hope.

And that’s where his only hope finds him. Down and out and sitting in the rain all alone in the park.

The problem? He still thinks of the young lady as the little girl in pigtails he used to know. And it’s up to her to change his perception of the situation. And all this amidst the public scrutiny of the revered Mrs. Peabody who seems to have it out for him.

Review: I was offered the opportunity to read this book before its release in order to give an honest review. This is the third book in the House of Renwick series. In both the first and second books Rawlings was an antagonist, and a bit of a slimeball at that. I was anxious to see how the author would develop her third protagonist into a character worthy of redemption, let alone deserving of his happily ever after.

Van Dyken did not disappoint. From the very beginning, the character development was well done. All Rawlings’ former rogue-ish qualities were shown to be steps on the way to that redemption. The heroine in this book was younger than the first two, and she often behaved like a spoiled child, but her growth also led her to maturity worthy of being Rawlings’ match.

The attraction between the two characters is undeniable, and the tension is built throughout the story through passionate interactions, though clean and sweet. I love this author’s ability to build the intensity of the relationship without crossing the line. Add to this, her usual knack for comedic wordplay, and you have a winning combination.

Recommendation: With every new release, Rachel Van Dyken’s books keep getting better and better. I was completely absorbed in Lord Rawlings’ story from start to finish, in spite of hating his guts after the first book and being on the fence about him after book two.  This is an enjoyable story, one of the best romances I’ve read in a while. I give it my highest rating:

Five Quills

The third book in The House of Renwick series is a don’t miss in the trilogy. And if you haven’t read The Ugly Duckling Debutante and The Seduction of Sebastian St. James, you should add them to your must read list.

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Review: The Missing: Book 1 – Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Found

Title: The Missing: Book 1 * Found

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster

Format: paperback ($6.99)

Length: 314 pages

Release Date: April 21, 2009 (reprint edition)

Genre: Middle Grades – science fiction

Available at: Book stores everywhere

Summary: Who are Jonah and Chip anyway? Even they don’t know. When cryptic messages start showing up in their mailboxes, they suspect they may be in danger. The two boys, along with Jonah’s adoptive sister, Katherine have a mystery to solve: the letters, the trip to the FBI office, strange people appearing and disappearing at will…what is going on?

Review: Talk about leaving you in a position where you HAVE to read the next book in the series. You are thrown right into the mystery at the very beginning and the suspense builds seamlessly to the end. But it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning.

Recommendation: Great read for those interested in science fiction and time travel. Geared towards young adult, but intriguing for any age. Four quills:

four quills

Guess I’m gonna have to pick up Book Two!

Review: The Black Duke’s Prize by Suzanne Enoch

The Black Duke's Prize

Title: The Black Duke’s Prize

Author: Suzanne Enoch

Publisher: NYLA

Format: E-book ($2.99)

Length: novella

Release Date: November 23, 2011

Genre: Romance – Regency

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Summary: The Black Duke is a man with a temper who strikes fear in everyone who knows him. He does what he wants and pity the fool who gets in his way. In spite of his bad humor, he does have a close circle of friends who seem to tolerate him. A group of friends who take under their wing one Katherine Ralston, a young lady of considerable strong will herself — and the only one, it seems, who can put the Black Duke in his place and live to tell about it.

Katherine is the heiress to her deceased parents’ estate, but her uncle is in control of it until she comes of age. He sends her away to London for a Season to live with her godparents, while he secretly sells her inheritance off piece by piece. She suspects his motives and is determined to keep her property. But her plans are thwarted by her own godfather and the Black Duke himself…or so she believes. And in spite of her connection to her inheritance, she will have to choose between that and rescuing the man she loves.

Review: This is a well-written and clean romance novella. It was a quick read and sucked me in to the story line immediately. The plot was well-developed throughout. And the characters were both strong. Their evenly matched tempers made the tension mount steadily, which developed the relationship between them as well as set up the climax of the story. My least favorite thing about it was the double-antagonists, which is less a reflection on the writing and more a reflection of me as reader. I can only take so much confrontation. 🙂

Recommendation: What’s not to like? Great writing. Strong characters. Clean romance. Suspenseful twists and surprises. It’s easy to see why The Black Duke’s Prize has been a top-seller for such a long time. A very enjoyable read. I give this book four quills:

four quills

Review: Shawnee’s Creek by Stephy Smith

Shawnee's Creek by Stephy Smith

Title: Shawnee’s Creek

Author: Stephy Smith

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: ebook ($1.99)

Pages: @77 pages

Release Date: August 9, 2011

Genre: Romance – Contemporary/Western

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press, Smashwords

Summary: Shawnee and Cheyenne Turner have endured their fair share of suffering, but now their lives are finally on the right track: brand new jobs they love and intriguing new men in their lives. And while Cheyenne seems to change from her previous depression almost overnight, Shawnee struggles to accept the affection of Emory Creek. Though she is magnetically drawn to him, she is apprehensive about rumors of his past and inability to commit.

Finally unable to stand the situation no longer, she leaves town and finds a new job in Colorado. But when the owner of that ranch sells out, she has no other recourse but to return to her home town and take her old job back. And Emory is there waiting for her, eager to prove that she is the only woman for him.

Review:  This book starts out really strong, involving the reader immediately in the lives of the main characters. Can’t help but want to keep reading, and there are many powerful and amazing scenes in this story. There were several places I wanted to read again and again. The frustrating part for me was the gaps left in the plot line. Stuff that helps to develop the relationship between the characters. I was so sucked in the beginning, I felt a little disappointed when it seemed I was missing out on key points.

Recommendation:  I realize it’s a novella, and so there isn’t as much room for expanding all the details, but with a story this good, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add those in and make it into a full length novel. I want to know what I missed! For this reason, I give three quills to Shawnee’s Creek:

Three Quills

I do like Stephy Smith’s style and would happily read more of her books. The uniquely Texas ranch flavor is a great trademark!

Review: Aegean Intrigue by Patricia Kiyono

Aegean Intrigue by Patricia Kiyono

Title: Aegean Intrigue

Author: Patricia Kiyono

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book ($1.99)

Pages: ? (Short story/Novella)

Release Date: February 1, 2012

Genre: Romance – Mystery

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press, Smashwords

Summary: Francie Vasileiou is a graduate student working on her PhD in archaeology in beautiful, culture-rich Greece. Raised by a famous archaeologist father and a famous actress mother, her life was anything but average. In spite of her mother’s plans for her future, she chose a life as an archaeologist– her true passion. Unfortunately, on every dig she is involved with, priceless artifacts have disappeared without explanation, leaving a dark cloud of suspicion on her integrity.

Enter Alex Leonidis, a tall handsome private investigator, hired by a wealthy man with interests in the latest dig site. His objective: to observe Francie closely in order to prove her involvement in the missing artifacts. His plan: to go undercover as a Project Director of the dig site. Alex observed her closely all right — drawn inexplicably to her beauty, her passion and her work ethic. He has a difficult time keeping his mind on his primary objective.

But artifacts are still disappearing. Is Francie the culprit? Or is it one of the other crew members — the old, absent-minded professor, the seemingly inept newbie who is always checking his phone, the crew cook? And what will happen when she finds out he’s been lying to her about who he really is?

Review: This story is one of those whose plot is so engaging you are drawn immediately in. It’s difficult not to want more when it’s so good but it ends so soon. As a short story, it can’t be judged by the same criteria as a full-length novel (though a longer format would have given the room to flesh out all the details of this amazing story).

I would have liked to see more development in the relationship between the two main characters, as most of it is brought about through the internal dialogue of the respective character and not as much through their interaction with one another. But overall, a very enjoyable read. As it is, there is romance, mystery, twists and turns, betrayal, reconciliation, and much more. It’s incredible how the author can pack so much into this story.

Recommendation: This a great book for an afternoon or evening read. You can read it in one sitting, and it keeps you intrigued from start to finish. I give Aegean Intrigue four quills.

four quills

I have The Legacy waiting on my Kindle to read. And I also recommend The Christmas Phoenix — a great Christmas novella.