Review: The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes

The Particulars: Historical Romance, Sourcebooks, available in print and as ebook
The Source: Purchased at Allromance 
The Grade: A

The blurb:

Ellen Markham tells herself she’s happy raising flowers and living in near penury in the Oxfordshire countryside, but when Valentine Windham moves in just on the other side of the wood, Ellen’s longing for things she can never have threatens to overcome her good sense. Valentine’s artistic soul, tender loving, and ducal determination tempt Ellen to trust and confide in a man who can only be endangered, should he learn of her past. For Valentine, regaining his musical skill becomes far less urgent than winning Ellen’s heart.

The review:
This is Grace Burrowes at her best. This might sound strange, but I am glad I read Lady Sophia’s book first. Don’t get me wrong, Lady Sophia’s Christmas Wish is an decent book, but this one is so much better. ( Ironically, Lady Sophia’s Christmas Wish got nominated to a RITA). So, what did I love with this book.
At the heart of the book is the rênovation of the Markham estate. It is a fitting metaphor for the healing that happen in the book. At the beginning of the book, both Val and Ellen is wounded. Val from the loss of his brothers, and the fact that he cannot play the piano. Ellen miss her husband. But Val gradually coax out Ellen into the living world, showing her that she is worthy of love. But he also coaxed out the secrets of Markham. Like why it was so run down.
But Ellen, and Val’s friends, helped Val to break through the shell he had created around himself. Gradually, he started to see that even though Music would always be an important part, it wasn’t the only thing in the world.
The romance is the focus of the novel, but there is also a blackmail subplot. I liked how that subplot was deftly woven into everything. From the source, to the reason, to the villain. And yes, it is an obstacle in Val’s and Ellen’s path to happily ever after.
One thing that was a welcome difference in this book, were the fact that for most of the book the Windham family was in the background. Instead, there is a number of Val’s friends playing a big supporting role. I’ll admit that I sometimes wondered if none of the Windham’s didn’t have any close friends.
They took a larger part to the end of the book, though, and it was heartening to see Val’s relationship with his father shift.
No book is without a fault. Unfortunately. I didn’t like the way the blackmail subplot was solved. I would much have prefered a confrontation, instead of the fact that it was solved behind the scenes. That is just me.

Review: Lady Sophia’s Christmas Wish by Grace Burrrowes

The Particulars:  Historical Romance, Sourcebooks,  available as print and in e-books 
The Source: Purchased at Booksonboard

The Grade: C+
The blurb:

All Sophie Windham wants is peace, quiet and the novelty of a little solitude in the Duke of Moreland’s London mansion before she joins her family for Christmas at the family seat in Kent. In the middle of a very inconvenient London snowstorm, Sophie finds herself stuck with an abandoned baby, and only the assistance of handsome stranger Vim Charpentier standing between her and complete disaster…
Vim Charpentier‘s worst memories are of Christmases spent with family in Kent, so when he has an excuse to tarry for a few days in London, he willingly lends a hand helping Sophie and her new little charge become acquainted. The growing attraction he shares with Sophie warms both their spirits, but when Sophie’s three brothers arrive (from the East) to whisk her away, Vim has to decide between facing his memories, or letting the Christmas gift of a lifetime slip through his fingers.

The Review:
I love Grace Burrowes books, yet for a number of reasons this book remained unread, or more properly halfread, before I picked it up.
This is a sweet tale that hooked me from the start. I could almost feel the cold, winds blowing. It was fascinating to read about Sophia’s adaptation to taking care of a baby boy. She was a newbie, and she admitted it. Through Vim’s gentle guidance she learns how to. But, she also falls in love. With Kit, which she admits. And with Vim. Which she doesn’t admit to herself.
I fell in love with the characters.  Sophia’s generous heart, the way she picked up strays.  Both animals, and humans. 
Vim was everything a man should be. Generous, charming, handsome. I loved the way their romance blossomed through small touches. I also appreciated the fact that since they were alone for a big part of the book, they didn’t have to hide behind facades.  
There were heart wrenching parts.  I could almost touch Sophia’s loneliness, despite the fact that she have a large family.  I understands it.  When you reach a certain age, you need time to be alone.   Then there is Vim.  He really, really, doesn’t want to go down to Kent.   Not just because he doesn’t want to leave Sophia, but for a number of reasons. 
His upcoming departure hang between them.   And causes some heartwrenching moments.  Then there is Kit. Sophia knows she has to do the right thing, and foster Kit.  And she really doesn’t want to. 
They have to fight to get their HEA. Oh, not literally, but they have to fight misunderstandings, and old wounds. And not to mention their families worry to do the right things.  
Let’s just say there are not just one, but two meddling Lords in this book. 

But their HEA left me with a satisfying feeling. Which is the way a romance novel should make you feel.

So, what I didn’t like. First, the setup felt… unrealistic. What likelihood is it that an duke’s daughter would have been allowed to remain unchaperoned, without even a maid?
Second, this tale bordered slightly too close to being an 100 000 words viginette. I think one reason is that the conflict only comes from internal conflict, and to some degree misunderstanings. 
Except for this, I enjoyed the story. But it will never be one of my favorite Windham books. 

Review: Kiss at Your Own Risk by Stephanie Rowe

Kiss at Your Own RiskKiss at Your Own Risk by Stephanie Rowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb:

Trinity Harpswell is a cursed Black Widow-death and mayhem are all part of the job description. If she can manage to go just one more week without accidentally killing someone, she’ll break this killer curse and put her Black Widow days behind her. When sexy Blaine Underhill III shows up at her door and asks for her help rescuing his friend from the clutches of Death’s evil grandma, Trinity gets pulled into a daring high stakes adventure. As Blaine and Trinity join forces to take down a series of underworld assassins, they may just learn that love is the deadliest game of all.

The review:
Stephanie Rowe has been on my Authors-to-check out list for years, so when Sourcebooks offered this one for free, I snagged it up.
And I am glad I did. This book starts with action, and it doesn’t slow down. But the reason I loved this book was the characters. The characters were a mix of good sides, and bad sides. Their goals were grounded in their pasts. In a way, all the goals made sense, even though their methods might be frowned upon. Both Blaine and Tracy were a bit homicidal, but they fit. In fact, I loved how Blaine saw Tracy’s homicidal tendencies as a sign of love.
I am really glad that I picked up this book, and I’ll definitely pick up the next book in the series.

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Review: The Solider by Grace Burrowes

The Soldier (Duke's Obsession, #2)The Soldier by Grace Burrowes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Book: The Soldier by Grace Burrowes

The Particulars: Historical Romance, Sourcebooks, available both in print and e-book
Buy at: Amazon , Kobo, BN, ARe, Booksonboard

The Review:

The blurb:

This Regency era battle of wits, wills, and the sexes features a wily duke determined to see the succession of his line secured. The duke can’t force his sons to marry, but he can make their lives miserable until they do. Resisting his pressure, each gentleman holds out for true love.

The second book in the series features Devlin St. Just, the duke’s oldest, but illegitimate, son. He arrives at his new estate weary in body and spirit only to find the previous owner’s bastard daughter and her beautiful cousin are his responsibility and making his life almost unbearably complicated.

My impressions:

I liked Grace Burrowes first book, so when Sourcebooks offered the sequel at a discount I snatched it up. And I loved it. Grace Burrowes made me feel like I was there, watching as Devlin and Emma’s love story unfolded. It is nice, quiet tale that is more focused on the characters internal struggle, than any external conflict. It should have been boring, but it isn’t. Mainly because the characters. I loved how Devlin struggled with the mental scars he had after returning from the war. Emma had her own issues. And that’s the source of the conflict. The whole plot is driven by their flaws and how that affects their relationship.

That it works is a sign of how good Grace Burrowes is. I am looking forward to the last book in the triology.

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Bargain round up

Let’s do a bargain round up, again. It’s been a couple of months since I did the last one. 
Lazette Gifford’s excellent Urban Fantasy Kat among Pigeons is on sale until tomorrow. More info here.

Kobo offers the coupon code redtag2, which gives a 2 dollar discount. The coupon works on non-agency books if you are in North america and UK, and on all books if you live in non-english speaking countries. If you combine this coupon with Kobo Cheap reads list, you can get historical romance for a bargain price.  WARNING: Lady Anne and the Howl by Donna Lea Simpson, and  Lady flees her lord by Michele Anne Young lacks download options. You can only read those online, or through Kobo Apps.

 Carina Press starts their steampunk week tomorrow, and as a part of it they offer a free novella from Cindy Spencer Pape.

Review: Merely Magic by Patricia Rixe

Merely MagicMerely Magic by Patricia Rice

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Book: Merely Magic by Patricia Rice

The Particulars: Historical Fantasy Romance, Sourcebooks, available both in print and e-book

Why was it in my TBR? Because I wanted to something to cheer me up

The Review:

The blurb:
With exhilarating wit, sensuality, and emotion, bestselling author Patricia Rice offers an enchanting historical romance. When a magical young woman meets a dark aristocrat in a moonlit forest, neither dreams that a strange and powerful love is about to change their lives forever….

My impressions:

I picked this up a year ago,when she put up the whole series on Smashwords and Kindle.  I admit, I fell in love. When I read that she had sold the series to Sourcebooks, I got really happy.

Drogo, Earl of Ives and Wystan is a scientist, that don’t believe in magic. Ninian Malcolm Siddons have grown up in Wystan. She accept that she is a witch. Both characters are strongwilled. And they are so different, but watching them carve out a life together was fascinating. There were moments in this book that made me smile. And other scenes made me cry. My heart went out to Ninian when she tried to get Drogo to believe. In her powers, and in his brothers. Despite the obstacles, they get their HEA.
I finished this book with a happy sigh. This is a heartwarming book, not as funny as some of the other books in the series. But oh so good.

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February’s e-book deals from Sourcebooks

 From their webpage:

Dreaming Anastasia

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?
Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn’t. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn’t know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…
“I really enjoyed this book.  It made me want to research the Romanov family and the fairy tale character of Baba Yaga… DREAMING ANASTASIA is easy to read and an enjoyable story.  Thank you, Ms. Preble, for a great read.”

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Adobe PDF: Free
Adobe ePub: Free

Love at First Flight

What if the guy in the airplane seat next to you turned out to be the love of your life?
Juliana, happy in her career as a hair stylist, is on her way to visit her boyfriend of ten years who’s working out of state. She’s wondering why they’re not engaged yet. Michael is going to his fiance’s parents’ home for an engagement party he doesn’t want. A states’ prosecutor, he’s about to try the biggest case of his career, he hates the distraction, and he’s having doubts about the relationship.
They sit together on the plane, and discover they’re on the same flight coming back. When the weekend is a disaster for each of them, they bond on the plane ride home. But life is full of complications, including their exes, who don’t want to let go, and when Michael’s trial turns dangerous, the two must confront what they value most in life…
Praise for Line of Scrimmage:
“I will definitely be reading more Marie Force.” -Revisiting the Moon’s Library
“It was a book that made me laugh as well as cry. The three-dimensional characters were so vivid… hands down, this is the best romance I’ve read this year.” -J. Kaye’s Book Blog
“With its humor and endearing characters, Force’s charming novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, reaching far beyond sports fans.” -Shelley Mosley, Booklist

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Lydia Bennet’s Story

Lydia Bennet is the flirtatious, wild and free-wheeling youngest daughter. Her untamed expressiveness and vulnerability make her fascinating to readers who’ll love this imaginative rendering of Lydia’s life after her marriage to the villainous George Wickham. Will she mature or turn bitter? Can a girl like her really find true love?

In Lydia Bennet’s Story we are taken back to Jane Austen’s most beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, to a Regency world seen through Lydia’s eyes where pleasure and marriage are the only pursuits. But the road to matrimony is fraught with difficulties and even when she is convinced that she has met the man of her dreams, complications arise. When Lydia is reunited with the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys for a grand ball at Netherfield Park, the shocking truth about her husband may just cause the greatest scandal of all …

“A breathtaking Regency romp!”
—Diana Birchall, author of Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma

Also available at Amazon, Sony, and BN. 

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