Review Hodgepodge (#5)

Review Hodgepodge

As you can see from my reviews below, I had some really good reads this month from historical romance. Again, it was contemporary romance that was lacking for me. (Insert heavy sigh here.) But I have to be honest; I’m done talking a good game. I can’t give this genre up, so yeah. I’ll be back for more. Hopefully I’ll find a diamond in the rough to gush about soon!


The Autumn BrideThe Autumn Bride
by Anne Gracie
Book #1 in Chance Sisters
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: February 5th, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads: Governess Abigail Chantry will do anything to save her sister and two dearest friends from destitution, even if it means breaking into an empty mansion in the hope of finding something to sell. Instead of treasures, though, she finds the owner, Lady Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Appalled, Abby rousts Lady Beatrice’s predatory servants and—with Lady Beatrice’s eager cooperation—the four young ladies become her “nieces,” neatly eliminating the threat of disaster for all concerned!

It’s the perfect situation, until Lady Beatrice’s dashing and arrogant nephew, Max, Lord Davenham, returns from the Orient—and discovers an impostor running his household…

A romantic entanglement was never the plan for these stubborn, passionate opponents—but falling in love may be as inevitable as the falling of autumn leaves…

Angie’s Review – 3 stars – B-

The Autumn Bride is a decent read if you can adjust your expectations before going in. Very little of this story is focused on the romance between Abby and Max, but rather on the bond growing between the five women circumstance has brought together. Abby is the one the rest of the girls look to for guidance, and when they are in dire straits, she must take matters into her own hands even if it isn’t quite legal. This is how Abby meets Lady Beatrice, and it’s not long before she has also taken responsibility for the older lady. I did love seeing the friendship develop between all the women and the different roles they each took on as they settled into their new home. For me, this was the highlight of the story. Though I must say, I think that’s because Max, Lord Davenham, wasn’t that likable when he was on the page. It was clear he loved his aunt and wanted to make sure she was well taken care of, but we rarely got a break from his gruffness. Add to that the fact that the only love scene in the book came too late and felt like it appeared at an awkward time, and I think that’s why the sisterly bond was more interesting to me than Abby and Max’s relationship. I think the book would have been better off without the intimate scene. I listened to the audio of this, and I did enjoy the narrator. Her voice sounded more mature than Abby’s 24 years, but she did the accent well and I liked her intonation. Because I did like Lady Beatrice, Abby, Jane, Damaris, and Daisy so much, I will be continuing with this series.

Rating: 3 Stars

Series Reading Order:
1. The Autumn Bride
2. The Winter Bride
3. The Spring Bride
4. The Summer Bride



My Highland SpyMy Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts
Book #1 in Highland Spies
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca

Synopsis from Goodreads: This Highland Laird won’t bow to the Crown

Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do—he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.

But this lady spy might make him…

Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.

If she doesn’t betray him first

Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves is an English spy?

Angie’s Review – 4.5 Stars – A

Can we just take a second to bask in the beauty of this cover? A kilt and a stunning background? Yes, please! I can’t believe how long I let this book sit on my to be read list. I have really been missing out. I adored this story. The vernacular was much more modern that I would expect for the time period, but you know what? The author weaved such a wonderful tale that I ended up not even caring about that. I loved Ravenna and Ruairi. Ravenna was smart and compassionate, and Ruairi was a leader who cared about his people and would do anything to protect them. But when it came to Ravenna and his son, the man was a gentle giant. I enjoyed the suspense in this book. It wasn’t over the top, but it was enough to leave you wondering ‘whodunit?’ and what would come next. Torquil, Ruairi’s son, was a wonderful addition to the story. He showed us Ravenna’s softer side, and I didn’t feel at any point that he overwhelmed the story. Fagan was Ruairi’s right hand man; he loved to needle Ruairi about his son’s governess and cared about his laird and the people who depended on them. I can’t wait to find out more about him, so I’m excited that his book his next! My Highland Spy was a wonderful read that flew right by for me. I started listening to the audio of this story at work, but it was so good that I switched to print when I got home so I could finish it ASAP. If there was one thing I wish this book had, it would be just a bit more time spent with Ruairi and Ravenna once they found their way back together again.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Thank you to SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Series Reading Order:
1. My Highland Spy
2. Kilts and Daggers
3. Kill or Be Kilt


Her Wicked Sin
Her Wicked Sin by Sarah Ballance
Book #1 in Sins of Salem
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: September 9th, 2013
ARC provided by Netgalley and Entangled: Scandalous

Synopsis from Goodreads: On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight….
Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.

Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply…away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse…and claiming her bed.

Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.

Angie’s Review – 3.5 Stars – B-

The set up for this series is interesting and unique. The Salem Witch Trials are an untapped time in our history as far as settings go, and the author did a wonderful job capturing the intensity that surrounded these events. The cover, however, fails to mimic this, so if you’re interested in this book, I suggest sticking to the synopsis to make your choice. It’s disappointing, because the options for something eye-catching to draw a reader in are endless. Surprisingly, this book did include insta-lust and insta-love. I can see the draw of lust on both parts of the MC’s, but I’d expect the heroine to be a bit wary of tying herself so hastily to a man because of her past. I liked Lydia. She was living a life where, for multiple reasons, she was constantly looking over her shoulder, but she never let her convictions waver. Henry was a wonderful hero. He was well-travelled and intelligent, and he genuinely cared for Lydia. He was very careful with the secrets she shared with him, and his first instinct was always to make her comfortable. They dynamics in the Puritan community were interesting. Untamed gossip could lead to someone’s death, and it almost felt like ‘friends’ and neighbors were desperate to point the finger at someone else lest accusations and death find them. I thought the pacing of this book was pretty swift, but that’s to be expected from the length. I give the author props for sliding a mystery into the book that the reader isn’t even aware of until everything clicks into place. While Her Wicked Sin was an enjoyable read, it left me wanting more. I think this book would have benefited from a bigger word count and more exploration of the period in which it was set.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Series Reading Order:
1. Her Wicked Sin
2. An Unexpected Sin
3. The Sins of a Few

Thank you to ENTANGLED: SCANDALOUS and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Thrown DownThrown Down
by Tessa Bailey
Book #2 in Made in Jersey
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 4th, 2016
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Entangled

Synopsis from Goodreads: He has one last chance to deserve the girl of his dreams…

Overachiever River Purcell was never supposed to be a struggling single mom, working double shifts just to make ends meet. Nor was she supposed to be abandoned by her high school sweetheart, breaking her heart into a thousand jagged pieces. Now Vaughn De Matteo is back in town, his sights set on her…and River is in danger of drowning a second time.

No one believed Hook’s resident bad boy was good enough for River. Not even Vaughn himself. But he’ll fight like hell to win back the woman he never stopped loving, to keep the daughter he never expected, and convince himself he’s worth their love in the process–even if he has to rely on their fierce and undeniable sexual chemistry.

But even as River’s body arches under his hungered touch, the demons of the past lurk in the shadows. Waiting for Vaughn to repeat his mistakes one last time…

Angie’s Review – 1.5 Stars – D

I feel bad writing this review, because it’s not favorable at all, but I’ve resolved to write a review for every book I finish, so here we go…

If you’re someone who loves the second chance romance trope, I am right there with you. It’s probably tied with best friend’s older brother/older brother’s best friend for me in terms of how much I love it. But in order for me to be invested in a second chance romance story, I need to ‘buy’ their relationship the first time around, and I didn’t here. And I think that is in large part to how much I just didn’t care about the characters. I wanted to, and I even did manage to like parts of Vaughn. But as a whole, these were not likable people. Vaughn was a tough guy but allowed her father to run him off? Nope. Didn’t work for me. I did like that Vaughn was a tortured hero, but he spent way too much lamenting for my tastes, and by the time I got to know River, I was very sad that he didn’t think he deserved better for himself. And why do I say that? Well…spoiler alert.

Hey people? This is a spoiler--Fair Warning!

Vaughn was way too wrapped up in his own guilt to even be mad at River for what she did. I would have liked some tension surrounding those events. Her decision was life altering, and then she could never even be bothered to tell him they had a child. And her reasons weren’t compelling enough to be believed. It made it really hard to like her. And now, I feel like I’m just beating a dead horse here, but this was a woman who was working two jobs to make a life for her and her child. Now, she had a rock star brother who offered to give her money to help her out, but she refused! I think I was supposed to be like ‘Oh, River. Look at how hard she works to support her daughter. Isn’t she such a good person?’ But, of course, I went the other way straight into ‘WTF? Her brother loves her and wants to help her out, giving her an opportunity to spend more time with her daughter and she refuses?’ Yeah. That didn’t endear her to me at all. I thought it was a selfish decision. Hot dirty talkin’ heroes are something I’ve come to expect from Tessa Bailey, and this aspect of the book fell short for me as well. Some of the things Vaughn said made me shudder, and not in the good way. And I get wanting to be original in descriptions, but when you mention ‘corrugated abs,’ all I can picture is the Tin Man with a six pack. And the final nail in the coffin for this one was that while Vaughn may have returned to town because he found out about his daughter, it was clear getting River into bed was priority number one for him. It wasn’t until 72% that her really became interested in learning about his daughter. So she was basically the forgotten catalyst. Overall, Thrown Down was a miss for me, but as I’ve enjoyed previous works from this author, I’m hoping this was a fluke.

Rating: 1.5 Stars

Series Reading Order:
1. Crashed Out
2. Thrown Down
3. Worked Up (Expected Publication: August 1st, 2016)

Thank you to ENTANGLED and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Wicked IntentionsWicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Book #1 in Maiden Lane
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: August 1st, 2010
ARC provided by Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing

Synopsis from Goodreads: A man controlled by his desires…

Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London’s most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand— she’s spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk.

A woman haunted by her past…

Caire makes a simple offer—in return for Temperance’s help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London’s high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control—one that may well destroy them both.

A bargain neither could refuse.

Angie’s Review – 2.5 Stars – C-

This author has been on my to-be-read list forever, so when this book recently popped up on Netgalley, I didn’t hesitate to snag it. And I wanted to love it. I really really wanted to love it. But I didn’t. The biggest issue here for me was there was just too much going on. Between Caire and Temperance, King Locked Heart, and Silence and her husband, it was overflowing with information. And I’ll be honest – when I’m reading a story, I want the author to make me fall so in love with that story, that I am compelled to pick up the next book by them. I don’t want POVs from characters who have an upcoming book. And this is what we got here. Silence is given way too much page time in this book, and quite frankly, it was so frustrating that I couldn’t even be invested in her character. I don’t give one wit what happens to her in the future. Add to that that I’m given an epilogue that features only her, and I was so pissed I might have thrown a physical book across the room. (My unhealthy love for my Kindle won’t allow me to do that.) I feel like I was robbed of an epilogue for Temperance and Caire, who had overcome a great deal to be together.

It was one thing when Temperance put herself in dangerous situations over and over again, but when her brothers found out and still allowed this to happen (gallivanting about with a man known to be semi-crazed, I might add,) it was too much to be believed. I know she was a widow, but she was trying to find a proprietor for her foundling home, and I would think that would motivate her to keep some sense of decorum, especially for the time period and how harshly nobility judged those they viewed as lesser. Add to that that when Lord Caire fell in love with Temperance he was ‘cured’ from his sexual proclivities, it was all just too much. Though he was my favorite part of the story, even if the issues with his mother were resolved way too hastily and without any buildup whatsoever. I loved his history and his gruff demeanor. While Wicked Intentions was a miss for me, there was some good writing here, and Caire was an interesting character. For now, I won’t be continuing with this series, but it may be something I return to in the future.

I went back and forth on the audio of this book, and the narrator was wonderful. She did a good job with the accent and intonation.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Series Reading Order
1. Wicked Intentions
2. Notorious Pleasures
3. Scandalous Desires
4. Thief of Shadows
5. Lord of Darkness
6. Duke of Midnight
7. Darling Beast
8. Dearest Rogue
9. Sweetest Scoundrel
10. Duke of Sin
11. Duke of Pleasure (Expected Publication: November 29th, 2016)
12. Duke of Desire (Expected Publication: 2017)

Thank you to GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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