Monday, 14 May 2018

[Review] Tempting the Laird, by Julia London

Title Tempting the Laird
Series: Highland Grooms #5
Author: Julia London
Publisher: HQN Books
Number of pages: 377
Publication date: June 26th 2018

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Mystery and desire cloak the Scottish Highlands

Unruly. Unmarried. Unapologetic. Catriona Mackenzie’s reputation precedes her everywhere she goes. Her beloved late aunt Zelda taught Cat to live out loud and speak her mind, and that’s exactly what she does when Zelda’s legacy—a refuge for women in need—comes under fire. When her quest puts her in the path of the disturbingly mysterious Hamlin Graham, Duke of Montrose, Cat is soon caught up in the provocative rumors surrounding the dark duke. Never one to retreat, Cat boldly goes where no one else has dared for answers.

Shrouded in secrets, a hostage of lies, Hamlin must endure the fear and suspicion of those who believe he is a murderer. The sudden disappearance of his wife and the truth he keeps silent are a risk to his chances at earning a coveted parliamentary seat. But he’s kept his affairs tightly held until a woman with sparkling eyes and brazen determination appears unexpectedly in his life. Deadly allegations might be his downfall, but his unleashed passion could be the duke’s ultimate undoing.

I received an eARC at no cost from the author

I’ve read all the previous book on the Highland Grooms series and I have to say I really enjoyed reading this one.

Catriona Mackenzie is so fierce, she is amazing. She... reminds me of myself, to be honest, so I really identified with her character throughout the book (with her wishes and desires at least). Hamlin Graham, Duke of Montrose, was probably one of my all-time male heroes, because he was a great man, a great warden, and he is like that pretty much the whole time – even if others don’t see it.

The story was so good, so well written (just like Julia London has gotten us used to) and it just made me want to know more, about what was going to happen to Cat’s shelter, to Hamlin’s life when things changed, to everything! I know I’m not saying much, but I’m trying not to spoil anyone.

I can say it’s a wonderful story, with strong-willed, interesting characters, themes a bit different than what we usually see in historical romances but that I honestly loved seeing portrayed here.

Definitely one of my favourite books of this series.

Monday, 7 May 2018

[Review] A Duke Like No Other, by Valerie Bowman

Title: A Duke Like No Other
Series: Playful Brides #9
Author: Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Number of pages: 353
Publication date: May 1st 2018

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General Mark Grimaldi is devoted to his service for the Crown, risking his life and giving up everything for his career. The political promotion he's always wanted is now within his reach, but he needs to convince his estranged wife to return to England and play the role of happy bride in order for him to get the position.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent the past ten years in France, not having seen her husband since she left England. But now he's on her doorstep, asking her to return with him, and Nicole sees the opportunity to get something out of this deal. So she agrees, on one condition: she wants a baby.

A Duke Like No Other is a Regency spy caper with Valerie Bowman at her best as husband and wife match wits and may just fall in love in the process.


I received an eARC at no cost from the author

A few days ago, I read a review somewhere that talked about who much you can love a book and still acknowledge that it has some problems. And I have to say that this book fits that description.

I really enjoyed it, and I really liked both the plot and the author’s writing style, but sometimes there were small problems that slightly annoyed me. An example: Mark is a very intelligent man, he knows how the world works, and knows that influence and titles are important. However, somehow, he fails to see how that might come in handy for when he decides to propose a new police force to the House of Lords, etc. Really? It was small things like this that sometimes annoyed me.

Anyway, the story starts with Mark focused on trying to get a promotion and him needing a wife to achieve it – but he already has one that went to France 10 years ago. And right away we start wondering what happened between them – 10 years is a long time (in another country, especially!). I really liked Nicole, and I sympathized way more with her than with Mark (he was a bit too proud for me, and it took him too long to realize it). Their love story is a bit complicated, but like most love stories, if they had just talked to each other and weren’t so proud (and arrogant, in Mark’s case), those ten years apart would not have come to that.

With all of this said, you would expect me to give a lower rating to this book, right? Wrong! Because even though it had its issues, I really enjoyed reading it – I read it in just a few hours! It was very engaging, with a Clue-like mystery to keep the plot going, and steamy romance between Nicole and Mark. I have to say, I’ve read my fair share of sexy/sexual/sex scenes, and these were some of the best! Granted, they were only bedroom scenes, but you can tell a lot about an author and their style of writing from the way they can actually describe a romantic scene: every sense most be awake (and awoken) with these scenes, and I really liked how the main characters connected by using their lovemaking as a way to be able to talk (both literally and metaphorically) to one another, and eventually work out their problems.

I also liked that, even though this is an independent book, it sets the scene for the next one. All the secondary characters were there for a reason, they weren’t just there to fill in the space, they actually brought something to either the plot, the main characters development, or both.

In the end, it was a very pleasurable read, with romance, mystery, and strong enough points that kept me interested and made me want to keep reading as fast as I could.