Monday, July 15, 2019

Giveaway/Sneak Peek/Review of One Fine Duke (School for Dukes, #3) by Lenora Bell

One Fine Duke (School for Dukes, #3)
by Lenora Bell

USA Today bestselling author Lenora Bell returns with her third book in the sexy School for Dukes series.

Ready.Raised in the countryside by her overprotective uncle, Miss Mina Penny’s dream of a triumphant London season is finally here. She determined her perfect match long ago: Rafe Bentley, the wickedest rake of them all. There’s only one very large, very unyielding obstacle: Rafe’s brother Drew, the reclusive Duke of Thorndon.


This was supposed to be simple. Duke goes to London. Duke selects suitable bride. Love match? Not a chance. But when Drew meets Mina, she complicates everything. How can a lady armed with such beauty and brains fall for his irresponsible degenerate of a brother? Drew vows to save her from heartbreak and ruin, no matter the cost.


But Mina is no damsel in distress. She’s daring, intuitive, passionate…and halfway to melting Drew’s cold heart. And although Mina thought she knew exactly what she wanted, one breathtakingly seductive kiss from Drew changes everything. Now Mina must decide between long-held dreams and dangerous new desires. Could her true destiny lie in the arms of a duke?

“There he is, Wilhelmina,” Grizzy whispered, staring reverently across the crowded ballroom. “The Duke of Thorndon.”
Holy hell he’s handsome, thought Mina.
Jaw-dropping-on-the-floor handsome. Drool-on-your-lace-fichu handsome.
Distract her from her plan with his brother, handsome.
Her uncle had been right. Thorndon was a fine figure of a man. Objectively speaking, the finest she’d ever beheld.
Tall as a doorframe, with a face hewn from the same granite as the rugged Cornish coastline.
A face rendered seductive by contrasts: sharp cheekbones and curved, sensuous lips. Gleaming ebony hair brushed his collar. His eyes were a light, gold-tinged brown—the only warm thing about him.
He owned this ballroom. Literally. And he owned everyone in it by dint of his oversized presence and the cold, unsmiling arrogance scrawled across his face.
He didn’t even follow the dictates of fashion, preferring plain black attire to the white pantaloons and gaily-colored waistcoats of the other gentlemen.
Why should he follow the dictates of fashion? Everyone should follow him.
“When you’re introduced to Thorndon, pray speak as seldom as possible,” Grizzy whispered. “Attempt to appear biddable and do try to recall my decorum lessons. Remember, no one in London knows anything about you, thank the Lord.”
Mina had seen several polished, elegant young ladies staring at her, nudging each other and whispering. She was an outsider, a usurper, her proper place in the social hierarchy not yet established.
They needn’t worry. She had no designs upon their prize duke. And she was about as unpolished as a debutante could be—as rough as an un-sanded plank. If anyone touched her they might get splinters.
She longed to shed her country skin swiftly and emerge as the sophisticated social butterfly her mother had been. But she knew that it would take time, observation, and experimentation.
Her first flirtatious conversation, first kiss, first taste of brandy, first adventure…it was all ahead of her.
She couldn’t wait to taste it all.

Lenora Bell
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Lenora Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing, Lenora has lived and worked on five continents. She currently lives in New Zealand with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves hearing from readers! Sign up for her mailing list to hear about new books, sales, and giveaways.

Title: One Fine Duke: School for Dukes
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: School for Dukes (Book 3)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (July 23, 2019)
ISBN-10: 006269250X
ISBN-13: 978-0062692504
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the author for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.

Ms. Wilhelmina 'Mina' Penny has been raised in a guarded and controlled environment by her uncle, Sir Malcolm. While she knows her rigid upbringing was because her uncle wished to protect her, she has had enough. This is her first season and she intends to make it her last.  Her uncle's plans, which involve her marrying a Duke, do not mesh with hers. She has grand plans which involve freedom, revenge, and adventure. She does not want to exchange one controlling, arrogant man for another.

Andrew Bentley, Duke of Thorndon, Drew to family, does not like rubbing elbows with society. He  prefers the quiet life on his family estate, but someone associated with his brother Rafe has threatened their sister, Beatrice. He's come to London to find out what his brother is mixed up in, and put a stop to it.

At first glance these two seem to have nothing in common, but when they meet sparks fly. There's a reason why people say opposites attract...
This is the third book in the School for Dukes series and you can definitely read it out of order and not feel lost. While the previous Dukes in the series are mentioned in this book, they don't make any appearances. The series revolves around Dukes who fall for unconventional woman. Mari and Drew's romance follows suit.

The Duke of Thorndon is known for being a recluse although once upon a time he had a reputation as being a rogue. When he was young something happened which left him emotionally scarred. Being around a lot of people is the last thing he'd ever want to do, but when his sister's life is threatened, he cannot sit by and do nothing. So he finds himself spending the season going to ball after ball with countless mothers parading their daughters in front of him hoping their daughter will be the one to catch his eye.

Mina is having her first season and her uncle has declared she'll marry a duke or no one at all. He's even gone through the trouble of writing up dossiers on each eligible duke. She, however, wants to enter the family business. She believes it's in her blood as she comes from a long and illustrious line of spies. Her parents, uncle, and generations of the Penny family before them had all been spies, and she wants to follow in their footsteps and make her own mark on the world. She also wants to marry a man of her choosing who will let her live life on her own terms, and she believes she's come across the perfect candidate--Lord Rafe Bentley, the Duke of Thorndon's brother.

When the Duke of Thorndon and Mina are introduced, she does everything in her power to make him dislike her even though she finds him extremely attractive. That includes doing everything her uncle told her to not do. Therein lies the beauty of this romance for by acting as she does, she stands out and makes a boring and uneasy evening bearable for Drew. I couldn't help but admire her gumption even as I laughed at her antics.

 As you can probably predict, this was a very fun story with bits of suspense interwoven into it. At first, I kind of wished Mina had been a slightly stronger character. While she's smart as a whip, at times she comes across as very naive and slightly foolish. Then it hit me that this was Mina's first real taste of the ton and the world that exists beyond the boundaries her strict uncle imposed upon her. She wants to find her place in the world, and she believes it's doing what her parents did. In reality, she has no idea if that's what she truly wants or is meant to do. She's trying to find her footing and she's experimenting and, at times, stumbling a bit along the way.

I ended up giving this one 4 out of 5 roses. I found it a funny, charming, and amusing read. I loved the strong pull Drew and Mina felt for one another and how they tried to deny it. The mystery of what was behind the threat to Beatrice added a nice splash of intrigue and suspense. I enjoyed seeing what made Rafe tick and getting to know Drew better. While I initially wished Mina had been a bit stronger of a character, how she acts seems to fit, and I enjoyed seeing her grow as an individual. 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 thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Order of the School for Dukes series: 

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Giveaway, Review, and Excerpt of Say No to the Duke (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #4) by Eloisa James (Blog Tour)

Say No to the Duke 
by Eloisa James

Could she possibly refuse a duke’s hand—in favor of a sardonic, sinful rake?

Lady Betsy Wilde’s first season was triumphant by any measure, and a duke has proposed—but before marriage, she longs for one last adventure.

No gentleman would agree to her scandalous plan—but Lord Jeremy Roden is no gentleman. He offers a wager. If she wins a billiards game, he’ll provide the breeches.

If he wins…she is his, for one wild night.

But what happens when Jeremy realizes that one night will never be enough? In the most important battle of his life, he’ll have to convince Betsy to say no to the duke.

They moved toward each other as if they were following the steps of a very slow, very grand country dance. One that was danced by kings and queens and countryfolk alike.

When they were  beside  each  other, she  squared her shoulders and met his eyes. “I decided to come to you. I hope that is all right.”

“I do believe that you are the bravest woman I’ve ever met,” he replied.

He couldn’t have said anything better; Betsy felt herself begin to glow. “I haven’t been brave to this point, but I have made up my mind to change. I outlawed being nervous, but now I need to outlaw being afraid.” She hesitated. “I have chosen courage, and now I choose happiness.”

“I love you as you are,” he whispered, and then his mouth came down on hers.

Her breath caught in her throat because their tongues met as if they kissed every day, every night. He tasted right, which sent a shiver through her whole  body,  and  pushed  her  against him gently, the way a pebble might roll up a beach when the tide comes in.

One doesn’t fight the tide.

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Eloisa James is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling author and professor of English literature, who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight. Visit her at

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Wildes of Lindow Castle
Format: Paperback; 432 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Large Print edition (June 25, 2019)
ISBN-10: 006291149X
ISBN-13: 978-0062911490
Author's website:
Notes:  I received an eARC loan for the purpose of a review. This in no way affected my review.

Lady Boadicea 'Betsy' Wilde set her sites at an early age on marrying a Duke, and once she sets her mind on something she usually gets it. To date, she's turned down four peers and fourteen untitled gentlemen. A duke, however, has eluded her until now...

'I spoke to your father, Lady Boadicea, and he agreed that I might ask you for the honor of your hand in marriage..."  

While Betsy has always wanted to marry a duke, something keeps her from accepting...

Lord Jeremy Roden has no plans for ever marrying. He came away from the war a different person--one who's haunted by what happened to his men on the battlefield. Strangely, there is something about Lady Boadicea Wilde that makes him forget the past and focus on the here and now.  She, however, has her sights set on Thaddeus, Lord Greywick, the future duke of Eversley. While he acknowledges the two would make a brilliant match, there's something about it he can't quite stomach...

Sometimes life has a way of throwing you for a loop, and the best laid plans often go awry.
When Eloisa James is at the top of her game, her stories remind you of when you fell in love, and why you started reading romances in the first place. She has a way of capturing the magic of the moment when a person first falls in love and those feelings are reciprocated. In fact, she's managed to do just that with this entire series, and has wrapped each book in a fun, delightful, and alluring romance. This is the fourth book of 'The Wildes of Lindow Castle' series, and while you can definitely read it as a standalone novel, I encourage you to read the entire series. In my humble opinion, it will be well worth your time. The series centers around the Wilde family, and it reminds me a bit of Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, but with a slightly more scandalous family backstory. The Wildes, as the name implies, are a tad wild and are not your average family of the ton. They are a large family whose patriarch is a Duke who has been married several times. His children seem to acknowledge, yet slightly rebel against many of the society's dictates. They are a family who value loyalty above all else, especially where family and friends are concerned. They are the type who stick together through thick and thin.  

What I liked most about this story was that there were layers to it. There were layers to the characters.  Plus, there was more to the story than initially met the eye. So what started out to be a seemingly superficial story quickly turned into something richer and deeper. I was quickly hooked.

Betsy is very sensitive about the subject of her mother who ran off with a Prussian Count years ago causing a huge scandal. Betsy feels she needs to prove she's nothing like her mother, and has held herself to a higher standard. She has learned to maneuver the ton like a pro and is one of the most sought after debutantes of the season. When a duke proposes, it would appear Betsy achieved what she set out to do. The problem is that Betsy is very spirited, and is beginning to realize what she always thought she wanted might not be what she needs. She needs someone who will accept her as she is and not try to change her. She longs for adventure and, truth be told, she's not exactly the proper English Miss she's lead others to believe she is. She needs someone who will challenge her, and who truly sees her.

Jeremy is suffering from PTSD and survivor's guilt. The Wilde's are discretely helping him deal with all he's been through, but Jeremy has a long way to go. The ton are not kind in their assessment of him, and people question why he was the lone survivor of his regiment. The implications are not nice suggesting he perhaps didn't stay to the last. No one, however, is tougher on him then he is on himself. His thoughts and dreams are haunted with images of what happened, and he questions what he could or should have done differently. He misses those that he lost, but he did all he could have given the impossible position he and his men were put in. He just needs someone to help him realize that and not mince words. He fears something inside him has broken and he's believes he's too damaged to ever be in a relationship again.

I loved this novel so much that I gave it 5 out of 5 roses. The male posturing between Thaddeus and Jeremy was so much fun to watch, especially after Jeremy realized he had feelings for Betsy. Both of these men seemed to be a good match for Betsy, but only one could win her heart. I loved the way Betsy and Jeremy seemed to complete each other, and how each seemed to spring to life when the other was around. Additionally, Thaddeus' mother cracked me up with the way she surprised her son as to her true nature. Plus, I loved the twist I didn't expect or see coming. 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.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Early Review of Project Duchess (Duke Dynasty #1) by Sabrina Jeffries

Title: Project Duchess (Duke Dynasty)
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Duke Dynasty (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: Zebra (June 25, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1420148559
ISBN-13: 978-1420148558
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my rating.

The Dowager Duchess of Armitage has just lost her third husband, and is dealing with the loss in the way she knows how, by focusing on a pet project as she works through the pain. Her current project is her niece, the Honorable Miss Beatrice Wolfe. At six and twenty many would say she's firmly on the shelf, but Beatrice's never had a season, and Her Grace is determined to give her one.

Beatrice Wolfe is not intimidated by privileged or entitled men. She's been surrounded by them her whole life. When she meets her aunt Lydia's eldest child, Fletcher Pryde, the 5th Duke of Greycourt (who is said to be richer than God and rumored to run a secret cabal of licentious bachelors) she gives as good as she gets. Not used to being put in his place, Grey finds himself both intrigued and amused by the young woman who can hold her own against him.

The Duke of Greycourt, 'Grey" to his friends, knew one day he'd marry but had decided long ago that love wouldn't enter into the equation of his marriage. He decided he'd marry a sensible woman who'd be content with having a wealthy dukedom at her disposal with no hopes or sentiment for any of that romantic nonsense some young women longed for. He had learned the hard way to guard his heart. When he meets Bea, however, his world starts to tilt on its once perpendicular axis. She he wasn't expecting.
This is the first book in a wonderful new series by one of my favorite authors, Sabrina Jeffries. The series centers around the Dowager Duchess of Armitage's family. She's been married to three Dukes and has given birth to five children, three of which are presently Dukes. Her most recent husband's death is suspicious. Her son, Sheridan, suspects foul play was involved. The main questions that come to mind are who did it and why? But another question that quickly surfaces is was Maurice's brother, uncle Armie, the Duke prior to Maurice taking the title, also a victim? Their deaths were mere months apart, and finding out that answer becomes all the more grave since Sheridan could be the murderer's next victim. Dun dun dunnnnnn... Oh, how I love the drama of it all. *smirk*

Bea and Grey meet at Maurice's funeral. On the surface, Bea and Grey seem very different, but once you scratch the surface, you'll start to notice some parallels. Their childhood back stories hold some similarities. Each was raised by an uncle who didn't have their best interest at heart. While Bea's parents died, Grey was separated from his family for years due to them living in Prussia and the war making travel difficult. Each had to grow up quickly and had no one to rely on but themselves. While Bea did have her brother, Joshua, he soon left for war leaving her to her own devices. He had had no clue as to what was happening or he'd have probably never have left. While Grey didn't have any siblings of his own living with him, he did have his cousin, Vanessa, who made life bearable. As it was her parents, however, who were the ones making his life difficult, he'd never confided the full extent of what they were doing.

I loved the attraction between Bea and Grey which was apparent from their first meeting. The chemistry between them was electrifying and lit up the pages making for a most enjoyable read. What made the romance so difficult was that Sheridan suspected Joshua, Bea's brother, might be the murderer. He is in the immediate line of succession for the family dukedom and that makes him a prime suspect. Sheridan puts Grey in the awkward position of investigating Joshua. Not exactly the kind of position one wants to be in when trying to win a woman over. Plus, if Joshua is the murderer that makes one wonder if Bea is somehow involved in the whole scheme, and with that the plot thickens.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I loved the chemistry, drama, and underlying murder mystery that was nicely packaged in this delightful romance. The characters were fun and multifaceted in a way which makes you want to get to know them better. I loved watching Grey fall for Bea while Bea kept questioning his motives, but could never quite stop herself from falling for him as well. I have to admit, I'm thinking maybe the series name should have been 'All in the Family' as it seems that members of this very unique and diverse family seem to be falling for one another left and right. I absolutely loved the fun and complicated family structure Ms. Jeffries created. It's the only first in a series book I've ever read that truly needed a family tree attached, which the author graciously provided. 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. If you're looking for a book to keep you entertained, you may want to pick this one up.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Early Review of The Highland Earl (Lords of the Highlands #6) by Amy Jarecki

Title: The Highland Earl
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Lords of the Highlands (Book 6)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Forever (June 25, 2019)
ISBN-10: 153871602X
ISBN-13: 978-1538716021
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.

Lady Evelyn Pierrepont doesn't see eye to eye with her father or most nobles. She fancies herself a Jacobite spy and passes information, mostly from her father who corresponds regularly with the Queen, to two gentleman acquaintances. When John Erskine, the Earl of Mar, who happens to be the Secretary of State for Scotland as well as part of the Queen's cabinet makes his interest in her known, she decides marrying him would be another way for her to access information for her cause. What she doesn't figure into the equation is that John is a very good looking man, and her attraction for him is undeniable. She, however, is convinced she'll never fall for the man...

The Earl of Mar is a widower and vows never to fall in love again, but needs a mother figure to look after his two young sons. His family estate is in sizable debt so he needs to marry someone with a substantial dowry who can not only pay off those debts, but provide enough to bring about improvements. When he meets Evelyn he thinks he's found the perfect wife. Not only can she fulfill his two requirements, but she's so different from his first wife, whom he loved. that he thinks falling in love with her will never happen...

Rule of the day: Never say never.
This is the fifth book of the Lords of the Highlands series and you can read it as a standalone and not feel lost. This was the first book I've read of the series, and I'm curious as to how the books are connected. I may need to do some investigating on my part by reading a book or two more of the series because I truly loved the hero of this story, and it piqued my interest in the others.

I confess, I didn't really become engaged in this story until over halfway into the book. Things seemed kind of dicey between John and Evelyn at the beginning. I mean lets face it, neither was confessing love here, and marrying for what the other can bring to the table isn't exactly romantic. Sparks were flying from the get-go, but whether they'd fan out or ignite into something more seemed rather questionable.

Evelyn starts off seeming to be a smart, strong woman who is attempting to have a hand in her own destiny. To me it immediately became clear she was playing with fire. She's a spy who is very opinionated, rather naive, and quick to judge others. Around halfway through the book an incident proves the 'fire' she's been playing with is a bit too hot for her to handle, and brings into question, at least for me, just how intelligent she actually is. John comes to her rescue, but the potential cost to him and his family to do so is quite steep, and it took quite a bit for Evelyn to win John and me, for that matter, over after that.

John is a father of two young boys and is trying to walk the line between duty, country, and what he believes is right. Politics, at the moment, are a muddled mess and loyalty to the Queen can come into question at the drop of a hat. The Queen's hold on the country is debatable as James is the rightful heir, but Parliament has declared his claim void because according to them he abandoned the throne when he went into exile. Some believe the Queen's reign is not legitimate, while others believe it is. Being on the wrong side of that argument could get you and your family killed, and John is doing his best to keep his feelings on the subject to himself and his family out of harm's way.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was chocked full of drama, history, and suspense which I absolutely adored. While I loved John from nearly the start, Evelyn had to work at winning me over. Her character disappointed me a bit, and I wished she'd been a bit more cautious in her choices at the beginning. I also wish she hadn't needed a man to save her, but she totally did. Perhaps if I'd read the previous books in the series I'd have been more attached to her from the start, but I had nothing to reference in that respect. I admit the chemistry between these two was phenomenal, and I enjoyed watching them learn to trust and eventually love one another, but that, in my humble opinion, took a little too long in coming. 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.

Order of the Lords of the Highlands series:

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Lemon Sisters (Wildstone, #3) by Jill Shalvis

Title: The Lemon Sisters: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 18, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062741926
ISBN-13: 978-0062741929
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the author for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.

Brooke Lemon and her sister had always been close, until they weren't. That started about seven years ago after Brooke was involved in an accident that almost killed her. She pulled away from family and friends to deal with all that had happened. Some of which she's kept to herself, and no one knows about. While her family noticed the change, they had become busy with their own lives and one year turned into another followed by another until nearly seven years had passed. When Brooke's sister Mindy unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the distance between the two will be brought to light, and Brooke will realize all she's missed. She'll also learn when life hands you lemons you shouldn't wallow in the sourness of it all, instead use what's around you and make lemonade or, in Brooke's case, lemon bread.
One of the things I love about Jill Shalvis' novels is that they are rooted in family. Whether that family is by blood or by choice, it doesn't matter. Family, whether it's obvious or not, make up the building blocks that set her books' foundations and, I believe, is part of the secret to her success. That and her swoon worthy characters who are loyal but flawed in a way that makes the two main characters perfect, in all their imperfections, for each other.

This is the third novel in the Wildstone series, and it can be read as a standalone. The books in the series are connected through association with the small town of Wildstone, and not so much by the individuals who live there. I've read the first two stories, and if the characters from those books are present, their role is minor enough that I didn't make the connection.

Brooke is a complicated character suffering from survivor's guilt. The helicopter accident left her with both physical and emotional scars. The woman who once went to great lengths to get that perfect picture became one who is scared of heights and suffers from a bad case of vertigo every time she attempts to get into an airplane. She desperately wants her former life back, but it might just not be the cards for her. Will she need to reinvent herself or can she overcome her fears? Those are the questions she's been considering.

Mindy, is Brooke's older sister and is afraid her marriage may be on the rocks. Her husband is working long hours and she worries he may be having an affair. Part of her fears stems from the fact that after having three kids she knows she's doesn't look as she once did, and is self conscious about her weight gain. Add in the fact a mother's job is never done and you've got the recipe for a major melt down as Mindy is in desperate need of a little "me" time. Hence, the sisters decide to swap lives for a week which will force Brooke to confront her inner turmoil and the man she left behind--Garrett.

I could't help but give this one 5 out 5 roses. I loved the dynamics of Brooke and her sister's relationship. I enjoyed how each needed the other's help, whether they realized it or not, and neither hesitated to have the other's back. Plus, I loved the relationship between Brooke and Garrett, and how they worked through their issues from the past. I also enjoyed the little side story between Mindy and Linc which added an extra dose of romance to an already sweet story. 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.

Order of the Wildstone series:

Novella that can be read between Lost and Found Sisters and Rainy Day Friends:

Monday, June 10, 2019

Early Review of The Starter Wife by Nina Laurin

Title: The Starter Wife
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Format: Paperback; 352 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 11, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1538715716
ISBN-13: 978-1538715710
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.

Claire Wescott has been married to her husband Byron for a little over two years, and it would seem the honeymoon is over. Lately, he's been acting cold towards her and is working all kinds of crazy hours. But the kicker is he barely touches her which is very unlike the first year they were married when they could hardly keep their hands off one another. When Claire married Byron she knew his first wife had committed suicide. What she didn't know is that he'd been investigated as a person of interest in her death before it was ruled a suicide. Colleen's body has never been found. When Claire receives a strange and mysterious email followed by a call from someone claiming to be Colleen she starts to wonder is she going crazy? Especially after the email she just opened disappears and there is no way to trace the phone call she received. As she starts to lose chunks of time and finds herself blacking out more and more, she starts to wonder what is happening? Is she going crazy or is someone messing with her head, and if so, for what purpose?
This is the first book I've read by Nina Laurin and I'm sure it will not be my last. From the very beginning, starting in the prologue, we're introduced to a full blown psycho, and that's when the questions begin. Who is stalking Byron and his wife? The twists and turns are seemingly endless and the story is reminiscent of other psychological thrillers such as 'Gone Girl', 'Single White Female', and 'Fatal Attraction'. Trying to sort through all the information we're given in order to figure out the who and the why is not easy. I kept trying to solve the mystery before the author unraveled the secrets she was keeping, but couldn't put all the pieces together until the writer wished it. Ms. Laurin did an excellent job of fitting a whole lot of crazy into such a small package.

Byron is in his late forties, but looks younger. He's a beloved professor at Mansfield College who lost his wife nearly 10 years ago under slightly suspicious circumstances. Even though he's remarried, he's kept the house that he and his first wife lived in pretty much the way it was when she was alive. Is this out of sheer laziness, a sense of devotion he still holds for his late wife, or is there another reason? Could something be off with the man?

Claire is twenty years younger than Byron and is an aspiring writer, but so far no publishers have accepted her first manuscript. She loves her husband and desperately wants to start a family with him, but so far nothing is working out as she hoped. She is fighting to save her marriage but, despite her best efforts, it appears to be falling apart. She's trying to understand what is going on with Byron, whom she believes may be having an affair, but has no clue how to get through to him. She's hitting roadblocks at every turn in regards to her hopes and dreams. When she gets an email that mysteriously disappears upon closure followed by a phone call from an unlisted number, each of which suggest they are from Colleen, Byron's first wife, she wonders if she's going crazy because everyone know she's dead, right?

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. This was such an entertaining and well planned read. The story kept my attention from the first chapter to the last, and was overflowing with suspense while I was bubbling with unanswered questions My mind was racing a mile a minute trying to keep up with everything because there were plenty of twists and turns to make you scratch your head and wonder what the heck was happening? There was a bit of an 'Ick!' factor to the prologue, but I loved the story as a whole. This was by no means a romance, so I'm foregoing my romance rating. I, for one, enjoyed the ride, and would definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys psychological suspense novels. It was very well done.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Early Review of Fix Her Up (Hot and Hammered #1) by Tessa Bailey

Title: Fix Her Up: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (June 11, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062872834
ISBN-13: 978-0062872838
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.

Travis Ford realized his dream of becoming a major league baseball player, but shortly after being a contender for the Rookie of the Year, he experienced an injury that would end his career.  For the past month or so he's been wallowing in self pity and drowning his sorrows in drink. When Georgie decides to pay him a visit, because she can't believe the picture her brother has painted, she does what she does best, makes a pest of herself until he finally realizes it's time to dust himself off and get back in the game of life.

Georgette 'Georgie' Castle has had a crush on her brother's best friend, Travis, since she was little. When she sees how low the man has sunk she feels the need to help him see things are not as dire as he thinks. She also realizes that neither Travis, or anyone else for that matter, will ever take her seriously as a potential girlfriend, business woman, etc unless she makes some drastic changes. When she opens up to her friends about the turmoil in her life, she gains their support and they gain hers. Together they'll start a club for women to help fix their lives by reaching their goals and ultimately obtaining what they want.
This was a sweet, fun, and sexy little romance that left me with a smile on my face and a little extra warmth in my heart. Tessa Bailey is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. The heat, steam, and sheer chemistry between Travis and Georgie permeates the pages, practically singeing your fingers every time you turn or swipe to the next the page. The sexual tension and attraction keep building until the moment neither can deny their true feelings for the other. There is definitely some swoonworthy scenes in this one.

Georgie is the youngest in the Castle family, and feels a little like the afterthought of the family. I kind of got the impression she was an unexpected surprise, although that is never stated, because she feels she's never found her place within the family. Almost as if the family was already complete by the time she came into the picture. In her quest to get attention as a child, she did whatever it took to make them laugh and eventually was seen as the family clown. She decided to take that consensus and roll with it using the skills she'd honed at home to work as an actual clown for birthday parties and the like. She used the money she made from her one woman business to help pay her way through college. There she earned a business degree she's never actually put to use. Lately, she's not been satisfied with her lot in life. Her dating prospects are null, her family tends to overlook her, and she worries about her business. After one too many disappointments and oversights by those around her she realizes she wants and deserves more. With some encouragement from her friends she realizes she wants to be taken seriously, she wants to be seen, and she wants to expand her business. If she can get Travis to look her way... Well, that would be the icing on the proverbial birthday cake. 

Travis had a much different childhood than Georgie. He grew up in the middle of a parental tug of war. Each parent using him to hurt the other. The Castle family was where he found refuge and solace. A place where he could find normalcy and affection as they treated him like family. As a kid he dreamed of becoming a baseball player for a major league team. He made that dream a reality only to have it taken away before he'd gotten the chance to make his mark on the game. He's at a crossroads and doesn't know what to do next with his life. He feels like a failure and can't seem to drag himself out of his sorrow. Enter Georgie Castle, his best friend's annoying little sister, whom he soon realizes isn't so little any more.  

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I loved how Georgie made Travis suck it up and deal. I liked how her only ulterior motive in doing so was to help him get back on his feet. I also loved how she decided to take charge of her own life, and how people noticed when she did--especially Travis. I loved the humor, and while there where a couple of scenes worthy of an eye roll or two they made me laugh and chuckle so much I couldn't fault them. The heat in this one is off the charts and I loved how the author added a healthy dose of emotional depth to the novel by giving legitimate reasons ,via backstory glimpses, as to why they each ended up the way they did. On the Lisarenee Rating Scale, this one earned a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol I HIGHLY recommend this one. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Early Review of A Rogue by Night (The Devils of Dover #3) by Kelly Bowen

Title: A Rogue by Night
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance.
Series: The Devils of Dover (Book 3)
Format: Paperback; 368 pages
Publisher: Forever (May 28, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1478918624
ISBN-13: 978-1478918622
Author's Website:
Notes:  I received an eARC loan of the book from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.

Sir Harland Hayward, is a very multifaceted man. A baron by birth, a doctor by trade, and a smuggler-- not by choice but out of necessity. The latter being something few people know, and he'll do what he can to keep it that way. He's been doing his darnedest to keep his family financially stable in ways that could cost him everything. The fewer who know about it the better.

Miss Katherine Wright has recently come home. Her brother and father are both smugglers by trade, and when her brother gets shot during his latest run she finds herself stitching him up. When the good doctor unexpectedly shows up to help, as if on cue, Katherine immediately goes on high alert. 'Rich men, titled men did not labor in such professions. They did not lower themselves to toil in a field hallmarked by disease and blood and gore. They didn't spend time worrying about people who did not possess an address west of Haymarket, London. And they certainly didn't prowl the back roads of Dover on a night like this when the air was heavy with the promise of rain.' In other words, something doesn't add up about the Baron. and she intends to find out what. Especially as she steps back into the family business of smuggling one last time.
This is the third novel of The Devils of Dover series. You could read it as a standalone, but I don't recommend it. Harland Hayward's story has been woven into the fabric of this series since the very beginning. His sister Clara marries August Fulkner, the twelfth Duke of Holloway, in 'A Duke in the Night'. Likewise, his sister Rose marries Eli Dawes, Earl of Rivers, in 'Last Night with the Earl'. In each of those two novels you'll garner insight into Harland's character, and tidbits into what makes him tick. Family means everything to him and he's loyal to a fault, but despite that, he's haunted with regret. His first marriage all but killed him and rendered him emotionally unavailable.

Katherine Wright is like no woman Harland Hayward has ever met. She's smart, strong, and is haunted by a few ghosts of her own. Using her expertise as a midwife on the field she learned from others and by doing. All the while mastering and obtaining more and more skills and knowledge. A talented surgeon based on skill, but deemed only a lowly midwife due to her gender, she's rather extraordinary. During her years with the military she excelled at her craft and became as good, if not better, than any man who called himself surgeon during the war. Lured into following a man into war by the promise of marriage, she emerged husbandless with emotional scars, and a loathing and distrust for any man carrying a title.

I adored how this couple had the courage to each take a leap of faith and give in to their mutual attraction. I liked how they learned to trust one another after being so deeply hurt in their previous relationships. I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a happy ending when someone totally deserves it, and this one totally delivered. Add in the fact that Katherine Wright was a woman ahead of her times and Harland admired her for it, and I couldn't help but love this story.

As you can probably already guess, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. I loved the drama, suspense, and twists and turns that happened along the way. What I loved the most, however, were the two main characters and all the little cracks and imperfections that made them perfect and deserving of one another. While there may not have been many female surgeons during this time period, I can't help but feel if a woman had the brains and drive to acquire the skills they would somehow find a way to practice regardless as to whether or not they had a piece of paper to prove it. Or perhaps they'd go the route of Elizabeth Blackwell who studied in the US and later came back to England to open a medical college where woman could learn and practice. She also was the first woman to have her name entered on the Medical Register of the United Kingdom in 1861, thereby, breaking down the barriers for other women to enter the field. 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 Devils of Dover series:

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Early Review of The Rogue of Fifth Avenue (Uptown Girls, #1) by Joanna Shupe

Title: The Rogue of Fifth Avenue: Uptown Girls
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Uptown Girls
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (May 28, 2019)
ISBN-10: 006290681X
ISBN-13: 978-0062906816
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan of the book from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my rating. Any and all quotes used are subject to change and will need to be checked against the final version as they were taking from an Advanced Reader Copy.

Frank Tripp is a self-made man who portrays himself as a New York blue blood, born and bred. Rising up out of one of New York's poorest neighborhoods he's a force to be reckoned within a courtroom. Said to be persuasive enough to sell a drowning man water, he's got the brains to know how to get what he wants and the drive to do whatever it takes to accomplish it. For the past three months his attention has been captured by one of his wealthiest and most influential client's daughter. Something he knows is not healthy or wise and could cost him everything. There's just something about Maime that draws him to her and sparks something inside him he's never experienced before--a burning obsession--that he's doing his best to ignore...

At first glance Marion 'Mamie' Greene appears to be like any other spoiled beautiful debutante, but there's more to her than meets the eye. She's not concerned 'with dance cards, matrimonial prospects and other society nonsense. ' She speaks her mind and lets 'nothing—and no one—get in her way of accomplishing her goal.' She's smart, funny, insightful, and sees far more than one would think. She also detests her father's attorney, Frank Tripp, because he's a little too smooth and  polished and the one man she can't figure out. The latter of which also intrigues her, but she'll never admit it. The man is overindulged--always getting what he wants, with everyone rushing to do his bidding the moment an order or request leaves his lips. Pair that with the fact he's absurdly good looking, charming, and flirts shamelessly with every woman he encounters while currying favor with the men, and she can't help but dislike the fellow.

For the past year Maime's adopted several families whom she's been giving a hand up. Seeing herself as something of a modern day Robin Hood, she's not above pick pocketing from society's elite to give to those more monetarily challenged. She also uses her considerable skill at the card table to earn coin to aid that endeavor. All things, which if discovered, could ruin her reputation and possibly land her in jail. When Tripp finds her frequenting a gaming hell one too many times in the tenderloin district he can't seem to help himself from using that to his advantage...

'She blinked. “You are blackmailing me into having dinner with you?” 

“Yes, it appears that I am.”

 “Even for you, Tripp, this is a new low. I won’t do it.” 

“You most definitely will.” His eyes darted toward her mouth before he captured her stare once more. “I get what I want, Mamie. Never forget it.”'

Sometimes life doesn't go as one expects, and something as seemingly innocent as a dinner date can change everything...
If you've never read one of Ms. Shupe's stories, you're in for a real treat. She tends to set her stories during the exciting years when America, and New York in particular, were first coming into their own. A time when everything was changing and slowly evolving into the place we now know and love. This series is set in the 1890's when Carnegie Hall has just been built, child labor laws are all but nonexistent, and women still have yet to acquire the right to vote. An era when there is a great divide between how the upper and lower classes of New York society live, and working conditions at factories are atrocious and outright dangerous.  A time when corruption in the police department runs rampant and justice is not always served. In other words, it's a great period to use for the backdrop of a story.

It is during this prosperous and tumultuous time in American history that the Greene sisters find themselves living.  Deemed "Knickerbocker princesses" they are part of Manhattan's elite and the only heirs of their father's--one of New York's most influential and wealthiest men--fortune. Marion (aka Maime) is the eldest of these three fictitious sisters to whom the Uptown Girls series centers around, and is said to be the most responsible. Perhaps the reason for this lies in the fact she's been promised since birth to marry the son of one of her father's oldest and dearest friends. Resigned, but not exactly delighted or enthusiastic about her fate, she's set out to help other woman who are less fortunate then herself and are struggling to take care of their children and make ends meet. Woman during this time had very few rights or options, but change is in the air. This story explores that world in an interesting and unique way that kept my attention from the first page until the very last, all the while reminding me just how lucky we are to live in the time in which we do. The Greene sisters appear to want to make a difference in the world, and I look forward to getting to know them and  reading each and every one of their stories.

Frank Tripp is a multifaceted character that I ended up loving, but not from the very start. His background story gradually endeared him to me as we slowly got insight into his past. He's a very private individual with secrets he hopes will never be revealed. I liked seeing him grow as a person and face his past, but I loved that it was Maime who made him him aspire to be a better person and, in a way, face his demons.

Maime is a strong and compassionate woman who comes from a loving family. She's her father's favorite, but he believes he knows what's best for her and her sisters.  As the eldest she's expected to marry well, and her father wants only the best for her and believes by selecting Maime's husband for her he's ensuring just that. While we get a glimpse into the family dynamic of the Greene household, I kind of wish we'd gotten a bit more. All three sisters, from what we've heard and seen in this first book, appear to be exceptional individuals and that usually implies at least one, if not both, parents are too. I'd love to see what shaped these three individuals into the woman we are presented with. Perhaps we'll get a better look into this family within the next two books. I, for one, am crossing my fingers and hoping.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I adored this couple and the feeling that they were well matched. They brought out the best in one another while keeping each other on their toes. They surprised each other at every turn--each being nothing like they'd first imagined the other to be. I loved the grand gesture at the end, and the mention of one of America's most prominent political figures at the time. See if you can spot who I'm talking about. The story was filled with plenty of drama, romance, and history. A combination I very much enjoyed. 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. This one is going on my keeper shelf. I absolutely loved it.

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