Review: The Wicked Duke

Madeline Hunter is definitely an author that I keep tabs on. She writes historical romance and, in my humble opinion, doesn’t always get the credit she deserves. She’s a fantastic writer and has written many books that happily sit on my keeper shelf. So, when I read the back story of The Wicked Duke, it went on my TBR pile immediately.

Lancelot Hemingford is the Duke of Aylesbury, a rake with a devilish reputation with women. Unfortunately, he’s also suspected of his brother’s murder, something that bothers Lance enough that he wants to finally be rid of the condemnation. To clear his name, he makes a bit of a deal with the devil and, in the process, ends up married to Marianne Radley.

Marianne is legally dependent on her uncle, but she’s incredibly intelligent and smart. She’s figured out a way to make money–something of an impossibility for women back then–by writing under a pseudonym gossip letters to the newspaper. It’s that same cunning that has her sniffing out what truly happened to the Duke’s bother.

Their marriage is a busy one. Things start to be uncovered. First and foremost, the Duke wants to clear his name but, along the way, secrets are revealed that test their commitment to each other. The wonderful aspect of the book is that they fall in love with each other by the end, something I was hoping for all along but fearing might never happen.

The Wicked Duke has a great pace. It’s not rushed, the marriage doesn’t happen three days after they meet or anything and yet, I kept turning pages trying to find out what was going to happen next. I think what kept me glued was the great characters, the sad but not over-the-top circumstances and the superb dialogue. Historical romance dialogue has to show feeling without using today’s expressions and that’s not easy with polite, restrictive English sayings. Still, Madeline Hunter manages to do just that.

Madeline Hunter is certainly no dim wit. She has a PhD in art history and more than twenty seven nationally bestselling historical romances in print. If you haven’t tried her before now, check out her website and try some of her books or go for this one. It might be the third in a trilogy but it can be easily read on its own and it’s got everything you want in a historical romance, the love story, the historically accurate pieces and dialogue, great characters and a rakish duke. It’s definitely a great summer read.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: to go to site, click on cover.

 

Review: Heartless

I adore Mary Balogh’s historical romance books. I can’t tell you exactly what it is about her writing but I can immediately tell that she’s from England (she’s actually from Wales). Her books always have a very authentic feel to them that just lifts them above other books.

Heartless is the story of Lady Anna Marlow who has devoted her life to taking care of her dying parents, first, and then her siblings until she’s almost out of marrying age. Devoted sister that she is, she’s still thinking of how to marry her younger sister when an elderly aunt takes an interest in her and tries to match her instead.

It’s though this match that Anna meets Lucas Kendrick, Duke of Harndon, our hero. After the years of hardship, stress and worry, Anna needs someone to take care of her and lift worries from her mind. However that’s not what she gets in the Duke of Harndon.

Lucas Kendrick was banished from England by his own family and, in the aftermath, was forced to find his own way in the world. He did so very successfully, but lost all innocence and became very cynical in the process. He’s reluctantly back to do his duty as heir and it’s just in that frame of mind that he marries Anna.

It’s a marriage of two people who don’t know each other at all and who, both, have had traumatic events in their past. What follows is how they manage to heal their wounds, befriend, then fall in love with each other, all while unravelling their place as the Duke and Duchess of Harndon.

I love historical romances for many reasons, the elegance of their speech, the beautiful setting, the calm rhythm of their lives and even the lack of technology. Things seemed so much simpler and honourable then. Heartless has all of those, of course, with a very authentic English touch to them all, but it’s also a beautiful love story. And that’s the best part of all.

I’m a true Mary Balogh fan and have rarely met a book of hers I didn’t like and this one is no exception. I’d recommend Heartless for the story and writing and because it’s a great book. But, to put it more simply, because I started it on Thursday morning and did nothing all day until I could turn the last page and find out what had happened. Then basked in the afterglow of a good book for quite a few hours. It’s that good.

(credit: goodreds.com)

(credit: goodreds.com)

Review: The Perfect Hope

I was actually really looking forward to this one, mostly, because of the two main characters. Ryder and Hope have a ton of chemistry. He’s grumpy and won’t even call her by name and she’s feisty and gives him back as good as she gets. I couldn’t wait to see the sparks fly.

Ryder is the last of the Montgomery men, the guy who works things out and doesn’t say much. He’s quick to temper and faster to find a way to do something with his hands rather than talk it out. Hope, on the other hand, is elegant and polished and the innkeeper at the Boonsboro Inn. She doesn’t like his attitude and from using words to hosing him down with a hose, she lets him know it. Reading about these two exchanging grumblings had me laughing and eagerly turning the pages.

There’s something to be said for chemistry but eventually, it has to change to care and love or there isn’t any hope for the couple. The transition for Ryder and Hope went smoothly as only someone like Nora Roberts can write it. Along the way, we get to hear how the other characters from the other two books are doing and I, for one, was delighted to see old faces reappear.

The three women are fast friends, supporting each other and helping out when needed just like the three brothers are fast friends and joke and tease each other in a very realistic way. There’s also construction that was also deftly and realistically portrayed and work that ruled the lives of these characters like it does mine. It didn’t disappear, like it does in some of the sadder books of romance I’ve read. Here, lives are realistic with flaws and triumphs just like in reality. It creates a world that is believable yet appealing.

The Perfect Hope is a really good ending to a great trilogy. I’ll be honest and fess up that I read it in one sitting. It took me only three hours to gobble it up and I ended with a soft sigh of disappointment that it was done. I highly recommend it to any fan of romance and certainly those of contemporary. Nora Roberts is a phenomenon.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: click on link to go to site.

Review: The Next Always

I always love reading a book by Nora Roberts and certainly this one wasn’t an exception. She’s got a gift with the written word, for certain but it’s the timing in her writing that impresses me the most. Her stories always feel slow and lazy and not rushed. It’s a beautiful, slow, elegant introduction into the characters and scene. Yet, she can do it somehow with a few words. And this one was particularly beautiful.

The Next Always is the first in a trilogy that I somehow missed reading when they came out. It tells the story of Beckett and Clare. Beckett is the eldest of the three Montgomery men and the architect. He’s helping his family of brothers and mother, restore an old inn and transform it into a beautiful Bed and Breakfast.

Beckett is easy going on the eyes, gentle yet determined in the best of ways. He had already fallen for Clare back when they were teens so it doesn’t take much for him to rekindle the romance. Clare is a widow now, with three delightful little boys and runs a bookstore. She’s kind, motherly and just sweet.

Clare and Beckett are both busy, one with the inn and the other with work and her little boys and, unlike other romances, these two don’t magically lose their business to give way to romance. The romance happens around their busy lives. Clare continues to kiss scraped knees, stop wars and tend to sick boys and Beckett has to answer his phone, curse at delays and run to fix issues on the build. They do find each other, but it’s a realistic, organic build that creates the same realistic, organic feelings of wonder–at least it did in this reader.

I have to add some other things that I absolutely adored about this book. The three little boys weren’t just minor secondary characters, they were delightfully real and absolutely adorable. I loved each and all of them. The same can be said of the dogs in the story and the other secondary characters. Nora Roberts nails it with them.

The other thing I adored was the cheerful banter between the brothers. Nora Roberts does dialogue like a pro and she nailed it in this book. The three brothers are realistically male, joking around much like guys do without becoming bullies or ignorant, which takes a lot of finesse as a writer.

Add in a beautiful love story, and I was a goner. I had to get the second and third book to gobble them up. If you’re a fan of contemporary fiction, don’t do what I did and wait. Pick this one up. It’s fantastic.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Olivia’s Choice Page: Updated.

The Page for Olivia’s Choice is getting some exciting changes.

One, the blurb has been shortened and spiffed up.

Two, I’ve cleaned up the reviews and added two new ones. One by the Bookie Monster and another by Romance Reviews.

Three, D. Emery Bunn has run through the book and checked the editing. He’s an absolute grammar-Ninja. Any and all misplaced comas suffered an untimely death. The new, shinier Olivia’s Choice will be up and running as soon as I can update all those changes. See the sidebar for an update to where I am in my fight against those run-on sentences and that dreaded passive voice.

I’m pretty excited about it all. Why not check it out and let me know what you think!

Another five star review!

Olivia’s Choice got another 5 star review in Goodreads! I’m just floating right now. Just floating! Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/828395247?book_show_action=true