Book Review: Accidentally Compromising the Duke

Rating: 3.5/5

Title: Accidentally Compromising the Duke

Author: Stacy Reid

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This was another pleasant read.

 

Characters

I liked the characters. The heroine, Adeline, is considered plain at best by current standards of beauty. Combine this with her meager dowry and she is not at all what her social climbing step-mother wants. Those of us who aren’t raging beauties or super rich get this.

As the story progresses, we see her kindness with the duke’s children. Her understanding of their loss, and her attempt to be there for them. Losing her own mother has well-prepared her and makes all of it believable.

I also like that she’s willing to fight for the duke’s love. She is not some shy meek miss. She tries to tempt him, both in heart and body. I also like that she isn’t shy about her sexuality and the steamy scenes, which are quite good, aren’t the same sweet missionary style. There is real passion.

 

The Duke of Wolverton, Edmond, is considered mad because he loved his wife and grieved desperately for her when she died. I liked that about him. He’s no fop, loves his children, and does a fine job managing his considerable estates. He is also very active in politics and is shown upholding his ideals on his own lands.

He upholds his honor and that of Adel. All he asks in return is that she be unfailingly honest with him.

I loved that he said screw it to society and spent the social events with his wife. Danced only with his wife. Showed her kindness, and helped her with her new role as a duchess.

 

The other supporting characters, such as Edmond’s mother, were all well done. They felt believable but stayed in the background. The unpleasant step-mother trope worked and wasn’t overdone.

 

Plot

There was a plot at the beginning of the book, but it is easily solved with the rest of the story needing something more than the author gave us.

The storyvstarts with Adel ready to be happy with a comfortable friendship marriage to Mr. Atwood. When she receives an offer for marriage from a cruel and lascivious earl, her step-mother pounces. A terrific match for Adeline, a jump up the social ladder, a way to improve the step-mother’s daughters’ marriage prospects.

I like that Adel is smart enough to see this for what it is. And see her stepmother for what she is. And that she’s willing to take matters into her own hands.

So, Adel plans to be caught in a compromising situation with Mr. Atwood without telling him first so that she must marry him.

In the meantime, her best friend and co-conspirator is told she is to marry the Mad Duke. Desperate to change her lot, she sends Adel to the wrong room.

Hijinks commence, and Adel has compromised the Duke and herself. The Duke is looking for a mother for his two girls, and while he had decided on her friend, honor forces him to marry Adel. I liked this about the Duke. He could’ve left her to fight off the cutting remarks and be a social pariah. As a rich and powerful duke second only in social prestige to royalty, he clearly had the upper hand. I also like that the only thing he asks of her is honesty.

When everyone, even Mr. Atwood, rejects Adel, the only one left is Edmond. And even when he could slight her, he doesn’t. And he offers for her again. Which she accepts.

Now married, the rest of the plot revolves around his absolute fear of impregnating his new wife as his first wife died in childbirth. Frankly, this is where the plot falls apart for me.

This felt more than a bit stretched to me, but having never lost a wife to having my child, I give it a pass. Just know this is the extent of the plot.

 

Other

  1. Steamy scenes are well done
  2. Romance progresses believably
  3. I love that he holds to his promises to his daughters

 

Nice, easy read. I liked the characters and I wanted to see them get together in the end. Not memorable,  nothing spectacular, but fills a quiet evening comfortably.

 

Book Review: The Bride

Rating: 3.5/5

Title: The Bride

Author: Julie Garwood

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This books takes place during the time of William the Conqueror, so much different time frame than my usual Regency and Victorian fare. It also takes place in The Scottish Highlands, which is not my normal venue.

Characters

Jamie– I mostly liked her. I found her character a bit inconsistent when it came to her husband. I try to chalk it up to being forced to marry someone you’ve known for 5 minutes. Her childhood was hard, but it shaped her into a competent woman. She is a bit on the perfect side. Okay, absolutely perfect. But she has personality and spunk, doing what’s right even if unconventional.

Alec- Alec was your typical alpha hero. He’s not unkind to his new and unwanted English wife, though he does view her as property. If you like alpha heroes, you’ll like him. He’s also, basically, perfect.

 

Plot

Alec has been ordered by his King to marry an Englishwoman and the English King has decreed it will be one of Jamie’s family as her father didn’t pay his taxes.

Alec chooses Jamie, they’re wed, and he takes her back to the Highlands.

Hijinks along the way, including consummating their marriage.

They get back to the Highlands, and Jamie learns she’s married not just a Scottish warrior but a warlord with hundreds of men under his banner.

Her first order of business is healing a gravely injured man which helps earn her the respect of the clan. Even though she’s English.

The underlying plot is twofold. First, someone is trying to kill her as they did his first wife (though in his first wife’s case, they made it look like suicide). Second, there is a desire to unite the clans. Both are accomplished through the heroine’s unconventional actions.

Overall, the plot is mostly fluffy and something to do between steamy scenes.

 

The book was pretty good. An easy read, something new to me, but not something I’m going to be thinking about in a week.

 

How to Make it a 5

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and there just isn’t that much to work with. I also can’t rule out the fact that I’m being unduly harsh because it’s so far out of my normal selections.

And yet, I can like a lot of things outside my norm, so there is more to it. Perhaps it’s how quickly and easily Jamie and Alec fall for each other, even though he’s angry at being forced to take an English bride and she’s being ripped away from her home, family, and everyone she knows.

Maybe how the plot to unite the clans is so easily accomplished, I have to work harder to walk to the end of the driveway to check my mail.

Maybe it’s just how everyone is so damned perfect. Jamie: beautiful beyond measure. Yup. Brave. Check. Skilled rider. Sure. Unparalleled healer. Of course. And the list goes on and on.

Alec is basically just as perfect, but the alpha hero version of it. Handsome? yes. Tall and unbearably strong? You betcha. Wealthy? His sword alone is worth a king’s ransom. Add warlord and close ally of the king, too.

 

Accept this book for what it is: a quick read, not terribly memorable but a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Book Review: The Highwayman

Rating: 3/5

Title: The Highwayman

Author: Kerrigan Byrne

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The story takes place in Victorian England and chronicles the story of two orphans. It starts in the orphanage where they meet, explains what drove them apart, and then shows their reunification in the end.

Characters 

Farah- Farah is the sweet and gentle heroine. She is regularly referred to as a fairy because of her small, frail appearance, silvery curls, and grey eyes. I liked her well enough. She is the daughter of an earl, but the rest of her family dies of Cholera. For reasons I never ascertained, she’s sent to an orphanage. Apparently, despite her vast fortune, she has no family, friend of the family, or servants that can care for her. I found this unbelievably odd, but okay.

She is introspective, thinking through her own feelings, wants and needs. She has some steel under her fairy exterior, and you see this through her work at Scotland Yard and the way she deals with the hero.

Dorian Blackwell – is your bad-boy hero. Cruel, ruthless and feared, he has taken over the underside of London and stretched his “influence” all the way up to parliament. He does his own dirty work, and you see that in the novel. Years in prison have hardened him, and while he extends his rule and dominance, he keeps himself cold and frozen on the inside. No one is allowed to touch him, physically or emotionally.

I liked Dorian, although I was less convinced by his change in the end. After the horrors he experienced in prison, I can see why he’s as cold and ruthless as he is. Why he doesn’t fear death. This is a romance novel, so he’s redeemed by the heroine’s love in the end.

Secondary Charcters

  • Murdoch – liked him. He’s Dorian’s valet.
  • Warington – barely see him. But he’s the villain in the background.
  • Sir Morley – he’s a brief alternative love interest. Was expecting way more from him. He’s perfectly set-up in the beginning as a “villain” trying to do the right thing, but that’s quickly tossed to the side.
  • Others – none terribly interesting or annoying

Plot

Warning on this plot. It’s your standard “love of a good woman saves a bad man” narrative. It’s softened a bit because they start out loving each other as kids, but it’s still about his redemption and finally letting himself “thaw” because of her love.

While it was done pretty well, the theme itself disturbs me. It’s definitely not something I buy into, and I think it’s a generally unhealthy message. You don’t marry someone thinking you’re going to change them!

Off my soap box and back to the story.

 

As children at the same orphanage, Dorian (known as Dougan then) and Farah fall in love and promise themselves to each other through a hand fasting. A priest takes liberties with Farah although he doesn’t rape her. She is rightfully super upset, and the two are going to escape together. No idea how they knew the kids were running off, but the priest and others are waiting for them and stop them. In the process, Dorian kills the priest and gets sent to prison.

Farah manages to escape a short time later, and through a series of highly improbable happenings, eventually ends up in London and gets a job with Scotland Yard. She calls herself Mrs. Mckenzie as if she and Dorian had truly married and lives as a virtuous widow.

Fast forward 17 years. Dorian is now a feared and powerful crime lord. He learns Warington, who was betrothed to Farah, has a hit out on Farah. Warington has “found” the long lost heiress and married her. He’s now trying to claim the fortune and title bequeathed to her by her dead parents.

Dorain offers to get Farah back what’s hers if she agrees to marry him. Of course, she doesn’t recognize him. The marriage will be in name only as Dorian allows no one to touch him. She agrees, but only if he’ll give her a child. She desperately wants a family.

Some back and forth, and he agrees. They marry, he eventually has sex with her, and they show Warington’s heiress as a lie and claim Farah’s title (which I didn’t realize women could inherit titles in Victorian England).

The sex scenes might be a bit disturbing. They have a violent undertone and bondage although there is no overt rape. These are not sweet passionate scenes.

After all this, she finally figures out who Dorian is. She’s devastated that he won’t love her. It had been one thing to think him dead and he can’t love her, another that he’s alive and won’t love her. She returns to her inherited home, where Warington strikes determined to kill her after all she’s taken from him.

Still not sure why he doesn’t just kill her as he reveals the syphilis he contracted has made him impotent and he can’t rape her as he wishes. But typical dumb villain, there’s time for Dorian to rescue her. Dorian realizes he’s in love with her and we get our first “love” scene and then our happily ever after.

 

All in there are a lot of pieces in the plot either far-fetched or that don’t make sense.

  • Why was Farah in an orphanage? No trusted family servants or friends?
  • Really, she got all the way to London and happened to find a family to take her in as one of their own?
  • Why did Warington wait so long to “find” the heiress? He could have married her at 16 or 18. Why wait until she’s 27? Why would anybody think she was to be found with a death certificate?
  • If Warington knew where she was to put a hit on her, why not just take the real heiress?
  • Why would the nun fake a death certificate? Especially for an earl’s daughter and heiress? Not convincing that more wouldn’t be done to find her.
  • Why wouldn’t Warington just kill her at the end?
  • Warington’s syphilis spread awfully fast. According to the CDC, Stage 1 is 90 days after exposure. stage 2 is another couple weeks, and stage 3 is where the disease goes latent and you can have it for 3-15 years before it starts to attack your organs. Good thing he was impotent and couldn’t give his much more virulent strain to anyone else.

 

To get this Book to a 5

There is so much it would take to move this book up to a five. I need a lot more explanation of what was going on earlier on and why. It has so many holes but is so important to the story.

Frankly, I also need more from Dorian. Or, perhaps, less. It sounds as if the author did research on the prisons of the time period (I have no strong desire to find out if what’s portrayed us the truth). While these hardened Dorian, they harden him too much. There needs to be something left to redeem. I need his change to be believable.

I also need the villain to be more believable. Only reason I can see that he waits until Farah is 27 to trot out his imposter heiress is to make the timeline work for Dorian to get out of jail and build his empire.

Book Review: Magic of "I Do"

Rating: 3.5/5

Title: Magic of “I Do”

Author: Tammy Falkner

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This was an easy read. After getting a bit into the book, I realized it was part of a series. Not sure if it’s the second or third book. Might have been a better read if I’d read the earlier works, but it did stand alone.

The gist of the story is a lord from Regency England falls in love with a fairy from the land of the Fae. On their first night together. *eye roll* He has her vial of fairy dust so she can’t do magic. She pretends to get a little intoxicated and helps him do likewise. They have sex, and while he’s sleeping it off, she steals back her fairy dust and slips away.

Seems like a one night stand, except they’re now in love with each other…

There’s a bit about not knowing her parents because her father is human and so she was taken from them and raised by grandparents… Maybe there was more on this in the first book, but this felt like it was loaded with plot potential that never happened.

There was no world-building for the Fae lands. None. I never understood why there was an issue between the Fae and humans having relations. Other than the Plot Demands It.

Pros

  1. The steamy scenes were well done.
  2. The author earned her ending with the villain. Everything has been laid out throughout the story, so his demise is well staged.
  3. While they fell in love way too quickly, the sweet romance between the characters appealed to me.

 

Cons

  1. I never understood the villain. Why didn’t he just kill the heroine when he had her? Where was the heroine’s magic dust?
  2. The overall plot was pretty sparse. And  I am not much of a fan of characters falling in love after knowing each other one night.
  3. The heroine did some risky, stupid things and didn’t seem able to take care of herself. Would have much preferred to see her as strong, independent and capable.

 

Overall, an easy read. Nothing unexpected, nothing very memorable, but a pleasant way to spend an evening.

 

 

Book Review: Three to Get Deadly

Title: Three to Get Deadly

Author: Janet Evanovich

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After finishing the third book in the series, I can say that it is the funniest of the series so far. Not really funny, but with funny moments.

I didn’t figure out the way the mystery would end in this, although I had suspected Uncle Mo was into child pornography rather than what he was doing *Spoiler Alert* which was making pornographic movies with consenting adults. So, I wasn’t far off.

Granted, this was only a portion of what was going on, and I was unable to figure out the actual killer.

After doing a more thorough analysis of the story and my own detective skills, I am not sure I could have figured it out. There were no clues to tie it together until the very end. Not that it really matters. At least, not to me.

If you liked the first two stories in this series, you will probably like the third. It is very similar in pacing and style. Being outside my normal reading fare, I can’t say how much of it is realistic and how much is just a fun read. Add to it that the story takes place 20 years ago, and I am really outside my comfort zone. The one thing that did strike me is why does Stephanie Plum stay a bounty hunter? She notes in book 3 that she has a college education. So why would her choice for careers involve working at the button factory or working at the tampon factory?

I took a look at  map, and Trenton is right off the freeway and a pretty straight shot to NYC. If there is no work in Trenton, why not make the leap up to NYC for work?

Maybe I am just a coward, but if I had been accosted, threatened, and tortured like Stephanie has been, where my apartment isn’t safe and I’ve had cars destroyed by professional car bombs and rocket launchers, and where my grandmother was stabbed with an ice pick and later shoved in drawer reserved for the dead, I would not stick with the job. Especially as I am not adept at it. Especially as all of this has happened within the first 6 or so months on the job.

I’d be happy to loan Stephanie Plum the book What Color is Your Parachute (and I know it was around back then) to help her figure out what skills she has and how they could apply to a job where people aren’t trying to kill her.

I get that this is part of the charm of the story. If she was good at her job, it wouldn’t be funny. But I am starting to cringe at certain parts of her incompetence and at the way she is so blasé about danger.

The humor does add something to the story, and I love the feisty dialogue and the off-the-wall characters that have just enough of someone I know in them to make them real.

Book Review: A Gentleman's Honor

Rating: 4/5

Title: A Gentleman’s Honor

Author: Stephanie Laurens

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When you pick up a Stephanie Laurens book, you are not reading it for plot. I knew this when I selected the book, so I wasn’t disappointed when the plot was weak and threadbare. The basic plot is a lovely “widow” is being blackmailed into marrying a scoundrel. After he blackmails her, he is murdered in the gardens by someone else. She, however, finds the body just before the hero arrives. The hero is put in charge of finding the murderer as he has connections in Whitehall. All the more important when its discovered that the blackmailer was involved in treasonous activities during the Napoleonic War.

This might sound like a rich plot, but the search for the traitor is really just an excuse to keep the hero and heroine together and for the hero to have the opportunity to seduce the heroine.

The actual plot is the seduction of the heroine and all of the steamy scenes and romantic encounters between the widow and the hero. Lots of steamy scenes and romantic encounters.

This is not the kind of book you can’t put down and stay up reading until 3 am to see what happens. That’s okay. It’s like a bubble bath. You thoroughly enjoy it because it is pleasurable and luxurious.

 

Pros

  1. Steamy scenes are some of the best I have ever read.
  2. Sensuous. You feel the silk slide over your skin, the scent of cologne, the grandeur of the mansions. This book really appeals to your senses. All of them. And transports you there.
  3. The lust is there, but there is also a genuine compassion that builds between the characters.
  4. Strong Alpha male if that’s your thing.
  5. Did I mention the steamy scenes?

 

Cons

  1. The plot is contrived at best. I have never moved in the upper circles of society, but the Haute Ton is depicted a lot like the popularity contests in high school. No idea if its accurate or not, but I found it silly. Much of the plot revolves around the heroine maintaining her respectable appearance in society so her ravishing sister can make a good match. She has to “deal” with the rumors and gossip saying she commit the murder. *Eye Roll* Somehow society can believe that a tiny woman who was seen talking to the dead man at a social event was capable of killing him with a single dagger blow. I was baffled that Bow Street thought it possible, but then, my modern mind is used to forensics. You know, means, motive and all that. No one knew he was blackmailing her, so no one would be aware she has a motive. And not only did she not have the height or strength to kill him, but she’s implicated because she talked to him. At a social gathering. But no one else was implicated who talked to him. Remember, the only one who saw her near the body was the hero who isn’t telling anyone.
  2. The characters are perfect. And because of that, they’re flat. No foibles, no flaws, nothing to let you identify with them.

 

All in, this would blow the star rating out of the water if there was a plot. There isn’t, not really, but that’s not what I was reading this for.