Thursday, 27 September 2018

[Review] The Good, the Bad, and the Duke, by Janna MacGregor



Title: A Duke Like No Other
Series: The Cavensham Heiresses #4
Author: Janna MacGregor
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Number of pages: 356
Publication date: November 27th 2018


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Synopsis:
A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied…

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?

Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?


Review:

I received an eARC at no cost from the author, and I am leaving a voluntary and honest review. Thank you.


I know it’s early to be reading Christmas-related books, but really – is it ever too early to read Christmas stories? ❤️

Lady Daphne Hallworth quickly became one of my all-time favourite characters. She tried her best to be “the perfect daughter/sister/etc” and she shoved all her feelings in a diary. It actually sounds like something I would do, with the exception that I’ve tried to write a diary several times, but I always end up forgetting to write in it. I personally like to lay at night thinking about what I would write, and sometimes even say it out loud, in a whispered voice, just to put those feelings out there. So I can imagine what Daphne felt when her diary was stolen – as a result of a good action, which is even worse!

But, rest assure dear reader, she is not alone. In comes Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart, former friend of Daphne’s brother, and her former (and current!) crush. Paul acted badly in the past and that caused him to alienate his friends, but Daphne never truly believed he was a horrible person, instead she believed he was someone who had made mistakes, but who was truly a good person (which, of course, it’s true).

Daphne is left alone at Christmas and Paul is the one that is going to make her company and help her retrieve her diary. Paul and his Moonbeam.

I loved their relationship, Paul was so sweet with Daphne, and all he wanted was to help her. Even the impediments that might have gotten in the way, it was all resolved and I loved how strong and determined Daphne was, and how Paul tried to be his best version, for himself, for Daphne and for those that now depended on him. That’s one of my favourite things about the book, Paul’s awakening to become someone… not different per se, but someone with new objectives and a different view of life and of what really matters. And that’s also what brings Daphne’s family and friends back to being friends with Paul. They see how he’s improved, and that he is trying, he’s doing his best to become better, and he deserves the vote of confidence.

After reading this book, I decided never to have a diary with me in public and, if I ever do write in a journal, to have it locked at all times, because I don’t know if I could handle the stress of losing or having it robbed, with all my private thoughts. Daphne’s fight and endurance to act the right way not just for her, but for her family and those that might be affected by what she had written, was inspiring.

The Christmas ambience helped the story’s redemption arc, and it was lovely to have the beautiful descriptions of winter and Christmas decorations. I do love a good Christmas romance.



Saturday, 15 September 2018

[Review] Seduced by a Scot, by Julia London



Title Seduced by a Scot
Series: Highland Grooms #6
Author: Julia London
Publisher: HQN Books
Number of pages: 376
Publication date: October 30th 2018

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Synopsis:
There’s no matchmaking an unruly heart

When a prominent Scottish family faces a major scandal weeks before their daughter’s wedding, they turn in desperation to the enigmatic fixer for the aristocracy, Nichol Bain. Remarkably skilled at making high-profile problems go away, Nichol understands the issue immediately. The family’s raven-haired ward, Maura Darby, has caught the wandering eye—and rather untoward advances—of the groom.

Nichol assuredly escorts Maura toward his proposed solution: an aging bachelor for her to marry. But rebellious Maura has no interest in marrying a stranger, especially when her handsome traveling companion has captivated her so completely. Thankfully, Nichol loves a challenge, but traveling with the bold and brash Maura has him viewing her as far more than somebody’s problem. Which raises a much bigger issue—how can he possibly elude disaster when the heart of the problem is his own?


Review:
I received an eARC at no cost from the author, and I am leaving a voluntary and honest review. Thank you.


Seduced by a Scot is the sixth book in the Highland Grooms series. After such a good fifth book, I thought it might be difficult to come back to that excellence. But Maura and Nichol came pretty close to it. Maybe because Maura (after leaving her house, of course) reminded me of Catriona? I don’t know. What I do know is that I really enjoyed this book.

Both Maura and Nichol have had a hard time in life and, in this book, both of them find themselves without a place to call home. Even if it might seem that the attraction isn’t immediate, we can feel the sparks growing.

We have a strong perspective of how women were seen in the past (I mean, some of us today are still experiencing this - sadly), and how most males thought it was always their fault that they caught someone’s eye. Because, of course, even if she pushes them aside, it’s still her fault because she’s pretty? Thankfully (and as expected), the hero treats her like a real person, even if he tries to lead her to a life she doesn’t want. He believes it’s the best for all involved, but when things between them start to change it’s hard for Maura to keep to the plan, and Nichol showed a huuuuge resolution almost to the end. Sometimes, his prerogative in forcing her to this “good life” that he envisioned for her as a bit too much. It felt like he was doing the same that had been done –no, forced on to her for her whole life. And didn’t really like that.

Also, for a very intelligent and resourceful man, Nichol wasn’t the brightest in the bunch when it came to understanding why the Baron MacBain acted the way he did. I knew right from the start, he literally tells him to his face. I can understand that a child might not put the pieces together, but adult Nichol (and Ivan – his brother - to be honest) should have known the truth a loooooong time ago. He even says so himself!

Anyway, those are the only reasons why this book has a lower review score than the previous one (which was 4.5*).

Maura was so determined and I’m pretty sure she would have made it on her own (which would have been interesting to see). The story contains a bit of a Cinderella and Rapunzel vibe to it, which some readers might appreciate.

In the end, it was a sexy book, with determined characters that overcame their struggles and past emotions, even if sometimes behaved unlike themselves.