On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library. Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan? Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall? Perhaps the butler did it. All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: It wasn't her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers' true identity, she'll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville - the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she's ever had the misfortune to embrace.
Setting: England Regency Era
At a house party, Charlotte and Piers are caught hiding behind the library curtains where they had retreated separately in order to avoid interrupting an amorous couple. Upon discovery, Piers declares that he will marry her. But Charlotte has other plans, that don’t include marriage, so she sets out to discover who the people were so they can clear her and Piers. For his part, Piers actually does want to marry Charlotte. She’s as good as any other gentlewoman to marry and give him an heir. So, the book is a series of sometimes slapstick events punctuated by the couple getting to know one another on every level.
It took me foreeeever to get through this book. Seriously. Six weeks, maybe seven. I would listen for perhaps an hour, then leave it for days, then try again. Over and over. The problem is not the story. As with Dare’s other Spindle Cove novels, this one is well-written with an amusing plot, excellent dialogue, interesting characters, well done sex scenes, and humor. Charlotte didn’t have much by way of redeeming qualities - none of the usual talents of a gently bred lady such as needlework or painting - but that was one of the issues she recognized about herself. Overall, this is a good story. But I recommend getting it in print.
The reason I could not stick with this book is that I found the narration to be excruciating. It is laconic, and there are little pauses where none should be, and I did not like her male voices. I do wish I had gotten this for my Kindle instead of wasting a credit.
Audie Award, Romance, 2016. Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of Victorian London's wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who've wronged him... and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception-and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands....
Setting: England and Scotland 1872
Farrah MacKenzie is a clerk at Scotland Yard. One day the senior clerk sends her to the interrogation room where their boss is taking a statement from an arrestee. There she sees Dorian Blackwell AKA the Blackheart of Ben More. He is a famous, scarred up villain, and he looks at her in such a way that she feels a bit threatened. That night, after a date with her boss, she goes home to find Dorian Blackwell in her apartment along with 2 of his henchmen. He tells her that she is in danger and he takes her to his home in Scotland to keep her safe. All his men know her as “Dugan’s Fairy.” [Dugan MacKenzie was the boy she had “married” when she was a child at an orphanage (where the orphans of nobility or the bastards of nobles & Gentry were cared for) and has spent the past 10 years pretending to be his widow] Blackwell and most of his men had been in Newgate prison with Dugan until his death 7 years after his initial arrest (so a total of 17 years since Farrah lost her love). Dorian’s solution for keeping her safe is to marry her, though he said it would begin name only. But she wants a real marriage because she wants a family.
The H/h are all kinds of messed up, especially Blackwell. Not only does he have the prison background, he has spent the 10 years since his release building up his criminal enterprise. He is a ruthless, conscienceless murderer, and feels that Farrah is too pure to touch. For her part, she is naive and fearless in the face of such a horrible person, going so far as to fall in love with him, though at first she feels like she’s being disloyal to her childhood sweetheart about whose death she feels responsible.
Although the book is well-written, and the basic plot is good, I could not work up any sympathy for the protagonists. I could not like such a reprehensible male character, nor did I like Farrah that much.
This is part of the Victorian Rebels series. I read #3 first and although he is darker and bloodier than your standard dark, brooding hero, Liam MacKenzie is nowhere near as horrible as Dorian Blackwell. As comparison, Liam’s killing was done in war time as an officer in the Army rather than as an enhancement to criminal activity. The next book after this in the series is The Hunter, which focuses on Dorian’s friend and fellow ex-con Christopher Argent, who is an assassin. I’m thinking I wouldn’t like him either, so I’ll give it a miss. I reckon, despite my being an atheist, I am just too straight-laced to enjoy this type of character.
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.
Ildiko, the niece of Sangur the Lame, the King of Gaur, is to be married to Brishen, the younger son of the Kai king. While neither had ever expected to be married for other than political gain, they certainly did not expect to be bound to someone of a different species. However, both accept their fate and form a rather refreshing friendship. This book is mainly character-driven, though there’s enough action to hold one’s interest.
I “met” Grace Draven for the first time with her novella In the Darkest Midnight found in the anthology Amid the Winter Snow. I was so impressed with that story that I immediately got this book, which is related to that novella. Then I binged every other novel and novella of hers I could find. I love her vocabulary, and her ability to evoke mood appropriate to the story. I am anxiously awaiting her next book, and I hope it will be on audio as well.
They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated marquess has vanquished his foes with all the rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent...in the game of love.
Setting: Wester Ross Scotland 1878
3 1/2 stars
Philomena St. Vincent, the Viscountess Benchley, was rescued from an involuntary commitment by people who owed her a debt of gratitude. Giving her a new name and background, these friends sent her to Scotland to be governess to the children of Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie. She is to remain out of England until her friends clear up the commitment issue. She has some serious anxiety after her stay at the asylum, and she lives in fear of being found out and sent back to the husband who had placed her at the asylum. Liam MacKenzie, the Marquis of Ravencroft, AKA The Demon Highlander, a widower, has recently sold his commission in the Army to return to his home to take up his position as Laird and to raise his children. He found his son and daughter in desperate need for some polish, which Mena is to provide. Me a and Liam find themselves attracted, despite the fact that each is hiding secrets.
Neither of these characters had much dimensionality. He was the brooding Laird all the way through, and she was the woman wrestling with her secrets. There was no humor to lighten the mood. On the other hand, the plot and dialogue kept my attention. I also thought the secondary characters were interesting. There are some sex scenes, making this a PG-16 sort of read, but while explicit, the descriptions are not raunchy.
Overall, this was a nice listen.
Born prematurely, Christoff wasn't as big or as strong as his older brother or the other younglings in the village. Unable to fit in, he does the best he can, helping his father and mother on their farm. His life changes when the mountain near their farm awakens. Believing he is the only one who can quiet it, he retreats to the mountain to watch over the village that shunned him. A hermit for centuries, he dreams of the day he can move on to his next life - a life that he hopes will give him a chance to find his true mate.
Setting: Valdire and Earth
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy romance
Two novellas involving the offspring of couples in previous novels in the series. The first novella, The Old Dragon of the Mountain’s Christmas, started out really well. However, as soon as the toddlers showed up, things went downhill. What the heck were children (too young to have learned to speak properly) doing in the mountains without an adult? And then Christoff’s dragon, despite its great age, also has the vocabulary of an intellectually challenged child. It was irritating.
I couldn’t finish the book. I couldn’t listen to 4 more hours of baby talk.
Abby Tanner is content to live on her mountain while she creates beautiful works of art and enjoys the peace and quiet. All that changes when a strange golden spaceship crash lands on it. Now Abby has to deal with a golden ship, a tortured alien, and an insane local sheriff.
Setting: Northern California and the planet Valdire
Abby is a glass artist who lives in the mountains in the home she inherited from her grandparents. Despite having no family (her mother died of an overdose and she never knew her dad) and only one elderly lady friend, she is content. One day, taking a walk on her mountain, she comes across a spaceship in her meadow and finds a handsome injured alien. She takes him home and nurses him back to health. Zoran is the high king of Valdire, a dragon shifter who also has a symbiont that lives on him and can change form and split into separate parts. While Zoran is unconscious, his symbiont takes a liking to Abby and part of it turns into bracelets. When he wakes, he recognizes that this woman on the primitive planet he landed on (yes, that would be Earth) is his True Mate. He basically claims her without really telling her it means she will have to go to his planet. She doesn’t want to go because she is content with her work and home.
The positive in this story is that the couple did not fall into bed immediately. Partly because he was unconscious at first, but also because she was reluctant to have a fling, being a virgin. The negative? He does, as the title indicates, abduct her. It gave me an unsettled feeling. How could she ever feel okay about being dragged away from home without some of her possessions, like photo albums and things inherited from her grandparents? This concern, along with whether she’ll be able to continue with her art, doesn’t even come up, though it could have added some dimension to the plot.
There is foreshadowing of the next book in the series, and there is already talk of ass beating. The sex scenes are relatively well-written — as in, not too raunchy. There are some (non-sexual) scenes involving interaction with villains that bring some tension to the story.
The narration was okay. David Brenin does pretty well with the main characters, even giving Abby a nice voice. However, differentiation gets a bit muddy as more characters are added into the story (Zoran’s brothers and some girls Abby invites over after an out-of-town trip).
I got this as part of the romance package. I don’t think I would have purchased this book, and definitely wouldn’t purchase others in the series. I’ve already queued up the next books (except for the ménage) that are available in the package, and I’ve actually finished the second book. I’ll likely return the others unread, especially if the heroes are as impatient and borderline abusive as the one in book 2, and if the heroines are as irritating.
Cara Truman is a pint-size pistol whose inquisitive nature has gotten her into trouble on more than one occasion. Her next adventure takes her further than she even expected when she ends up on a journey out of this world.
Cara was captured along with Abby, from the previous book in the series (Abducting Abby) and 2 other women. She is a hyperactive mechanic who enjoys taking things apart. Trelon is the brother of the high king of Valdire, the hero of Abducting Abby. Trelon recognizes Cara as his true mate, but spends his time chasing after her and trying to lock her up, because she delights in enraging him. They finally get together and there is sex, there’s trouble and there is sex, there is more trouble and more sex.
Although the basic plot - abduction by sexy alien and subsequent relationship - is okay, I found the details in the story irritating at best and downright infuriating. Cara is immature and flippant, and Trelon is sexist and borders on abusive. “He should have beat her ass” or “He was going to beat her ass” came up more than once. I suppose there are people out there who think control freaks are sexy, but I found it disturbing. Speaking of sex, those scenes were pretty well done as far as erotica goes, and not really raunchy.
The narration by David Brenin is well paced, though the male characters didn’t have very distinctive voices (though this was exacerbated by the number of males, all with alien names). Cara’s voice was recognizable due to speed of delivery.
Overall, if you enjoy slightly misogynistic erotica, this isn’t bad. I got it through the romance package. It’s unlikely I would have purchased it.
It's the autumn of 1890, and almost a year has passed since - much to their surprise - Lady Julia and Nicholas became parents. Just as the couple begins to adapt, a solicitor arrives with a strange bequest. Nicholas, it seems, has inherited a country house - but only if he and his family are in residence from All Hallows' Eve through Bonfire Night.
Setting: Berkshire, England Main action between Halloween & Guy Fawkes
Nicholas Brisbane inherits an estate under condition that he accept immediately and be on hand to personally collect the quarterly rents, due in the next week, on Guy Fawkes night (AKA bonfire night). So the Brisbane household - Lady Julia; Brisbane; their adopted son Jack; the child’s nanny (Morag, Julia erstwhile lady’s maid); the new lady’s maid; and Aquinas, Lady Julia’s indespensible butler - go to visit Lesser Wembley in Berkshire. They are accompanied by Lady Julia’s brother Plum and their sister Portia, her lady’s maid, Poria’s Daughter Jane the Younger, and her nanny. They find Brisbane’s inherited estate in excellent condition, with a highly competent housekeeper and wonderful cook. They also find numerous stories of ghosts and hauntings. The question is, is the inheritance too good to be true? Are the ghosts real? Who is behind it all?
All the characters, both old and new, are interesting and the plot is tight. Ellen Archer’s narration continues to be good.
This novella was published in 2014 as an ebook. It is, thus far, the last in this series. Raybourn appears to be concentrating on her Veronica Speedwell series and other stand alone books since then. I, for one, hope she returns to the Lady Julia mysteries in the future.
To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed - and eccentric - March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome, sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George.
Setting: Sussex January 1890
This novel is in the same visit to Sussex as in the novella Silent Night. A newborn baby is found in the stable at Belmont Abbey, and it is up to Lady Julia to learn who abandoned him and why. There are some accompanying small mysteries: a ghost; missing jewelry; and the reason the Earl March is so depressed. Despite these facets, the novella is largely uneventful. However, the main event is important in the Lady Julia Grey story arc.
Aside from the stingy length and the dearth of action, there are no inconsistencies in established characters, and new ones are well done. The narration continues fine in this book, and it is appreciated that the same narrator has been used throughout the series.
After a year of marriage - and numerous adventures - Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together - until they find themselves at her father's ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals. Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering - but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs. There are missing jewels, new faces at the Abbey, and a prowling ghost that brings back unwelcome memories from a previous holiday - one that turned deadly. Is a new culprit recreating crimes of the past? And will Brisbane let Julia investigate?
Setting: Sussex, England 1889
Lady Julia and Brisbane return to Bellmont Abbey, the family seat of the Earl of March for Christmas to find the Earl depressed, reports of a ghost, and then jewelry starts going missing. Lady Julia is on the case!
The characters are well-rounded and consistent with previous works in the series. The plot is simple, a little above average, but complexity isn’t expected in a novella.
Once again, Ellen Archer provides a creditable performance.