Monday, February 24, 2020

Early Review of The Bachelor (Duke Dynasty #2) by Sabrina Jeffries

Title: The Bachelor (Duke Dynasty Book 2)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Duke Dynasty (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 288 pages
Publisher: Zebra (February 25, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1420148567
ISBN-13: 978-1420148565
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected by review or rating.

Lady Gwyn Drake is about to have her first season at age thirty. It could all be ruined, however, by a former suitor who's decided to blackmail her. What transpired between the two is partly to blame for why Gwyn doesn't wish to wed. If the secret gets out she, and her entire family by association, could be ruined.

Major Joshua Wolfe is a retired soldier who is currently acting as the gamekeeper for the Armitage estate. As he's seeing to his duties, he comes across Lady Gwyn Drake being threatened by her former suitor. When Joshua informs Gwyn's brother about the incident, Thorn hires him to be her body guard. Joshua, however, soon finds he may be in over his head as he realizes his feelings for Gwyn may be the one thing he can't protect her from...
This is the second book of the Duke Dynasty series. It can be read as a standalone, but I don't recommend that. The series centers around Lydia, the Dowager Duchess of Armitage and her family. She's been married three times, each time given birth to a future heir of a dukedom. With the untimely passing of her third husband, her sons are now wondering if someone is targeting their family or, more specifically, their mother. Perhaps someone with a grudge, like a former suitor, is trying to inflict pain on her. The first novel of the series goes into this more deeply which is why I suggest you read it first. All three of Lydia's former husbands died untimely deaths and now her sons are calling all of them into question. Whether or not foul play is involved remains to be seen, but with each new book the question seems to become more and more relevant.

Gwyn is not like other women of the ton. Once she dreamed of marriage and a family, but that dream was shattered long ago. Something happened years ago that she's still not completely come to terms with. She's smart with no aspirations of marrying, or at least not to any of the men she's met thus far. If she marries she wants it to be for love, but love doesn't seem to be in the cards for her. There is one man, however, she's got a tendre for, Major Wolfe, but every time she tries to flirt with the man he seems to think she's mocking him. She just can't seem to win where he's concerned.

Joshua is handsome former soldier, but has no idea just how appealing he is to the opposite sex. He feels his lame leg paired with his PTSD makes him undesirable thereby making him believe that any dreams he may harbor of love and a family are out of the question. As a coping mechanism, he's distanced himself from others. If Gwyn wants to make a go of it with him, she'll need to break through the thick prickly barrier he's erected.

I gave this book 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was an entertaining read with moments of brilliance like when Gwyn caught Joshua telling a tall tale full of lies. To me it seemed the only thing truly standing between this couple and a HEA were themselves. I guess that's true to life, and another reason why the phrase, 'sometimes our own worst enemy is our self' rings so true. I confess, however, that I would have liked it a little more if a few additional hurdles had been thrown between this couple. While I thought the blackmail added a nice dash of drama, I kind of wished there had been some additional twists and turns to keep us guessing. 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.

The order of the Duke Dynasty series:

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Corner of Holly and Ivy (Harmony Harbor #7) by Debbie Mason

Title: The Corner of Holly and Ivy: A feel-good Christmas romance (Harmony Harbor)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harmony Harbor (Book 7)
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: Forever (October 30, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1538744244
ISBN-13: 978-1538744246
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review or rating.

Arianna Bell was on the fast track to living her dream of becoming the next Vera Wang and having her bridal store, Tie the Knot, become the next Kleinfeld Bridal when tragedy struck. The night she would forever more dub as 'The Nightmare on Main Street' was the night her bridal shop and all her dreams had gone, literally, up in smoke. Her right hand, which she had used to do intricate needle work, had been burned and injured that night to the point she could no longer use it. While the doctor's and therapists have said they believe she may regain use of it, so far that hasn't happened. Since the fire, Aianna has spent most days self confined to her grandmother's house suffering from depression and pain. She's lost her way and is desperately in need of a new one.

Connor Gallagher fell in love with Arianna years ago, and when she'd broken off the relationship she'd broken his heart. He's since gotten over her, but she still holds a soft spot in his heart. Seeing how much she's suffered how she's been struggling since the fire along with feeling more than a little guilty for being the lawyer to represent her ex during her divorce, he feels a compelled to help her get back on her feet. When he finds out the insurance company still has paid for the claim Arianna filed, he offers to help. He feels it's the least he can do. That decision will change everything.
This is the seventh book of the Harmony Harbor series and, I have to confess, I felt a little lost.The world, as Arianna and her sisters knew it, exploded into utter chaos and mayhem seven months ago. It all revolved around an ex-fiance, a princess, a kidnapping, and a fire which resulted in Arianna losing almost everything. Her business is gone. Her ability to work is also gone. Her spirit is in need of a major overhaul as she's pretty much lost her purpose. Something the previously vibrant, smart, young woman had always had and known before. The contrast between who she was and is now is startling. I HIGHLY recommend you read 'Sandpiper Shore,' the sixth book in the Harmony Harbor series, before you read this one. It reveals a lot of family secrets and delves into the the inner workings and family dynamics of both the Bells and Gallaghers which you'll find useful. Without that knowledge, I felt a bit disengaged from the story. I ended up reading 'Sandpiper Shore' and then rereading 'The Corner of Holly and Ivy.' I enjoyed the novel a lot more when I read it for the second time. So make sure to read 'Sandpiper Shore' first!

I waffled a bit in my feelings for and opinion of Connor. It was obvious he had strong feelings for Arianna, but a little more than half way through something he does didn't sit well with me. Granted, things were complicated by his family pushing him into something, but I felt he handled the situation incorrectly and that irritated me to no end. I could totally understand Arianna's conflicting feelings for him. Some of the sparks and sexual tension flying between the two was reminiscent of those found in Sally Thorne's novel 'The Hating Game.' I loved seeing Arianna regain her spirit and get that spark of life back in her eyes that had previously been missing. It's why I and Arianna were ultimately won over by Connor. He had a lot to do with her finding herself again, and coming out of the depression she found herself immersed in. He knew how to push her buttons and infuriate her in a way to coax her out of the dark place she found herself in.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I love a story where when a character crawls out from what appears to be the depths of despair and comes out stronger for it. While Connor had a hand in helping Arianna find herself again, he made sure he wasn't the center of her world. He wanted the strong, vibrant, and self sufficient woman he once knew back. She just needed a little push in the right direction. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. I definitely recommend this one, but I cannot stress enough that you need to read 'Sandpiper Shore (Harmony Harbor Book 6)' first.

Order of the Harmony Harbor series:
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