Review: His Chosen Bride by Sherry Gloag

His Chosen Bride by Sherry Gloag

Title: His Chosen Bride (Gasquet Princes #2)

Author: Sherry Gloag

Publisher: Astraea Press

Release Date: February 14, 2012

Pages: 98 pages

Format: ebook ($1.99)

Summary: Prince Henri is too busy running a country to worry about minor details like marriage. His father has been sick, and he has taken the reins in his more than capable hands. But his family is worried about him, and they all but force him to take a vacation.

Having no choice in the matter, Henri travels to his brother’s quiet country horse ranch. It’s there he sees Monica again.

He had met her before…at his brother’s wedding. And he knew then she would be trouble for him if he let her get too close. Now, thrown together by his well-meaning family, Henri has to fight his growing feelings for the mysterious, beautiful woman.

So much for letting his father choose his bride.

Review: This is a novella, so a pretty quick read. Henri is your typical work-a-holic with a twist. He’s the crown prince in line to inherit the throne. He acts the way you would expect him to when he finds out that he is being relieved of his royal duties and forced into taking a much needed vacation. He’s upset and takes it out on any likely scapegoat, in this case Monica.

Both characters are likable and well-written. The reader wants them to end up together from the beginning. There is good chemistry between the two main characters and the sense of duty on Henri’s side versus the sense Monica has of not fitting in anywhere provides a solid conflict they both believe to be insurmountable. It’ll keep you reading to the end.

There are a lot of flashbacks that can cause confusion if you’re not paying attention. Pair that with a few places near the end where significant time lapses occur, and the storyline can be a bit difficult to follow in certain parts. Not impossible, but challenging.

Recommendation: This is a sweet romance, so suitable for romance readers of all ages. It is the second book in a series, and it mentions characters and plot points from the first book, and I hadn’t read the first book. It is possible to read it out of sequence without feeling like you are missing critical pieces of the story, but I found that it made me want to read the first book to get in on the story of the secondary characters. I have added From Now Until Forever to my TBR list. Can’t wait to find out how Liam and Melanie got together. I give this one  three quills: Three Quills

Summer Lovin’ Giveaway Hop

Summer Lovin' Giveaway Hop

For this Summer Lovin’ Giveaway, a fun, light beach read:

Every Girl Does It by Rachel Van DykenEvery Girl Does It by Rachel Van Dyken

COVER BLURB:

Amanda turned down Preston’s prom invitation in front of her entire high school, but that was eight years ago.

Somehow, her past mistakes always have a way of catching up with her, and making her pay. Amanda’s sarcastic wit mixed with Preston’s insufferable ego make sparks fly in more than one way.

Preston, against his better judgment can’t fight the desire to get under Amanda’s skin and mercilessly tease her, but when that teasing becomes flirting, and flirting becomes something dangerously more, neither of them are prepared for the adventure that follows.

(This is classified as Christian romance)

~OR~

You might prefer the contemporary Regency-styled romance,

Compromising Kessen also by Rachel Van Dyken

COVER BLURB:

Compromising KessenThe last thing career-driven Kessen Newberry wants is to leave her home in Colorado to spend a Season in London, far away from her job, her friends and the memories of her mother. However, her father, the Earl of Newberry, threatens to disinherit her unless she gets in touch with her British roots. She complies, but has no intention of enjoying the experience.

That is until she meets Christian Vandenbrook, the arrogant and irritatingly handsome future Duke of Albany and her father’s business partner. Unfortunately, Christian hates Americans. And coffee. And apparently, Kessen.

A hatred this passionate can only lead to one thing… marriage.

Caught in the middle of a Regency-inspired nightmare, Kessen and Christian are forced to marry in only one week’s time. Resigned to their fate, the two resolve to give the relationship a chance—which would be much easier if everyone would stop interrupting them every time they found a moment alone.

The winner of this giveaway will receive her or his choice between these two ebooks. All you have to do to enter is FOLLOW my blog (upper left corner in the dashboard line) and then leave your following name and email in the comments. One winner will be chosen at random, notified and posted on July 18th.

THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING! Back to the linky list.

Review: Upon a Midnight Dream by Rachel Van Dyken

Upon a Midnight DreamTitle: Upon a Midnight Dream

Author: Rachel Van Dyken

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book ($3.99)

Pages: 223 pages

Release Date: March 27, 2012

Genre: Regency Romance, Fairy Tale

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Rosalind Hartwell’s family has fallen under a curse, and it is all her fault… Well, it’s half her fault.

The other portion of culpability falls on Stefan Hudson, the recently returned prodigal, the Marquess of Whitmore and soon to be Duke of Montmouth. It was their responsibility to marry and join the two families in order to avoid bringing the full fury of the family curse crashing down around them.

When Stefan and Rosalind call off their engagement, members of both families start dropping like flies, starting with the fathers of both houses. It seems as though Stefan and Rosalind have no choice but to follow through with marriage after all. But Rosalind insists on being wooed, and Stefan had been stranded on a deserted island for so long, he has all but forgotten most of the social graces.

In their quest to reverse the family curse, they find out there is much more to all the strange sickness and death than meets the superstitious eye. But will they figure out the secret in time to save the rest of their families?

Review: A much-loved favorite fairy tale re-mixed in a new and intriguing story. Rachel Van Dyken was able to weave a brand new story out of the old, which is not easy to do. Between the heroine’s narcolepsy and the over-protective, cane-wielding godmother there is a wonderful mix of the original fairy tale with Van Dyken’s own inventions.

The hero, who suddenly re-appears after having been presumed dead, is an interesting mix of knight in shining armor and unbearable shipwrecked savage returning to polite society.

The heroine, who is convinced she is dying, is a strong female lead holding out for love even in the midst of the threat of a curse befalling her family. She is a worthy opponent of the stubborn, arrogant Stefan, and often gives him a taste of his own medicine in more ways than one.

Recommendation: This is an enjoyable read, a bit steamy in some places, but clean overall. It was written for an adult audience, and I probably wouldn’t recommend it for readers under fifteen. It has mystery, betrayal, romance and suspense all rolled in, so there is a little something for everyone. It is an excellent start for the new series, and I am looking forward to the next installment about Beauty and the Beast. I give Upon a Midnight Dream four quills.

four quills

For those of you who haven’t yet read the House of Renwick trilogy, the characters in this book do make an appearance in The Redemption of Lord Rawlings. It’s definitely worth picking up. You can check out the review here.

Review: Saphyre Snow by Marcia Lynn McClure

Saphyre Snow

Title: Saphyre Snow

Author: Marcia Lynn McClure

Publisher: Distractions Ink

Format: E-book

Pages: 276 pages

Release Date: October 25, 2010

Genre: Romance – Fairy Tale

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Summary: Saphyre Snow is fleeing for her life from her step-grandmother–a woman whose beauty is rivaled only by her acute narcissism. Saphyre soon finds herself in the company of seven men on the outskirts of society, each for his own reasons. They vow to protect Saphyre from any harm that may befall her.

In return Saphyre wants to show her gratitude and concern for each of them in a way that meets the particular need of each. Over the course of several weeks, she gets to know each of the men very well, and each holds a special place in her heart. But none more so than the handsome rogue, Rogan. Will he have courage enough to risk the Executioner’s Kiss for her sake?

Review: A wonderful new spin on the old favorite fairy tale of Snow White with just enough elements of real possibilities to make it seem a likely version. Unlike the old Disney version of the same tale, this one has a fully-developed hero as well as the sweet, humble and beautiful princess. In fact each of the seven “men of the keep” has a dynamic personality of his own. The relationships among all the  members of the close knit group were believable and emotional connections. Which made the climax and resolution of the book all the more exciting and well contrived. The ending was quaint as a fairy tale should be, but the turning point of the story is so intense, the ending of the story has to be that way in order to leave the flavor of “happily ever after” with the reader.

Recommendation: This is the second book by this author I have read. Both of them are fairy tale re-tellings with a realistic and engaging spin. Don’t let the descriptions of the seven men at the beginning deter you from the story. Once I got past that part, I had a difficult time putting the book down until I got to “The End”. Saphyre Snow is a fully absorbing story about love and true chivalry (both romantic and platonic versions). I loved it, so I have to offer it my highest rating:

Five Quills

I noticed there is a prequel entitled Crimson Frost available as well, so I couldn’t resist adding that to my TBR pile as well.

Review: Desperate Measures by Candice Hern

It Happened One Night

Title: Desperate Measures (a Regency short story)

Author: Candice Hern

Publisher: self

Format: E-book

Pages: 32

Release Date: May 29, 2011

Genre: Romance – Regency/Historical

Available at: Amazon (free)

Summary: Lydia Bettridge is in love with a man who seems not to notice her existence. But she has a plan and has enlisted her brother’s friend to assist her in carrying it out. Things fall apart however, when her co-conspirator stands her up and sends in his place the very man she was plotting to catch, Geoffrey Danforth. He knows the plan. He doesn’t know he is the intended victim. Together Lydia and Geoffrey spend an evening pretending to be love-stricken in order to make her “intended” victim notice her enough to become jealous.

Review: Short, sweet and straight to the point. This was a delightful read which can be read in one sitting. Of course, you want more. That’s the point. Get a taste of what the author can do and then go buy her novel-length books, because her writing is like a Pringle’s potato chip. You can’t just have one.

Recommendation: Well worth the time and the price (Um, it’s free. Can’t really go wrong.). You will want to pick up a few of her other titles after you’re done. I enjoyed this and will read it again. I give it four quills:

four quills

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.

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.

Review: The Hidden Heiress by Juliet Moore

The Hidden Heiress

Title: The Hidden Heiress

Author: Juliet Moore

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services?

Format: Kindle ($.99 on Amazon)

Pages: ? (It says 70,000 words, but it is actually a lot shorter – novella length)

Release Date: October/November 2011

Genre: Romance – Victorian/Historical

Available at: Amazon

Summary: When Isabel Darton finds herself on the business end of a murder plot, she goes into hiding as a governess for a wealthy family in London until she can determine who is trying to assassinate her.

Her new employers have a difficult daughter who has run off all the previous governesses. As a servant of the family, Isabel soon finds that a life of servitude isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her employers see only her lower station, even though they are forced to include her in some of their social events to avoid unlucky numbers.

Marshall Templeton is a second son, the brother of Isabel’s employer, with a promising political career. As a member of Parliament, his interest in a governess as anything other than a passing fancy is frowned upon in his social circles. The problem is Marshall just can’t get Isabel out of his mind.

Review: I enjoyed this book, though I did like Punish Me with Roses better. The characters were well-developed  and there was a very intriguing conflict. I would have liked to see more of the mystery-solving in this one. Isabel does do a little digging, but for the most part she waited for the answers to fall into her lap. Though to be fair, she did have her hands full with the troubled girl as well as two men who couldn’t seem to take no for an answer.

Recommendation: I like Juliet Moore’s story lines. She does a good job drawing the reader into her character’s lives. This wasn’t my favorite of the two books I’ve read, but I do think it’s worth recommending to others. It gets your heart racing in several places. And there are parts you’ll want to re-read. The love story was complete, but there were a few holes in the mystery. For this reason, I give three quills to The Hidden Heiress:

Three Quills

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