When the Scoundrel Sins- Anna Harrington

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This is my first Anna Harrington! (steadily making my way around to all the Regency Historical authors) I enjoyed Harrington’s different voice and really sympathized with the heroine. Let’s get into it!

The Story-
Annabelle comes from humble beginnings, but has been raised by and lived with an upper-class family since she was a child. Her one chance at a good marriage is ruined by Quinton, a friend who decided to kiss her at exactly the wrong moment. Now it’s years later, and she finds out that she will actually inherit the only home she’s ever known if she can only marry by her next birthday. When Quinton is called in to help weed out would-be gold diggers, the issue is complicated.

My Thoughts-
This is one of those books that, even though I knew who had to end up together by the end, I had no idea how they would actually get there. The obstacles seemed pretty insurmountable. I felt so bad for Annabelle, and the hero, Quinton, took way too long to realize what needed to happen. That being said, the hot moments were seriously hot. Quinton is the perfect callous rogue that is hiding the good guy under a playboy exterior. The characters were well-developed, and that includes some secondary characters as well. They really brought the heart to the story.

The Bottom Line-
I think any historical romance fan would enjoy this, even though the story did take a little while to wrap up. Harrington’s voice and characters bring a different spin to the typical Regency, and I will definitely be reading more books by her very soon. 4 stars!

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Releasing Henry- Sarah Hegger

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Sarah Hegger has crafted a beautifully-written medieval world and family in the Sir Arthur’s Legacy series, so I was really looking forward to returning to this world. When I started the book, I was completely thrown by how different it was, but once I got into it, I found the characters even more touching than before.

The Story-
Henry went off to the crusades several years ago and, somehow, has ended up a slave in North Africa. An old friend buys his freedom at the same time that a local merchant, originally from Genoa, is sending his daughter back to Europe to protect her. She happens to be a gal that Henry has watched, admiringly, from a distance. He will have to get much closer to her when he gets tasked with bringing her to family in Genoa before he heads home to Anglesea.

My Thoughts-
I feel like Sarah did an amazing job of getting across her message without being preachy. She handled issues of race, discrimination, and differences with grace and dignity. I felt so strongly for both Alya and Henry as they tried to make a new life for themselves. This is truly an emotional book that examines human connections and love. It does get a bit dark, so if you are looking for a light-hearted historical romance, this isn’t it. This is more serious and thought-provoking.

The Bottom Line-
What a beautiful end to a lovely series. I did cry a little (twice). I hope Ms. Hegger isn’t done with historical (although I LOVE her new contemporary series and highly suggest you check it out) because she really has a knack for historical world-building and making me feel like I’ve stepped back into the past, if only for a few hours. 4 1/2 stars

The Laird Takes a Bride- Lisa Berne

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The Laird Takes a Bride is my first book by Lisa Berne, but I was pleasantly surprised. A true Scottish historical (not a Regency disguising itself as Scottish), this marriage of convenience story definitely provides a different spin on the trope.

The Story-
Fiona has had her heart broken, and she has given up on love. Alasdair was enjoying the bachelor life, but when an old edict is uncovered, he’s going to have to make a big change.

My Thoughts-
I really enjoyed the “Bachelor” set-up, but was disappointed at how quickly everything was settled. The characters are well developed, but they are both too stubborn to almost be believed. That being said, I couldn’t quit turning pages because I absolutely had to know how it was that these two would end up falling for each other. The Scottish setting and daily life circumstances provide depth and a nice historical framework that isn’t always achieved in books like this.

The Bottom Line-
I would read another book by Berne, especially if it is set in Scotland. An enjoyable historical read. 4 stars

Traitor in Her Arms- Shana Galen

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Previously having read and enjoyed a Regency historical by Galen, I was looking forward to this one, especially when I noticed that it was set during the French Revolution. I was not disappointed, but this was not the light-hearted romp that I am accustomed to in historical romance.

The Story-
After her husband’s death, Gabrielle is left with all of his gambling debt and no way to pay it back. She has taken to stealing expensive artifacts from the rich in order to keep her head above water, but when she is offered the chance to repay everything and help the Scarlet Pimpernel free innocents in Paris, she must act. Ramsey has always been intrigued by Gabrielle, but no more so than now, catching her in the act of theft. A secret and blackmail keep him from realizing his full potential, and now he will follow Gabrielle into danger to hopefully free himself.

My Thoughts-
It was so refreshing to read of a different time period than Regency or Victorian England, but man, Revolutionary Paris is pretty depressing. Exciting, yes. But still depressing. The danger in this story was as palpable as a world-ending paranormal, which I adjusted to, but was perhaps not expecting from the normally light historical genre. The development of the characters was thorough and complete; their actions are entirely driven by their motivations. The heat between the two was constantly simmering beneath the surface. Mostly though, the depictions of Paris during the Revolution perfectly set the scene. I could almost smell the blood and feel the tension, waiting for the zing of the guillotine. Honestly, this felt more like a historical novel with romantic elements than a true romance because of the weight of the plot. I think that is what kept it from a 5 star rating for me; I wasn’t prepared, and the suspense stressed me a bit.

The Bottom Line-
If, after reading this review, you are thinking that this sounds like a book you will really enjoy, you will likely LOVE this one. If you are in the mood for a light historical, this probably won’t be your jam today. Well-written and a wonderfully different setting! 4 1/2 stars

How to Marry a Marquess- Stacy Reid

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This is the third book in Reid’s “Wedded By Scandal” series which focuses on a variety of couples caught in some sort of scandalous behavior. I really enjoyed the second book in this series, and this one was also entertaining.

The Story-
Evie and Richard have been friends for a long time. He’s helped her keep unwanted suitors away since she was 16. But, now that it is time for her to actually marry, Richard is torn between helping her with lessons in seduction and finding a wife for himself and his illegitimate daughter.

My Thoughts-
I enjoy Reid’s style which focuses more on character development and really hashing out why the two belong together. Although the plot is strong, it is the characters here who really shine. Evie is perfectly easy to imagine from the moment we meet her vomiting all over Richard’s shoes and burping to warn off would-be suitors, but still beautiful and innocent. (Not joking. She is a lot of fun.) Richard is an equally well-drawn character, and it is great to see how Reid winds a path around their journey to each other.

The Bottom Line-
These books always have a different, refreshing feel to me that is welcome in a normally predictable genre. The only thing that kept this from 5 stars for me was that the conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart didn’t seem to need as much time to resolve as it took. But, I will definitely be around for the next one in the series and recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romance. 4 stars

The Deepest Well- Juliette Cross

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Re-releasing today for .99! This book is a prequel to the upcoming Dominion series from Juliette Cross which also takes place in the same world she introduced in the Vessel series (starts with Forged in Fire). You can read this as a stand-alone or read the Vessel series first. The benefit of starting with the Vessel series is that you know the outcome, so seeing how the characters get to the outcome you already know is lots of fun. That being said, you will be able to follow completely if you are new to this world of angels and demons.

The Story-
Lady Katherine is going through the motions of her life. When she meets a handsome stranger on the same night that she realizes what a sham her marriage is, her life changes forever.

My Thoughts-
Y’all, this goes dark. It is not fun and flirty. The characters go through hell before they can find their HEA, but that makes it even more satisfying when they do. This is such a beautiful journey, and Cross will rip your heart out along the way. I love everything about this book. I can almost guarantee that it won’t be what you expect: it is so much more. Cross’s prose is beautiful with wonderful imagery and lovingly-crafted characters that you immediately connect with.

The Bottom Line-
This book is paranormal historical, perfect for fans of Karen Marie Moning, Bec Mc Master or high-concept dark romance. An RT top pick, this is an excellent book that didn’t have the release it deserved because of Samhain Publishing’s collapse. This is such a great opportunity for new readers to discover an amazing author and two fabulous series. 5 stars

Buy it Now! Amazon

The Wicked Heir- Elizabeth Michels

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The Spare Heirs… I just love this concept. This was my first book in the series, but now I want to go back and read them all. It’s such a great idea to focus on those second sons who won’t inherit, but have no jobs or “meaning” in life. Although, I can’t imagine a much better spare heir than Fallon St. James, and I fear the others will pale in comparison.

The Story-
Isabelle is a romantic. She keeps a diary, loves to read romance, and reminded me of the heroine from Northanger Abbey. Since she daydreams her fantasies, of course her ideal man is tall and blonde with worldly interests and charisma. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to realize she is alive, but when his best friend, Fallon St. James, notices her light stalking (like all teenage girls do), they become unlikely friends. There’s a mystery, friends-to-lovers, and other fun stuff that I don’t want to spoil.

My Thoughts-
I could see how someone could become annoyed with the heroine, but I felt such a kinship with her that I forgave her naivete. As for the hero, he was one of my absolute faves of recent reads. The plot is wonderfully captivating, and the characters are well-developed. My mystery feels more high stakes than most in Regency romances with a truly evil bad guy.

The Bottom Line-
If you read Regency, this series is a must, and I suspect that this is one of the best heroes in this series. A very fast read that will have you smiling and sighing. I can’t wait to read about another “Spare Heir” (hopefully Lord Brice). 5 stars

My Hellion, My Heart- Amalie Howard and Angie Morgan

This is the third book in Howard and Morgan’s “Lords of Essex” series. I read and reviewed the first book “My Rogue, My Ruin” and really enjoyed it, but I liked this one even better. Don’t worry: you don’t need to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one.

The Story-

Princess Irina is in her third season, and is expected to make a match, but none of her suitors can match up to the man who has always been lurking in the back of her mind, her former guardian Henry. Henry is a different man since the war; he sees himself as unfit for anyone, but he is continually drawn to the one woman he has always considered off limits.

My Thoughts-

I loved Irina in particular. This heroine can keep up with men in all areas, protects herself, and has the wit to match. She is a whisky-drinking, knife-toting, sassy gal, and I wanted to be her friend. Henry, while playing the part of handsome, brooding guy, was sexy and swoon-worthy, but I felt he was somewhat too closed up for too long. Not sure I’d have waited for him if I was Irina. The only other niggle I had was who turned out to be the bad guy. I won’t say more because it would be a spoiler, but I was disappointed. That being said, I loved the plot and characters, and found it cohesive and compelling.

The Bottom Line-

This is an improvement upon an already wonderful series with refreshingly different Regency characters, especially the heroine. I am looking forward to what comes next from Howard and Morgan, and will happily read whatever they write. 4 1/2 stars!

Scandalous Ever After- Theresa Romain

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This was my first book by Theresa Romain, and I was pleasantly surprised at her different take on historical romance. With a great friends-to-lovers trope, a delicious hero, and different settings than most historicals, this one is definitely worth checking out.

The Story-
Evan and Kate are old friends whose relationship ended at the sudden death of her husband a few years ago. Kate has been struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, and Evan has been desperately trying to move forward…and forget about his feelings for Kate. When she seeks him out, they have to figure out who they are to each other now.

My Thoughts-
I loved how different this book was from all of the cookie-cutter historical romances I (admittedly) love to read. First, the backdrops of the horse racing and Anglesey in Wales provided interesting interactions for the characters. Secondly, I have never been a horse person, but I really enjoyed reading about the horses in this book. It’s obvious that the author loves them and can transmit that appeal to the reader. Don’t get me wrong: this book isn’t all about horses or anything, it just effortlessly connects them to the story through the couple’s affinity for them. Lastly, I thought the grown-up approach to this romance was refreshing. These are two adults who have figured some things out and can move forward with eyes wide open.
The best thing about this book, however, is the hero. I loved Evan so much that at some points, I disliked the heroine based on her idiocity with regards to him. Hello!?! Here is a hot, amazing guy who adores you. There was also a bit of a disjointedness with the plot once they got to Ireland and started a murder investigation. It almost felt like two separate books.

The Bottom Line-
The overarching mystery which continues from this book, while interesting, has me less intrigued to come back to the series than Romain’s character development and welcome take on historical romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and highly recommend it, especially to fans of horses and well-developed characters and relationships (not instalove). 4 stars

Review and Blog Tour: Positively Pippa- Sarah Hegger

Positively Pippa Banner

Review
When I was in my twenties, I went through a phase where I loved the sweet Harlequin American Romance series and books by Debbie Macomber. But as I got in to my thirties, I abandoned those romances for something a little steamier. I’ve tried to go back to the sweet contemporary a few times, but each time I feel kind of let down by the lack of passion. “Positively Pippa” was the perfect remedy.
Story-
Pippa has just lost her fancy Hollywood television job because of some bad editing on behalf of her jerk ex-boyfriend. No one in Hollywood will stand up for her and tell the truth, so she heads home to Ghost Falls to lick her wounds.  When Pippa left Ghost Falls all those years ago, Matt stayed to take care of his family after tragedy struck. Now that Pippa is back, both need to reevaluate where their lives are headed.
My Thoughts-
I know this sounds like a typical “coming-home” romance, but it is really so much more than that. Even though Pippa seems likes exactly the kind of person I would not like, I totally got her and her motivations and found myself rooting for her hard. Matt is amazing, but he too, became more real as the book went on, and I liked him even more once we saw his weaknesses.  The secondary characters truly bring this novel to another level; I had a completely clear picture of Ghost Falls and the people we were dealing with. I can’t wait to get to know some of them even better in future books. The other thing I want to mention is the heat… These two have great chemistry and this book has some very nice sexy moments.
Bottom Line-
This book went very fast for me; so much so, that I stayed up late reading one night which almost never happens for me and contemporaries. The characters really drew me in, and I really enjoyed it. I think this would make a great movie; it’s a little steamy for Hallmark, but Lifetime or Passionflix would totally work. I would love to see Philomene on screen. This is the perfect blend of sweet, home-town romance and sexy times. 5 stars!

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“Note From Sarah: Thank you for stopping by the Positively Pippa Blog Tour. There’s a lot of goodies up for grabs I want to let you know about. I hope you’ll join me on release day for a very special Facebook Party where fellow author Kristi Rose and I will be giving away a $400 gift card to Stitch Fix! Everyone who signs up for my newsletter right now is also entered to win one of a kind, custom made adornments from local Colorado designer SimaG Jewelry. Finally, to celebrate Pippa on this blog tour, I’m giving away some things she would love – a planner, Ulta Beauty Gift Cards and, of course, books!”
 
Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway Below – One Grand Prize Winner will receive a $150 Gift Card to Ulta + the Pippa’s Favorites Bundle (Planner, Pen and Pouch) and a book, two more winners will receive a $100 and $50 Ulta Beauty Gift Card as well as a book each and 5 winners will get a copy of Positively Pippa!
Gift cards and Bundle are only open to US Residents only, international entrants are eligible to win a Positively Pippa e-book. 

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Pippa Blog Tour Giveaway (1)