Monday, September 3, 2018

Bound for Sin (Frontiers of the Heart #2) by Tess LeSue

Title: Bound for Sin (A Frontiers of the Heart novel)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre:  Historical Romance
Series: A Frontiers of the Heart novel (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley (September 4, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0451492595
ISBN-13: 978-0451492593
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan through the publisher's First to Read program. Thank you.

'A respectable widow of means seeks resourceful frontiersman for the purpose of matrimony...'

That was the first line of the advertisement a desperate Georgiana Bee Blunt had listed in the paper. Georgiana has gotten herself into a real bind, or rather her late husband had. He and their young son had headed out west to make their fortune when he had passed away. Now she needs to go and retrieve her son, but there is a catch. Someone is holding him for ransom. She'll need to travel out west with her other children to save him. That means she'll need someone to help her because traveling so far with or without small children can be a deadly undertaking. Especially when you've been gently born and raised in the city where you've never needed to acquire any of the skills needed to survive such a perilous journey--not even cooking. She'll need someone to not only help her and her children make the trip safely, but someone who can help her maneuver the tricky situation she expects to  encounter once she finally gets to California. The major problem she's presently experiencing is that none of the potential candidates responding to her advertisement are anything near what she was looking for. Not even close.

Matt Slater is everything Georgina is looking for in a man--strong, knowledgeable about traveling the open trail, and capable of protecting her and her children. There is just one problem, Matt has no interest in settling down any time soon. He's made his living for the last five years as a trail guide escorting wagon trains back and forth between  Independence, Missouri and Oregon City, Oregon. He loves his job and it pays well. When he steps in to help the beautiful young widow who's in trouble, he finds himself in the middle of something he hadn't expected--a pretend engagement.

With months of traveling ahead of them, will Georgiana be able to convince the man to marry her, and escort her and the children to California to save her son? Only time will tell...
This was the second novel in the Frontiers of the Heart series by Tess LeSue. It can easily be read as a standalone as there is little to do with the couple from the previous novel in the series. Matt, however, is the brother of Luke (the 'hero' from the previous novel), and he is the reason Matt took over the trail riding job five years ago. He stepped in and took Luke's place when Luke decided to settle down. While I haven't read 'Bound for Eden', after reading the description, I really want to. It's a gender swapping novel and I always love it when the heroine poses as a boy. They are usually hilariously good.

I very much enjoyed 'Bound for Sin', and would love to see more Wild West period romances. Georgiana is a smart woman who finds herself between a rock and a hard place, and is boldly trying to strategically maneuver her way out of trouble. A difficult task to pull off  when living in a male dominated world. Ironically, my father-in-law just told me a story about how one of his ancestors had been a mail order bride. When she arrived in the United States to meet her prospective bride groom she decided she wanted nothing to do with the man and broke off their engagement. She eventually ended up marrying someone else, my father-in-law's great-grandfather, and the rest, as they say, is history. So there were definitely ways for smart  and innovative young women of the time to pick their own path in life, but it was by no means easy. I liked how Georgiana kind of turns the table on the mail order bride situation when she's gets to pick and choose her own spouse. I rather enjoyed how she took charge of her own destiny, and when things didn't go as she expected, she thought on her toes and found a solution.

Matt was a fun character who Georgiana describes as being very muscular, and looking like he could rip an oak from the earth bare-handed. He is a great guy who slowly finds himself falling for Georgiana and her kids. He's exactly what she needs but more importantly, she's exactly what he needs but doesn't know it yet. He tries to resist his feelings, but constantly finds himself being drawn to the young woman and her children. I loved watching these two fall in love.

It took me a little while to get hooked into the story, but I really liked it except for one thing--I took issue with the main character's last name--Bee Blunt. I'm guessing the author picked the name to be funny, but at times I found myself being ripped out of the fabric of the story when her true name was used because it usually coincided with a moment when I truly wanted Georgiana to be blunt and just spit out to Matt what was really going on. When this happened it emphasized the fact she should be blunt and it immediately released me from the story's grip. While it's fun to have little jokes running through a story, an author should make sure it doesn't distract the reader from the story. That is what unfortunately happened to me, and I didn't really care for it.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 roses out of 5. It was a sweet, cute, and charming romance that managed to mix a little history into the story. I adored the chemistry between  Matt and Georgiana. and liked the reverse mail order bride scenario. There was some humor, a smidgen of suspense, and  a lot going on to keep one's interest. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Frontiers of the Heart series:

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Early Review of The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke #2) by Tessa Dare

Title: The Governess Game: Girl Meets Duke
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Meets Duke (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 28, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062672126
ISBN-13: 978-0062672124
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

She wanted a client for her clock setting business

He wanted a governess to keep his wards busy

Fate would bring them together

Desire would draw them to one another

And somewhere in the middle they'll find exactly what they each were really looking for....

While you can't always get what you want,
sometimes, when you least expect it,
 you get what you need.
This is the second book in Tessa Dare's Girl Meets Duke series. You can read it as a standalone, but
you'll probably enjoy it all the more if you read 'The Duchess Deal' first. Characters flow from the previous book into this one, and you'll be curious about their connection because they are so vocal in their loyalty and protectiveness towards Ms. Mountbatten. It was really too cute.

Ms. Alexandra 'Alex' Mountbatten is an unconventional women even among the unconventional. She doesn't see things as most. She believes a woman can do just about anything a man can. Perhaps her unconventional upbringing is to blame. She was raised on a ship by her father where she developed a tendre for all things celestial and dreamed up big plans, aspirations, and ideas. In the meantime, she sets clocks in the homes of England's wealthy every week using her chronometer. It may not be exciting, it may not be glamorous, but it gets the bills paid and lets her live a comfortable life. That is until the day an unfortunate accident puts an end to her livelihood.

Chase Reynaud is a handsome rogue who lives by one rule--No attachments. He doesn't even have a dog because commitment just isn't in his nature. What he does have are two wards, ones he means to send to a boarding school in the fall, but in the meantime he needs a governess. He's the heir to a Dukedom, but truth be told he doesn't want the title. Reluctant is his middle name, at least about most things, and he plans to keep it that way. That is until Alex comes along and turns his world inside out.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was a very lighthearted read filled with humor, heat, and havoc. Three fine things to have in a romance. While it took me a while to warm up to Chase, I adored Ms. Mountbatten from the start. Her patience with Chase's wishy-washy behavior was commendable. Plus, I loved how she handled the girls especially when she changed all their books. I liked how she wasn't one to sit idly by and wait for change to happen nor did she allow herself to be walked all over. I admired her backbone. Chase was redeemed by the end and I finally started to warm to him after we learned his backstory. While it didn't justify all of his behavior, it did explain a lot. I loved how Alex managed to finally get through to him about how he deserved a happily ever after and convinced him that it started and ended with her. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. A very sweet, sexy, and charming love story indeed.

Order of the Girl Meets Duke series:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Giveaway, Interview, and Review of Don't Close Your Eyes (Texas Justice #1) by Christie Craig

Coming to a bookstore near you August 28, 2018 : 

'Don’t Close Your Eyes' by Christie Craig 

In this dark and dangerous Texas small town, Annie Lakes’ nightmares come alive when a cold case from her past reveals family secrets that put her life in jeopardy.

Annie Lakes has had the same recurring nightmare for years. Her heart pounding in her chest. A panicked voice, begging her to run faster. Her own bloodcurdling scream. But now Annie is starting to realize it’s more than just a bad dream. She’s starting to remember things about the night her cousin Jenny disappeared all those years ago. Things that make her believe her family was involved—and what they’re hiding is much worse than she ever imagined. But she can’t unravel this alone. She needs someone she can trust, someone like sexy Detective Mark Sutton ….

Mark has seen enough—too much—to assume that Annie’s story is a dead end. It turns out that her family is hiding some killer secrets. A long time ago, Annie was just an innocent little girl who saw something she shouldn’t. Now she’s a target, and Mark’s running out of time to protect the woman he’s starting to fall for. But how does Mark face off against a murderer who just may be someone Annie loves?

Christie Craig

Christie Craig is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-nine books. She is an Alabama native, a motivational speaker, and a writing teacher, who currently hangs her hat in Texas. When she’s not writing romance, she’s traveling, sipping wine, or penning bestselling young adult novels as C.C. Hunter. For more info on Christie and her books, please visit

Forever Summer Reading Q&A with Christie Craig

What was the last romance series that you binge read?

C.C.: Lori Wilde’s Cupid Texas series.

What's your favorite summer drink?

C.C.: Lemonade if it’s early. Red wine or a frozen margarita with a salted rim if it’s after five.   And it’s always after five somewhere, right?

Where do you and your family like to travel to during the summer?

C.C.: I’m a beach person. I love being close to the sand and waves. Almost every year we plan a beach escape. Some years, it just to Galveston or one of the Texas Gulf Coast places. But whenever possible, we like heading to California. We love Ventura. There’s a hotel that we’ve been going to for years. They have balconies that overlook the ocean. We always sleep with the doors open so I can hear the waves all night long. Then we can walk to their little downtown area, or right down the beach and have dinner at one of the many nice restaurants there.

What's your go-to accessory in the warm weather?

C.C.: A hat. I’ll admit I’m a baseball cap wearer. It keeps the sun out of my eyes and it’s easy to tuck my hair up inside if it gets too hot or windy.

If the main characters in your newest book booked a trip, where would they go?

C.C.: A fishing trip. Mark my character in Don’t Close Your Eyes, loves to fish. It’s sort of his yoga.  He loves being outside, the sun reflecting off of the water, and forgetting some of the painful cases he’s worked. And I’ll admit it, I love to fish, too. My hubby says when I fish, I fish hard. You’ll never see me put my pole down. Nope I’ve got it in my hands waiting for that tug on the fishing line. I can see Mark taking Annie fishing. I’m not sure she’d bait her own hook, but I’m sure Mark would do it for her. He’s just that kind of guy.

Title: Don't Close Your Eyes (Texas Justice)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Series: Texas Justice (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 480 pages
Publisher: Forever (August 28, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1538711591
ISBN-13: 978-1538711590
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Annie Lakes had the same recurring nightmare for years. She's seen psychiatrists about it. She's asked her mom a million times if what she'd dreamt had ever happened, but her answer is no. Yet when Annie goes to the funeral of her uncle from her mom's side, a memory sparks making her believe her dream is, in fact, a partially suppressed memory. She can't let go of the feeling that she may have witnessed a murder....

Mark Sutton is a homicide detective who takes his job seriously. His specialty is solving missing children cases, and he's very good at it. Whether a new or cold case, he has the uncanny ability to zero in on the important little details that others have missed and solve the crime. With each case, however, he feels he loses a little piece of his soul. When Annie Lakes seeks him out and reveals she believes she may have witnessed a murder as a child, he's not sure what to think. Could she be a few fries short of a happy meal or did she actually witness something? After doing a little digging, he's determined to find out.
This is the first book of the Texas Justice series by Christie Craig, and, I believe, Ms. Craig's first venture into the foray of romantic suspense. Her previous books were lighthearted romances heavy  on the humor. While the element of humor still permeates the essence of this novel, it takes a back seat to the suspense. While I adore her other romances, I very much enjoyed this change of writing style and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Annie is a teacher whose life has been haunted by a tragedy that may or may not have actually happened. While at first glance her story may seem a little out there, she actually is looking at everything very logically and with a level head. She seeks Mark out because she needs answers and she knows he can find them. She's admired the handsome young detective for some time, never having gotten up the courage to introduce herself. Being on the Anniston police force, Mark's well known in town, but Annie has observed him over the past several months at the coffee shop that both he and she frequent. She knows he has a good heart and cares.

Mark has some emotional baggage of his own which stems from the tragic death of his sister. It's her death that inspired him to become a detective, and he's made it his mission to try to save and/or avenge as many missing children as he can. It's his way of doing penance for failing to protect his own sister years ago. There are two disappearances that detective Mark Sutton needs to solve in this book, and he'll need to sift through all the information that's been collected to solve them.

What I loved about this story is that Mark and Annie evolve as individuals as the story unfolds. They both are haunted by their past and each helps the other work through them. While their relationship starts out rather bumpy, it slowly turns into something neither expected nor can deny.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a nice blend of romance, suspense, and mystery. The chemistry between Mark and Annie was intense and unmistakable. There were plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep one's interest. I liked watching the mystery of it all unfurl while seeing these two get to know one another. While I had hoped for a connection between the two cases, I liked the parallels between them. They were so similar, yet so different at the same time.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I eagerly await the next book, and look forward to seeing what Ms Craig has in store for the next installment.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Title:  Dance of Thieves
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Dance of Thieves (Book 1)
Format: Hardcover; 512 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (August 7, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1250159016
ISBN-13: 978-1250159014
Author's Website:
Notes:  I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

Kazi is the Queen's thief and part of a squad of elite soldiers. She's been tasked to lead a team into Hell's Mouth to steal something the queen desperately wants. Under the guise of investigating treaty violations, Kazi and her friends will infiltrate the city and search for something in secret.

Jase Ballenger has just become the new Patrei of Hell's Mouth. Just hours before Kazi arrives, Karsen Ballenger, the previous Patrei--Jase's father, died in the prime of his life. The death took everyone by surprise and Jase and his family are still grieving. The event causes quite a lot of confusion when Kazi arrives because she doesn't realize what transpired. To say, Kazi and Jase don't start off well would be an understatement. For Kazi accidentally embarrasses the new Patrei when she mistakes him for someone sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong--in her business. Things escalate from bad to worse as the two suddenly find themselves in a life or death situation with no one to rely on but each other.
When I saw that Mary E Pearson had a new book coming out, I immediately requested the ARC. I love her writing style and world building skills. In the Remnant Chronicles, she created a world that you could practically reach out and touch through the pages. It was a world one could easily fall into and I've been a fan ever since.

I didn't know much about this new series going in or what to expect. As I began reading, however, I realized I knew this world. In Dances with Thieves, Ms. Pearson extends our view of the Remnant Chronicles realm beyond the reaches of Dalbreck, Morrighan, and Venda and now has us exploring the far-reaching edge of the lesser kingdom of Eislandia. Hell's Mouth sits at the border of Eislandia and Tor's watch where the Ballenger family stronghold is seated. Hell's Mouth has, for all intents and purposes, been ruled for many generations by the Ballengers even though they are without title. Rumor has it that Hell's Mouth was lost by the Ballengers to the Kingdom of Eislandia in a card game making everything all the more interesting.

Dance of Thieves is told in alternating points of view. We are privy to the unique perspectives of the two main characters, Jase and Kazi and I enjoyed seeing how the two differed. We also get insight into how each perceives the events transpiring and what they are feeling. The story begins in Venda I'm guessing around six years after 'The Beauty of Darkness' left off and a year after a new treaty among the kingdoms was signed. Jezlia, the main character from The Remnant Chronicles, is now Queen of Venda. If you haven't read any of the Remnant Chronicles, you don't need to for this series, but you're probably going to want to after reading this book. Luckily, there are three books from which you can indulge.

Kazimyrah 'Kazi' of Brightmist is a smart, level headed, kick@ss, heroine with mad skills who is as deadly with a weapon as she initially seems unassuming. She can read people very well and see things others cannot. She is as tough as they come and is referred to on the streets of Venda as "Ten" with whispered reverence. You see a complete set of ten fingers is practically unheard of for a thief, or an alleged one, yet Kazi has managed to keep all of her digits intact having never been caught. While many know what she does, or did, without proof they couldn't touch her, and she made sure they couldn't. But thieving isn't her only skill. Among the quarter lords she is known as the Shadowmaker for they swear she can conjure up shadows out of nowhere to hide, even when the sun is at its highest. This skill has served her well over the years allowing her to spy on both her enemies and marks. For there isn't a secret in the Kingdom that can escape her when she puts her talents to use.

Jase, on the other hand, is a whole other creature. He's also smart and dangerous, but he comes from a loving family who nurtured him. While he's a bit green for a leader, having just come into power, he has the potential to be great. He has a good heart, is charismatic, and has a good feel for what needs to be done. Kazi, however, utterly confounds him. He's never met anyone like her and she knocks him off his feet, quite literally, from the very beginning. I loved seeing these two get to know one another and build a relationship. On many occasions they'll need to have each other's back in order to survive, and trust will not easily be won.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I was hooked into the story from the get-go and am still wondering where the story will go in the next book. I loved the complex world and multifaceted characters the author created. The mystery surrounding Kazi's parentage has me wondering if the next book will delve into that because I'm positive there's more to the story than meets the eye. What I loved the most was that Kazi never wavered from her plan. She accomplished what she set out to do and didn't apologize for it. She is loyal to the bone and I adored how both her and Jase seemed to fit together in a way neither expected. I look forward to reading the next installment of this series and seeing where the author will take us and the story next. I HIGHLY recommend this one.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Giveaway, Excerpt, and Review of Hello Stranger (The Ravenels, #4) by Lisa Kleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of an unconventional beauty who finds passion with the spy who can’t resist her

A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

He heard her muffled chuckle. She continued to lean against him while the trio of constables expressed sympathy for the unfortunate patient. Eventually the men departed with a chorus of hearty farewells. Ethan discovered that his other arm had stolen around Garrett. Making himself let go of her was like trying to uncoil a steel spring.
“You should go up to your father now,” he said with difficulty.
“Eliza will look after him while I take a few minutes to show you some slides. I have insect wings . . . pollen grains . . . flower petals . . . What would you like to see?”
“The inside of a hansom cab,” he said softly. “I can’t be alone with you, darlin’.”
Garrett touched the edges of his vest, fingers clamping on the thin leather. “Ethan.” A blush rose in her face, like light glowing through pink frosted glass. “I don’t want to end this. We . . . we could meet in secret, now and then. No one would have to know. We would make no claims on each other. We’ll just . . . do as we please.”
The way she fumbled with the words, so unlike her usual precise way of speaking, devastated Ethan. He could only guess what it cost her to lay open her pride like this. He wasn’t certain what she was offering, or even if she knew. Not that it mattered. He wanted, craved, needed anything she was willing to give. But he had to make her understand that it was impossible. And even if it were, the idea was beneath her.
“Have you had that kind of arrangement with a man before?” he brought himself to ask.
Her eyes were the green of deep summer and lush growing things. “I’m a woman who makes her own decisions and handles the consequences.”
“That means no,” Ethan said softly. At her silence, he continued, “You’d be risking your reputation. Your career.”
“Believe me, I understand that better than you.”
“Have you ever shared a bed with a man? Even once?”
“Why is that relevant?”
Her evasive response sent a pleasure-pang down to the pit of his stomach. “That means no,” he said again, his voice even softer than before. He took a slow breath, trying to steady himself, while his blood sang with the knowledge that she’d been waiting for him. She was meant to be his. God, he wanted her beyond any reckoning of earth or heaven. But her well-being mattered a thousand times more than his own desires.
“Garrett . . . I’m a man full o’ trouble. When I vowed to let nothing harm you, I included myself on that list.”
A frown crimped her forehead. She closed her grip on his vest until her fists were tight as pine knots. “I’m not afraid of you, or your trouble.” Her green eyes were narrowed and intent as she tugged him closer. “Kiss me,” she urged in a whisper.
“I have to go,” he said shortly, and pulled back while he was still able.
But Garrett moved with him, her hands reaching up to grip his head on either side, the way he’d taught her at Baujart’s. The strength of her fingers electrified him.
“Kiss me,” she commanded, “or I’ll break your nose.”
The threat startled a ragged laugh from him. He shook his head as he looked at her, this fearsomely capable woman who loved geese and was afraid of spaghetti, and could either wield a scalpel in a complex surgical procedure or use it as a throwing-knife.
 There had always been a cold streak in him, but he couldn’t seem to find it now, when he needed it most. He was breaking apart inside. He would never be the same after this.
“Christ, you’ve ruined me,” he whispered.
His arms went around her, one hand gripping the heavy silken mass of her braided chignon. She guided his head down, and he lost the battle, all his will vanquished as he began to kiss her as if the world were about to end.

For him, it was.

Lisa Kleypas
Connect with Lisa Kleypas on:
Facebook: @LisaKleypas
Twitter: @LisaKleypas
Instagram: @lisakleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

Title: Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Ravenels (Book 4)
Format: Paperback; 496 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Large Print edition (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062792113
ISBN-13: 978-0062792112
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes.

At a young age Garrett Gibson fell in love with science and decided to become a doctor. She believes there will always be people who will say your dreams are impossible, but they can't stop you unless you agree with them. When she was barred from studying in England, she studied abroad. She got her degree and went back to London and began practicing there. The only thing she thought she might never be able to have is a family of her very own. She believed no man would ever let her do what she does. When she meets the mysterious Ethan Ransom, however, she thinks maybe, just maybe, she was wrong...

Ethan Ransom has been fascinated with Garrett since the first time he met her. She's like no one else he's ever met. He's never really thought about marriage, but as he gets to know her there's something about her that keeps drawing him back. He has done things in his life that he's not proud of, but somehow he thinks Garrett may be the one person to accept him as he is--faults and all.
I will confess to being a huge fan of Lisa Kleypas. Of all the novels she writes I feel her historical romances are the most magical. My favorite types of historical romances delve into what life was really like for woman in historical times, and then creates a heroine that defies her station and manages to find a man who allows her to be true to herself.

Now you may think Ms. Kleypas stretched reality a bit by creating a female doctor for a book which takes place in the 1800's, but there was such a doctor at that time. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female doctor in England, was the inspiration for Garrett Gibson. As a nod to the real life doctor, Ms. Kleypas used Elizabeth's maiden name for her character's first name. Garrett, of 'Hello Stranger', is a smart, strong, independent, and courageous woman. Taking a wild guess, I imagine her namesake couldn't have achieved what she did in the time period she lived if she didn't possess all those same qualities. I  recall a couple of years ago seeing information about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in a Google Doodle celebrating her 180th birthday. I'm curious if that is what inspired the idea for this character in Ms. Kleypas' mind?

Ethan is a man of mystery, quite literally. He's a secret agent for the crown, although no one but a select few knows it. He is a very fun, smart, sexy, and complex individual with a lot of baggage. His first appearance in this book has him following Garrett. Now, this could be seen by some as being stalker like behavior, but I didn't get that vibe. He sees this beautiful woman entering time and time again a bad section of town at night to help out her patients and he wants ensure nothing bad to happens to her. He does his best to go unnoticed and lurks in the shadows. He never intends to make contact with her, but after three randy, drunk, young men plan to assault her, he takes action. I rather loved this, and I think it both charmed and maddened Garrett in equal measures.

The song that was playing in my mind was Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man from 1966...

'There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name'

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely loved it and all the little details Ms. Kleypas incorporated into the story. I felt I passed through a looking glass and came out in a different time period. There was plenty of suspense, drama, and romance with a couple of twists and turns thrown in. I rather enjoyed seeing these two get to know one another and fall in love. I adored how each saw marriage as something they dare not wish for, but secretly wanted. I also loved how each managed to help emotionally heal the other.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I HIGHLY recommend this one.

Order of The Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas:

Notes to keep you in the know:
Check out 'A Short History of Blood Transfusion' by Phil Learoyd. It mentions Dr. J. Roussell who  was the chief authority on blood transfusions in 1865 and whose invention, the Roussell transfuser, is mentioned in 'Hello Stranger'.

Check out this interview with Lisa Kleypas done by Entertainment. It discusses the creation of 'Hello Stranger'.

Check out the information that was provided by the Google Doodle back in 2016 on Elizabeth Garrett Anderson:

Buy a copy at one of the following book retailers:
Barnes & Noble:

Open to those currently residing in the US
Books will be distributed by the publisher 
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Monday, February 26, 2018

True to You (Montana Heat #2) by Jennifer Ryan

Title: Montana Heat: True to YouMontana Heat: True to You
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Suspense
Series: Montana Heat (Book 3)
Format:  Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062645285
ISBN-13: 978-0062645289
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Agent Dawson King has spent the last five months undercover in the state prison. His mission is to create a cover which will get him close to the daughter of Iceman, one of the deadliest lieutenants of the Guzman drug cartel. Agent Dawson has a score to settle with the man because he tricked the DEA into doing his dirty work. He set up a rival cartel's son to be murdered by the DEA for which Dawson pulled the trigger.

What the DEA has on Cara, Iceman's daughter, suggests she wants nothing to do with the man. From time to time, however, he shows up at her shop and that makes their dealings suspicious. She has a soft spot for ex-cons trying to get their lives back on track and that is what the DEA hopes to exploit. She owns a coffee shop called the Crossroad Cafe where she gives ex-cons  a chance to earn an honest wage while providing food and lodging too. Everything in the DEA's files seems to suggest she has nothing to to with her father's shady dealings, but if she does, this could be Dawson's (who uses the undercover guise of Chris Hickman aka Flash) chance to gain the knowledge he needs to put the lowlife and the cartel out of business. The only problem is Cara.

Cara has learned the hard way not to trust people. She gives her employees one chance, and if the blow it, that's it. There are no second chances. She shies away from relationships, and keeps mostly to herself. When Dawson, however, walks into her cafe she knows her reserve is about to be tested. The man is hardworking, sinfully handsome, and unlike any of the other ex-cons she's hosted. She's not quite sure what to do with him, but she knows what she'd like to.
Jennifer Ryan never disappoints and this is another fast-paced, high-stakes, action-packed, roller coaster ride of a read with plenty of twists and turns and characters that seem to leap to life off the pages all centered around a plot that keep you glued to the pages. It's the second book of the Montana Heat series, and I think this one might be my favorite book of hers yet. You could possibly read this one as a standalone, but I suggest you read the first book to find out how Trigger and Ashley came to be a couple, and how Scott fits into everything.

Cara is a complex character as is her dad. Their relationship is rather twisted and just as complex as they are. There is a backstory that we eventually become privy to. Cara has all but written off her dad, but can't seem to get rid of the man.While some might wonder why she doesn't up and leave, she has her reasons.

Dawson is in a hard position. He's falling for Cara, but he has a job to do. He knows Cara hates lies, but to blow his cover could have dire consequences and ruin his mission. I loves seeing these two fall for one another and seeing their relationship grow. Dawson's been warned not to start up anything romantically with Cara, but eventually he can't seem to resist her. Likewise, Cara fears a relationship, but there is just something about Dawson that draws her to him.

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. Action, drama, suspense, and romance--it's all in there--wrapped in a highly entertaining story that grabs's your attention right from the very beginning and doesn't let go. I absolutely adored it. If you haven't read one of Jennifer Ryan's books you're in for a treat. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I definitely recommend this one.

Order of the Montana Heat series:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Once and Future Duke (The Wagers of Sin #1) by Caroline Linden

Title: My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Wagers of Sin (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062672924
ISBN-13: 978-0062672926
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan in exchange for an honest review.

He was a duke attempting to stop his brother from gambling away the family fortune.
She was a young woman trying to make a living using her sharp mind and knowledge of cards.
He was the serious type, said to be dull and boring with his nose always in a ledger.
She was stubborn and would never apologize for trying to make it on her own. She even traded in her 'Miss' for a 'Mrs' to make it all seem more acceptable.
The two had nothing in common, but one night, one bet would change everything...

"I stake five thousand pounds." Sophie's mouth dropped open and the crowd buzzed with shock--and delight.(...) "One round each, played until loss..."(...)

The Duke's luck had been abominable, but that didn't mean her odds had improved. "Not tonight, sir," she said, with more than a tinge of regret. Better to keep the few hundred pounds she'd already won.

"You mistake me. You don't have to risk a farthing."(...) "One week of your company is what I want."
Don't you love it when a book lives up to its insanely gorgeous cover? Well, I'm happy to say 'My Once and Future Duke' does just that. This is looking to be one heck of a good series.

Sophie Graham makes her living by playing cards. She never cheats, loses graciously, and bets according to the odds. She always keeps in mind the number one rule of gaming--Easily won, easily lost and makes a special effort not to be the one responsible for another's ruin.

Sophie was orphaned by twelve and then thrown into finishing school by her grandfather. Upon her eighteenth birthday he cut off all funds and ties with her. While she could have taken up a position at her school, Sophie decided to take a gamble and play the odds--quite literally. Her plan is to make ten thousand pounds, thereby, guaranteeing her independence. That would be enough for her to live on.  Of course, if an eligible suitor presented himself, she would be open to that as well.

Vega club has since become her second home. They allow women to gamble and are rumored to have two simple rules--Pay your debts and hold your tongue. Unfortunately, with the bet Jack makes, the latter will not be upheld for the gossip is just too juicy.

Jack Lindeville, the Duke of Ware, is nothing like Sophie pictured. His brother Phillip had painted such a dreary picture of the man that she'd thought he'd be older and unattractive. What she finds is a man who is tall, golden-haired, with a face that might have been carved by Michelangelo, himself, so beautiful it was. Perhaps that is what spurs Sophie to throw caution to the wind with this man and accept his improper bet. That and the hope she'll win the five thousand pounds he wagered. It would be a substantial addition to her ever growing nest egg.

Jack has always been a paragon of virtue. He's concentrated most of his time and efforts into running the family estate and the land surrounding it. Making the outrageous bet is not like him, but there is something about Sophie that makes him forget himself. The attraction is mutual.

The song that played in my head while I was reading this one was Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler"...

'You got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealing's done.'

Overall, I gave this one 4  1/2 out of 5 roses. This was one steamy, sexy, and fun read. While I loved the story, things got a little complicated with Jack's brother, Phillip. Then I wasn't too happy with Jack for a short time upon his and Sophie's returned to society after he absconded her to the family's country estate. Luckily, things were ironed out with Phillip, and Jack quickly redeemed himself in my eyes. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. A most enjoyable read.

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