I really enjoyed the concept behind Seductive Secrets and I wanted to fall in love with it so much, but there was just too much I couldn't connect with. From the characters themselves, to them falling in love, to the grand solving of the mystery - it was never quite right.
To start with, Lady Willow came off as a brat. She couldn't keep herself away from the men long enough to have a conversation with her family - and she was totally surprised when she found out people thought she was a loose woman. Her attitude towards Sir Conrad tipped her into the "she doesn't deserve him" category as she degraded and talked down to him every chance she got until *poof* she was suddenly in love.
Sir Conrad started off really well, but after the incident in the cabin - well - he found himself in "he doesn't deserve her" territory. So now I have heroes who don't deserve each other and are at the same time undeserving of each other. They both really needed to grow up - which they just started to do by the end of the story.
The missing ruby was a great twist to the story. I had no idea who took it until Willow and Conrad had their own ah-ha! moment. That was an amazing part of the story (but Willow's prior sleuthing only made her seem more like a spoiled child). However, this wonderful moment was ruined by their plan to return the stone and make everything right again. No one in their right mind would have believed what they presented as the truth - let alone a castle full of knights and nobility.
Not the book for me, unfortunately.
Title: A Whole New Duke
Author: Samantha Holt
Genre: Historical Romance
The Dark Duke they call him.
And he certainly matches up to his name. From his looks to his constantly furrowed brow, Miss Beatrice Edgerton is under no illusions as to the status of their arranged marriage.
It will be very much one of convenience. With him conveniently providing the title her family so desperately wants and her family bringing in plenty of money for his dilapidated home. She is simply grateful he is younger than her first husband.
Lord Morton, Duke of Hartwich, is only a little perturbed by the vibrant Beatrice. After all, he sets her straight from the very first day of their marriage—this is one of mutual benefit. In one way only. She can expect no affection or romance from him.
Because, frankly, he is incapable of such things. Being a one-legged duke with a slightly dark past brings enough challenges without him having to worry about a wife too. His days of concern for anyone are long gone.
Unfortunately, It is not only the duke’s dark demeanor she has to deal with. Someone is trying to cause trouble for them but they cannot fathom who or why.
Grace is determined to make the best of the situation, even whilst spending Christmas with the duke alone in the eerie Hartwich Hall. Why, perhaps she might even be able to change the duke’s mind about their relationship.
Especially after they share a fiery kiss…or three…
Excerpt from A Whole New Duke
© 2019 Samantha Holt
“I’m very tired,” she said through a yawn.
“You need to stay awake, Bea. You may have a concussion.”
“Concussion?” Her words sounded slurred to her but she was not certain they actually were.
“When one is struck on the head, it can make one feel a little strange. I have suffered it myself falling from horses.”
“Oh.” She put an arm over her face to block out the unwelcome light but Adam pulled her arm away from her face and she scowled at him.
“You need to stay awake, Bea. Just until we can be certain you are feeling better.”
“I would rather sleep,” she muttered.
“Mrs. Howard, will you get some ice and tea, please?”
Bea didn’t see the housekeeper leave but she heard her footsteps scurrying off. Adam cupped her cheek and she sank gratefully into the comforting warmth of his touch. “You are quite handsome,” she said softly.
“And you are still charming somehow.”
“I like it when you touch me.”
A smile grazed his lips. “I like touching you.”
“See? That was not so hard to admit was it?”
“Especially because you will likely not remember a thing of what you said tonight.”
“I know exactly what I am saying,” she declared, although the words did seem strange and still incoherent. She yawned and closed her eyes.
“Tell me of this intruder.”
Opening her eyes, she frowned. “It was dark but he was tall.”
“Taller than me.”
“Yes. No...Perhaps.” She let her eyelids flutter shut and found the darkness behind them quite pleasant.
“Anything else you can recall?” she heard him say but it was too hard to respond. Her jaw felt heavy and her tongue thick. “Bea?” A hand tapped her cheek and she ripped her eyes open.
“Stop,” she protested.
“You need to tell me all, Bea.”
“He seemed skinny but strong. He pushed me hard.” She forced her attention to his concerned features. “Adam, will you let me sleep with you tonight? I do not want to be alone.”
His lips tilted. “You will not be alone. I promise.”
About Samantha Holt
SA Today Bestselling author Samantha Holt lives in a small village in England with her twin girls and a dachshund called Duke. If you’re not sure where to start why not try…
▶ Amelia and the Viscount (Bluestocking Brides #1) for a fun, slightly hot shorter length read. Meet the Chadwick sisters and follow their adventures in each of their standalone stories.
▶ You’re the Rogue That I Want (Rogues of Redmere #1) is a longer read with heat, witty dialogue, a feisty heroine and adventure. All books in the series are standalone.
▶ Sinful Confessions is the first in the Cynfell Brothers Series. These are all novella length and standalone–ideal for a quick dip into the world of the sexy Cynfell brothers.
▶ Wake Me With a Kiss is a sweet, fairytale romance. Twists on Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are also available if you love a clean, fun read.
▶ To Steal a Highlander’s Heart is a full length dive into the world of sexy highlanders. For those who love braw Scots, some steamy scenes, and medieval romance, this series is a perfect escape.
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I feel like Overruled by Fate really hit the nail on the head with how living as nobility - or within the world of the nobility - really was. Madeline is told she will be marrying a much older man - and she's lucky that he's a good man. Her feelings are not taken into consideration, because her father knows what's best for her. Only too late does she realize that her feelings for her childhood non-noblility companion are much more that she first believed.
Said childhood companion, Nathaniel, has known his feelings, but he also accepts his place and knows that nothing will come of them - at least he thinks he's accepted it. When Madeline's marriage is announced he goes off the deep end. And while I appreciate his feelings and need to drown his sorrows - his method of drowning said sorrows left me with a bad taste in my mouth for him. And he doesn't really improve much until the very end. While this was probably very historically accurate - I wanted I little bit more out of my hero than I got.
It took a long time for the HEA to appear. And I really appreciated that. It wasn't easy for this couple, but even when it was hard, the author found highlights and good things for them to be occupied with. There was plenty of pining for each other and scheming at times, and when the king makes an appearance I just felt awful for Madeline (but no spoilers so I can't tell you why).
There is plenty of intrigue, betrayal, plots and plans woven into the storyline that wrap around our main characters, forcing them to make hard decisions and sometimes take paths they wouldn't have otherwise chosen. When our couple does finally get together (this is a romance after all), it was sweet and touching. I felt like they had finally beat the odds stacked against them. A great story that has a feeling of epicness to it.
This was my first book in the Wolfe Pack series by Kathryn Le Veque. When she says they can be read as stand alones - she's correct. While there may be a little family history that is missed, for the most part, I didn't feel like I was missing out for starting not at the beginning.
It all starts with a battle, leading to missing memories, deception, love, more battles, finding truths, and so much more. Blayth is a bit of a mystery man, he remembers nothing of his life before a few years ago when he recovered from a very serious head wound. Everything he knows about himself has been told to him, and not by the most reliable person. His struggle to find who he really is, is a key part of the story. Le Veque did a fantastic job showing his struggle with reconciling what he is learning to be true with the lies he has been told.
The Dragon Princess is a legend in her own right. Asmara has worked hard to earn her name and place among the Scottish warriors - none of which have even had a chance at capturing her heart. But the strong and silent Blayth with the mysterious past works his way under her skin. She is instrumental in helping him discover the lies he has been told and finding the courage to look for the truth. I loved their conversations. Both the serious and fun only proved to me again that these two were meant for each other.
There were a few times that Asmara and Blayth had to lie as they looked for the truth - and those lies seemed to have caught up with the author. In a few scenes, people suddenly knew the truth when they had been told something different - nothing huge or story-breaking, but it did make me go a re-read part to make sure I hadn't missed something.
Lady Scandal finds herself wedded to Lord Randolph after losing a bet. An interesting start to the story, and if you've read the first book in Wendy LaCapra's Furies series (which I highly recommend), then this doesn't seem all that unusual for the group of women who run the gaming parties.
But that really isn't the truly scandalous start of the book. It started when Sophia (Lady Scandal) found out that Lord Randolph was more than she thought. He wasn't just someone to satisfy an inch and wrap around her finger. He was trained under her father - a father she hated - as a ruthless political spy. And now Sophia is convinced he's using her.
And maybe he is? I can totally see where Sophia is coming from, but Lord Randolph is far more than anything she really expects, and there are a few things she will end up teaching him and he will teach her.
This book isn't just a romp through historical romance. It has one heck of a suspense storyline that kept me on the edge of my seat. There were a few places that I feel like things were glossed over just to keep the veil around who the bad guy really is in place, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. It seemed unnecessarily convoluted because of it. Kasai - Kasai sounds like a horrible person - and the fact that he can cast such a shadow over our couple without actually making an appearance for a very long time, just shows how much his specter alone can influence and manipulate.
I really really enjoyed their time at the Quaker farm. Elizabeth was an odd breath of fresh air and honesty, and her way of life and way of putting things into perspective left an impression on both Sophia and Randolph that I think will last into their future.
In the end, we have just as many loose ties as we did at the beginning - just different ones. As one part of the Fury's lives seems to wrap up - something else blows wide open. Looks like I'll need to read the third book in the series to get the final scoop on everything.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Just how do you find your accidentally married to a cowboy? Well, when you run away from your wedding in your wedding dress and head out west for adventure, you never know where it's going to take you. Courtney finds herself in quite the predicament with the oh-so-grumpy cowboy, Dean Lawton. Which is more than a little crazy because Dean doesn't want a wife.
Rolling from one mistake and misunderstanding right into another, Courtney and Dean have to stick out their new married life for a month. And what a month it is. In addition to learning about the way so of a real ranch, Courtney bonds with Dean's family, and even starts learning how to cook! But Dean has more important things on his mind, such as who is killing off his cattle, to try and deal with the woman he's accidentally married to.
I loved how both characters started the book heading in one direction, but life quickly steered them in another. I loved how sweet the gruff and grumpy Dean could be when he let his guard down. And Courtney's fiery temper had me grinning as she set the rough cowboy in his place a few times. They make a wonderfully balanced couple, and I think I'm going to have to go back and grab book one, because from what I saw of that couple, I want to know more.
Westerns can be hit or miss for me, but the accidental marriage concept of Cowboy's Honor intrigued me. I'm really glad I gave this one a chance.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
The Cowboy's Honor Excerpt
©2019 Amy Sandas
“Is there a hotel in town where I might procure a room for a few days?”
“Miss Mabel has a boardinghouse down the road, though I don’t know for sure if she’s got any open rooms.”
Courtney smiled her thanks to the postal clerk, already envisioning a quaint but comfortable room with clean sheets on the bed. Maybe even a hot, tasty meal. She had given up on finding food that was near the same quality she was accustomed to, but she would settle for edible and filling right now. She couldn’t very well expect a rugged town in the Western Territories to provide the same levels of comfort as a big city back East. She had left Boston in search of a new life. It was time to embrace all of what that meant.
As she stepped onto the boardwalk, blinking against the bright summer sunlight, Courtney didn’t realize she had stepped right into someone’s path until it was too late.
And of course, it had to be Mr. Martin.
What should have been just a very brief bumping of elbows and shoulders became much more when he took swift advantage of the encounter by wrapping his arms around her in an exaggerated and unnecessary attempt at steadying her.
Courtney immediately put her hands up to try to shove him away, but her efforts were ineffectual. He was intent on holding her close.
“It’s my lovely traveling companion,” he exclaimed. His face was so close that she could feel the heat of his breath on her cheek. “What a pleasure to run into you again so soon.”
“I would thank you to release me, sir.”
“Not yet, sweetheart. I never did get your name.”
“And you never will. Now let me go,” Courtney stated more forcefully. Her stomach turned in distress as she glanced around to see if there was anyone who might come to her aid.
“Let the lady go.”
Despite their low timbre, the words were spoken from behind her in such a hard and forceful tone that Mr. Martin’s grip around her waist loosened as though on command. She did not waste time in giving a solid push against his chest and wrenching free. She quickly backed away from Mr. Martin’s grabby reach, which brought her closer to her unknown rescuer.
Turning to acknowledge the man who had come to her aid, all she saw was the expanse of a broad male chest covered by a faded blue cotton shirt. The scents of horse and leather and sunbaked earth filled her nostrils. Distracted and still a little distressed, she felt her foot catch in the twisted length of her skirts on her next step, and she started to stumble. Warm, rough, capable hands grasped her arms as the stranger held her secure until she regained her balance. A low sound escaped the man’s throat as his hands dropped away.
“My apologies,” he muttered as he stepped back from her. The velvety texture of his voice soothed and flustered at the same time.
Courtney took a deep breath, trying to regain her composure after the discomfiting experience of being handled so familiarly first by Mr. Martin and then by the tall stranger. She wasn’t used to such treatment…but while Mr. Martin’s assistance had caused only irritation, this stranger certainly deserved her thanks. She corrected her posture and made sure her expression was perfectly neutral before she lifted her chin, prepared to utter a swift expression of gratitude.
The words never made it past her lips.
In fact, everything—her train of thought, her breath, time itself—just stopped.
The man stood a few inches taller than her and wore a wide-brimmed cowboy hat that blocked the sun, giving her an unimpeded look at one of the most handsome faces she had ever seen.
His skin was bronzed from exposure to the sun, and a hint of sandy-brown beard shadowed a hard jawline and square chin. Though his mouth was pressed into a firm line, it didn’t disguise the masculine beauty of his arched lips beneath a well-shaped nose and strong cheekbones. His features were put together in a way that was rugged yet undeniably attractive.
But his eyes—pale blue like a summer sky brushed with wispy clouds—were what had given her the intense little shock of awareness. It was like being woken up from a hazy dream. Everything just suddenly became more vivid, more…awake. His gaze held a hint of impatience as he looked down at her from beneath a furrowed brow.
While she stood dumbfounded, he swept his stunning gaze over her person.
His hard expression tensed even more as he took in the sight of her elaborate wedding gown before finally returning to her face. Only now, instead of impatience, she saw the glimmer of something more in his eyes.
She had to consciously tell herself not to react to the way he eyed her so openly. Keeping her expression calm and unruffled under this man’s intense regard was not an easy task, especially now that she was dealing with strange little sparks that had ignited beneath her skin everywhere his gaze had fallen.
She was accustomed to inciting admiration in the gentlemen of her circles—she had been told she was beautiful often enough throughout her life to believe it was so. But she could not say she had ever inspired the flash of irritation she noted in his eyes when he finished his perusal.
He sent a focused glare toward the post office behind her before looking down at her once again. “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” he muttered, his smooth-textured voice a strange contradiction to his harsh visage.
He was scowling. At her.
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Rose Bride is my absolute favorite of the Lust in the Tudor Court series by Elizabeth Moss. I think seeing the court from a different perspective, but still close enough to all the nobility and even the King, really allowed the book to weave its own story while still giving that amazing Tudor feel.
I did not like Margerie the first time I met her. I thought she was a little bit up in everyone's business, but I was quickly proven wrong. She's a sweet woman that has had her past manipulated and she has only recently come into her own self.
Virgil was a great character. Trying his best to help King Henry get his new queen pregnant, he has to resort to some new herbs and medicine, but he isn't allowed to use them on the King until he has tested them himself. I loved how this set up some very interesting confrontations between him and Margerie.
I wish there was more to the series, but it also ended in a really great place for all our characters. I think this is a series (especially book three) that I will have to revisit again sometime soon.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
The Tyrell sisters seem to be good at running into and causing trouble. In Rebel Bride we meet Susannah Tyrell who is determined not to marry the man her father has said she will marry. When she somewhat unsuccessfully tries to seduce Hugh Beaufort, a favored courtier of Henry VIII, she decides to take matters into her own hands.
When Hugh is sent to track her down and bring her back to be married as her father wishes, he finds himself falling hard for the stubborn woman. But they will have much to overcome.
This was more of a traditional historical romance without as much of the Tudor legacy running through the plot. There is still danger all around, but we just don't see quite as much of the court intrigue as we did before.
I found this to be a better read than the first, and I really enjoyed the way the characters grew toward each other.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book*
Wolf Bride was a fun and exciting read. It took me back to the Tudor Era, which is one of my favorites, while Anne Boleyn still lived. She is very much a background character, but her death plays an important role in showing the character of our heroine, Eloise Tyrell.
When Anne Boleyn is accused of treason, all of her close friends and servants were under scrutiny for the same, and Eloise was no exception. Navigating the court and intrigue has never been more difficult or dangerous. This was by far my favorite aspect of the story.
The romance, while it was written to be the main stage, fell into second place for me. Eloise and Lord Wolf definitely had a bit of a spark between them, but they were both too stubborn and unwilling to listen to each other for me to truly root for. Lord wolf was very overbearing, and while Elizabeth Moss tried valiantly to make it come off as dominant, there were many times it just came off as him being a mean jerk.
This was also far more of an erotic read than most historicals tend to be - intentionally so. I think it could have been toned down with more time given to our characters growing, but for readers of the hotter contemporary that are looking to try a historical - this may be the one that draws you in.
I enjoyed this story for the non-romance aspects, and I did continue reading and enjoying it. Watch for my reviews of the rest of the Lust in the Tudor Court series soon.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book*